A chain grab (also chain throw) refers to a series of grabs and throws that the victim cannot escape. Generally, a player throws the opponent a specific direction (most commonly down or up), chases the enemy's directional influence, and grabs the opponent while (s)he is still in mid-air and before (s)he can tech. Sheik and the Ice Climbers are examples of characters who rely heavily on chain grabs. The usefulness of chain grabbing in Brawl has been reduced with the addition of Prat Falling. Generally, Fast-fallers, heavyweights, and large characters tend to be more vulnerable to chain grabs than floaty characters, lightweights, and smaller characters.
Chain grabbing is a controversial technique within the community. Many players consider it an unsportsmanlike move because it can be inescapable when perfected by the grabber. However, tournament players generally see it as a valid technique which characters like Sheik, Marth, and the Ice Climbers need to overcome other deficiencies in high-level matches, provided it is not used in extreme excess (i.e. more than 100% damage).
Characters with well-known chain grabs include the following.
- Pikachu: can chain most characters with his forward throw
- DK: can chain all characters to extreme percents by release grabbing with his forward throw A.K.A. cargo-stalling (discovered by Isai). This technique caused moderate controversy within the smash 64 community, as it was seen as "cheap" by some. Yoshi and Ness are the most difficult to get out of cargo stalling due to their odd double jump. Pikachu is by far the easiest because his up B has invincibilty frames. DK's usually do this in order to either set up a stronger or better throw (as each throw release does 8 damage) or to make it so DK is closer to the edge and can back throw instead of up throw, as the back throw has much more power.
The other main part of chain grabs can be seen on the "Combo Tent" portion of Hyrule Castle. Yoshi and Samus cannot do this due to their overly slow grabs (however, they can throw into a down air or similar aerial to combo). Kirby, Ness, and Jigglypuff cannot do this due to their back throws having too much a knockback. The majority requires down air and back throws. Here are a list of what each character can do.
- Pikachu: Isai's "Greenhouse" Pikachu combo: Multiple back throws into a down air, back air, Up smash, and then a thunder kill.
- Fox: Back throw usually into a down air or f-air into another throw and at the end either a first hit up air into another up air or a tap a up smash at the end. Sometimes combined with f-airs, n-airs, or back airs.
- Mario: F-throw or back throw into down air into up smash. Sometimes combined with back airs or N-airs.
- Falcon: Back throw only, usually combined into multiple up airs into either up b or down air. Falcon's combos are usually the most varied by the edge as virtually all of his moves can combo against a ledge.
- Luigi: Back throws, down air, Up B, or down airs back air/f-air into up b/Down b.
- DK: Back throws or f-throws into up smash (back throws being non-cargoed and f-throws being cargo only). no aerials needed. The original wall combo and one of the reasons why DK can excel on Hyrule.
- Sheik: can chain most characters (Bowser, Yoshi, Donkey Kong, Pikachu, Ganondorf, Pichu, Roy, Young Link, Mr. Game & Watch, Link, Ness, and Sheik) with her down throw from as little as 0% up to as high as 90%. This however doesn't work in the PAL version of Melee due to her down throw sending her opponents too far forward to grab again.
- Marth and Roy: Marth and Roy's forward throw can chain throw Fox and Falco from 0% to about 9% however Roy has to turn to chain throw upward but Marth doesn't have to always turn to chain throw upward.
- Ice Climbers: can chain throw nearly every character in the game with a variety of chain throws. Wobbling, which is the most inescapable when performed right, can trap an opponent forever or until the player kills them or messes up. Edge chain throwing exploits Nana's AI so that the player can alternate throws between Popo and Nana when they're at the edge of the stage. If Popo has grabbed the opponent, the player can ping his opponent as Popo and have Nana use her down-B. This is inescapable while Nana's down-B is hitting the opponent. Against the Fast fallers and Roy, Popo can down throw while Nana immediately uses a down air them to force the player's opponent to land standing up, where they are easily grabbed again. Even without Nana, Popo by himself can chain throw a handful of characters, such as Roy, Sheik, and Ganondorf with down throw until about 50%.
- Captain Falcon: can pseudo chain throw with down throw against Marth, Sheik, and Roy from 0% to about 20%. It can easily be escaped with good DI. Up throw can also chain throw Fox/Falco/Falcon from about 50% to about 80% if they don't DI away.
- Ganondorf: Can chain throw a variety of characters with his down and up throws. Up throw works similar to Captain Falcon's, but at lower percentages. Down throw can chain throw characters with moderate falling speeds (such as Pikachu and Link) at low percentages and chain throws fast-fallers at high percentages.
- Peach, Pikachu, Pichu, Fox, Mario, Dr. Mario, Marth, Roy, Donkey Kong, and Mr. Game & Watch can chain throw Fox, Falco, and Captain Falcon with up throws, and at 100% Mr. Game & Watch, and (at 150%) Mario, Doctor Mario can chain throw the fast falling characters with down throws. Marth and Roy Can not chain throw Captain Falcon. Donkey Kong can also chain throw Fox, Falco, and Captain Falcon with forward throw, then while carrying them, up throw.
- Link can Pseudo chain throw opponents at very low percentages with his forward throw, however it is easy to DI out of.
- Falco can pseudo chain throw Fox at any percent with down throw. It's far from inescapable, however, since Fox can Shine or Jab to interrupt Falco, and Falco can chain throw anyone with his back throw.
- Mewtwo can chain throw with his downthrow on large characters like Bowser from 0-50%. Mewtwo can also chain throw fast fallers like Fox, Falco, Sheik, Captain Falcon and sometimes Roy, gaining him an advantage against these characters.
- Bowser can chain grab by grab releasing the opponent. He can also grab release infinite Wario. However it needs perfect timing with dash grabs. Works on everyone except Donkey Kong and Ice Climbers together. This is an infinite chain grab when used against a wall until the opponent manages to jump break.
- Charizard can infinite ground release Ness and Lucas.
- Donkey Kong can also carry release infinitely against Ness and Lucas, guaranteeing success by turning before releasing and turn grabbing so Ness/Lucas releases in his back (turned grab).
- Falco can chain grab with down throw at lower percentages against everyone except very floaty characters, usually giving around 42% to most characters, more to the heavyweights. It easily combos into dash attack (which when canceled to up smash it allows a total of 65% damage), or his down aerial, setting up an early edge-guarding situation. Most characters can be regrabbed with both dash grab and standing grab, but the floaty characters needs good timing and only the walking chain grab works. After the Chain grab percent, it works as a Tech-chasing move.
- Fox can chain grab with using his forward throw on most characters by running fast at the right time at very low percentages.
- Ice Climbers can chain throw with their backwards, forward, and down throws on the whole cast except the Ice Climbers themselves. There are a lot of chain grabs that the Ice Climbers can perform such as the usual alternating grabs, grab spikes, footstool grabs, release grabs, and more. An Ice Climber player can make the chain grab "infinite" and "inescapable" when timing is 100% perfect. A lone ice climber can chain grab with down throws at lower percentages on most fast fallers like Fox. Note that if both Ice Climbers are present, they are considered to be "immune" to chain grabs. See here for more information.
- Ike can grab release Wario infinitely by pivot grabbing, but it needs nearly perfect timing, being extremely hard to pull off and Wario can mash out of his pummel to ground break until fairly high percents because of Ike's slow pummel. In walls, he can inescapably chain grab from low percents until high percents with his forward throw or if Ike is behind when Ike grabs him/her, a Back Throw to continue with Forward Throw.
- King Dedede chain grabs with down throws any character with weight 0.944 (Marth's weight) or heavier and at any percentage by running grab. Lighter characters are more difficult to chain grab this way, but can still be chain grabbed by predicting where they will fall. His down throw is one of the best attacks in the game for chaingrabbing. He can also chain grab against a wall infinitely and finish with a back throw. He does not need a wall to infinitely grab some characters, such as Mario, Luigi (cannot be dash or walk chain grabbed), Samus, and Donkey Kong, and infinitely chain grab Wolf and another King Dedede near the edge of stages. The down throw has set knockback, so the chain throw can be performed at any percent on characters it is effective against.
- Kirby can chain grab fast fallers with his down throw at low percentages. Can land a u-tilt between throws to add extra damage and finish with the f-throw to uair to bair combo.
- Ganondorf can chain grab at any percent with Flame Choke by predicting his opponent's rolls.
- Mario and Luigi can both chain grab with their forward throw across neutral stages, but only works at lower percentages.
- Marth can chain grab Fox and Falco with his forward throw 2 times (these 2 times can truly set up a tipped down air), then chain grab with his down throw 3 times, then set up a sweetspotted forward smash for 41% damage. He can also infinitely grab release on Ness and Lucas. He can also set up a guaranteed tipper forward smash after a forward throw for 25% damage on most characters at 0%. His up special, Dolphin Slash, can help him escape from most chain grabs (except from Dedede's running chain grab, Falco's chain grab when buffered dash grab, though it limits it to 3 grabs and Ice Climbers' Infinite Chain Grab).
- Peach can chain grab with down throws, turning around to grab the opponent, but it only works against fast-fallers.
- Pikachu can chain grab a multitude of characters by using buffered grabs out of its down throw and forward throw, sometimes alternating between them with a pummel to control Stale-Move Negation, some until percents as high as 115%.
- Pit can chain grab with forward throws certain characters like Fox and Bowser, but it only works at lower percentages.
- Olimar can chain grab with his down throw. However, this chain grab is very situational. It only works at low percentages, but if it can be pulled off, it is a guaranteed 30% on the opponent.
- Snake can chain grab everyone and at any percent with down throw by predicting where the opponent rolls, though some, like Link, requires boost grab to grab them when they roll away. Can do lots of damage if predicting well (does a 33% damage if predicting well and forward tilting the opponent). It's easier when close to the edge or in small plataforms like the Battlefield ones due their lost of the ability to roll away from Snake, allowing Snake to tech-chase in reaction. Snake can also grab release chain grab characters like Ganondorf, Squirtle and Falco, finishing with a Down Throw near the edge or just a Dash Attack. Because his Grenades appear in frame 1, this prevents some chain grabs like Pikachu's down throw one.
- Sonic can chain grab at low to mid percentages with his down throw. Because it leaves the victim on the ground, Sonic can predict and chase where they will roll and re-grab them, this is further complimented with Sonic's insane dash speed (the fasted in the game). Although the opponent can tech before they hit the ground, this shouldn't be much of a problem due to Sonic's aforementioned very fast dash speed. Once your opponent is off the stage, you can follow up with an edge-guard.
- Wario can chain grab up to higher percentages with his down throw and buffering a turn-around and regrab on characters like Captain Falcon (0-70%), Ganondorf (0-90%), Wolf (20-220%), Falco (52-120%, from 73% the throw must be stale), Donkey Kong (0-100%) and Bowser (0-180%, can even hit with his Wario Waft out of the attack). However, buffering the turn-around grab is extremely hard to master, making it difficult to pull-off. At other percents or characters, it works as a tech-chasing move.
- Yoshi can chain grab with grab releases, although it requires a pivot grab to grab them again when they come back down from the air. Called Infinite Pivot Grabbing. Yoshi can also chain grab by using a Forward Throw.
- Zero Suit Samus can chain grab most characters with her forward and back throws. She can grab release infinite Wario and Squirtle, though like all air release infinites except the Yoshi one, it doesn't work at low percents because it makes them ground break.
An easy way to master the chain grab is to practice with Dedede's down throw on heavy characters such as Ganondorf against a wall, such as the ones in Shadow Moses Island. Simply grab the opponent, perform the down throw, and grab him again once he or she is on his feet. This is easier to do with a human player controlling the target you're trying to chain grab for the sake of better cooperation. The idea behind doing it against a wall is so that rather than Ganondorf moving towards the edge (and eventually off of it) with each consecutive throw, you can do it indefinitely because the wall will keep him within Dedede's reach. Once you've mastered it with heavyweights, it's recommended you try it on lighter characters since it's harder to do against them.