Among the Super Smash Bros. community, it is common for distinguished groups (such as the Smashboards Back Room) to create Tier lists, rankings of a character's potential in tournaments. The Smashboards tier list is generally seen as the "official" tier list, though many other groups have created their own. The lower the number on the tier list, the greater the potential for that character to do well in tournaments.
SSB tier list
SSBM tier list
SSBB tier list
Controversy over the existence of tiers
The overwhelming majority of the Smash community believe that tiers exist and that not all characters in each game are perfectly balanced. However, there are many casual players in the Smash Bros. community who disagree with the idea of tier lists. It is a common misconception among these players that all characters in the series are sufficiently balanced in ability. Such people are known as "anti-tierists". However, it is extremely difficult to perfectly balance a cast as diverse as that in Super Smash Bros. Furthermore, several prominent members of the community, such as Mew2King, have performed exhaustive tests on the objective qualities of certain attacks, such as speed, hitbox duration, priority, etc. Some characters are objectively more favorably endowed with these qualities than others, providing some degree of evidence to base tier listings. All in all, some characters simply have more potential than others. Tournament results reinforce the high placements of certain characters on the tier list; the winners of Melee tournaments most commonly use Fox, Falco, Sheik, and/or Marth, and the winners of Brawl tournaments most commonly use Meta Knight, Snake, Diddy Kong, Ice Climbers, Falco, and/or Olimar. Additionally, the anti-tiers' arguments are constantly refuted, and no argument supporting the belief that tiers don't exist has been accepted as irrefutable.
Many different arguments supporting the belief that tiers do not exist have been presented by anti-tiers. One common argument is that the tier list causes players to only play top tier characters, and that since low tier characters are never used, their metagames will never evolve and the community will never know if they are really just as good as the other characters. However, even low tier characters have tournament representation and their dedicated mains, such as Gimpyfish, Taj, and Vermanubis. These players put in just as much effort, if not more, compared to top tier players, to develop their characters and improve their skill, so the metagames of these characters continue to evolve. These players additionally routinely lose to players of top and high tier characters and place lower than top and high tier mains. In addition, if a player of a low tier character does exceptionally well with their character (such as by placing high in a large tournament), the tier list can be changed to raise that character higher, reflecting that the character was better than originally thought. Another common argument is that since the tier list constantly changes, it can never be accurate and therefore is nonexistent. In response, pro-tiers argue that the tier list reflects the metagame at a certain period of time, and if a new technique is discovered that elevates a certain character's position, since the technique was never used before, it was irrelevant to previous periods of time. Anti-tiers also argue that since every character can be played differently and every person plays differently, any character can have strategies that make them tournament viable. Although every character has different strategies that can be used, the top-tier characters' strategies are more effective in matches than the strategies of low-tiers, and even the best strategies of low-tier characters are continually defeated. A frequently presented argument against tiers is that the series' developers did not intend for the characters to be unbalanced, and that tiers make the game "less fun." Although most casual players and even competitive players agree that the Smash series would be better if every character was equal, this does not discredit the existence of tiers; Nintendo once admitted that tier existed in the Smash series. Anti-tiers additionally attempt to disprove the existence of tiers by defeating top-tier players or CPUs using low-tier characters, saying that since they can defeat top-tiers with a low-tier, tiers must not exist. However, skill level is more important than character choice in the outcome of a match, and a skilled player using a low-tier will be able to defeat a weaker player or a CPU (who, despite their fast reactions, severely underutilize the best tactics of their character and are as good as a poor player at best) using a top-tier. The tier list is also not based on the outcome of one match and is instead based on repeated, consistent placements of characters in tournaments. The tier list is also focused on 1v1 play with no items, a restricted stage list, and players who understand and use the tactics of their character to their greatest potential, and tiers are not relevant in casual play between players who use items and who do not fully utilize all their character's best techniques.
Tier lists have been frowned upon by some people in the Smash Bros. scene as they see tier lists as restrictions on who will be played in tournaments, and many players get upset when they see that their favorite characters are among "the worst in the game." This is not the intention of a tier list. The tier list technically does not restrict the characters played, because the tier list ranks characters based on their potential in tournaments, not who is the "best" character to play. Some also believe that it limits the ability to learn from mistakes caused by players as the failure would be pinpointed on their character that they use rather than the player's own ability. However, competitive players and many casual players would know their character's weaknesses and strengths, and a player would be able to tell when a mistake was their own fault or due to a weakness of their character.