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.
- Captain Falcon: his down aerial is a quick and powerful meteor smash with a long duration and good range. His up aerial is a powerful semi-spike during the late hitboxes.
- Kirby: like Pikachu, his back aerial is fast, disjointed, and powerful, however, it has a lingering hitbox, allowing it to setup into other moves. Down aerial is a relatively strong and fast meteor smash that can be used to drag opponents down. Final Cutter is an extremely powerful and deadly meteor smash as well.
- Pikachu: with a long, quick, and safe recovery, Pikachu can go far offstage, where its fast, disjointed, and powerful back aerial is deadly. Thunder Jolt is fairly useful for gimping recoveries.
- Captain Falcon: his forward aerial, the Knee Smash, is an extremely powerful semi-spike. His up aerial also semi-spikes, and his down aerial is both an effective meteor smash and the strongest spike in the game.
- Dr. Mario: Super Sheet functions like Cape, but with altered hitbox placements making it less effective against opponents recovering low, but more effective against opponents recovering high. His back aerial is a fast and powerful semi-spike that can chain into itself offstage for a psuedo-WOP and his forward aerial has a long duration, a large hitbox, and deals very strong diagonal knockback.
- Falco: down aerial has quick and long-lasting hitboxes and spikes powerfully throughout the entire move. Neutral and back aerials are both strong and useful sex kicks. Blaster's long range makes it useful for gimping recoveries.
- Fox: his Reflector has no startup and semi-spikes opponents with high hitstun. Like Falco, he has quick and effective sex kicks in his neutral and back aerials.
- Ganondorf: he boasts the most powerful meteor smash in the game in his down aerial, which is difficult to survive even with meteor cancelling. He also has a powerful spike in his Wizard's Foot, and his up aerial semi-spikes during the late hitboxes. His forward aerial has great range and deals excellent knockback which makes it capable of gimping all characters at any percent.
- Jigglypuff: it can perform the Wall of Pain, which involves chaining its back aerial into itself and carrying the opponent offstage. Neutral and forward aerials are good at blocking recoveries.
- Mario: Cape deals no knockback and reverses the opponent's direction, making it the best gimping tool in the game. His forward aerial is a meteor smash with a large hitbox.
- Marth: his down aerial has low startup, disjointed hitboxes, and spikes with high knockback, being used as the finisher of the famous Ken Combo. Tipped neutral, forward, and back aerials are useful edgeguarding maneuvers as well.
- Pikachu: the center-most hitbox of its up aerial is a weak semi-spike that can be chained into itself. Thunder Jolt is still fairly effective at blocking recoveries.
- Sheik: her forward aerial is a quick and powerful semi-spike. Her neutral and back aerials are strong sex kicks that can edgeguard easily as well.
- Falco: his down aerial is fast and meteor smashes powerfully when clean. Back aerial is still moderately effective for edgeguarding, and Blaster retains its gimping abilities as well.
- King Dedede: his back aerial is one of the best moves in the game, being a highly disjointed sex kick with relatively high power.
- Marth: All of his aerials (excluding up aerial) are useful for edgeguarding, as they have quick and disjointed hitboxes. Down aerial is especially effective, as it is among the strongest meteor smashes in the game.
- 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 also deals relatively high knockback. Aerial Shuttle Loop is a powerful semi-spike as well, and is among the most feared of its kind.
- Ness: his back aerial is fast and deals strong knockback. His down aerial is a meteor smash with very high base knockback.
- Peach: with her float ability, strong aerial game, and high priority, all of her aerial moves (excluding up aerial) are excellent off the stage, although they aren't reliable especially reliable when used by themselves..
- Wolf: his back aerial is quick, ranged, and strong. His down aerial is a moderately strong meteor smash with wide and overlapping hitboxes, and Wolf Flash can be used to catch opponents off guard with its strong meteor smash and semi-spike hitboxes..
- Bayonetta: Her neutral and up aerials come out relatively fast, but have the added benefit of being extendable if the attack button is held for a time. Her down smash and down aerial can also cover nearly all horizontal recovery options as both are powerful meteor smashes. The latter also has a landing hitbox, which acts as a surprisingly powerful launcher that can catch recovering opponents just as well. Forward aerial can be used as a WOP, and is relatively safe when used as such.
- Bowser: all of his aerials are useful offstage, more so due to Bowser's greatly enhanced recovery. Back aerial in particular is among the most powerful semi-spikes in the game, and is also very fast with good range and a long duration. Forward smash can hit ledge grabbers if spaced correctly, and Fire Breath can be used to push opponents down and away from the ledge. Down aerial is an extremely strong, albeit risky, meteor smash.
- Captain Falcon: his down aerial has large hitboxes and is a powerful meteor smash. Up tilt is now also a strong meteor smash, and up aerial still semi-spikes.
- Fox: his back aerial is a quick and powerful semi-spike if sweetspotted. He can also input both a fast fall and a forward aerial, hitting the opponent with only the first four hits to drag them down, then footstool them. Since forward aerial's first four hits have very high set knockback and send at the autolink angle, the opponent is sent down with high hitstun, enough to follow up into a footstool to successfully edgeguard the opponent.
- Ganondorf: the removal of meteor cancelling makes his down aerial and Wizard's Foot meteor smashes even deadlier than before. Up aerial still semi-spikes effectively.
- Ike: his back aerial is quick, ranged, and deals high knockback. Eruption has a deceptively large hitbox which can also hit ledge grabbers. Tipped down aerial is a strong meteor smash with large and disjointed hitboxes.
- 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. Back aerial is powerful and deadly offstage, and Rest can be fatal if used properly.
- Kirby: forward aerial is effective as a wall of pain, and excluding up aerial, all aerials are effective to chase opponents offstage with, notably down aerial, which is a quick and versatile meteor smash.
- Little Mac: despite his infamously weak offstage presence, Little Mac can still edgeguard with his down smash, which is a powerful and fast semi-spike, or with Jolt Haymaker which powerfully stage spikes opponents grabbing ledges. His forward and back aerials can also be ironically useful edgeguarding tools, as their speed and semi-spike angles allow them to surprise enemies who do not expect Mac to get in the air.
- Luigi: can use his Luigi Cyclone to gimp an opponent, by fastfalling and mashing the special attack button to rise afterwards, hitting the opponent with only the looping hits. Since the move's looping hitboxes have decent knockback as well as sending at the autolink angle, opponents are meteor smashed with very high hitstun, which proves very effective against slow, low recovering opponents, recovery moves without a hitbox, or trade with characters with short-lenghted recovery moves. Down aerial is a very quick and effective meteor smash as well.
- 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 spike with a large hitbox.
- Marth/Lucina: forward aerial is useful offstage, due to its speed, range, and 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. Sweetspotted down aerial is a powerful spike.
- Meta Knight: his forward and back aerials are deceptively strong, and both have relatively long range, and his down aerial and down smash are quick semi-spikes. Neutral aerial is also very quick and useful offstage.
- Ness: the tail of his PK Thunder is a great tool for preventing characters from returning to the ledge. PK Fire is another effective tool, as attempting to SDI it offstage is deceptively risky. Ness's forward, back, and neutral aerials are all effective tools for edgeguarding because of their high speed and powerful knockback. Down aerial strongly meteor smashes, and down smash is a useful semi-spike.
- Villager: can use forward smash or Timber to drop a powerful projectile from the ledge, and has fairly effective aerials (excluding up aerial) along with a long, reliable recovery. Forward and back aerials have long ranges, making them good for gimping. Additionally, down aerial is an effective meteor smash if used properly.
- Ledge Punishes! ~Smash Wii U/3DS (My Smash Corner)
- Smash 4 Wii U - Anti-Trump Guide (Beefy Smash Doods)