Edge-guarding, also known as edgeguarding, and intercepting in Super Smash Bros. Melee, is the attempt to prevent an off-stage recovering enemy from reaching the stage. Players can achieve this in many ways, and the struggle between an edge-guarder and their enemy leads to many strategies and mindgames. The anti-strategy is the guard break.
There are two main methods of edge-guarding. One is to run or jump off the stage and attack; this is often done by characters with great jumping ability, which includes multiple jumps and good recoveries, such as the Robo Burner. The other is to stay on the stage and attack the opponent when they recover, should they fail to sweetspot the ledge. This is mostly done with Down Smashes and Tilts, as they are often "sweep" moves, that tend hit low and cover more ground; some projectiles are also effective to edge-guard, such as Falco's Blaster and Samus' Charge Shot.
Any character can edge-guard, although some are better at it than others. A character's ability to edgeguard offstage is determined by two factors: the length and safety of their recovery, and the utility of their aerial attacks. The most prominent example is Meta Knight, as his recovery is effectively immune to edgeguarding, and because his aerials are quick and send opponents on favorable trajectories. However, some characters are strong edgeguarders despite having sub-par recoveries; Ganondorf is the best example. His recovery is slow and short, but all of his aerials are deadly offstage.
Certain characters are worse at defending themselves from edge-guards. These are generally characters with predictable recoveries (like Captain Falcon or Ike), slow recoveries (like Ness or Lucas), characters reliant on tether recoveries (like Olimar (Brawl only) or Ivysaur), or characters without a damaging recovery move (like Lucario (Brawl only) or Olimar (SSBWU/3DS only). Ness and Lucas fall on an even worse category since their recovery can be easily negated if the opponent manages to absorb/reflect/nullify their PK Thunder.
In general, the recoveries of the cast have improved across the games. In Smash 64, aside from Pikachu and, to a smaller extent, Mario, all characters have predictable recoveries, leaving them vulnerable to edgeguards, which is further compounded by the game's high hitstun.
Melee recoveries, while still rather predictable, are benefited by ledge-teching. Jigglypuff and Samus are well-known for their recovery ability, with the former having arguably the strongest edgeguarding ability in the game. Melee introduces meteor cancelling, which makes meteor smashes much less potent at securing offstage KO's. However, the increased falling speeds and gravity make semi-spikes more effective. Certain attacks, known as spikes, have downwards knockback that are not recognized as meteor smashes, and characters who posses these moves often utilize them in their edgeguarding, most notably Marth.
In Brawl, recoveries are overall longer, and the larger ledge sweetspots, as well as the auto-sweetspot mechanic, make edgeguarding less effective. The meteor smash recognition window has been expanded, removing the spikes of the previous game. Meta Knight is infamous for his immunity to being edgeguarded, due to the his plethora of recovery options, with his recovery being the best not only in Brawl, but arguably the entire series, and this grants him his powerful offstage game. Brawl's floatier physics, low hitstun, meteor cancelling and the aforementioned changes to ledge sweetspots arguably make edge-guarding in this game the least effective out of all four iterations. In these three games, edgehogging is a commonly used tactic to stop opponents who aim their recoveries to the ledge.
In Smash for 3DS/Wii U, recoveries on their own were generally buffed, and ledges were reworked to remove edgehogging, reducing the effectiveness of on-stage edge-guarding. However, meteor cancelling has been removed in Smash for 3DS/Wii U, making Meteor Smashes as deadly as they were in Smash 64, and planking is practically impossible since characters lose their ledge invincibility after re-grabbing the ledge repeatedly before getting up the stage. The new ledge-stealing mechanic (also known as Ledge Trumping) can set-up recovering opponents for an attack, most commonly a Back Aerial. The longer recoveries enforce and encourage more aggressive offstage play, as offstage edge-guarding carries much less risk than before, since an edge-guarder can no longer be edge-hogged if their attempt is unsuccessful. Also, the improvements to recoveries are not consistent across the cast. Marth's recovery is largely unchanged from before; Fox's recovery is twice as long as in Brawl, as Fox Illusion and Fire Fox can now be used in tandem; and Ganondorf's recovery is even worse due to his lowered air speed and the removal of grab-armor, and Charizard suffers severely with the loss of gliding. Most notably, the introduction of Little Mac marks him as the character whose recovery is undoubtedly the worst in the entire series.
Lastly, in Smash for 3DS/Wii U, teching cannot be performed during hitlag, causing certain stage-spikes to be un-techable, and the new ledge mechanics make stage-spikes more common than in past games. All these changes have contributed to more offstage battles in competitive play, as edge-guarding is much safer while still rewarding if successful. As in Brawl, Meta Knight is noteworthy for his edge-guarding ability, along with characters who possess useful meteor smashes, particularly Captain Falcon and Ganondorf.
The simplest and safest way to edge-guard is to stand at the edge and throw attacks - often a powerful Forward Smash, Down Smash or Down Tilt that can hit even an edge sweet spootting. While this method of edge-guarding requires the least set-up, it is often thwarted by sweet-spotting or ledge-teching, making it safe, but less effective.
In a similar strategy to sitting on stage, a character with projectiles (especially projectiles affected by gravity, like Peach's turnips or Mario's Fireballs) can stand by the edge and try to interrupt a faraway, recovering opponent. This strategy is very safe, in that players are very unlikely to be hit while edge-guarding in this fashion, and it can be combined with both edge-hogging and attacking from on-stage. This strategy is very effective depending on the type of projectile the edge-guarder uses VS the type of recovery the opponent has. Gimping projectiles, such as Falco's Blaster and Mario's Fireballs, are often more effective against opponents with poor recoveries, as their small hitstun and minimal knockback can prevent those from recovery. On the other hand, powerful projectiles that inflict high knockback, such as Samus Charge Shot and Mewtwo's Shadow Ball, can often send opponents trying to recover into the right or left blast zones due their high power.
Off-stage guarding (Gimping)
A risky, but deadly, way of edge-guarding is to jump off-stage and interrupt the opponent in mid-air. The most effective way to do this is by Meteor Smashing, but some moves that inflict horizontal knockback are also useful if the opponent has already used their double jump. The recovering enemy has few options by which they can defend themself, such as using Aerial Attacks, air dodging or directing themself away from the edge-guarder. When using this style of edge-guarding, most characters put their own life in jeopardy, being so far off-stage and essentially putting themselves in danger, since, if the opponent manages to avoid this edge-guarding, they will be in the advantaged position. If, however, the edge-guarder is able to land a powerful aerial attack (like Captain Falcon's Knee Smash) far off-stage, their enemy will almost certainly get KOed. Even if unsuccessful, the edge-guarder can often edge-hog the recovering opponent (although this doesn't work on Smash Bros. for 3DS/Wii U).
With most characters, it is best to avoid using the second jump before hitting the opponent, as many will not be able to make it back without it. Characters such as Jigglypuff, Kirby, and Meta Knight are very useful characters to use for this strategy (the first is notorious for his ability to Wall of Pain). Their multiple jumps allow them to go far off stage and deliver an aerial attack.
A common way to edge-guard is to edge-hog, or grab the ledge so that the opponent cannot. There are several ways to reach the ledge when standing on-stage. The two most common ways are to face away from the ledge and either short hop or wavedash backwards (in Melee). Many players, when wavedashing backwards, make the mistake of standing too close to the edge before wavedashing, thereby air dodging off-stage and self-destructing. Note also that with some characters, it is possible to fast-fall the wavedash off the stage and in effect grab the edge sooner.
Usually, an edge-hogger rolls the moment the recovering enemy uses their third jump, gaining invincibility frames and defending themselves against any type of damaging Special Moves used for recovery. Edge-hogging is effective against sweet-spotting, but can be beaten by an enemy that comes fully on-stage in their recovery.
When an enemy lands fully on-stage they are often caught in the lag of their third jump. Edge hopping is often the method to keep them off the stage. This causes one to return to the starting position of choosing which edge guarding technique to use, but the opponent has slightly more damage, leading to a constant edgeguard game.
Edge-hogging is no longer in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U due the new ledge trump mechanics, that essentially allows multiple characters to grab the same ledge; however this will cause the first grabber to be kicked out.
Only possible in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, grabbing onto a ledge that has already been grabbed by another player will push them away from the ledge. While ledge trumping was intended to negate edge-hogging, it can still be used as an effective form of edge-guard; an on-stage player ledge trumps a recovering player by running off-stage and fast-falling onto the ledge as soon as the recovering player grabs it. This causes the recovering player to automatically let go of the ledge and they cannot take any action for a moment, allowing for an easy combo, such as Sheik's Back Air. In addition, the removal of ledge re-grab invincibility can be exploited by a ledge trump edge-guard.
A somewhat underutilized ability, Deterrence, is basically fake off-stage guarding, being a form of mindgame to inflict mental pressure. The player would make to jump towards the opponent trying to recover, but instead return to the stage without ever engaging the enemy. If done convincingly, the opponent will attempt to evade the non-existent attack and hopefully miss the ledge or dodge right into a different attack.
While this strategy works against newer players, it usually requires a twist against more advanced combatants; as it requires more knowledge of the opponent and reaction time. In this case, doubles play is usually necessary.
- Marth connects the spike and KO's the enemy.
- Marth spikes the enemy into Roy's Flare Blade.
- In attempting to evade Marth's spike, the enemy lands in the hitbox of Roy's Flare Blade.
- In attempting to evade both attacks, the enemy completely misses the edge.
Super Smash Bros.
- Captain Falcon: His down aerial is a quick and powerful meteor smash.
- Kirby: His back aerial has low start-up, is disjointed, and has a lingering hitbox, dealing high knockback during the first few frames.
- Pikachu: With a long, quick, and safe recovery, Pikachu can go far offstage, where its fast, disjointed, and powerful back aerial is deadly.
Super Smash Bros. Melee
- Captain Falcon: His forward aerial, the Knee Smash, is an extremely strong semi-spike.
- Falco: Down aerial has quick start-up and a lasting hitbox, and spikes powerfully throughout the entire move.
- Fox: His Reflector has no start-up and semi-spikes opponents with high hitstun.
- Ganondorf: He boasts the most powerful meteor smash in the game in his down aerial, which is difficult to survive even with meteor cancelling. His up aerial semi-spikes during the late hitboxes.
- Jigglypuff: It can perform the Wall of Pain, which involves chaining its back aerial into itself and carrying the opponent offstage.
- Marth: His down aerial has low start-up, a large hitbox, and spikes with high knockback, and is used as the finisher of the famous Ken Combo.
- Pikachu: The middle hitbox of its up aerial is a weak semi-spike that can be chainted into itself.
- Sheik: Her forward aerial has quick start-up and is a strong semi-spike.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
- Falco: His down aerial has quick start-up, and meteor smashes powerfully in the first few frames.
- King Dedede: His back aerial is quick, disjointed, has a lingering hitbox, and is relatively strong.
- Marth: His forward aerial is quick, has long reach, and deals moderate knockback.
- Meta Knight: With an incredible recovery and fast aerials, he can perform a pseudo Wall of Pain with his forward and back aerials. His down aerial is a moderately strong semi-spike, and his neutral aerial deals relatively high knockback. Aerial Shuttle Loop is a powerful semi-spike as well.
- Wolf: His back aerial is quick, long-ranged, and strong.
Super Smash for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U
- Bowser: All of his aerials (sans down aerial) are useful off-stage, moreso due to Bowser's greatly enhanced recovery. Back aerial in particular is among the most powerful in the game, and is also very fast with good range. Forward smash can hit ledge-grabbers if spaced correctly, and Fire Breath can be used to push opponents down and away from the ledge.
- Captain Falcon: His down aerial is relatively fast, has a large hitbox, and is a powerful meteor smash.
- Cloud: His Forward and Down Aerials are powerful Meteor Smashes that have high range and long-lasting hitboxes. Limit Break Cross Slash is also a very useful way to get stage spikes if used when the opponent is about to grab the ledge.
- Fox: His back aerial is quick, and is a strong semi-spike if sweetspotted.
- Ganondorf: The removal of meteor cancelling makes his down aerial meteor smash even deadlier than before.
- Greninja: Hydro Pump is effective at disrupting recoveries, as the water does not cause flinching.
- Ike: His back aerial is quick, long-ranged, and deals high knockback. Eruption has a deceptively large hitbox which can also hit ledge-grabbers.
- Jigglypuff: Can perform a Wall of Pain by chaining forward aerials and finishing with a neutral aerial. Its neutral aerial is also effective for blocking recoveries.
- Kirby: Forward aerial is effective as a wall of pain, and all aerials are effective to chase opponents off-stage with.
- King Dedede: Gordo Throw can me aimed to snipe far away opponents, and it is also possible to latch Gordos at the ledge, essentially preventing opponents from grabbing the ledge and allowing Dedede to retaliate with Smash Attacks and Aerials. He also has one of the best vertical recoveries in the game, which combined with multiple jumps, allows him to go deep down for Meteor Smashes and still manage to recover.
- Lucario: With enough Aura, it possesses the strongest back aerial in the game.
- Mario: F.L.U.D.D. and Cape are very useful tools against recovering opponents, the latter being very quick and able to reverse most up-special moves. Forward aerial is a powerful meteor with a large hitbox.
- Marth/Lucina: Forward aerial is useful offstage, due to its speed, range, and decent power. Dolphin Slash is also useful against opponents near the ledge, since it can stage-spike very easily. Marth's tipped forward smash is also capable of hitting opponents on the ledge if spaced correctly, almost guaranteeing a KO if it does.
- Meta Knight: His back aerial is deceptively strong, and has relatively long range and duration, and his down aerial is a quick semi-spike. Neutral aerial is also very quick and useful off-stage.
- Villager: Can use Forward Smash or Timber to drop a powerful projectile from the ledge, and has effective aerials along with a long, reliable recovery.
- Ledge Punishes! ~Smash Wii U/3DS (My Smash Corner)
- Smash 4 Wii U - Anti-Trump Guide (Beefy Smash Doods)