Only one or two players using a top tier does not dismiss top tier results.

DRX FAITH - October 23, 2017

This article is about a common counter argument usually brought up to imply that a character isn’t as good as people believe. This argument is essentially “X character isn’t that good, because only Y players have results with X character”. While the idea that players can carry characters isn’t farfetched, this argument in particular is not sufficient by itself to dismiss a results based argument.

I’m going to call this argument the “Played Carried” argument. It is usually brought up to dismiss results based targuments about the strenght of a character. While I’m largely going to argue against this idea here, I think it’s fair to point out that it has some merit. If only a single player can place with a character, then it’s possible that the player is just that good, maybe they could get the same results regardless of who they played as long as the character fits their playstyle.

A good place to see where this argument makes sense is with Jigglypuff in Melee. Hungrybox is by far the best Jigglypuff and the only one that you will always see in top 8. In contrast many more Fox players are considered capable of placing well. Even if Jigglypuff is capable of winning EVO, the fact that only a single Jigglypuff main can do so suggests that Hungrybox is playing so well as to make the gap between Fox and Jigglypuff very small.

There are multiple problems with applying this logic to Smash 4. The first of which is that this game does not have the same pool of viable characters are Melee. Yes, there are only 1-2 Sheik mains that are consistent top 8 placers in Sm4sh, just like there is only 1 jigglypuff main that will in melee, but in melee there are 5+ Foxes that can top 8, but in Smash 4 there is no character that has that level of character representation.

As an example, lets list players who are generally considered to consistently place top 8 at PGR events for some different characters:

Diddy – ZeRo

ZSS- Nairo, Marss

Rosalina – Dabuz

Sheik – Mr. R, Void

Mario – Ally, Anti (arguable, not a solo main)

Cloud – Tweek, MKLeo (arguable, not a solo main), Komo (arguable, not a solo main)

Fox – Larry Lurr

Looking at this list the problem with using the Player Carried argument in Smash 4 becomes obvious. The argument applies to nearly every character with results. Applying the same Player Carried argument to every character would indicate that just every character is overrated in a results based argument and that there aren't any top tiers. While some characters only have 1-2 players making top 8 consistently, other characters have zero players making top 8 at all. The fact that top 8 typically has only 1-2 players of a single character suggests that the game is well balanced, not that those characters are overrated.

At the end of PGRv3 Team DRX made a “highest placing tier list” along with a “best player of each character dropped” tier list (links after paragraph). One thing to notice is that the relative positions of most characters don't change by more than a few spots except for a few exceptions. If these characters were only getting carried by a 1-2 players then you would expect larger shifts in relative positions, since this doesn't happen it's less likely to be true. The data is out of date, but based off this PGR the results probably haven't changed much since then.


Players gravitate towards characters that are perceived as good, but due to how competitive players make decisions about who they main what characters are considered good is a result of success with thos characters. If a player feels they can't win with a character they might swap mains (ex. Abadango and Pacman) and if they continue to win with a character they'll more likely keep playing that character. In a sense, with time and meta development, what characters are perceived as good is just part of a natural filtration that actually does determine which characters are good.

Another argument that can be made here is that some characters are just randomly lucky. Maybe ZSS is actually good, but Sheik is just lucky to have two amazing players behind her. The problem here is three-fold. First, it is extremely unlikely. Second, it is impossible to prove. Third, it ignores the possibility that good players try out multiple characters.

This basically sums up some issues I have with the Player Carried argument against results based arguments. While it’s possible a character is carried, saying “it’s only 2 players” is not sufficient enough to deny results based arguments, there has to be more to the argument than that.

I’m not saying there aren’t shortcomings to results based tier lists. These lists still have a level of subjectivity (where do you cut off for placements, how do you weigh different placements or tournament tiers, how do you treat secondary’s, etc) and at best just presented data (ex. The DRX list is just data presentation with a pre-defined methodology) which still needs interpretation (ex. PGRv3 Corrin wasn’t considered too good results-wise, but Ryuga/Cosmos only attended 3 events combined, now in PGRv4 Corrin is doing very well). Additionally, the meta is constantly shifting and new things are still being discovered, what data we collect or value can change. The point of this article is to just point out that Player Carried argument against results is weak, as it applies to basically every character.


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