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In a nutshell
Ganondorf is a typical heavyweight, possesing slow and powerful moves and having sluggish movement. Ganondorf is a character riddled with weaknesses, from range problems to an unsafe moveset to a horrible recovery, so using him means knowing exactly where his limits are and utitlising his limited tools as effectively as possible. Ganondorf is largely infamous for his Down Aerial chains and his Flame Choke followups, which are vital for players looking to win with Ganondorf
Ganondorf holds the distinction of being the last character on the tier list, at the H level and at 38th place. He is one of the slowest characters in the game, making him very easy to punish, and the removal of L-canceling makes Ganondorf's aerial approach considerably worse; his lack of a projectile and his sluggishness also limits his ground approach. The addition of a slow, predictable recovery and a bad defensive game brings Ganondorf down even further, allowing many characters to easily outmanouevre him. All of this give Ganondorf the worst matchups in the game; Ganondorf holds the distinction of being the only character in all of the Smash series to have absolutely no advantageous or even matchups.
Standard Attack Analysis
- Neutral attack - Quick palm strike. Moderate knockback, deals more damage if the tip of the attack connects. Very slow for a jab, but it is Ganondorf's quickest ground attack. Hits on frame 8-9, and ends on frame 25 which makes it one of the slowest jabs in the game. This attack is good to use out of a Perfect Shield. Does 7%, 9% if tipped and 5% if hit from very close.
- Dash attack - Shoulder tackle. Ganondorf gains a quick speed boost during the move. Has fairly long duration. Like King Dedede's, this can KO at high percentages. The 2nd strongest dash attack. Some characters can be dash attacked after a grounded Flame Choke. However, it is very unsafe on shields because it has fairly little shield stun and the opponent goes back with Ganondorf. Does 15%. Hits on frame 10-19.
- Up tilt - Volcano Kick, Ganondorf lifts his leg for a very long time before smashing it down in an explosion. Has vacuum properties, and has huge damage and knockback if it connects, and it does very high damage on shields. Does less damage and with only vertical knockback if it connects from afar. The explosion has incredibly long range, which is disjointed and about as long as the vacuum. His slowest start up attack (81 frames of start-up lag, almost 1.5 seconds), yet not one of his longer end lag attacks. Can KO at low percentage if used very close to the edge and the opponent doesn't utilise DI and Momentum Cancelling. 27%, 19% if hit from afar.
- Forward tilt - Ganondorf leans back a little and thrusts one leg straight forward. Surprisingly the same range as his jab, but slightly slower start up (10-12 frames), good low angle horizontal knockback, so it's a semi-spike, so also good for KOing characters with poor horizontal recovery, fairly quick. Often referred to as the "Sparta" Kick due to this attack resembling a kick from a famous scene from the movie 300. Ganondorf makes a similar kick in the final battle of Twilight Princess. Inflicts 12%-13%.
- Down tilt - Ganondorf kneels on one leg and sweeps the other leg forward. Great range and sets up for aerials, including a slight disjoint in the end but is not safe when shielded (although more safe than most of his moves). Lowest knockback out of all of his tilts, although still powerful in general. Does 12% damage. It also stuns weak enemies in Adventure Mode: The Subspace Emissary before destroying them. Could be chained against opponents at low percentages but has a risk of being shield grabbed. Hits on frame 10-12.
- Side smash - Elbow thrust, with a dark magic effect on contact. Moderately slow startup (but fast for being such a powerful move) with high ending lag. Has very high knockback, killing reliably at 70%. Although farther hitboxes do exactly the same damage, they have slightly less knockback. Can be angled up or down. This is somewhat unique to other Side Smashes that can be angled as the damage does not increase when angled upward and does not decrease when angled downward. Stutter Stepping increases its range a bit. This attack also has a disjointed hitbox. Ganondorf used a similar elbow strike attack in Twilight Princess, but it lacked dark magic. Inflicts 24%-33% damage. Hits from frame 21 to 26.
- Up smash - Ganondorf does a high kick, lifting his leg to about thirty degrees from vertical quickly. Has lots of IASA frames. Very effective to charge it as it's safe on shields, but unfortunately it has poor horizontal range. Has a slight disjoint in the farthest horizontal range. Does 19%-26% damage if hit with leg, 22%-30% damage if hit with foot. Hits on frame 21-23.
- Down smash - Ganondorf sweeps his leg forward, then back. The knockback from the first kick usually makes the second kick connect as well. First hit comes out fairly fast (at least in comparison to Ganondorf's other moves, being 15 frames) but second hit is somewhat laggy (hits on 35 frames). Nearly useless move in general because the 1st hit can be Smash DIed out of the 2nd hit and it's weak compared to his other moves. Does 19%-26%. One of its few uses is to punish a roll.
- Ledge attack - Backhands the edgeguarding opponent. If the opponent is a distance away, the attack knocks them away. If the opponent is standing close to Ganondorf, the attack will throw the opponent off the ledge. 10%.
- 100% Ledge Attack - Ducks slightly and delivers a kick across the ground. Comes out fast, and Ganon keeps low. 10%.
- Trip attack - Does a rising, spinning kick. Reach of the attack extends across the entire height of his legs, and the attack is incredibly fast. 6%.
- Floor attack - Flips upward, kicking with his feet, similar to his up-aerial.
- Neutral aerial - Double kick. The first hit will hit hard but weak compared to his other aerials and the second hit deals a weaker attack that lacks KO potential. However, the first kick can still KO at high percentage. First hit deals 11% while the second does 7%. Total 18%. First kick hits on frame 7-13, second kick on 20-32 frames.
- Forward aerial - Swings his hand forward in an overhead arc downward. High knockback. Slower, longer range, high land lag and slightly weaker than Captain Falcon's Knee Smash], and has somewhat of a sweetspot, which is the fist (doing 17% damage) with huge base knockback but fairly little knockback growth compared to its base Knockback, whereas if it connects with his arm, it does 15% with less knockback. Sweetspot is fairly safe on shields due its high amount of shieldstun, while the sourspot is unsafe on shields. Hits on frame 14-20.
- Back aerial - Backhand. One of Ganondorf's fastest aerials, good knockback. One of his few moves that are fairly safe on shield even when it's not auto canceled, but unfortunately its high vertical hitbox reduces its usefulness as it can't hit grounded opponents with a buffered short hop back aerial. Can be ground canceled. Does 16%. Hitbox out on frame 10 until 12.
- Up aerial - Overhead Flip Kick. The hitbox travels in a large arc, hitting opponents above and behind as well. Fast and great for edge guarding. Difficult to hit smaller characters on the ground. Very strong at the start and semi-spike at the end. Hit in last few frames is great at gimping recoveries that either lacks horizontally, vertically, or both. Ganondorf's fastest attack and grants him a good aerial game because of its range and speed. Inflicts 13%. Hits on frame 6-16.
- Down aerial - Thunder Stomp. Ganondorf kicks his legs downward, with an electric effect if the attack connects. Will always spike if it hits, even if not sweetspotted, which makes it one of the easier to spike with. Inflicts 23% damage. If connected with body instead of his leg, the attack will do 17%. This meteor smash has by far the highest knockback growth in the game but still average base knockback spike, making it along Ness's down aerial (which instead has very high base knockback but fairly low knockback growth), often KOing even at 0% (although, with DI, and if their recovery is well-timed, some characters can survive this up to around 80%, however, it is very difficult to Meteor Cancel at such high percentages). This spike is so powerful that grounded opponents will be launched upward, getting Star KOed at high enough damages (most characters lower than 100%). Can chain 2 autocanceled down aerials at 0%, or 1 down aerial to chain into an Up Smash or short hop up aerial. Ganondorf can also chain three autocanceled down aerials at 0% on large, heavy characters like Bowser, dealing roughly 60%. Can be auto-canceled after short hops making it a great approach move, and is also a solid edgeguarding move. Given its quick start-up (16 frames) and deceptive horizontal range it can be difficult for characters off-stage to avoid it, however its KO power stales extremely quickly.
Special Move Analysis
- Neutral Special: Warlock Punch - Ganondorf throws out a powerful punch, doing around 33%. It kills extremely early, but the startup and recovery is way too much for it to be practical. You may reverse the Warlock Punch, moving you slightly horizontally, though don't expect tp hit anyone with this. Just stay away from this move.
- Side Special: Flame Choke - This is the move that defines Ganondorf. He charges forward and grabs an opponent then slams him down to the ground. The aerial version has Ganondorf taking the opponent down with him. You can't play Ganondorf without using this. It's relatively fast, is a grab and knocks down the opponent. The startup of this move is still bad enough that you can't simply throw it out, but it makes a really good punisher. Once the opponent is knocked down, you can followup with any attack if you can predict them, such as Dtile, DA or even another Flame Choke. The aerial version is terrible as a recovery move, though grabbing an opponent let's you perform a sacrificial KO which is quite useful when you have the stock lead or lack the damage lead.
- Up Special: Dark Dive - Ganondorf grabs the opponent, shocks them and blasts them away. There's also a late hitbox as he uppercuts. A mediocre recovery move as well as a mediocre attack. The grab launches you up quite high when used from the ground, and if you miss you'll be completely helpless while you fall to the ground. The uppercut part of the move is just to counter edgehoggers, so try to land it when recovering. It can also be used as a finisher as you chase the opponent off the top blastline, but it's situational.
- Down Special: Wizard's Foot - Ganondorf charges forward with his foot surrounded by dark energy. The grounded version has the same startup as Flame Choke while having a longer range and a lasting hitbox, which helps out against players who like to spotdodge, as Ganondorf lacks multi-hit moves. Use it to punish players outside the reach of your Flame Choke or to close the distance. The aerial version is a good kill move, being relatively fast and having higher priority, but the startup is bad and the recovery is horrendous, so you'll get punished with a powerful attack if your opponent predicts or baits it. It does have a shockwave if you land mid-move which can surprise players who drop their shield early. There's also the Quake, which is jumping then immediately using Wizard's Foot, though while it's fast, it still has the same recovery frames, so it's pretty useless.
Serious Advantage Match-ups
Wario, DK, Kirby, ROB, Sonic, Ike, Luigi, Ness, Lucas, Mario, Bowser, C.Falcon, Link, Puff, Zelda
Serious Disadvantage Match-ups