If you plan on joining the competitive amiibo community, don’t even think about saying the word “Incineroar“. At this point, simply uttering its name strikes fear into the cold and empty hearts of dedicated trainers — the Heel Pokémon is inarguably the strongest fighter in the game, and as such is banned from most tournaments. If you’d like to get in on the action, we have a training guide you can read to learn how!
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Prior to the release of the Incineroar amiibo figure, Bowser was considered the strongest character in the game. It was easy to see why, then — he’s a heavyweight fighter with super-armored tilts and smash attacks (and Ultimate’s AI cannot detect or properly react to super armor). Trainers estimated that Incineroar would wind up top-tier as well, owing to its high endurance and powerful attacks. Unfortunately, Incineroar wound up even stronger than that when its Figure Player was made available in November 2019.
Incineroar is so good, in fact, that it only needs to use two of its moves to wipe out nearly the entire cast: Alolan Whip and down smash. Alolan Whip is a command grab with horizontal movement that reaches out to grab a foe. Incineroar then tosses them backward against a pair of ropes and attacks with an upward throw or a lariat (depending on the timing of the user’s button press). Its AI uses Alolan Whip impeccably, and always utilizes its high-damage version save for a few specific circumstances. Worst of all, FPs are often powerless to avoid it — optimal amiibo are trained to remain grounded and defensive, and they’re often in the middle of a roll or attack when Incineroar reaches out to grab them. As a result, you’ll often see Incineroar land Alolan Whip over and over again until its opponent is killed, and there’s not much the enemy can really do to fight back in this case. Ultimate’s AI is flawed, and there’s no better way to exploit it than to spam Alolan Whip. Lame, but true.
When Incineroar manages to launch its opponent off-stage, it is often trained to wait at the ledge and then intercept with a well-timed down smash. Its jumping hitbox has a chance of confusing AI opponents (causing them to drop their guard), plus the actual attack is incredibly strong. Any other moves Incineroar uses are icing on the cake — trainers sometimes choose to mix in normal grabs, up airs, and up smashes, but none of these are totally necessary. If you equip Incineroar with Spirits, forget it — it may be practically unbeatable in this instance (if trained properly).
While Incineroar has no truly disadvantageous matchups, there are a select few fighters who have a nonzero chance of beating it. Mii Gunner comes to mind first and foremost; if it’s trained to rely on its forward smash, it will be able to outrange Alolan Whip and rack on quick damage (and then KO at high percentages). Ridley and King K. Rool can sometimes contend against Incineroar depending on their training, but they’re shaky counters at best. This means that Mii Gunner is the only fighter on the entire roster who can consistently cause Incineroar trouble, and even then Mii Gunner has poor matchups against other fighters (Lucas, Captain Falcon, and Byleth) that make it a less viable pick. Admittedly, there is a tiny chance that Incineroar self-destructs while recovering; this is because its AI often uses Cross Chop and then Alolan Whips under the stage and falls to its death. This isn’t consistent enough to be a character-breaking issue, though.
This is why Incineroar is often banned from tournaments, then: it’s easy to train, it beats most of the cast, and doesn’t have any consistent counters. In YouTuber Choctopus’ huge Raid Boss Open tournament, seven of the top eight entries (out of over 500) were Incineroar, and each of their matches involved two instances of the Heel Pokémon clanging Alolan Whips over and over again. As you might expect, this wasn’t fun to watch, and caused quite a bit of controversy at the time. Overall, it’s best to keep Incineroar banned to prevent this from happening; not only is it nearly guaranteed to win any tournament it enters, it isn’t even fun to watch when it does so. The competitive amiibo community is a small one, so it’s important for it to retain as many viewers as it can get.
If you’re looking to train an Incineroar amiibo of your own, we’ve got a helpful training guide that goes into greater depth. You can also access its official ban announcement if you’d like to experience a bit more of the metagame history behind the character. Don’t forget to join our Discord community if you have any questions!
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