SSBM - WASD Analog Pivots with DK

A friend once told me 'If only DK's Bair was switched with his Fair he would be top tier.'  In Rishi's video "Can Donkey Kong Win a Major" he suggests that pivots can help overcome DK's lack of fast forward-facing moves.  Thanks to to the power of Smash Box Pivots, we might be able to put our best foot forward and see how true this theory really is!

Be sure to check out our main post on pivots: Pivots in Melee.

He's bigger! faster! and stronger too!  He's the first member of the DK crew!

In this post we're going over all the Pivot techniques involving the Analog Stick on your left hand.  Smash Box takes full advantage of this by having the Up and Down directions on the Analog Stick over top of each other akin to the 'WASD' / 'Arrow Key' layouts referred to on keyboards, as opposed to Hit Box style where the Up direction is placed elsewhere.

We're directly associating the Tap Jump Pivot using Up direction with Neutral Pivot using Down direction.  The 'WASD' format lets us treat them almost identical, making your next-level pivot game at the cusp of of the meta!

WARNING:  Pivots in Smash Bros. Melee are not for the faint of heart.  These techniques all require frame-perfect timing.  We're teaching them to you not because they are easy, but because the potential of the Smash Box makes these techniques extremely viable!  If you're interested in pushing your game further than any human has gone before, read on.  Just don't forget to practice!!!

We'll be demonstrating using this awesome layout!  For more information on how to make your own custom button layout, click here!!

    Crouch Pivot

    Dash (tap Forward)

    Pivot (tap Back -> Down (next frame))

    This technique is also called the Gravy Pivot, as he popularized this method (even on pad). This is probably the easiest to perform of the WASD pivots, and will help you with timing the other pivots, so this is a great starting point.

    It's very important to go from Back to Down the VERY NEXT FRAME!  There is a magic frame when you perform a Smash Turn where your character is literally in a Standing Neutral position the very first frame; what all Pivot techniques do is capitalize on this frame.

    This 'Pivot Frame' is a Standing position that has absolutely no Slide Momentum or Drift, etc.  It is by all means considered a 'Standing' state for exactly one frame before you begin to Dash the other direction.

    This technique is extremely easy on Smash Box because we are using arcade buttons.  These Sanwa buttons are used in arcades in Japan for games such as Street Fighter and Tekken, which have very tight timing requirements as well.  They are extremely sensitive buttons and don't have the long throw of an analog stick.

    In instances like Pivots that require very strict execution, I always recommend Pyramid Practice.  I recommend it in other tutorials, and this is no exception.  Check out the bottom of this post to learn more of how to constructively grind these techniques out!

    Tap Jump Pivot

    Dash (tap Forward)
    Pivot (tap Back -> Up (next frame))

    Short Hop (release Up + Back to Neutral)

    We're doing the exact same thing as last time, but turning it on its head! This method is great because it's the same timing as the Crouch Pivot, and, since you're using Tap Jump instead of button jump, your jump is less likely to be eaten up by your dash frames after the pivot.

    You can turnaround and Jump without having any momentum -- meaning DK can put up a deadly wall with his Back Air!  But we'll get to that soon!  For now, it's best to just learn to Pivot Tap Jump and threaten your mighty foot at their face!

    Standing Pivot Bair

    Standing (neutral)
    Pivot Jump (tap Back -> Up (next frame) )

    Short Hop (release Up + Back to Neutral)
    Back Air (tap C-Stick Back, Fast Fall L Cancel)

    Now we're able to instantly turnaround at any point and stick our foot out!  This is the exact same thing we learned with the Tap Jump Pivot, but out of a Standing Neutral position and adding an attack at the end.

    Dash Dance Bair

    Dash Dance ([Back, Forward] as needed)
    Pivot Tap Jump (tap Back -> Up (next frame) )

    Short Hop (release Up + Back to Neutral)
    Back Air (tap C-Stick Back, Fast Fall L Cancel) 

    Now let's put it all together!  It's rather tricky to have the control to turn any spacing situation into a potential Pivot technique, but practice makes perfect!

    I definitely recommend practicing your Dash Dance into a normal Tap Jump Pivot for a while, and then adding the Bair later!  Shadow Boxing with this in your arsenal turns you into a major threat!

    Pivot Aerial Rush

    Clearly this is extra credit right here!  I'll tell you what... let's actually do this one last because it builds on our next section:  SOCD Pivots!

    SOCD Neutral Pivot

    Dash (tap Forward)

    Pivot (tap Back -> Forward (next frame))

    We're doing lesson #1 again... only something fishy is going on!

    Left + Right = Neutral

    The default resolution for SOCD is Neutral, so when we press Left + Right it gives us a 'center' position for the control stick. That magic Standing frame won't actually Dash since we're not holding an analog direction!

    TIP:  It's important to let go of Left + Right as quickly and cleanly as possible.  If you're holding Left + Right after you get a Pivot, you might accidentally get an unwanted Dash afterwards by releasing one direction before the other!

    For more on SOCD Neutral, check out: SOCD Neutral in Melee.

    SOCD Pivot Jab

    Dash (tap Forward)

    Pivot (tap Back -> Forward + Attack (A) (next frame))

    By simply adding an Attack input while Left + Right is held, we'll Pivot instantly into a Jab!

    SOCD Pivot Down Tilt

    Dash (tap Forward)

    Pivot (tap Back + Y1 Modifier -> Forward + Down + Attack (A) (next frame))

    Woah.  That's a lot going on in just two frames!  Let's break it down.

    We're adding the Y1 Modifier to our Back input to help with our timing to ensure that we don't accidentally get a Down Smash.

    TIP:  Y1 Modifier requires your Smash Box to be in Tilt Mode by making sure the D-Pad Switch is in the Circle "O" position in the top left corner.  That turns your Left Thumb buttons turn into modifiers that allow you do Tilt Attacks and Recovery Angles!  You can use Y1 or Y2 here depending on which feels most comfortable!

    The second frame of our Pivot requires us to hit Forward + Down + A -- this does not have to be exactly on the same frame if it makes it easier for you!  I prefer to hit them all like a piano chord because I'm an execution junkie, but you only need to hit Forward on this frame to ensure that the SOCD Pivot happens!

    With that said, another way to look at this attack is as follows:

    Dash (tap Forward)
    Pivot (hold Back + Y1 Modifier -> Forward (next frame))
    Down Tilt (press Down + Attack (A))

    We're simply adding a Down Tilt directly on top of the SOCD Pivot technique!  Let's do the same for Up Tilt now.

    SOCD Pivot Up Tilt 

    Dash (tap Forward)

    Pivot (tap Back + Y1 Modifier -> Forward + Up + Attack (A) (next frame))


    Dash (tap Forward)
    Pivot (hold Back + Y1 Modifier -> Forward (next frame))
    Down Tilt (press Up + Attack (A))

    We're once again using the "WASD" style layout to invert our inputs and turn it on its head with almost the exact same muscle memory!  Instead of Pivoting Down, we're Pivoting Up.

    That being said, this is an extremely difficult technique!  Don't feel frustrated if it all doesn't come together at once.  It's best to focus on SOCD Pivot Jabs if you're building up to it.  Then it's that matter of adding the extra two buttons, Y1 and Up or Down depending on which attack you're going for.

    I think now is the perfect time to talk about Pyramid Practice again, because --let's face it -- this is hard stuff and it requires smart practice!  Let's hit the gym!

    Pyramid Practice:

    1. SOCD Pivot Jab twice in a row.
      1. SOCD Pivot Jab twice in a row 2x in a row!
      2. SOCD Pivot Jab twice in a row 3x in a row!
      3. SOCD Pivot Jab 4x in a row, now 5x, etc!
    1. SOCD Pivot Jab three times in a row.
      1. SOCD Pivot Jab three times in a row 2x in a row!
      2. SOCD Pivot Jab three times in a row 3x in a row!
      3. SOCD Pivot Jab 4x times in a row, 5x, etc!

      If you miss, start over!

      Why?  Pyramid Practice uses positive reinforcement, rather than dull grinding.  See your goal and achieve your goal.  If you're stuck, you can go back to an easier target, or take a break and get right back at it later!  You also get a personal best score to remember, and a great hand warmer before sets!

      I wrote in here SOCD Pivot Jab because it's the easiest one to grind out, and it synergizes with Pivot Up Tilt and Pivot Down Tilt.  You can Pyramid Practice literally any piece of tech skill and work your way to an uncanny mastery of any technique!  I'll always endorse Pyramid Practice!

      It's also best to NOT endlessly practice!  Take breaks.  Stretch.  Come back to it later.  If you hit a dead end it's not the end of the world.  You need to give time to sleep on what you've learned and internally process these timings.  Even just a few minutes in the morning after you wake up, or a little before bedtime and you'll be extremely efficient in your learning!

      Also, be sure to really study the GIF videos put in this article.  You can break it down frame-by-frame if need be!  But most importantly it's about feeling the timing, hearing the timing, knowing the timing!  You'll get the rythm; I believe in you like I believe in DK!

      Pivot Aerial Rush

      Dash (tap Forward)
      SOCD Pivot (tap Back -> Up + Forward (next frame))
      Short Hop Back Jump (release Back + Up + Forward to hold Forward)
      Back Air (press A to attack)

      Now we're finally back to the extra credit!  This technique I'm using an SOCD Pivot Tap Jump to help me get the full Aerial Drift toward my opponent.  I'm already holding Forward from the Pivot, so I only need to let go of the other two directions!

      It's extremely challenging!  But with everything else we've learned in this article, I'd say it's right at home.  Practice!  Practice!  Practice!  With this technique we can really start to RAR like we're playing Smash Ultimate.

      *Sigh*  We'll show them all... DK Donkey Kong!!!

      Happy Training!

      -Hit Box Dustin

      Pivot Hungry?  Learn the alternative Tilt Method for Pivots using the TILT Modifiers on your right hand!  Check out this guide ft. Marth!