This is the third guide in my series for learning doubles. If you haven’t read the first two, I highly recommend doing so, as they will be more useful in terms of how much you will get out of it for amount of time spent reading. See Teams 101: http://textuploader.com/6aln and Teams 102: https://nmwhittier.wordpress.com/2016/08/11/teams-102-by-nmw-fundamental-concepts/. Here are some basic reminders from previous teams guides: time is your most important resource so don’t waste it, don’t get yourself cornered going for ledgeguards during invincibility, let yourself reset to neutral while letting your teammate start offense should you find yourself at a neutral game disadvantage. On that last note, don’t do this. These two consecutive defensive choices by SFAT are literally game losing: https://gfycat.com/GrippingRashIguana. I honestly believe that doubles is easier than singles but requires much more knowledge. If you understand the situations in this guide, you will be an amazing doubles player.
Maximizing Damage Dealt:
Since time is the most important resource in doubles, you have to learn how to use your time most efficiently. In game, this means using moves that do the most knockback and percent, and that are most likely to lead to quick kills. Team UGS is the best team to study in terms of efficient punishes, e.g. https://gfycat.com/PleasingSinFulHeron. PewFat is good as well: https://gfycat.com/EvergreenUnitedInchworm https://gfycat.com/PeriodicEntireFlyingfox. That said, don’t get too caught up in the flashiness of team UGS or PewFat. Many times, their opponents do a poor job of disrupting their combos. In actuality, you will often have to let a combo go sooner than you see in these GIFs, so it’s often fine to just use your finisher as soon as possible to earn stage positioning and additional time to double team their teammate.
No situation exemplifies efficient time use better than the seconds after a whiffed rest. Here’s what not to do: https://gfycat.com/AromaticOrnateGermanpinscher. In this situation, the Puff was at a high enough percent so a fully charged Falcon fsmash would kill. However, a Fox usmash would kill with minimal charge. Thus, the best thing to do would be for red team to attack the Blue Falcon. This is an uninterruptable 2v1. After maybe 2 interactions, the Red Fox should then go to usmash the Puff. This gives two potential kills and makes one relatively guaranteed (look at how far the Blue Falcon was initially). Instead, knowing that Red Falcon wants to get a kill, Blue Falcon is emboldened to go for an extremely risky knee, knowing the Red Falcon is tunnel visioned on the prospect of a low % kill on a Puff. Here’s another one where I am able to read the hunger of my opponent to kill the sleeping Puff and turn the situation around: https://gfycat.com/SpottedSizzlingIridescentshark. Conversely, these are examples of perfect rest punishes: https://gfycat.com/VapidAngelicHeifer https://gfycat.com/AggressiveSparklingAngora https://gfycat.com/VelvetyPhysicalCob
A meta part of using time efficiently is learning when you have the chance to eye the entire screen. Many situations earn you enough time to eye the screen. Here are situations where there is no justifiable reason not to eye the entire screen: Getting hit far off stage, grabbing the ledge, landing a grab, landing a launcher, shielding, jumping to a platform. Other times, you should eye the entire screen, but a lapse is forgivable. These situations include landing a tech chase, landing a waveshine, landing a multihit move, hitting an opponent off stage, and getting hit. Remember that a lot of the time, it’s favorable to keep getting hit if your partner is fucking their partner up faster than you are getting fucked up. Conversely, in massively advantageous offensive positions, you should still make sure your partner isn’t going to die faster than you are going to do damage. In my observations, the most common wastes of time are trying to pressure people with ledge invincibility and waiting below opponents trying to shark their landings (for the love of god, don’t do this). Here’s efficient time use: https://gfycat.com/AdolescentAptAkitainu. Hit targets of opportunity. It’s usually better to hit who’s near you rather than chasing someone across the stage. Fighting close to your teammate facilitates teamwork and maximum brutality.
One of the most efficient possible uses of time is the sandwich combo. Here is the sandwich combo in its purest form: https://gfycat.com/AnguishedTatteredHuia. The Blue Fox takes 64 damage in < 1 second. That means he now has to be worried about getting killed already. Don’t position yourself like the Fox did there—you should avoid sandwiches because they are the best way to get fast damage. Here’s another GIF exemplifying how devastating sandwich combos can be: https://gfycat.com/SpicyImmaculateBlowfish. A conventional way of starting a sandwich would be to snipe the support, hitting him away, and then double teaming the remaining player between you and your teammate. In this clip, Shroomed tries to maximally push an advantage, trying to create a sandwich on Armada while positioning to ledge guard Android, but Armada knows that Shroomed loves to run past the front line, so he’s ready right away and punishes Shroomed for his bold positioning https://gfycat.com/SnarlingConsciousBeardedcollie. And here’s one more showing PewPewU being crafty and creating a sandwich situation: https://gfycat.com/InfiniteEnchantedBlacklemur. In this situation, not only does PPU create a sandwich by going for the back line, but he throws one so that both opponents are in the sandwich, creating an opportunity to get massive damage.
Advanced spacing with your teammate:
There’s several ways to space around your teammate. The most important way is covered in the optimal positioning section in Teams 101. Staying about one Marth tipper range (slightly closer even) behind your teammate if you’re the support is an ideal position to react. It lets you collapse on them if they gain space or prevent loss of space should they lose the neutral. However, once you are at an advantage, there’s three main ways to space. One is to space just outside your teammate’s hitboxes, as seen in the gif with MacD and Vanz. These are the most basic sandwich combos.
Sandwiches have a number of subtleties to them. Move selection immediately comes to mind. Hitboxes, hurtboxes, knockback distance, and knockback trajectory are all important concerns to keep in mind when choosing your moves. Big hitboxes are a double edged sword because, while they make it easier to hit the opponent, they also require more precise spacing to avoid hitting your teammate. Hurtboxes are important because certain moves change your hurtbox and your teammate will probably not be ready to space around this. Disjoints are obviously great for avoiding this, but take Marth’s fsmash for example. Though it’s as disjointed as any other move in the game, after the hitbox has ended, Marth still leans forward, greatly changing his hurtbox. Try not to use moves that leave your hurtbox extended. As for knockback, you need to be careful to not use moves with too much knockback at medium percents, or else you will hit your opponents out of the sandwich.
The second way of spacing is the way Teams UGS does it, spacing at the edge of the knockback of your teammate’s moves, which is important for maintaining sandwiches with slower characters. Positioning during sandwiches is slightly trickier than it may seem. Basic sandwiches where you space at the edge of your teammate’s attacks and spam moves are easy. But in order to get the team UGS combos, you will have to move away from your teammate. Practice recognizing when you should position for passes instead of just spamming moves next to your teammate. Team UGS always position themselves at the ideal distance. Peach is slow, so this is especially important when teaming with her, though this is made easier by the fact that Peach and Sheik don’t have great disparities in knockback within their movesets. As far as trajectory goes, moves with the typical spacie bair trajectory are ideal for sandwiches. They hit people up, but not too far up. This is important because horizontal knockback is preferable over vertical in most doubles situations, but moves that hit with downwards trajectories like Sheik’s fair may allow your opponent to tech.
The third way to space offensively is the way Javi and Twin do it, and isn’t too different from the first, except they space around moving bodies, which is immensely more difficult. It’s difficult to articulate, so just check out some of their gifs. This really requires acting as one mind, but it has massive rewards: https://gfycat.com/BlandCommonBittern https://gfycat.com/AcclaimedHorribleChrysomelid https://gfycat.com/ObviousWarlikeDove https://gfycat.com/TotalQuerulousHatchetfish. These guys have no fear. Though it’s not possible for me to give you a perfect guide on how to replicate their spacing, I can give a few rules of thumb:
- Whenever you are in front and you have the opportunity to space on the far side of the opponent, do it. This makes it possible for the back line to follow and space behind you. If they SDI behind, your teammate will be there. It also makes it so that, if you hit with a move like Falco dair, they are hit towards your teammate and not away.
- Designate roles. It makes it easier to be one mind if you know what to expect. If you know one person is taking lead, it makes it easier to anticipate when they will swing. If you know they are trying to swing and that they will crossup when possible, this makes it easier to collapse and space with them.
- Drift early in your moves, not late. If you telegraph your spacings at startup, your teammate can space confidently with you in a no risk way. When you feel there’s no risk, you can go for stylish things without second guessing yourself.
Similar principles apply to shield pressure. If a Fox hits a shield, his teammate should be able to confidently collapse on the Fox, and position to cover a roll, but also be ready to start sandwich shield pressure if there looks like there’s an opportunity to shield poke. Crossing up when you’re in front is a powerful way to include your teammate in offense. If you are in the back and know your teammate will not cross up, sometimes it is ok to jump over them and start sandwich pressure that way, though ideally you would do this for a shield stab, not just to hit a shield, because you are forfeiting your roll coverage. Moves with large shield stun, such as Falcon’s knee, can be used more liberally in this way, because if you stagger shield stun correctly with your teammate’s attacks, you can make it very hard for the opponent to escape.
The last tenet of team spacing is remembering when to move away from your partner to anticipate their hit, like what team UGS does so adeptly. Launchers are the best example, since it becomes so obvious what the optimal followup is. Falcon stomp or rboost, Fox uthrow, Puff utilt or uthrow, Peach dtilt, etc. are all moves that should open a reaction tree for everyone on the screen. As soon as your teammate launches an opponent, run away from them, and prepare for the next hit, such as this: https://gfycat.com/ThickQualifiedKangaroo https://gfycat.com/EnchantedFittingDrafthorse. Watch Armada to see perfect anticipation an preemptive spacing. Peach is so slow that, while many of us have the luxury to react to teammate setups and run across the stage to continue team combos, all of Armada’s team UGS ping pong combos are based on preemptive positioning. He knows the distance to put himself at, and is always there for his Sheik to pass to him, regardless of if its Aniolas, M2K, Shroomed, or Android. Making this even more impressive is the fact that he positions himself there while neutral is still being played, zoning out the other teammate at the perfect distance.
Conversely, on defense, as soon as someone launches your teammate, you should be ready to disrupt the followup. This is the reason why so many people are getting saved from rest nowadays, like here: https://gfycat.com/CleanWarlikeAmericanpainthorse https://gfycat.com/RegalLivelyAfricancivet https://gfycat.com/ImpressionableLonelyAdamsstaghornedbeetle. Jab reset or missed tech rest has the same principle: https://gfycat.com/LiquidIckyJunebug https://gfycat.com/IllegalMagnificentBurro. There are many moves that should immediately trigger everyone on the screen to prepare for the next interaction. The next level of yomi comes when you use this knowledge as bait (for instance, I could stomp someone, then instead of going for a knee that would inevitably be interrupted by a Fox running across the stage with a nair or dair, I could pivot fsmash and hit both of them).
Knockback stacking and canceling:
In order to position yourself perfectly, you will need to learn to anticipate when an attack will override the existing knockback and when it will stack with it. If an attack hits someone within the first ten frames of when another attack lands, the knockback overrides. Thus, you can space like this, and the knockback looks normal, nothing interesting happened except damage was added https://gfycat.com/VapidDetailedAegeancat.
When a move hits someone more than ten frames after the first hit, the knockbacks stack, often canceling, resulting in strange knockback. Being ready for this can let you get some strange looking combos in the air, and get you some free kills from missed techs as well, assuming you have good anticipation. Thus, if you hit someone near the end of the knockback, it will basically look like it overrides, but if you hit someone before their knockback is late in its trajectory in the opposite direction that they were initially hit, they will likely float there. See https://gfycat.com/FavoritePalatableKitty and https://gfycat.com/TartClassicAstarte
With electric moves like knee, there is double the hitlag. This means that 6/10 frames required for knockback stacking are occupied by frames before knockback has started. So as early as the fifth frame of knockback, knockback stacking will happen. People getting hit early out of the knee knockback and just floating there is a frequent occurrence, so you should be ready to anticipate this. It sets up for especially juicy punishes, basically making it as if you stomped someone, or as if they got hit off a wall on a stadium transformation with no tech, just helplessly floating there in hitstun.
Asides from the basic heuristics when it comes to grabs, i.e. don’t grab approach with grab in 2v2 (landing a grab literally means you lost the neutral unless you are playing a character with exceptional throw animations) and don’t grab in 1v2 unless you want to get killed, there are a number of tricks that can help you really get mileage out of grab punishes. The first thing is to always take kills when they are there. Don’t overcomplicate things because you are worried about hitting your teammate. Just hit both of them and ensure the kill if your teammate isn’t at kill percent. I.e. do this: https://gfycat.com/ImmenseDeliciousArieltoucan, not this: https://gfycat.com/ValidDampAlligatorgar https://gfycat.com/TatteredBitesizedAtlanticsharpnosepuffer
Startups of any throw provide 8 frames of invincibility. So once you have ironed out grab situations with your teammate, you can practice using these invincibility frames to avoid taking any damage. Note that initiating the throw will also change the hurtbox of the opponent who is grabbed.
As listed before, grabs are a situation where you can always eye everyone on the screen. Fox uthrow or Falcon dthrow → attack the other teammate is frequently a good idea. Unexpected target switches get you free kills or crucial saves, e.g. https://gfycat.com/CrazyAgonizingCoelacanth. Nothing is worse than a teammate who tunnel visions as soon as they land a grab. Remember, use time as efficiently as possible. Pummel → buffer dthrow is guaranteed at any percent, so you can always squeeze out a little extra grab time if your teammate is out of position by doing this.
Grab releases are another way to guarantee kills. The basic, unforced grab release is a good way to guarantee the strongest hit a team can get given time to wait for the grab release, such as here: https://gfycat.com/DeepQuaintIrishredandwhitesetter. Be careful about doing this against floaties, as their aerial grab release can send them significant distances. It’s important to remember to mash most of the time, but sometimes it’s best not to mash, because mashing would give them the time to do a grab release punish when they wouldn’t otherwise have the time. There’s also forced grab releases. Forced grab releases are likely the most ridiculous thing in competitive Melee. Anytime you hit someone who’s grabbed someone else, it results in a grab release, which sends characters out at an obnoxiously low angle. Grab releasing Fox, Falco, Falcon, and Marth often results in kills outright. Do this when the opponent’s back is at the ledge by hitting your teammate, ideally with moves like Falco laser, Sheik needle, Fox dair, etc. Look at how ridiculous this is: https://gfycat.com/WarlikePerkyBluebird. That’s a gimp at 16%.
Sometimes, if you know your teammate is going to land a hit but it isn’t going to kill, you can use a grab to snag them out of hitlag, then get another round of hits in immediately. This is especially common in situations where someone up+bs onto the stage and is in lag. It is a good way to tag on a little extra percent to try to close out a kill. Here is an optimal use: https://gfycat.com/BoldHoarseAntarcticgiantpetrel. Don’t forget that you have almost no lag once whoever is grabbed gets hit out of it, and you can immediately act out of it to punish!
Learn how your hitboxes work with grabs. Spacie fsmashes, for instance, never need to be spaced. If your teammate grabs the opponent and you fsmash your opponent, holding shield will buffer a shield, automatically powershielding the fsmash because the grab will be broken once the fsmash lands. See here: https://gfycat.com/UnrulyWaterloggedGuillemot. Other grabs can lead to weird phantoms due to hurtbox manipulation. Learn the little cases with your team composition.
Advanced ledge guarding tactics:
It is often said that Melee is a game that as played at the ledge. This is even more true in doubles than in singles. The reason for this is that the natural ebb and flow of doubles leads all parties being at the ledge, whereas in singles, one person often gets cornered, and then that person bides his time, carefully picking his spot to get out of the corner. In doubles, the flow is such that, once one person gets hit off the stage, both opponents collapse on the ledge setting up a team ledge guard, and the other teammate comes to try to disrupt the team ledge guard. A huge meta develops around this, with one side trying to secure the ledge guard while the other tries to maximize the possibility of recovery or return kills.
Ways to help guarantee kills:
- Zoning out the support—this is the most important first step. Ledge guard like PewFat does here: https://gfycat.com/FavoriteScaredEastrussiancoursinghounds (except for SFAT’s atrocious usmash). The worst thing you can do in doubles is to ledgehog as soon as you hit someone with a slow recovery off the stage. USE YOUR TIME WISELY. Zoning out the support ENSURES the ledge guard. Ledgehogging immediately almost ensures recovery of the opponent because you are unlikley to be able to disrupt the save. Ledgehogging as soon as you hit a Sheik off stage is one of the most sure signs that you are terrible at doubles.
- Ledgehog and roll if you’re above 100%. In singles, getup attack is often better than roll at under 100%. At both under and over 100%, roll is better in doubles. Rolling from the ledge at over 100% occupies it for a ridiculous duration. You can cover things like Sheik up+b into the ledge and up+b straight up with one roll.
- Use additional time to rotate positions with your teammate. After hitting someone off stage or hitting the support away, you may have time to swap who’s on the ledge with your teammate. Don’t settle for resetting to another ledge guard situation. Make sure whoever is going to throw out the attack has the strongest possible finisher. Against characters that struggle to get reprisal kills, such as Samus, Marth, and Falcon, it may be appropriate to rotate the zoning character on stage and have the other character go offstage to clean up the ledgeguard. Going offstage is generally unsafe, but if your teammate can cover you, it can be made safe. Usually people do not properly assess the situation and have poor discretion when going offstage.
- Babysit just like in singles. If you are unfamiliar with the term, Mango coined it to describe situations where you are moving to cover an option, but actually still have another option in mind to cover, i.e. babysitting a second option. For instance, jumping high offstage to cover a high recovery, while still babysitting the ledge. Jumping off stage in a way that threatens recovery then double jumping back to ledgehog can be very effective for reducing recovery options.
- Push the recovering player’s teammate onto the ledge by hitting his shield. Forcing people to ledgehog their teammate is an extremely effective and common situation.
- Use an alleyoop as a substitute for an outright kill. For instance, there’s often a situation where Fox can up+b straight or diagonally up. In this case, instead of doing a difficult reaction with a knee, I can always opt to cover diagonally up non-reactively while letting my Marth ledgehop uair to cover straight, which will always pop him up for the knee. Even in situations where there is only one option to cover, using an additional move can make the timing more lenient*.
- Reduce ledge guards to 1v1 when doing a 2v1 ledge guard is not possible. Grabbing the recovering player’s teammate is a great way to do this. Sometimes you have to actively engage them just to create space for your teammate to ledge guard. This is particularly common against Falco, who can disrupt with lasers.
- When a Falco is lasering you and you are trying to ledge guard his teammate, teeter or run off jump and tank the laser. The laser will turn you around and you will ledgehog. This makes it so that it takes them a minimum of two lasers to save their teammate instead of just one.
- Hit your teammate toward the recovering opponent. It is immensely frustrating when you and someone else get hit off stage, you are slightly further away, and then you eat a bair. There’s nothing you can do. If your teammate is a Sheik, and is around 70% and the opponent is a similar weight character around 90%, hitting both of them off is almost surely going to result in the opponent eating a bair. See SFAT and PewPewU score a cheesy kill here: https://gfycat.com/HilariousShrillImperatorangel. Here’s some similar gifs to drive the point home:
*The alleyoop philosophy can be extended to other situations as well. In tight timing windows, it is often better to let your teammate do a move, e.g. spacie bair, and then to do your finisher, e.g. knee, right outside of it, because this increases the leniency. Space right outside their range and time your move at the end of hitlag, like I do here https://gfycat.com/HilariousFriendlyIrukandjijellyfish. In cases where your laggy finisher might be a couple frames slow, you can still guarantee a kill by using your teammate’s faster startup move to combo into your finisher, such as here: https://gfycat.com/EsteemedLittleGreatdane.
While you are trying to secure kills, your opponents will be trying to save each other, so you will need to learn how to counter many different tactics used for saves. There are three types of saves. There are saves that leave both the opponents vulnerable, ones that leave one teammate vulnerable and the other safe, and ones that leave neither teammate vulnerable. Let’s address these in reverse order.
An example of the last save would be a Fox jumping past his teammate, shining him on stage (giving him no lag), and then still having access to all Fox recovery options as well as his jump. Obviously, this is very bad to let happen. It is also very hard to punish after the fact. This is an example of when you need to be on the hunt. To be on the hunt means to really be after a kill. You should go off the stage and kill the recovering party as long as it doesn’t expose you to a shine spike. If this is not possible, you should try to hit the Fox before he can help his teammate recover. As soon as that shine lands, your advantage is essentially gone. Read the save and punish preemptively. If you can read his movement and open him up before he goes off stage, you can opt for a 2v1 instead of ledge guarding his teammate. Alternatively, if you manage to intercept the Fox right as he’s about to save his teammate, you can turn it into a double ledge guard situation. If you are on point with your read, you can usually get a double kill, intercepting the save by hitting both of them just before it happens. When playing against people who are exceptional at setting up saves like this, always anticipate, do not react, to the situations they create.
In situations where one party is left vulnerable, it may be ok to react. In that case, you are still likely to get a free kill. Saves like this include Puff or Sheik uair, Falco shine, Fox or Sheik up+b, etc. If someone is launched up by their teammate, you can react and still pick off the recovering party. More skilled floatie players will opt for moves like Peach and Puff dair, which do not leave their teammate as vulnerable. In this case, there is a greater urgency to read and disrupt the save, though you still might be able to react and clean something up. Going off stage and hitting a Peach out of her dair will likely result in a double kill, but be don’t be reckless. Going off stage without a well thought out plan and very intentional actions designed to counter specific options is a fool’s errand in doubles.
The last type of save is one where both parties are left vulnerable. There is the least urgency to anticipate and prevent these. However, in most situations where these arise, it’s hard to clean up both kills, but very easy to clean up one. This is because it ends up being a double recovery with awkward timings and recovery angles. It’s not easy to double team ledge guard in these janky situations. See these gifs: https://gfycat.com/ImpressiveHeartyBeardeddragon https://gfycat.com/ParchedUnkemptAmericanindianhorse. With recoveries like these, if you want a double kill, you should read them and disrupt their help. But, as I said, going offstage without a plan is a terrible idea. So it is a bit more outlandish to read these crazy recoveries. Still, in any situation where both opponents have no hope of recovering alone, their only hope is to recover together, so hitting either one of them will prevent both from recovering. It is often ok to settle for one reactive kill, unless circumstances demand you go for more. Guaranteeing one kill like Hbox does here and seeing if you can get more is completely fine https://gfycat.com/RealDifficultHairstreakbutterfly.
Saving your teammate and regaining stage position:
Knowing when and how to save your teammate requires knowledge and discretion. More often than not, you should drop your punishes when your teammate needs help recovering. Once your teammate is hit offstage, you need to assess how to best help your teammate. Sometimes, positioning yourself near the ledge is enough to save them. A threatening presence can deter ledge guarding. Other times, you should read an unsafe ledge guard (e.g. Marth fsmash) and immediately punish. When someone is between you and your recovering teammate, do your best to engage them to prevent them from ledge guarding. The window of time to do this can be extremely small, particularly against Puff and Peach, who make opportunities to save your teammate extremely fleeting. If you don’t disrupt their combo quickly, your teammate will be carried off stage and comboed into space where you cannot save them. Act with extra urgency if you see your teammate potentially getting comboed off stage by one of these characters. Be extremely careful not to hit your teammate onto the ledge. Getting your teammate ledge hogged sucks, and it happens all the time https://gfycat.com/OccasionalHairyDrafthorse. Grabs are good for holding someone in place while your teammate recovers.
Sometimes, your teammate can make it above the ledge but not on stage. This is particularly relevant with Falcon and Ganon, whose hurtboxes always go above the stage when attempting to sweetspot. In these cases, running across the stage into a teeter gives you many options. When you run to the ledge into a teeter, you can immediately jab, dtilt, etc. Alternatively, sometimes you can just dash attack the ledge. Don’t pick your actions based on the fact that you feel like you have to help your teammate. Pick your actions based on what is actually going to help them. Sometimes it’s best for a Fox to just shoot lasers and get percent instead of fruitlessly trying to save his partner and exposing himself. Even small overcommitments can result in needlessly losing your stock, like this commitment: https://gfycat.com/CleverWetEastsiberianlaika.
If it is not possible to save from on stage, you may want to go off stage. The lower your percent, the less likely it is that you will want to do this. The higher your partner’s percent, the less likely it is that you will want to do this. If you are significantly behind, you will want to do this. Several factors should influence your move selection when going with offstage saves. You want to use moves that don’t leave your partner vulnerable, like Peach’s dair. Moves like Puff’s uair often result in immediate pickups by the opposing team, frequently getting your teammate killed right after getting saved. You should pick the move that exposes you the least after the save—ideally you don’t want to have to up+b after a save, though in some circumstances you will have to. Long lasting hitboxes, like Peach’s dair, are ideal for saving because you don’t need to be as precise. It is often a good idea to pick a move that will horizontally launch your teammate to the opposite side of the stage, effectively improving your team positioning by getting one of you out the corner.
Once your teammate is hit off stage, you should attempt to control as much space as you can adjacent to the ledge. The more stage you can control, the better position your team will be in once he recovers. Sometimes “as much space as you can control” literally means retreating to the ledge and controlling it, preventing ledgehogs. Other times, you can stand your ground and control half the stage, meaning you will not be at any positional disadvantage when your teammate recovers.
Many players lack the discipline to correctly play around invincibility. Committing to a ledge guard or offense in general when someone comes down with invincibility is dangerous. Many times, someone will ledgehog a character like Marth or Sheik, then have no chance to finish out the ledgeguard because an invincible opponent is there, completely precluding the possibility of throwing out the desired finisher. The situation has now completely flipped because you’re in the corner and your teammate can’t do anything to stop an invincible opponent. Though it’s a perfect time to go for a 2v1 when you kill someone’s teammate, the window of opportunity is extremely small unless it’s a star KO or an FD spawn across the stage. Try to be proactive and do something like steal the ledge immediately, and if it doesn’t go your way within one interaction, back off. Here’s an example of good discipline, maintaining strong positioning even when an invincible Fox comes down: https://gfycat.com/DeadlyAjarBobolink.
When you come down with invincibility, immediately look to see if you need to help your teammate and if you can punish any lag on moves that the other team may have thrown out. If this is not the case, run towards whichever character is easier to pick on, e.g. run towards the Marth at the edge and try to force him on stage for a double team rather than going to the other side of the stage with the Puff pounding off stage. If you and your teammate have double invincibility, sometimes it can be good to come down together and try to spam kill moves, but other times it’s good to let one person go first and try to herd the opponents into bad position, then to have the character with the stronger finishing moves come down and try to capitalize on positional advantage.
Regaining footing after losing the neutral:
In situations where both you and your teammate are pushed to the ledge, you and your teammate should have a plan for how to best regain stage position. When I team with Fox and he is recovering, I drop from the ledge, let him grab the ledge and ledgedash, then immediately regrab the ledge and get back on myself. If you are not teaming with a Fox, the plan might be more complicated. Be sure to figure out which options are strongest for your team regaining position. Ledgehop aerial and then shielding can be good, as if you whiff, your teammate can attack through you from the ledge. Here is an example of effectively regaining position from the ledge taking as little risk as possible https://gfycat.com/WhoppingPowerlessAoudad.
Shielding is better in doubles than in singles because grab is the counter to shield and grabbing is not good when your teammate is there to break up the grab conversion. Shielding can be very safe if your partner is good at working around your shield. Hitting through your ally’s shield, extending the hitbox, is an extremely powerful to restart offense. Then, he can roll or WD OOS. When in an extremely defensive position, such as on the ledge, let your teammate swing because even if it does not hit, it will force the opponent to shield or move away. Be sure to use light shield and shield angling in doubles, as there is less urgency to get out of your shield, a consequence of which is you are more likely to get shield stabbed. Having a teammate who doesn’t know to hold his shield is one of the most infuriating things because it completely cripples your ability to start offense. If you are acting offensively out of shield, your teammate can’t attack through you with confidence.
Read the pressure of the opposing team by studying their habits. Some people throw out a lot of moves that can be punished, e.g. Fox usmash, so if you are in good position, you can punish them for hitting your teammate or your teammate’s shield. Other teams will crossup shields to start sandwich pressure, as I suggested doing before, so if you can read someone is going to crossup your teammate’s shield, you might be able to outspace them with a move of your own. Occasionally you might even be able to bait someone into grabbing by holding shield, then have your teammate punish them for their bad habit.
Disrupt team combos by picking a time and place to break it up. Most of the time, this means that you should let your teammate get hit once more, then commit to disrupting the second hit. If you try to disrupt something that is already happening, you will be too late. Don’t be afraid to hit your teammate to get them out of a bad spot. Hitting your teammate can get them out of bad situations completely—a Puff won’t care if they get hit by a horizontal knockback move at 70, but they will care if they get hit by a Fox uair. Meteor smashes are great for disruption because they hit your teammate down into the ground, allowing them to tech. Be decisive—don’t flounder like MacD does in this legendary gif: https://gfycat.com/BoilingBabyishAphid. Long lasting hitboxes can be great for preventing kills, like Ice’s drill that saves Armada here: https://gfycat.com/ReflectingCircularBats.
Invisible Ceiling Glitch:
ICG can lead to retarded kills. If you have a strong feeling that someone is going to hit your teammate’s shield near the edge, read it, and go out of your way to try to hit them off the stage. You can kill people like this, laugh at them, and then watch their mental game crumble https://gfycat.com/AlienatedUglyCatfish.
Players to study and other resources:
SFAT for taking space and reading “good options” and countering them. PewPewU for never putting himself in a bad position and maximizing advantageous positions, especially via crossups. Armada for preemptively positioning himself for team punishes while still zoning or fighting the other teammate. Android for combo disruptions. Alan for team saves. L for the most outlandish fucking Fox saves. Other people who aren’t bad to study: Plup for amazing positioning, both defensively and offensively, but especially defensively. Shroomed for offensive positioning/punishes and advanced ledge guarding tactic #9. Me and Reno for dedicated support roles. Obviously there are many more amazing doubles players than people on this list. However, I feel these are the players whose strengths are easiest to see, learn from, and replicate.
Fun teams to watch: PewFat for [NorCal] fundamentals. Armada+Android for optimal punishes and situational tricks. Plup+Hungrybox for Plup’s great teamplay and Hbox’s amazing explosive, aggressive style. Javi+Twin for the most flushed out, balls to the wall double offense there is. Shroomed+S2J for drunken master double offense despite having a terrible composition for it.
Teams 101: http://textuploader.com/6aln
Smash Lab, Bros before Pros: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mbVrC3nZdo
PewFat vs Plupbox analysis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0he5ezyEIw
About the author:
NMW is an aspiring Falcon player from NorCal, currently ranked 9th on the NorCal power ranking. Doubles accomplishments include 5th at INY and 13th at Genesis with L, and winning SSS, Mayhem, and Emerald City III with SFAT.
Here are some doubles gameplay highlights:
And some commentary as well: