Tips To Help Your Neutral Game for Falco vs. Marth
Mon 12th Feb 2018 - 9:03pm
Playing against any kind of Marth can be pretty frustrating for Falco. Marth has chaingrabs, an amazing neutral game, and some of the best edgeguarding potential in the game. Falco’s shine follow-ups are a bit harder to hit and Marth’s quick micro maneuverability can make hitting any of him with Falco’s moves pretty difficult.
For anyone new to either SSBM or this matchup, Marth can be pretty overwhelming for Falco at times. By no means does Marth have a serious advantage against Falco, but there are definitely noticeable situations when each character has an advantage over the other. What this small guide will aim to do will be to help Falco recognize some potential problem situations before they happen. In other words, by noticing how Marth is setting up for his next move and how you can aim to avoid getting into a disadvantaged situation.
I do want to make a disclosure saying that this is not a “full guide” for this matchup. SSBM is so deep that decision trees have a wide variety of options. While these tips are not the only solution to problems, they should act as suggestions for you to try and use, hopefully learning their strengths and weaknesses as well as discovering other options that can work for you!
Understanding How Marth Uses His Movement
In this matchup (like most of Marth’s matchups), Marth’s movement plays an important role in his neutral game. Marth’s dash-dance game is super strong, and his smooth dash-backs can make him hard to hit. Here are a couple of Marth’s strengths to be aware of and some solutions to when you notice Marth over-using some strategies.
1. Marth’s dash-away/wavedash back. When you notice your approaches not hitting and getting pivot-grabbed, you’re overcommitting with your approach. Marth’s pivot-grab game is second to none, and his punish game is strong enough to K.O. you from zero percent. If you like playing aggressive with Falco but hate getting grabbed by Marth, here are a couple different options you can use to deal with Marth’s dashback/wavedash back.
Low, approaching lasers. Instead of approaching with an aerial move, try using a low laser when you’re jumping at Marth. If the Marth is really committed to dashing away, a laser like this should catch their dash-away. This isn’t the safest thing you can do, but definitely could give it a shot. If your laser hits, you can combo off of it like any laser. Common follow ups include (but are not limited to): up-tilts, shine, grab, forward-tilt, and forward-smash.
Fade-back aerials. Fade-back aerials can be really good against Marth if used correctly. The idea behind fade-back moves is that you are closer to your original position at the start of your aerial than you normally would be with no fade-back. One way to think of this is on a number line, one to ten, right to left. If a normal aerial sequence moves you two units on the number line (ex: 1 -> 3), using fade-back aerials moves you one unit (1 -> 2).This strategy allows you to bait your opponent into setting up a counter strategy aimed at the third unit on the line. Now you can see your opponent missing a move or grab right in front of you, allowing you to punish them while they are in lag. Fade-back moves are an exceptional tool in the neutral game in almost any matchup, as regular/overshot aerials are much easier to punish in general.
Overshooting your moves. Overshooting can be an excellent strategy, but only if you’ve been setting up fade-back aerials. Fade-back aerials in general are safer than non-faded-aerials, but if you've been good with your fade-backs and notice those moves are getting grabbed, try overshooting. Overshooting moves essentially mean you're aiming your moves farther than usual. Instead of using moves that hold position, overshooting is a mix-up you can use when your opponent becomes accustomed to your fade-backs.
2. Being Careful of Marth’s low dash-dance. Marth has one of the potentially smoothest dash-dances in the game, but while his dash-dance is great not just for the ground it covers, the height of his dash is important in this matchup. When Marth enters his dash animation, he moves closer to the ground. In most matchups this might not seem like a big deal, but to an unpolished Falco who lasers just a bit too high, Marth can be slippery and hard to land a hit on. If Falco shoots a laser without fast-falling after, Marth can dash right under most lasers. The solution, as simple as it sounds, is to try shooting your lasers lower to the ground. Being able to control Falco’s laser heights is an incredible display of control in your character. I would definitely recommend spending some time practicing your laser heights.
When you become comfortable enough to be able to shoot lasers low, medium, and high (for your short-hop height) you’ll notice more situations where different heights of lasers are just straight up better. Lower lasers help you catch opponents who are more ground-based, high lasers help you catch opponents who jump or use aerials more, and medium lasers achieve a mixed effect but are generally easier to powershield/react to. You should also be aware of each height’s weakness. Marth can dash under high lasers and jump over low lasers. Marth’s shield, while small vertically, is pretty decently sized horizontally. Most Marths should have a pretty easy time landing their powershields on lasers, so you should keep that in mind if you abuse medium-height lasers.
Another good aspect of Falco’s low lasers is if your opponent chooses to jump over them, you can use that knowledge to your advantage. If you should a laser with the intent of forcing them to jump, you can plan in advance for their jump/aerial move. You can either catch their jump with one of your own aerials, or if you anticipate your opponent using an aerial after their jump, you can shield and counter attack however you want (shield grab, aerial out of shield, shine out of shield). While this strategy isn’t entirely risk free, as your opponent might anticipate your actions and move accordingly, trying out this low laser mixup might be something worth trying.
Another thing you can try is shooting a low laser followed by a high laser with the intent for Marth to powershield the lower laser into getting hit by the higher laser when they put their shield down. If the high laser connects, then you can follow up accordingly.
3. Working on your recovery. Marth has a wide range of options when it comes to edgeguarding any character, and with Falco’s fragile build (how easy it is to get knocked off-stage in this matchup) Marth generally has an easy time edgeguarding and gimping Falco at lower percents. Losing your stock at low percents can be debilitating - you just lost 25% of your total life to what can feel like two moves. Coming back mentally from getting gimped can be a challenge and we’ll save that for another time. For now, what you can work on is how you can try changing up your recovery to make it harder for Marth to gimp you.
Watch how Marth moves when you’re knocked off. If you notice either before or after your first gimp how your opponent moved, you can take countermeasures for the future. Some Marth’s like to just forward-throw and then immediate down-tilt by the ledge, a strategy that can knock you far away if you held in towards the stage, or even catch your jump if you jumped into it. If you see this happen, you should try holding away from the stage during Marth’s throw. Another common solution/habit is that Falco players tend to use their double jump to jump farther away from the stage and then side-b back.
This strategy isn’t bad if you notice that the Marth is staying on stage, but this mixup is pretty common. Doing this enough times should become obvious to your opponent and they can jump out and pretty much use any move to knock you far enough away that you can’t recover. When you notice Marth jumping off-stage, you can either dip low (below his double jump height) and recover by jumping back onstage or hitting Marth on your way back, or make sure your double jump backwards is far enough for you to not get hit but side-b back. The second option is a bit harder/unlikely to work, and I’d recommended just going lower from the start.
Mixing up your side-b shortens. Side-b shortening can be a huge mix up in this matchup. When you’re close to the stage after getting knocked off, using a shortened side-b can help you fake-out your opponent. Shortens honestly rarely get punished, what tends to get punished is the start of your side-b. If you make it obvious that you are going to shorten your side-b, then it can be easy for Marth to just jump up and hit you with a forward-air or neutral-air and take the stock. What you can do to help you make your recovery subtler is to shorten your side-b at the height of a platform cancel. You’re giving yourself more options that way, you can shorten or not, and having these options gives you a 50/50 as long as Marth doesn’t go off-stage after you.
3.5. Knowing how to use your up-b angles. If you’re able to get your up-b started before Marth hits you, knowing which angle to choose can decide your stock. Usually what happens against characters who can edgeguard well (pretty much all top-tiers) is that they will prepare to edgeguard your side-b and react to your up-b. This makes up-b more of a mixup and generally less safe than side-b. If you do manage to get your up-b out, your angle can make or break your stock.
Generally, going high is going to be the safer option. You can dodge attacks such as forward-smash or down-tilt by aiming your angle above their range and fast-falling to the ledge. You can use your fast-fall as a mixup to avoid certain timings for Marth’s moves, but it’s up to you to figure out whether fast-falling or not will help you.
Aiming straight at Marth can be a pretty risky decision, and while it’s probably the riskier/unsafe option, definitely try using it as a mixup if you think it will hit. Most players tend to go through a cycle of thinking similar to this: ‘He’s not going to go straight at me, that’d be so dumb, but maybe he thinks it will work because it shouldn’t, but it’s so unsafe he won’t go straight at me.’ You can definitely throw in going at a 90 degree angle as a mixup, but I would probably never rely on it.
Using your up-b to go to the ledge can also work pretty well. The two main pros of this decision are that if you use the correct angle you can snap to the ledge (sometimes you might need to fast-fall as well), potentially dodging an attack, and gaining ledge invincibility. In today’s meta, ledge invincibility is a desired advantage as it gives you an invincible ledgedash into a plethora of options. The main issue with going to ledge is because of how good of an option it is, covering this option is the most common option to cover when edgeguarding. You can snap to the ledge to get around some moves, but it’s not a guaranteed recovery. Most people will want to cover the ledge with an option that should work, and then react to your recovery decision whether you go to the ledge or not.
While this is by no means a truly deep guide to Falco vs. Marth, the aim is to give you some ideas to think about when you catch yourself having trouble in common situations. Melee is all about adapting to your opponent’s strategies so they can’t reuse them over and over again. When you recognize an option not working out, think about whether or not you’re using it too much and what you can do differently for the next time.
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