Kirby – A Tale of Waning Confidence


…Or is he? We’ll be examining Kirby’s status in the metagame. This one’s a bit of a sad tale.


Hi! This is Barnard’s Loop. I made this article in response to the recent July data dump, linked here:

July 2017 Character Data

The methodology is linked in the post, but you may take notice that during Phase 5 – which started on May 1st – that Kirby has no recorded results. He joins Dr. Mario and Mii Swordfighter as one of the few characters to turn up nothing in a now three month period.

Here, I will examine two aspects – his data from my database, and his perception according to monthly reddit tier lists.


  • January 2015 – 28th
  • March 2015 – 37th
  • April 2015 – 31st
  • May 2015 – 36th
  • June 2015 – 25th
  • July 2015 – 32nd
  • August 2015 – 30th
  • October 2015 – 32nd
  • November 2015 – 32nd
  • January 2016 – 31st
  • February 2016 – 34th
  • March 2016 – 36th
  • April 2016 – 36th
  • May 2016 – 36th
  • June 2016 – 37th
  • July 2016 – 37th
  • August 2016 – 40th
  • September 2016 – 40th
  • October 2016 – 40th
  • December 2016 – 42nd
  • January 2017 – 42nd
  • February 2017 – 42nd
  • March 2017 – 44th
  • April 2017 – 45th
  • May 2017 – 46th
  • June 2017 – 47th

*November 2016, December 2015, September 2015, and February 2015 were all “off” months where lists weren’t posted either due to holidays or tier list management transition.

A trend line is not necessary. He has had zero placement gains in the span of 17 months, dropping 16 spots in this time period, with 2017 marking a rapid decline from 42nd to 47th. His best position here is clearly pre-2016, with sporadic placements that are to be expected from a patch-heavy, uncertain, and newborn meta. As time went on, his numbers stabilized… and they dropped.

I haven’t done this with other characters, but the trend is pretty clear. Once patches ceased, his position stabilized, and high-profile performances at Pound 2016 and Frostbite 2017 at best prevented a drop for their particular event months. He has never gained during the post-patch era.

Why is this?

Character perception will depend on circumstance. Yoshi maintained comically high tier list status comparative to his results because Yoshi was a common wifi character that players fought frequently, and Yoshi was (and still is) cited as a character that heavily benefits in an online format.

This, of course, fell out of favor for Yoshi, who has seen significant declines as people have brought his lackluster results to attention. Yet, he was high for a while because people had experience and run ins with the character.

So, Kirby? Kirby is a character that not a lot of people use. I wouldn’t call him among the rarest – he has a dedicated fanbase, but it doesn’t seem to hold the same level of fanaticism or dedication that characters like Shulk have. He’s under-the-radar, as neither a commonly seen or used character, with a light fanbase of users.

This will lead people to simply place him in the aether of lower-mid tiers. Because nobody really has the experience to say “Wow, that’s broken,” and few are vocal about bringing the character’s flaws to light in the same way they do with particularly poor characters like Ganondorf or Jigglypuff, or characters that might be better than once thought but still had a rough history with perception – like Zelda.

He’s a radio silent character, and this is reflected in his decline. People do not have confidence in his prior lower-mid tier status, and thus he has collapsed into a group of lower tiered characters, with further room for decline. Little Mac, Palutena, and Wii Fit Trainer are currently ranked below the character, but all have shown better results on a long-term basis this year in both numbers and placement. For comparison’s sake:

Little Mac – 13th at Momocon 2017 (Lazyboredom), 17th at ARMS Saga (Lazyboredom.) Overall score of 60.5 over the course of Phases 4 & 5.

Palutena – 17th at ARMS Saga (TLTC,) 33rd at EVO 2017 (TLTC.) Overall score of 32.5 over the course of Phases 4 & 5. 

Wii Fit Trainer – 2nd at Combo Breaker 2017 (John Numbers), and an overall solid record from John Numbers at the regional level. Overall score of 44.5 over the course of Phases 4 & 5. 


What inspired me to make this? Kirby has one tournament result in all of 2017 used in my database – Legic, placing 3rd at a Norway regional I included, per my region sampling policy. I will occasionally disregard low entrant numbers in the interest of counting a tournament in a lesser-known region. DrommeLAN 6, a Norway regional of 26 entrants – this is the only Kirby result used in 7 months.

Frostbite wasn’t used simply on the basis that Komota placed 33rd. He may have beaten Ally, but he went 0-2 after this, losing to Seagull Joe & Smasher1001. Frostbite 2017 was considered my equivalent of an A-Tier (4th Category) where I use the characters results of the Top 32, meaning Komota missed out.

…This would’ve added 3 points to the character if had broken into top 32, for what it’s worth, so Kirby is still getting worse results than Ganondorf, Jigglypuff, Zelda, King Dedede, etc even if we considered this. He and Bowser Jr. (another character I’m likely to examine soon) maintain some of the absolute worst results in the game, even after I’ve expanded the number of tournaments & regions used and lowered the entrant cap on my database.

Even in Phase 3 – September-December 2016 – the character’s 16 point score placed him 9th to last, and was largely built upon 9ths and 13ths at regionals, or secondary score support through SuperGirlKels and K.I.D. Goggles.

Kirby has the makings of a bottom 10 – and possibly worse – position on the tier list as time continues to go on, with inevitable debates about the character’s viability.

Smashboards user Myollnir had some choice words about the character’s viability, examining the pros and cons of the character:

Myollnir’s Kirby Analysis

The conclusion being that Kirby has niches as a secondary due to potential match-ups vs. specific higher tiered characters, but he’s otherwise unviable and will remain irrelevant. With Komota failing to replicate his success vs. Ally in the many months since Frostbite, the brief potential infusion Kirby received may not have any effect in preventing his continued stagnation.

Despite garnering the character’s best win since Smash 4’s release, Kirby’s overall track record has declined so thoroughly that he sits at 56th – the worst non-Mii fighter result of any character in the game during 2017.

If we look at the total combined character results, we might have a good idea of Kirby’s ultimate fate in terms of meta placement:

Phase 1 – 5 (Partial) Character Results:

  1. Diddy Kong – 2250
  2. Cloud – 2135
  3. Bayonetta – 1973
  4. Sheik – 1888
  5. Fox – 1515
  6. Sonic – 1439
  7. Mario – 1342
  8. Zero Suit Samus – 1079
  9. Rosalina & Luma – 1052.5
  10. Mewtwo – 844.5
  11. Ryu – 733.5
  12. Meta Knight – 656.5
  13. Marth – 655
  14. Captain Falcon – 610
  15. Ness – 565
  16. Mega Man – 549.5
  17. Corrin – 544.5
  18. Peach – 498
  19. R.O.B. – 487.5
  20. Donkey Kong – 479.5
  21. Greninja – 465
  22. Toon Link – 452.5
  23. Pikachu – 447
  24. Luigi – 445.5
  25. Villager – 432
  26. Olimar – 372.5
  27. Bowser – 372
  28. Lucario – 340.5
  29. Yoshi – 308
  30. Lucas – 253.5
  31. Robin – 245.5
  32. Pit – 207.5
  33. Ike – 207.5
  34. Wario – 206.5
  35. Lucina – 198
  36. Little Mac – 193
  37. Mr. Game & Watch – 191.5
  38. Duck Hunt – 190.5
  39. Samus – 173
  40. Link – 153
  41. Shulk – 139.5
  42. Palutena – 137.5
  43. Roy – 121
  44. Wii Fit Trainer – 119
  45. Pac-Man 118.5
  46. Charizard – 116.5
  47. King Dedede – 68
  48. Falco – 57
  49. Kirby – 47.5
  50. Bowser Jr. 45.5
  51. Mii Brawler – 30.5
  52. Jigglypuff – 28.5
  53. Zelda – 25
  54. Ganondorf – 22.5
  55. Dark Pit – 22
  56. Dr. Mario – 19
  57. Mii Gunner – 8
  58. Mii Swordfighter – 0 lul

Certain characters here have a foundation built largely on their 2016 results. Yoshi, Ness, and R.O.B. carried strong regional results that ultimately declined – so some of these are anomalies. Updated results, such as my July data post, resolve such anomalies. I just want to use this to make a point about how low Kirby is even when using data over the span of 16 and a half months.

With this, Kirby ranks 49th out of 58th, or in the bottom 10, with the vast majority of his results coming from over seven months ago. Depending on how you treat clones & Miis, Kirby could also be 8th or 5th to last on this.


There are virtually no positive things to say about Kirby’s future beyond a potential pickup as a secondary in certain match-ups. Even then, the effort required compared to other pockets may not be seen as worth it in the long term, since Kirby could ultimately be “figured out” even as a secondary pick as time goes on.

This would mean the time sunk into the character may feel wasted or unnecessary compared to more versatile picks, such as Fox, Lucina, Cloud, Bayonetta, Diddy Kong – any number of common secondary picks.

This is the best case scenario for the character, with his solo results ultimately being among the most lacking of any character in the game and perceptions of the character confirming a long-term, steady decline.



One thought on “Kirby – A Tale of Waning Confidence

  1. Sanger August 3, 2017 / 7:13 pm

    Very interestinging article, a shame Kirby is so weak.


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