Smash Melee Matchup: Samus VS Falco featuring DIG HugS
Mon 1st Jul 2019 - 7:00pm
It's been a wild year for new characters breaking through the barriers and winning large events. Major tournaments have seen wins from Captain Falcon, Samus, and Pikachu! Our very own HugS is part of that selection of non-top tier characters. Recently snatching the win away from Magi's Falco at DreamHack Dallas, Hugs gives his top tips and insight on how to deal with Falco and the character's oppressive playstyle.
Like every matchup, Falco's greatest neutral tool is his laser game. His lasers help control so much space and are used as an approaching tool. Laser aerials and laser tilts are possible to counter but it can be tricky for some characters. Especially against Samus, Falco will become heavy on lasers so one of Samus' options are to powershield. Interrupting his laser patterns becomes a problem as it's much harder for him to get in. Furthermore, Samus' wavedash back makes it that little bit harder for Falco to land an aerial post laser. It seems though Samus has the same defenses against Falco lasers as the other characters on the roster; wavedash out of shield timings need to be on point. Following this, if Falco gets in close enough to do unsafe aerials on shield, Samus has the option to up-B and punish Falco.
HugS says: "The hardest part about it is the laser game because Samus is a very grounded character. You’re going to have to be dealing with a lot of lasers and you’re not just going to be approaching out of the air. The way the matchup becomes easy is if you can get your powershielding down for lasers, to interrupt Falco’s main shutdown tool. That’s mostly what Falco will do; try to shut you down with lasers so you can’t get in. You need to have good wavedash out of shield timings between the lasers, to mess up their spacing and approaches. If you can powershield also, you’ll shut down their main tool in the neutral against you."
Effectively dealing with lasers is Samus' number one priority, so practising wavedash timings and powershielding on Uncle Punch maybe one of the most effective ways to practice the neutral part of this matchup. Following that, learning how to act out of the lasers that you don't powershield or wavedash out of is key. Taking lasers aren't the end of the world, and you have the ability to act out and defend yourself from a high flying Falco who's approaching with an unsafe laser.
HugS says: "You’ll see lower level Samus players get shut down by the lasers and combo’d more. The higher level ones, like me or Duck, even though we’re getting bombarded with lasers, we’re still controlling the ground with wavedashes or powershielding. Falcos never feel just completely open to attack us because we’re still controlling the space. The bad Falcos will just try to hit your shield a lot, even though they have control with lasers. That’s when you get away with your up-B’s out of shield to do a bunch of damage. Especially if you’re ledge cancelling, your up-B move to follow up on popping them up with this move. If they’re smart, they’re shutting you down with lasers and doing very safe aerial pressure on shield."
Unfortunately for the space animals, Falco and Fox get combo'd pretty easily. Samus can capitalise on her openings fairly well. Wavedash back down-smash, up-throw back-air, and up-B out of shield punishes are just some of the ways she can start big damage on an unsuspecting Falco. Up-B from Samus is much better when you can edge cancel it. This proves to be a bit of a problem on Final Destination. One of Samus' worst stages, Final Destination limits Samus' up-B options and also forces her to take on the barrage of lasers without any platforms to escape.
HugS says: "I think that Final Destination is the hardest stage to play against Falco on because your up-B move isn’t as reliable without the platforms. You constantly have to fight on the ground and deal with lasers. My strategy is to time homing missiles or super missiles in between the lasers to force them to react. That way I can get in and start fighting and not give them the distance to laser me as much. My goal is to survive the laser onslaught to the point where I can finally get an opening and I have to make big conversions on those openings because without platforms, I do get a punish games off my down-smashes, down-tilts or dash attacks. I also think Battlefield is lowkey a bad stage for Samus against Falco because the Falcos realise they can abuse the top platform because Samus has to commit pretty hard to reach the top whereas Falco’s jump height gets him up there pretty easily."
Samus' punish game does benefit on other stages such as Fountain of Dreams. The platforms help Samus with the up-B move and the top platform is low enough that Samus can further carry on her combo for maximum damage. Though Samus doesn't have any huge guaranteed string combos or the world's best punish game, Samus can aim to chip away at the opponent's percent until she can charge shot or down-smash her opponent into the blast zone. Alternatively, getting Falco offstage for an edgeguard situation is possible after a reasonable amount of damage.
HugS says: "One of your bread and butters is just after you catch them with an up-B. If you manage to bring them to the top platform on Yoshi’s Story or Fountain of Dreams, usually an up-B and then landing on the top platform leads to a free down-smash which then can lead to an edgeguard, especially if you can get a missile off the top platform. That’s a big one. Ledge cancelling all your up-Bs is important because if you get one of those and they don’t DI correctly, you’re going to get free damage off of that to follow up. Dreamland is okay."
Edgeguarding and Recovery
Depending on Falco's approach back to the stage, Samus does have a few options to terminate Falco's stock. Although they take a while to come out, missiles can play a part on covering Falco's up-B options. Homing missiles can catch Falco out of his up-B move and, if it misses, Samus can cover her options on the stage. An easy set up to put Falco in a sticky spot off-stage is simply a down-smash. When you do manage to get the down-smash, you can convert your interactions into edgeguards. A grab should lead to a sweet spot back-air. At roughly 105% and up, this will typically lead to a KO, depending on the stage.
HugS says: "It’s not an easy process. I think Falco is harder to edgeguard than Fox. When you’re up close, the threat of the side-B move is bigger than Fox’s. Some of the options I use; I throw a homing missile if I have enough time to let one out to minimise their options. I tend to watch out for side-B to platform and cover it with a high missile. Falco’s do that a lot but if I want to cover it, I have to commit to it. I give up other edgeguard options to do it, but I still use it to keep them scared of hitting the side platform with their side-B. When they go low, it’s the easiest to edgeguard. Their up-B doesn't have an active hitbox like Fox’s does, so once you get them down, it’s an easy nair off-stage or a ledge grab into sweet spot back-air to end the stock."
On the flip side, Samus will find herself off-stage during the match too. To a Falco however, having Samus off-stage is a tricky situation to deal with as she has one of the best recoveries in the game. Her mixups with bomb jumps, grapple, up-B and height changes make it very difficult for Falco to pinpoint where Samus will be. Falco can't just dair off the stage so the edgeguarding process has to be played a little more patiently.
HugS says: "It’s an easy process, though I think people get too in love with the bomb jumps. Falco could stunt your forward momentum with lasers if you’re trying to bomb jump too much. Sometimes, I’ll bomb once and just drop low, instead of bomb jumping. If I see the lasers coming, I can just drop and drift forward after one bomb and save my jump for grapple to grab ledge. Falcos tend to not go off-stage to get you so you’re pretty safe. It’s more about just getting close enough to stage with your tools to mix them up when you’re trying to grab ledge."