Smash Pro Player Guide: Improving Your Samus With HugS
Sat 3rd Feb 2018 - 8:31pm
Ask any Smash Bros. Melee player in the scene to pick their favorite Samus player and they're bound to say HugS. Hugo "HugS" Gonzalez has played in the Melee scene since its early competitive days, stunning the scene with his surprising Samus gameplay. HugS was generous enough to lend us his expertise, and helped craft this Samus guide, giving you tips to help elevate your Samus gameplay.
Ask any Smash Bros. Melee player what the most important part of competitive gameplay is, and tech is going to be a common word between all of them. Tech, in layman's terms, is any technique of any difficulty that can be used to win a game, but HugS put it in a more symbolic way:
"Think of "tech" as the tools you use with solid decision making in order to win matches."
For background, tech is almost second nature to those playing Melee competitively, being used frequently throughout matches. Wavedashing, L-canceling, and short hopping are just a few of the techniques all characters can use to get the upper hand against their opponent! Although a few years old, this basic video should help in understanding the fundamentals of tech.
Not all tech is basic, however. There's plenty of advanced tech that require more practice, and are a little harder to pull off. Sweetspotting Up-B recoveries, pivot tilts, and powershielding are just a few examples. Most advanced tech is character specific as well. Take HugS's Samus as an example: aerial interrupts, up throw follow ups, and teeter canceling are just a few examples of advanced tech Samus players can use, and Samus definitely isn't the only character in Melee with unique tech. While advanced tech isn't necessarily beginner friendly, it's a great way to take your character, especially a mid-tier character like Samus, to the next level.
In short, Samus is at her strongest on stage instead of in the air. Unlike most characters, Samus is really only in the air if she's continuing a combo, repositioning, or escaping an onslaught from her opponent. However, on the ground, she has a lot of tools at her disposal to use. Her longer-than-usual limbs give her that extra length needed to hit opponents from a little further away, but be careful about whiffing, or missing moves.
"Players that are experienced in the matchup are looking for ways to bait Samus into throwing moves out pre-emptively in order to weave back in and cause damage."
It's not the end of the world, however. Position yourself well, depending on matchup, to better respond to enemy approaches.
"It's a pretty common habit of Samus players to forget about positioning, and instead throw out atacks hoping your opponent will run into them."
On the topic of matchups, there's plenty to go over. Samus struggles against characters such as Jigglypuff, Sheik, Captain Falcon, and Peach (in that order). Jigglypuff nullifies Samus's recovery, edgeguarding, and grounded neutral, strengths that Samus normally uses to her advantage. Sheik punishes Samus through grabs, since her neutral makes her more vulnerable to punishing grabs. While not as infuriating as the Jigglypuff matchup, it it still a matchup to be cautious about. Samus vs. Falcon requires one key ingredient: patience. One miscalculation or misstep can possibly spell doom for you and your stock. Convert your openings to a lot of damage and complete edgeguards. Otherwise the game could lean in your opponent's favor. If Samus plays the long game with Peach, chipping away at her (especially with charge shots), the matchup is definitely winnable, though.
Every character has a certain damage percentage (%) where they can be knocked out at and Samus is no exception. Samus is reliably KO'd at 115% and up, with those numbers varying depending on stage, but that doesn't mean she doesn't have tools to keep herself alive and that nice shiny stock intact. She can utilize her down + B to bomb jump, grapple beam (using the Z button near the ledge), up + B (standard recovery move), and second jump (X or Y twice) to recover onto the stage. Don't forget to mix up these abilities to keep your opponents asking, "What's her next move?"
KO-ing opponents with Samus is another story, however. Samus doesn't have easy KO setups, as many of the options available to her have risks. However, since her moves pack a punch, smart calls could take a stock.
Over time as you begin to practice more and more, you'll begin to feel confident in your skills. But as those skills develop, you'll need to look out for certain habits that may hinder or endorse your Samus skills. A common bad habit is to spam Samus's smash attacks, which have a lot of ending lag one you've used them, making yourself vulnerable to punishing moves if it doesn't land on a target or if it's shielded. Instead, focus on your weaker normal attacks (A moves) in order to set yourself up for a killer smash attack or other high-damage move!
Grabs are another great way to set yourself up for combos or help deal that final blow. While Samus does have one of the hardest grabs to land (and it's punishing if you miss), she has amazing punishes off of grabs with reliable KO options:
Down throws can lead to KO's on:
Marth, Sheik, Jigglypuff, Link, and Pikachu
While up throws can lead to KO's on:
Fox, Falco, and Captain Falcon
Forward throws and back throws don't carry as much KO potential as down throws and up throws, but instead provide decent positional advantages, like getting your opponent on top of a platform for a follow-up attack.
That final icing on the stock-taker cake definitely would be edgeguarding. Edgeguarding, and this goes for any character, is the process of preventing your opponent from coming back on stage. This varies from hitting opponents back while they're off stage, grabbing the ledge right before they grab it, and so on. For Samus, it's definitely a flowchart process. Samus, unlike other Melee characters, needs to approach edgeguarding a little differently. She utilizes moves like charge shots (B), missiles (Left/Right + B), Tilts (edging your stick one way, without dashing + A) and grabbing the ledge (either grabbing it or pressing Z to latch on and grab it) to ease away recovery options from her opponent. A lot of these tools don't need to connect with the opponent, however. A lot of her tools can be used to fake out the opponent, forcing them to recover in a way that might make them lose the stock, or set themselves up for you to take it by force.
Samus is definitely different than most Melee characters. The player's varying adaptability and constant focus means that Samus is definitely not the easiest character to pick up. However, with HugS's expertise, and with a lot of dedication and practice, Samus will begin to feel like second nature. Set aside a few minutes a day to practice what he recommends if you're interested in picking up a new character or even just honing your Samus game. All of Samus's techniques and skills won't be easy the first time, but through enough practice, everything will begin to come in easy. Who knows, maybe you're the next big Samus player in the making!
Thank you again to HugS for contributing time out of his day to help write this guide. You can find his Twitter here if you want to catch up on what's new. Thanks for reading and stay posted to Team Dignitas for the latest guides, tips, and news!
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