When a new character enters a fighting game...
Experimentation is always the first thing on the mind of competitive minded players. The exploration of a character's moveset begins by assessing the most powerful tools available and eventually leads to building winning strategies around those tools.
In the case of the newest character to enter Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Piranha Plant, many of the games strongest players and popular streamers are arriving at similarly negative assessments of the potted plant's power level. Smash Veterans like Mew2King and Plup have stated on their streams they think the character is pretty weak and Armada released a "Is Piranha Plant Good?" video that agrees with the low tier assessment.
In addition, TSM Tweek, the Ultimate player most people agree is currently the very best had an "extremely bad" first impression of the character:
Despite this, Tweek seems to enjoy playing the character and executing flashy combos with it:
And yet, the Plant Gang grows
Despite the general assessment that Piranha Plant has a linear playstyle, weak approach options, small hitboxes, and not many mix-ups options, his popularity continues to grow as hype around his absurdly damaging combos and unique fighting style spreads across the internet.
Regardless of competitive merit, it can't be denied his side Special Poison Breath attach is seriously powerful in the right setting.
Best known for his past Brawl and Smash Wii U mastery and now competing fiercely in Ultimate, Nairo has also pulled off a number of impressive Piranha Plant plays that take advantage of its unique special moves.
In the following clip, you can even see Melee champion and streamer Mango pull off an impressive series of attacks using Long-Stem Strike Down Special attack:
Some players have discovered that you can use using Toxic Gas to hide the charge animation of Long-Stem Strike to create stealth attacks that come out of nowhere:
And finally, probably the most exciting thing a new character can bring to the game is a new 0-to-death combo. Turns out Piranha Plant has one and it is certainly flashy.
So, is the Plant tourney worthy?
If you value the early oppinion of pro players, It doesn't seem like it. While in a vacuum the character seems clearly powerful, tournament play is rarely decided by what a character can do in ideal, highlight reel scenarios.
Power levels in fighting games are all relative. So, all the flashy combos and techniques in the world won't make the relatively slow Piranha Plant 's normal attacks better than those of Chrom, Peach or Fox. Likewise, a skilled tournament player won't easily get hit by the combo starters (or grabs) Piranha Plant combos seem to rely on.
At the end of the day, a tournament viable Piranha Plant needs to excel well past the current roster of strong characters and initial assessments conclude that doing so is an uphill battle not worth the effort. When playing for money, fame, and sponsorships, most players would agree that choosing a more reliable, inherently powerful character is the way to go.
But for the rest of us looking to style on our friends and family on a Saturday night, Piranha Plant has all the bases covered.
Warcraft 3 is my one true love and I will challenge anyone to a game of Super Smash Brothers Melee.