Smash Bros Melee: Fox vs. Falco Guide featuring Lucky
Tue 29th Oct 2019 - 8:10pm
This matchup has been a fan favourite since the beginning of Melee, with a vast majority of the community maining the 'space animals', Fox and Falco. Dubbed the coolest characters because of their extra technical toolkit and combos, many of the top level players also represent these characters at major tournaments. With this being such a common matchup, Lucky has given us advice and tips on how to defeat that pesky Falco player in your pools!
Arguably, one of the most important aspects of this matchup. When either of these characters get a grab or a shine in the neutral, it can mean massive damage or potentially a loss of a stock. The dynamic between these characters is deadly so playing the neutral smart and cautiously is encouraged. Falco players will use lasers in any match to catch off the opponent; if they can't act out of laser well or powershield, the opponent is in trouble. Luckily for Fox, he can deal with the lasers better than most. One of Fox's best moves in the neutral include full hopping. Full hopping allows you to beat a badly spaced approaching laser by falling with an up-air or back-air. In addition to this, acting out of the laser by turning around and up-tilting after the laser hits can prove effective. It comes out fast and will beat a laser that is badly spaced or will catch a jumping Falco. To catch out a Falco that may be lasering too much, running shine can catch them off guard but beware, Falco can down-air instead of lasering so it won't continue being effective if used constantly without thought.
A common mistake that Fox players make is opting for the wrong move when they finally get their hands on Falco. Players can and will struggle against Falco's laser game but when they finally get the opportunity to hit him, they opt for neutral-air at lower percents. The issue with this is that Falco can crouch cancel it and punish you drastically for it. Alternatively, what you can do is choose to use down-air, spaced back-airs, or grabs at earlier percents instead.
Lucky says, "A quick tip for any character is to learn to get hit by lasers and move out of the hit stun as fast as possible. Everyone always wants to ask how to beat lasers but you really can't beat them 100% of them time, you're going to get hit by some eventually. So learning how to deal with getting hit by lasers should always be a priority when playing against Falco."
When you finally break through and win the neutral, what comes next? The punish game in this matchup also applies to the Fox matchup in some ways. For example, up-throw into up-smash at low percent gains quick damage and a tech chase scenario. At higher percent, this is still great as it can secure a kill. To start a combo, you can choose to wave shine into jab reset and down-tilt near the ledge. This will set up a combo with bad DI options for them or it sets up an edgeguard situation with good DI. One of Fox's other bread and butter combos would include up-throw into up-tilt. This sometimes requires a wavedash after the up-throw to cover certain DI. This can help extend your combo and add extra damage before finishing with a hard hitting move to kill or set up for an edgeguard.
Lucky says, "If you ever grab a spacie and up-throw up-smash doesn't lead to a tech chase or to a kill, you should not be up-smashing at that percent. If you just opt for up-throw into up-smash in those awkward mid percents, you literally can't get a follow up and are essentially resetting neutral. Keep the combo going and keep the pressure on by extending and optimizing your combos."
Instead of up-smashing in those awkward percent windows, practice regrabbing, up-tilting, wavedash up-tilting, and short hop up-airing out of your grabs. Extending the combo and adding extra damage can be vital and you're essentially looking to kill or put them in a sticky situation off stage. One of the most common mistakes for Fox is up-smashing at those mid percents, so these combo optimisations are one of the most important things you can learn to boost your chances in this matchup.
Lucky says, "The punish game is a necessity when it comes to practicing the matchup. How I spent years playing this matchup with a below average punish game is beyond me and I can say with confidence that it has become one of my favorite parts of the match up."
It's become easy to practice these particular combo extenders on 20XX and Uncle Punch. These can be some of the best tools to optimise your punish game but if this is impossible, take note at the top players in this matchup. Notice what they will opt for at certain percents and if they go for it often. Does it always work? What does the opponent do to prevent these combos? Watching this matchup at a high level will show the 'textbook' options in the punish game against Falco.
Edgeguard and Recovery
Edgeguarding Falco isn't always the easiest part of the matchup, especially when he has a double jump; it can get a little tricky. One of Falco's best options to getting back to the stage is his side-B move. It's hard to react to as it's so fast and sometimes, going out there and getting caught by Falco's side-B will send you straight down into the depths with one less stock on your belt. Preparing for this scenario will help massively. Up-tilting near the ledge will beat a poorly spaced side-B onto the stage! Full hop back-air can beat a side-B to a side platform. Recognising what the Falco's options are and being aware of how quickly he can execute them will help you eventually get the timing right to punish him.
Falco can shorten his side-B and it is difficult to react to. If you get a read and feel like that's a likely scenario, you can shine it or grab the ledge quickly for an easy kill. When this is finally something you can get used to, Falco has to select a different option to get back to stage which will be his up-B move. After destroying the side-B option and forcing Falco to use up-B, Fox has an easy time going out and getting a free shine and ultimately, a free stock. Against better players however, Falco players will start implementing different ideas. Falco's double jump is exceptional while he's recovering. Better Falco players will DI very high up so they can drift back to the stage without using their double jump. They can then use it at the last second. When they have this available, it becomes harder to prepare an edgeguard against his side-B as he can wait and see which edgeguard option you go for and if you do something to start preparing. With this, he can double jump and side-B on reaction. React to where Falco is and be prepared with all of your options as Fox, as previously mentioned. One of the most common mistakes Fox makes is when they try to shine every possible recovery option for Falco and get side-B spiked.
Lucky says, "Fox has a great time edgeguarding Falco if you just break it down piece by piece. Start with covering his side-B move and go from there. The shine spikes will come over time, but you need to polish the simple stuff since it's the most consistent."
Sadly, the likelihood of always winning the neutral or sharpening your punish game to a tee is slim. In some cases, you'll find yourself offstage and dealing with Falco trying to edgeguard you. So what options do you have against his toolkit? Fox also has the ability to use the same double jump side-B mixup that Falco has. Falco's side-B works better but it's still a great option and solid mixup for Fox too! As well as this, Fox can use different up-B angles and techs to trick Falco into messing up the edgeguard. His up-B move has an insane amount of angles and each can be used as a mixup. Additionally, his up-B lets you ride against a wall while recovering, which can lead to easy techs when Falco tries to edgeguard you with a down-air.
Practising different angles on 20XX and UnclePunch might help, but it's not the easiest thing to practice. Trial and error in friendlies will help as you get used to the timing and which situations they're likely to try and edgeguard you, stay on stage or hold ledge.
Lucky says, "The main thing to look out for is his lasers when you are recovering. Fox has a pretty long start up on his up-B move. Falco has a great time checking you with lasers to drop you into an uncomfortable spot to recover. Learn to space your up-B move at heights that he will have trouble lasering and your recovery will improve dramatically against the character."