A wavedash is a technique in Super Smash Bros. Melee that causes a character to slide along the ground without walking or running. It transfers the momentum of the air dodge into a spurt of ground-based movement. Like L-Canceling and Short hopping, wavedashing is considered an advanced technique, and one of the first techniques smashers learn when they train for tournaments.
Contrary to the common belief that it is a glitch, Wavedash is actually a physics exploit. This is because while sliding from an air dodge is an intended part of the physics engine, the uses found for it weren't. The competitive community has thoroughly explored the applications of wavedashing in a match setting and its widely varying uses in modern tournament situations are clearly beyond what was possibly intended during development.
In competitive play, Mewtwo, Luigi and the Ice Climbers players make heavy use of wavedashing as their primary movement, while users of nearly every other character wavedash frequently for positioning and maneuvering.
When the tournament ruleset allowed items, aerial item catches during an air dodge were safer than grounded item catches. Wavedashing was accidentally discovered when a player using Luigi attempted such a catch. Henceforth, wavedashing began to enter smashers' repertoires. It didn't become necessary for top level competition until months later.
Wavedashing describes a sliding motion that occurs by jumping and then immediately air dodging at a sharp angle into the ground. The length a character slides in their wavedash is determined by a number of factors: by the angle at which they air dodged (low angles yield long wavedashes), how close to ground they were before air dodging (the closer the character, the longer the wavedash), and the character's traction. Low traction yields long wavedashes and high traction yields short wavedashes; thus, characters like Luigi, Ice Climbers, and Mewtwo have long wavedashes, while Peach and Zelda have short wavedashes, generally considered to be less effective unless performed on icy surfaces.
Performing the techniqueEdit
Traditionally, wavedashing is the technique-to-know for newer players, for a mastery of wavedashing reflects both a nimbleness of fingers and a knowledge of high-level play. It is performed by pressing X or Y (or up on the control stick) to jump, followed immediately by L or R, and diagonally down on the control stick, to perform the air dodge. Ideally, the wavedashing character should slide without ever appearing to leave the ground.
Advantages of wavedashingEdit
While a character is sliding from a wavedash, they are considered by the game to be standing - thus, they can perform any ground attacks that could normally be performed from a standing position, such as smashes, standing grabs and jabs. They also retain all of their standing defensive maneuvers such as sidestepping and shielding. Wavedashing allows a character to move while still having available their ground options, a moving versatility dashing can't match.
Another advantage lies in the ability to wavedash backwards while facing forwards, which allows characters to perform standing attacks while moving both backwards and forwards, as well as sliding backwards off the stage to an edgehog or aerial.
Disadvantages of wavedashingEdit
Despite its versatility, wavedashing requires considerable startup. A character is vulnerable (and not yet moving) while performing the jump and air dodge, and for 10 frames afterwards they are unable to attack (while "landing" from the wavedash). Because of this lag, it is unwieldy for a character to wavedash in close quarters where quick attacks endanger them.
If a wavedash is not performed correctly and an air dodge is performed instead, it can lead to being punished; and if performed off the stage, even KO'd. Also, if one attempts to wavedash backwards off the stage and misses the edge of the stage, they will be helpless over the pit and will self-destruct.
Wavedash in Super Smash Bros. BrawlEdit
Wavedashing in Super Smash Bros. Brawl was removed due to the change in the way the physics engine handles the air dodge, in that its direction is now determined by aerial momentum, rather than analog input. Landing traction upon hitting the ground in Brawl has been reduced considerably, effectively removing any exploitable movement options brought on by the previous game's mechanics.
While Wavedashing is technically removed, Yoshi has the ability to perform a pseudo-wavedash called the Dragonic Reverse, which entails canceling the double jump animation with an attack. Yoshi's unusual double jump allows him to do this because of the dip that it has in the intro frames.
Recently, a code for Ocarina (the free alternative for USB Gecko), released by the hacker Phantom Wings, is able to make the air dodging system similar to Melee's, thus giving players the ability to Wavedash. LeeHarris of Smash World Forums posted the code online on the board.