I've recently begun playing Melee with players who use wavedashing as a core part of their strategy, using wavedashes not only to traverse entire stages very quickly, but also to steal ledges, attack unpredictably, and prevent recoveries.

My question is simple: how can I counter a wavedashing opponent?

Some preliminary strategies I've been using that seem to hold some promise:

  • Using projectiles, especially those with stopping power (eg Mario's Fireball, Falco's Blaster, etc.) to interrupt the wavedash

  • Aerial attacks - I find when I remain in the air, the wavedashing is effectively neutralized, since I cannot be attacked from the ground

  • Wavedashing myself - this tends to throw my opponents off as well, but it does not seem like a sustainable strategy for countering wavedashing in general

Thus, what strategies exist to combat wavedashing? Am I missing some basic strategies used by the pros? Or is the only solution to add wavedashing to my own repertoire and use it as well?

  • I feel like you are looking at this wrong. Wavedashing is a tool used to manipulate spacing. Specifically, wavedashing is a fast and reliable way of moving small precise distances. Luigi/Icies are the only characters who can travel faster with WD than dashing, you can PC drop/backwards hop to grab edges, pivot attack for unpredictable attacks and regular dash dancing to space around recoveries. – Kevin L Jul 17 '17 at 19:45
  • @KevinL that's more of an answer than a comment. Or some weird middle ground I guess. – JMac Jul 17 '17 at 19:47
  • The question is "how can I counter wavedashing" not "what is the purpose of wavedashing", I'm just trying to point out that OP is looking at the purpose of wavedashing a bit weirdly... – Kevin L Jul 17 '17 at 19:53
  • @KevinL I understand the purpose of wavedashing, but find that it is used as part of a strategy, often being used immediately proceeding or following an attack. I would like to know if there are ways to counter this, since I find it being added to my opponent's strategy something more difficult to deal with than I am used to. Hope this clarifies! – B. S. Morganstein Jul 18 '17 at 16:12

The previous answer is good, but I don't think it elaborated enough on the downsides. While wavedashing is indeed a great tool, it does - as any other option - come at some costs.

Wavedashing on a platform or when landing ("wavelanding") is relatively safe and another topic altogether, but it's important to realize that wavedashing on its own is two different options. Wavedashing away from the opponent is evasive and useful when you want to retreat without turning around, and wavedashing towards them is offensive and useful when you don't want to have the limitations of dashing. Overall a wavedash is slower than dashing since you need to go through the prejump animations, but using both dashing and wavedashing together is a very effective way to move around.

First, the retreating wavedash; it is the one that most low to medium level players have trouble with. Its most effective usage on low to medium level play is to fix your spacing when you commit to a bad dash or want to retreat just a little, and on high level play to bait a reaction from the opponent and to mix the movement patterns up.

Specifically in low to medium level play, the primary cost for using wavedash evasively is a loss of pressure and stage control. While the benefits very often outweigh the costs, it is important to capitalize on the tradeoff your opponent is taking when wavedashing.

The "book solution" for almost all characters is to avoid doing an immediate attack (since the opponent moved out of range), and to adjust your own spacing to get a bit closer. This will force the opponent a bit more towards the ledge, to make them more likely commit, etc. Wavedashing a short distance towards them yourself might not be a bad idea either (depending on matchup), for example. If you play a character like Fox or Falco and read that the opponent will wavedash, you can try to overextend an attack and start pressure from there. On a hard read, one option that will surprise the opponent is to dash in and JC grab them from the position they will end up at after the wavedash. Whatever you do, it's important to remember that the opponent can and will wavedash, and you need to think about where they will end up at rather than where they are right now.

Playing against offensive wavedashing is in many ways similar to playing against dashing and approaches in general. You could simply put out an attack and they will not be able to come as close as they may want without taking risks. The standard mixup for them is to wavedash into crouch cancel or shield, and you will need to be on the lookout for that. You could also (wave)dash backwards and bait an attack from them, then dash in and punish. Observing the opponent's character while playing is the key to learning their habits quickly.

It might be useful to watch high level matches from Youtube at 0.25x speed, and see what the other player does when they react to the opponent wavedash. Do they adjust their dash dance to get a tiny bit closer or further? Do they use that as an opportunity for a normally under- or overextended attack? Do they try to wavedash themselves? In what circumstances does a player wavedash towards the other one rather than away from them? Is it more common to wavedash aggressively or as an evasive measure?

Concentrating on these kinds of things when watching will help you formulate a strategy of your own against wavedashes. Then you can try a strategy out, see how it goes, and watch some more to learn from your mistakes. Try to see things from your opponent's perspective and adjust accordingly.

Finally, do remember that anything done in excess makes you predictable. While taking the advantage is important, it's not worth going out of your way to take risks every time the opponent wavedashes. If the opponent does nothing but simply wavedash, feel free to take the advantage in a simple way, but if they only do it occasionally, do try to avoid becoming predictable and mix up your approaches. Happy smashing!

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  • I think I am actually more interested in offensive wavedashing, since this appears to be what I am encountering more. Do you have any advice for how to counter this (unless its the same advice as above)? – B. S. Morganstein Jul 18 '17 at 16:09
  • Playing against offensive wavedashing is in many ways similar to playing against dashing. You could simply put out an attack and they will not be able to come as close as they may want. The standard mixup for them is to wavedash into crouch cancel or shield, and you will need to be on the lookout for that. Another option is to (wave)dash backwards and bait an attack from them, then dash in and punish. Watching the opponent's character while playing is the key to learning their habits quickly. – mmKALLL Jul 18 '17 at 16:13
  • Can you please add this to your answer, for completeness sake? – B. S. Morganstein Jul 18 '17 at 16:14
  • Sure, although it's by no means exhaustive. – mmKALLL Jul 18 '17 at 16:14
  • @B.S.Morganstein There, is that good? – mmKALLL Jul 18 '17 at 16:22

Wavedashing is an "exploit" of the game's physics engine. It allows players to move faster and more precisely on the ground and still be able to attack/counterattack very quickly. It's a technique used by almost every professional Melee player that I know, and a lot of the more skilled players use this technique as well because it's extremely reliable once you've mastered it.

I don't think there are any explicit counters to wavedashing - if there were, I'd expect professional to have figured it out by now and used it to prevent their opponents from gaining the advantage.

Projectiles are an okay long-range choice against wavedashers, but because of the relatively short time it takes to react (compared to normal running/jumping), they can often just move far enough away so the projectile doesn't hit, or they can raise their shields before it hits. Aerial combat works pretty well against them since it forces them to leave the ground where wavedashing has the advantage... however, you can't stay in the air forever, and you'll eventually have to return to the ground.

In the end, the best way to "counter" wavedashing is to learn how to wavedash yourself. It's a great technique that hones your twitch reflexes and makes you a better player. Anyone can do it with pratice - don't let an opponent hold the advantage when you can hold the same power yourself!

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  • Wavedashing, along with all the other mechanics in the game (platform canceling, crouch canceling, L-canceling, etc) are a core part of the game now, even if Nintendo never intendo-ed for it to happen. The best counters to those mechanics are indeed themselves! – Kaizerwolf Jul 18 '17 at 14:09

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