At the time of writing, Sephiroth isn’t “officially” available to players just yet — to play as him before his release on December 22, you’ll have to beat the Sephiroth Challenge, which we detailed in our short guide. Unfortunately, it’s probably going to be a long time before we see a Sephiroth amiibo, but that won’t stop us from trying to predict what his presence might look like in our current metagame.
Sure, we’ll do one of these posts for Steve and Min Min, too, but they’re not very popular right now. We’ve got to strike while the iron is hot, so to speak, so today we’re talking about Sephiroth’s kit and what his Figure Player might be able to do with it. The short answer is that we think he’ll be mid-tier at the absolute worst, and top-tier at best. Let’s go into that in a bit more detail!
Strengths & Weaknesses
As per our tier list, the current top-tier characters are Bowser, Incineroar, Ness, Ridley, and King K. Rool. Sephiroth is a lightweight fighter, so if he really does end up at the top, he’d be the only light top-tier! In terms of strengths, Sephiroth’s most notable is his incredible range. His forward tilt, up tilt, forward smash, up smash, and up aerial (among many other moves) cover a huge area, and this trait alone nearly ensures that the character will be mid-tier at the very least (unless he’s got a tragic AI flaw we don’t know about). In fact, Sephiroth’s moves extend so far that they might even beat some top-tier character’s best options. Incineroar’s Alolan Whip – in theory, at least – could be swatted away by a well-timed forward tilt or forward smash. Ness’ PK Fire, Ridley’s entire moveset, and Bowser’s smash attacks are all outranged, too. This is really important, because we’d love to see a new fighter with a good matchup against every top-tier. Of course, it’s doubtful that that will actually be the case, but we can hope!
When Sephiroth takes a certain amount of damage, he activates his Winged Form and enjoys a variety of stat buffs. His damage output is increased by 1.3x, he gains an additional midair jump, and – most importantly – super armor on his smash attacks. As we know, Bowser is sometimes considered the best Figure Player in the game (it’s usually Incineroar these days, though), and the reason why is mostly because of percent-based super armor he has on some of his attacks. The key there is percent-based. For example, if Bowser takes more than 8% of damage during the startup of his up smash, the armor will “break” and he’ll flinch. And that percent-based armor is enough to make him one of the best characters in the game. Sephiroth has full super armor on his smash attacks, albeit only in Winged Form. Still, this will provide him with a huge advantage, as Ultimate’s AI can’t recognize super armor and will try to challenge it anyway. Personally, I don’t think Sephiroth’s AI will be able to tell if its Winged Form is active. Kind of like how Cloud can’t tell if its Limit Charge is ready.
Sephiroth’s special moves are all really interesting. Let’s start by talking about what I believe to be his least useful ones; Flare and Scintilla. Flare is a powerful projectile, especially when charged into Megaflare and Gigaflare. Its charge can’t be stored, though, which means it’ll likely only be useful at the ledge. Scintilla might not be useful anywhere, as it breaks if the opponent hits the shield with a strong move. Shadow Flare and Octaslash, however, are interesting. Shadow Flare covers a decent area, beats incoming projectiles, and creates a trio of homing energy balls around the opponent that strike a few seconds later. My guess is that Ultimate’s AI won’t be able to detect if it’s surrounded by Shadow Flare. Even if it can tell, it’s going to be forced to shield or dodge, and the AI can take advantage by grabbing or using a smash attack, respectively. Octaslash is a multi-hit move with extreme power, and if Sephiroth’s AI can be trained to attack with it on the ground (and aim it horizontally), he may just wind up top-tier. Many of our posts mention that Ultimate’s AI can’t deal with multi-hit attacks, as it drops shield after the first strike. That’d be the case here, and Octaslash is so strong that it would spell doom at very early percentages. Combine that with Winged Form and its 1.3x damage multiplier – and those super armor smash attacks – and you’ve got a truly fearsome character.
I don’t see off-stage play being particularly strong for Sephiroth. His recovery is okay, but his attacks are too narrow to warrant trying to gimp an opponent. Plus, his down air is a stall-then-fall, which means if Sephiroth uses it off-stage he’s going to self-destruct. In terms of on-stage aerials, though, up air is going to be a good one thanks to its large range. Between up air, up tilt, and up smash, fighters are going to have a very difficult time landing when playing against Sephiroth. All you’d have to do is teach a Sephiroth amiibo to use its up throw to get the enemy in the air and then spam up smash and up air!
Overall, I am slightly concerned regarding Sephiroth. He’s just got so many potential strengths that they might add up to something too strong. Long range, a powerful up special, a Winged Form with increased damage, super armor smash attacks, high shield damage, an excellent juggling game… I don’t want to say this character is going to be banned, because I could be totally off-base. But what I can say is that Sephiroth is shaping up to be a menacing force, and all we can do is wait to see what happens!
In the meantime, if you’re looking to train some Figure Players in celebration of the holiday spirit or something, you can find our amiibo training guides right here. Our most popular guides include Joker, Bowser, and Incineroar, so feel free to start with any of those instead! In the meantime, thanks so much for reading — until next time!
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