How to Use Projectiles in Smash Ultimate
Wed 13th Nov 2019 - 9:26pm
A lot of beginner players struggle to find times to use projectiles effectively. For this article, we will be discussing the times and places to use projectiles and how to identify what projectiles are good for what purpose.
Identify What Your Projectile Is Good At
In a game like Smash Ultimate with over 70 characters, it would be difficult to list out every projectile and their purpose. That is why we will be categorizing projectiles and what purpose they serve. A projectile is extra useful if it can fulfill multiple roles.
Regardless, all projectiles fulfill one purpose, zoning. Once you throw a projectile, your opponent has to respect the space that projectile will travel. Whether this be by shielding, running away, putting out a reflector, or jumping, anything your opponent does to respond to a projectile can be punished.
Here you can see that MVD sets up a minefield as ANTi's Mario is trying to recover. While MVD could try to directly challenge Mario's recovery or ledge get-up, he instead opts to gain as much control of the stage as he can. In response, ANTi uses Mario's own projectile to make space for himself to land. Projectiles like these are useful for tacking on damage, forcing your opponent to approach, and disrupting your opponent's approaches. ANTi's Mario cannot simply run forward and approach because of the minefield, but if he doesn't approach, he can't damage Snake.
In Smash Ultimate, almost all projectiles, if used from mid-range, are reactable. Shield is a frame 1 option that stops projectiles. Aside from that, your opponent can roll, jump, or use some other character specific method to get around your projectiles. This means that you are unlikely to deal significant damage to your opponent simply by spamming projectiles. The important thing about poking projectiles is that they force your opponent to use some method to avoid the projectile. Once your opponent commits to some option to avoid the projectile, you can punish that option to avoid your projectile.
Joker's Eiha is useful for stopping aerial and grounded approaches
These projectiles are typically quick to come out and allow you to act quickly after using them. The point of a poke is that it is non-committal. When dashing or running, your opponent's shield will come out slower, making it easier to hit them with a projectile.
In this clip, you can see Pandarian uses a Razor Leaf off the ledge to start his combo on Ayuha's Ike. Projectiles can be confirmed into combo starters or kill moves, e.g. Pac-Man's bell. Ivysaur's Razor Leaf travels slowly and takes a long time (22 frames) to come out. In addition, it does not travel very far before it disappears. It is not a very good poking tool, but rather its effectiveness comes from how dangerous it is to get hit by.
In this clip, Tea catches Zackray's Gyro and uses it against him to set up for a creative kill. While not necessary, learning to use commonly spawned items like Gyro and Turnips against zoners can give an extra oomph to your punish game. Using your opponent's projectiles against them will cause them to have more caution when using projectiles later.
In this clip, Tsu's Hero lands a Kaboom onto Yo-he's Lucina as Lucina is trying to recover. Because Smash Ultimate was designed to encourage close up fighting, not many characters have projectiles that can kill. Even fewer have ways to consistently land those projectiles. While your opponent is grounded in neutral, they will consistently be able to avoid your projectiles. It is only when your opponent's options are limited that your projectile is more likely to land. By forcing a ledge trap, landing, or recovery, your opponent's chances of avoiding your projectiles decrease.
Often times, these kill projectiles need to be charged, making it more committal to use these projectiles. Only use them if you are sure that they will land.
In this clip, Quik's Samus mixes up his drift, timings, and movement to whittle at Glutonny's percent and patience. In the end, it is Quik who sees Glutonny use his double jump and takes the opportunity to confirm the kill.
Combining All of These
In this clip, Umeki pulls a Turnip, and within a span of seconds, uses it to start a combo into Daisy's forward aerial and then uses that Turnip to stop Kuro's recovery. Some projectiles can serve multiple purposes, so it is important to be aware of what options are available. Items like Snake's Grenades, Peach and Daisy's Turnips, and Link's Remote Bomb are incredibly versatile by nature. They can be thrown in the 4 cardinal directions with either a normal toss or a smash toss. Some characters can even link their projectiles and their aerials like Umeki just did.
Getting Out of Disadvantage
In this clip, Tweek uses Joker's downward gun special in order to create a safe space for him to land. Normally, Olimar can use his up-smash to catch a landing and potentially net a kill with the right Pikmin, but Dabuz chooses not to approach because he knows that if he gets hit by the Gun, it will confirm into a grab. Projectiles that can be dropped or fly at a downward angle can be used to force your opponent to back off or find a different way to try to attack you.
How to Play Against Projectiles
While a common opinion among newcomers and some veterans is that reflectors are the best option to stop projectiles, that simply is not true. For example, Hero's Zapple functions like a projectile, but cannot be reflected. Often, using a reflector preemptively will only get you punished. The best counterplay to projectiles is understanding them. Understanding what space your opponent's projectile will occupy in the next few moments of the match and trying to find a way around it is your best counterplay.
One thing to remember when dealing with projectiles is that no one can be everywhere. There will always be holes in your opponent's projectile pressure to exploit. When your opponent uses a projectile, take note of when and where they use that projectile. Most likely, they will use a projectile from that same spot in the future, especially if they hit you. Let's take for example that you are fighting Young Link who has 3 projectiles: Arrows, Boomerang, and Bomb. If they read your jump and hit you with an upwards arced Boomerang, most likely, the next time they use Boomerang, they will angle it upwards. You can then decide to use a grounded approach next time.
Now you might be thinking, well next time, they can just use their Arrows or Bombs to stop me. That would be true if that player could read your mind. But your opponent cannot read your mind, so your counterplay is at least good for one interaction. You and your opponent both operate under the assumption that people will repeat the things they have done before. In fact, most people do not even realize they have habits.
If you don't want to get hit to get information, you can also fake an approach by running forward and then running back. Often, your opponent will shoot their projectile and you will have valuable data on how they respond without giving up anything yourself.
Commonly Used Projectiles and Their Setups to Avoid
Pac-Man's Bell flies in an arc and the stun allows Pac-Man to kill you with a smash attack. The bell can still stun you even after it stops flying. If you do catch the Bell, Pac-Man cannot catch it when you throw it back.
ROB's Z-dropped Gyro can confirm into a killing Arm Rotor. Avoid challenging ROB near ledge if it has a Gyro in hand.
Peach and Daisy's Turnip is one of the most potent combo starters/extenders in the game. The float mechanic allows the princesses to use their aerials without dropping the Turnip. This allows them to alternate between throwing the Turnip and picking it back up to increase the damage of one combo. As an item, the Turnip can only be dropped or thrown directly downward, forward, or up. One of the best options is to attack Peach or Daisy as they are pulling a Turnip or keep them under pressure so they never feel safe to pull a Turnip.
I hope this guide was helpful in teaching you the basics to projectiles in Smash Ultimate.
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