Yoshi's great speed and versatile moveset gives him the freedom of being able to adapt his neutral to any matchup. In general, Yoshi gets the mileage off point-blank aerials that he can use to start combos, initiate KO confirms, pressure shields, or launch the opponent offstage for an edgeguard or ledgetrap sequence. Against characters that are more oppressive in close quarters, such as Kirby or Ken, he will look to keep them at some length, poking at them with his longest range tools such as Dtilt and Bair. Conversely, characters that benefit from walling or zoning will see Yoshi closing the gap to make them uncomfortable using their tools and force a mistake out of them which he can convert into big damage.
- to be continued*
Yoshi has a kit geared mostly towards direct offense with movement to support both it and defensive capabilities. With that said, he can be somewhat linear and his range is exploitable. The player will need to be comfortable using all of his tools on the fly and have a strong sense of spacing - not just for his moves, but in regards to his position relative to the opponent, stage positioning, and managing burst range interactions. He's not quite built to dominate neutral and the player may often find empty movement to be more effective than pressing buttons as smarter opponents will try to abuse his few shortcomings. Patience and observing the opponent's habits in interactions is ideal and will allow Yoshi to pick his spots to land combo starters that lead to massive damage or secure a KO. Despite having a weaker neutral than plenty of other offensively-oriented characters, he doesn't suffer from a common weakness of relying on specific confirms and struggling to KO otherwise if the opponent avoids them or falls out of percent range - he has many confirms and a high amount of raw KO power. The issue is landing the hit.
Yoshi is not a particularly poke-heavy character - that is, he doesn't benefit too much from swiping at the opponent from a safe range and much prefers to close the gap for direct pressure. His two poking tools to rely on are his Dtilt and in certain scenarios his jab. The former is a very useful low sweep that shrinks Yoshi's profile and at low-mid percents sends opponents at the ground, giving fast-fallers infamously little time to react unless they are paying close attention; relatively floaty characters like Jigglypuff and Luigi can hold up to avoid the ground outright depending on the percent. Regardless, it makes for a crucial tool for Yoshi, particularly in matchups where the opponent makes an effort to prevent him from getting past their range or recklessly runs up on him. It works fairly well if you can manage some degree of precision to get past moves like Lucina's' landing fair while also being able to check aggressive dashes in to his space if used pre-emptively. The resulting tech chase is generally highly fruitful for Yoshi, which in turn means the return on this move can be very high for Yoshi despite not being too committal; missed techs can be instantly converted off of with sliding ftilt and dsmash while any opponent who gets jab locked is at his mercy.
Jab is a quick frame 3 move, making it fairly useful in scramble situations, but unlike other quick jabs it's one of the safest in the game. It isn't enough to make it spammable or reliable as a shield pressure tool, but being -11 is generally not bad for Yoshi unless the opponent has a very strong and fast punish. While it's difficult and not frequently worth it, jab can also be spaced outside of moves like Mario's shield grab. Unfortunately, spacing this move will often put Yoshi at risk of hitting the outer hitbox of the move, preventing any true follow-ups and even allowing the opponent to shield in between hits if they're buffering it.
Air to Air
This is an inconsistent area for Yoshi but not an outright weakness. He generally lacks the hitboxes to contest with many aerials thrown out in this area, and he'll find himself outright losing to most disjointed moves while also losing to or trading with moves like Peach's nair or Kirby's fair with regularity depending on what he's trying to use. In general, Fair, Nair, and Bair will be the moves of choice for this area of neutral, and each has a different use. Fair requires the most finesse of the three but can also have the best reward. As his slowest normal that exposes a negative disjoint for half its duration, it can easily lose to quicker, bigger moves. The secret to success with it in these situations is to avoid the hitboxes entirely using its hurtbox shift during the startup so that he's only exposed when the opponent's move is no longer active or has whiffed. These interactions typically happen too fast to humanly react to so the player must anticipate and utilize Yoshi's high horizontal airspeed to help him weave around attacks. Nair is similar in that it will likely lose to most moves that are active against it. Unlike fair, however, it is one of the fastest aerials in the game while being decently active - the key here is not to battle against another move but to essentially intrude on the opponent's airspace where they'll want to jump, catching them with what will likely be a late hitbox of nair and potentially starting a combo or leading to a late grounded follow-up/nair. Lastly, bair is his best tool at contesting other buttons in aerial duels. It's not consistently active but the third hitbox has a large hitbox that can be used to truly outrange non-disjointed moves.
Rather than trying to fight other hitboxes, Yoshi can also take the route of pre-emptively attacking the space the opponent will be with his air mobility and versatile aerials. Slightly delayed rising dair is an all-time classic, as it will catch opponents spamming predictable full or even short hops and allow Yoshi to autocancel on landing and convert into uair at low-mid percents. Fair can be used similarly. Getting caught by either of these will typically make a lasting impression and potentially discourage the opponent from jumping so much to prepare a landing aerial.
If it's preferred that Yoshi doesn't take to the air to counter an aerial approach, he has a great suite of anti-air tools. His Utilt is similar to his dtilt in that it low profiles him, although to a lesser degree. The front hit of Utilt typically whiffs against most standing opponents but will catch a character rising into their jump once they've left their jumpsquat animation - this requires good anticipation as an opponent shielding this or not jumping can get a strong punish. Reverse utilt may be more desirable as it leads to great confirms with the most reliable being uair. The reverse hit will reach quite low behind Yoshi and with its latest possible hit is potentially twice as safe as the initial hit on shield. Usmash is a strong option that is both relatively quick and capable of beating out most descending options from an opponent thanks to the intangibility granted to his foot. While the move is somewhat notorious for never getting the KO when Yoshi needs it most, it is still fairly strong and at a little over 100 it can be quite effective when hitting airborne opponents (this will also scoop rising opponents thanks to its animation). Fsmash is potentially the most extreme option he has for anti-airing. While whiffing this is quite bad for Yoshi, the reward is immense. The intangibility granted to his entire head allows him to blow through many attacks including the average disjoint and the hurtbox shift on his head during the charge animation can cause some infuriating whiffs for the opponent. The hit itself is incredibly strong, and leads to early KOs at ledge. Pivot grab can also be helpful against close-range characters with somewhat predictable opponents like Roy, where the high active frames and disjointed tongue can catch many extended hurtboxes.
A common misconception is that Yoshi has issues dealing with opponents that rely on shield, particularly if they have a notable out of shield option. In reality, Yoshi can use all of his aerials to safely attack the opponent and crossup, along with his safe dtilt, flexible if not telegraphed command grab, and ability to destroy shields after they've been damaged by fair or taken a couple of hits. His challenge will be getting the opponent to sit still in shield and then tame or get a grasp of their response out of shield. Jab is a quick enough check after most of his aerials to stuff shield grabs and other options of that speed tier while he can always dash away and back in to check their response. An opponent that holds shield is at risk of short hop downB breaking their shield quickly. Opponents that roll or spotdodge predictably can get chased down/waited out and obliterated with a smash attack or landing uair/bair.
Fair is a frequently used option and is almost always used to space against the opponent or rarely cross up shields. It does good shield damage while being fairly safe. It's generally not best used point blank but against characters like Greninja with particularly poor defense he can get away with it. The player should be especially mindful of their spacing with this move as Yoshi's floatiness can make it difficult to ensure he'll always land the hit as low as possible and bigger bodied characters tend to particularly interfere with late cross-ups. Yoshi should be landing the tip//meteor hitbox of this move when possible; on hit this will lead to a grounded spike.
Bair can be spaced more easily but is less safe; it can make for some ambiguous crossups and trigger erroneous shield grabs and aerials in the opposite direction. The move is also notorious for shield poking, making it a good choice for a delayed aerial against a held shield.
Dair is custom made to shred shields so long as all hits are landed. On platforms, this is easy to safely do. On the ground, he'll need to settle for skimming over the top of shields and drifting away to make up for how unsafe it is. It will never break shields, but always shield poking means that if he performs the landing hit on a grounded opponent he'll trigger a surprise tech chase.
Nair should in theory be very strong in shield pressure scenarios but in practice is often quite stale and relies on landing very close to the ground - a labored and slow maneuver thanks to his fall speed. Crossups are awkward as they can get body blocked hard but are otherwise fruitful. It's still helpful to mix this in with spaced moves once the opponent has been trained to respect his jump ins or to check them for not waiting out delayed aerials.
Uair is reminiscent of a close slash normal in Guilty Gear - quite safe while leading to good combos if landed. The opponent can be easily conditioned to respect its safety and will often by default resort to defensive tactics when it lands on their shield, especially on crossup. This is arguably the best Yoshi will get in close range shield pressure and allows him to start conditioning immediately.
Dtilt is typically the only grounded move that's safe to go for. It's not so oppressive like a Roy or ROB dtilt that it can be spammed up close with the risk reward skewed toward Yoshi, but it's a nice spacing tool that can start incredible tech chases. Use it.
Egg lay is the classic tool to go for to punish a predictable shield. Its reward is by nature inconsistent, but nobody likes getting hit with it and any damage you do to it means the opponent is closer to getting outright KO'd by stray hits like nair at ledge. Additionally, in matchups where Yoshi is forced to weave around an obstacle course of hitboxes and projectiles only to face a shield and quick out of shield option when he does catch them, it's a helpful way to skip past that extra layer of defense. It helps to be more ambiguous with movement with this move, as B reverses and wavebounces help obfuscate your intentions and prevent the opponent from waiting out the obvious egg lay and spot dodge attacking you.
Short hop downB is the ultimate if not inconsistent punish for reliance on shield. The key to breaking shields with this move is landing both the stars that come out when Yoshi lands - if you can consistently do this to a character (and this is affected by their natural shield size), then they won't feel comfortable relying on shield too much unless they're completely at full shield health. This is also helpful to use in scenarios where the opponent likes to shield after doing something they feel makes them exposed or entices you to attack.
Yoshi is a notorious scourge of low level play thanks to his strong offense that punishes poor reversals combined with his frame 3 nair and frame 1 double jump armor that makes any untrue strings subject to escape. Weak juggling combined with Yoshi's weight can stretch out his stocks to intolerable lengths. Against competent players, it is key for Yoshi to save his jump for committal and untrue combo extensions and landing as safely as possible afterwards.
Understanding the opposing character's combo structure and theory is ideal for picking the right time to try to escape a combo. Proper DI is always the primary option - remember that when you're getting hit, you shouldn't be immediately focusing on reversals. If you're aware of an untrue combo, then consider what the opponent might go for. If they're doing a quick, low lag combo filler, they might recover in time to keep juggling you if you jump out. If they're also directly below you, nair will be much less effective but might be somewhat better than frame traps meant to catch standard airdodges (also frame 3). In general, you'll want to gauge what you can afford to tank and what amount odf damage you're comfortable taking as a result of a potential juggle. Additionally, consider what moves that you want to try and armor through - moves like Bowser and Greninja Fair are strong enough to break armor and put you in hitstun while also allowing them to follow up and guarantee a KO. Always keep in mind that without a jump you have no recovery and you don't get it back until you land.
Your priority is always to land reset neutral as safely as possible. This is one of Yoshi's main weaknesses due to how floaty he is and the nature of his jump. If you're going to land aggressively with a button, make sure you're doing it when you're sure an opponent won't have a hitbox out as the hitboxes you'll be practically using to cover below you in dair and nair are not impressive by any means at contesting anti-airs. Additionally, try to do this toward center stage if you have no jump to ensure you don't get put offstage by a successful juggle. If you manage to drift outside the opponent's range you can use bair as a horizontal coverage tool. If you're choosing to drift offstage, particularly after a double jump, you can leverage your distance from the opponent to try to get to ledge quickly and avoid damage. Aerial downB has a decent grab box to snap to ledge although you need to face the ledge and pay good attention when you're high up. If you do get hit past low percents, you'll probably lose your stock, but you should keep the risk and reward in mind before making that decision. While still in the air, you will want to make use of your best in class horizontal air speed to evade opponents trying to chase you in the air. If they're on the ground, then every initial dash in the game surpasses your max air speed but you can try to make use of egg toss to slightly delay your landing or egg lay to shift your momentum (less effective if you're not drifting at a high speed). Aerial downB is an emergency option that you need to be very careful with as it's quite unsafe, quite reactable, and leaves you wide open to any attack. Try to save it for when the opponent has truly overcommitted.
Your ability to recover safely determines how long your stocks will last in many matchups. Your options are to recover high, low, or in between and your major resource is typically jump and your egg boosts. Going high is the high risk/high reward option against most characters as it allows you to potentially get past ledge and back to stage immediately at the cost of having to get past a juggling scenario. If the character has weak juggling or very oppressive ledgetrapping, you may prefer this option - especially at low percents. Going low is similarly risky as getting your jump broken may get you KOd or footstooling will guarantee a KO. They key to going low is to protect yourself from edgeguard attempts with your egg toss. Most hitboxes will beat eggs and extend to hit you, but the key is to toss and then drift in or use your long airdodge to snap ledge. You can be a little aggressive about your airdodge as it's somewhat lenient. Your opponent can be forced into awkward angles of attack by the height you sit at just below ledge at a roll or two's distance away. Being ambiguous about going high or low by fighting your way past edgeguard attempts may also help, but always be wary of what attacks your opponent can reliably and practically land against your jump to potentially put you in a dangerous spot. Even at low percents, you can potentially lose your jump and be forced to egg boost or airdodge to stage repeatedly, which an opponent with good execution can rinse and repeat for a high amount of damage or a KO.
Egg boosts are the small jumps Yoshi gets from aerial egg toss. His first toss gives him a small jump and momentum boost. The second gives a smaller boost and the third slightly stalls him with no boost. Subsequent tosses don't affect momentum. He can only reset these boosts by touching the stage - grabbing ledge does not count. It's easy to lose track of your boosts and then try to use them to get back to stage incorrectly, so pay attention. These boosts combine with his jump for a huge boost - tossing at the peak of his jump lets him come back from huge depths. If you mistakenly directional airdodge offstage, you can still make it back, but you'll likely have to egg boost with your double jump which will cost you your armor and make you very vulnerable. It's common to autopilot egg tosses out of hitstun to fight your way back and reset tumble, but keep in mind that an aggressive opponent can exploit the lag from this.
Yoshi is more or less solid on any commonly legal stage as well as less commonly available ones - namely Lylat and Yoshi's Story, as slants do not for the most part mess with his gameplan and actually introduce more flexibility for egg tosses and combos. The benefits and drawbacks of stages are fairly straightforward and often matchup dependent; larger stages with platforms let him kite characters he doesn't want to interact with much but also can make it so that he's chasing zoners around stages with a built in roof. Platforms massively extend his advantage stage, with top platforms giving him access to early KO setups; they of course give him more options for landing in disadvantage. His platform pressure is overall versatile and very strong between his command grab, full hop dair, uair, and usmash. Some characters are able to pressure him in disadvantage to high effect, however, meaning he may want to avoid them. Flat stages limit the opponent's defense from aerial eggs and jump-ins while giving him more juggling potential; they also limit his combo extensions and landing options.
Stages with large blastzones can make him very tough to KO thanks to his already strong defense; on the other hand, he still retains his strong overall KO power. Offstage space is a two-way street; against strong edgeguarding threats like Lucina he may want the extra space while characters with limited or linear recoveries may be susceptible to well timed edgeguards and checkmates with less space available.
Tips and Tricks
• Controls • FAQ •
• Movement • Offense • Defense •
Detailed & Advanced Information
• Damage/Knockback • Frame Data Explanations • States of Play • Universal Strategy • Esoterica •
• Patch Notes • Tier Lists • Alternate Resources • Discords •