Welcome to the Young Link training guide! With the imminent release of his Smash amiibo figure (and the fact that I’ve finally managed to pull off a tournament win with it), I thought it would be a good time to write this up. Let’s get to it!
Young Link is fast. The fastest of the Links, in fact, and with ridiculously low landing lag and Fire Arrows that fly at incredible speeds. His KO options stem mostly from Bomb confirms and up aerials as well as the occasional lucky smash attack. Between his tether grab, projectiles, and aerials, Young Link seems to have the potential to be a top-tier character. Unfortunately, he is held back by a devastating AI flaw that can be lessened, but not fixed. When recovering, Young Link may try his tether recovery just a bit too far from the edge; he will then plummet to his death due to his high falling speed. Even an up special isn’t enough to save him when this happens.
Despite this crippling flaw, he is not hopeless, as it (as mentioned before) can be lessened. Pulling out a Bomb frequently while off-stage will cause the AI to mimic this habit; in response, the amiibo will accidentally hit itself out of an up special with the explosion so that it can use another one. Spending time off-stage to pull out a bomb can discourage him from trying his tether, as he usually falls too low to successfully land it.
Stats & Spirit Effects
We haven’t seen much of Young Link in the spirits metagame. Not many people invested time into him after his fatal flaw was discovered, and his amiibo isn’t common to own right now. However, as a Young Link main, I was dedicated to making my boy the best, and have tried several builds. So far, I have only found success with the standard AKS setup (Armor Knight + Speed Up). However, I tried a few other things during my labbing.
Additional Midair Jump is a two-slot bonus found on the Ho-Oh spirit, and it completely negates Young Link’s SD issue. However, as stated, it takes up two slots. If Young Link were a more aerially-oriented fighter it would be an option, but from what I had tested he will simply get run over by Instadrops and AKS’s. I tried different things like the Lightweight and Floaty Jumps bonuses to negate his fast falling speed (which was the main reason he would self-destruct) but half the time the decrease wasn’t enough so I had to scrap that as well.
Eventually, I caved and ran AKS, which not only doesn’t fix the problem; it makes it worse. But, rolling with the punches and playing along with the flaw seems to be the way to do it, as he has seen much success since this change.
Young Link is severely restricted by the prevalence of offstage play, and he will struggle against any amiibo who is comfortable following him out there. His recovery is far from decent, his fall speed is super high, and there’s always the aforementioned self-destruction flaw. Young Link should be trained almost solely as an on- and above-stage fighter, only leaving the stage for the occasional neutral air gimp. Don’t bother risking a forward air; this is a bad habit for him to pick up.
- Neutral attack: Two sword swings followed by either a solid jab or a flurry attack, ending with slightly weaker stab. Comes out very fast and is a good interrupt for any situation.
- Forward tilt: A fast swing over the head. This is in no way as essential as Link’s forward tilt, but it’s still a good move with higher knockback and damage than his neutral attack.
- Up tilt: Another fast overhead swing. Unlike Link’s up tilt, this one starts at the front and goes almost all the way down the back side. It’s fast and leads into many of his good options. A vital move to Young Link’s success.
- Down tilt: If his sword were longer, this move would be more useful. Definitely not important to teach, but the occasional Down Tilt followed by Forward Air or Up Special is always good; use this only for occasional combo setups, as it’s not a good move for him to rely on.
- Dash attack: A running swing that he puts his whole body into. A notable bit of startup lag, but not much ending. If your Young Link is recovering high, you can easily catch him as he goes for the ledge with this move.
- Forward smash: Two forward swings with the Kokiri Sword. A decent KO move with enough speed to be a safe punish option on many whiffed attacks. Definitely your main KO move for amiibo.
- Up smash: Three slashes upwards, with a decent bit of killing power considering Young Link’s small size. A good punish for landing lag or a whiffed air attack.
- Down smash: A knee-high swing on either side. This is best used as a ledge-trapping tool, but it’s speed and knockback make it considerable no matter what situation.
- Neutral aerial: The most important melee move in your kit. In it’s initial startup (hard neutral air) it has considerable power and knockback, even being a KO move at high percents. It’s low landing lag, paired with low knockback during the later hitbox (soft neutral air) make this go with absolutely any move. You can edge guard with this move, managing a falling and a rising one and still getting back to the ledge without having to use your recovery. You can fastfall with this move and hit the soft hitbox to combat zoners such as Link or Mii Gunner. Essentially, you can do anything with this move; you just have to mix it up with your projectiles and stronger KO moves.
- Forward aerial: Two sword slashes. This is a decent KO move, however it can only really be landed far above stage due to it’s relative slow speed and Young Link’s falling speed. Try to catch your amiibo recovering high with this.
- Back aerial: Two backward kicks. The second has decent knockback, and you can fastfall with this move and only land the first kick, which allows for some seriously powerful follow-ups.
- Up aerial: A straight upward stab. This is one of your better KO moves (not that you have many), and the hitbox is disjointed enough to save you from most downwards attacks. Combo with down throw or any upwards launching move for some good damage or KOs.
- Down aerial: A downwards stab. Not really disjointed enough to be consistent, and in most cases a fastfall neutral air is better; It really comes down to feeling on when to use this one; just make sure he isn’t relying on it.
- Grab (Hookshot): Do not ever (and I mean ever) use this move to recover. If you would recover with z-aerial (Midair Hookshot), air dodge instead. Do everything you can to discourage him from recovering with this. On stage, however, this extended grab is very useful. Punish shields, whiffed smashes, or landing lag and follow up with a throw best suited to the situation. The amiibo counts its grab and z-aerial as two different moves, so attacking it with grab will not necessarily increase its chances of self-destructing with a failed tether.
- Throws: Young Link’s throws are all usable in different situations. Both of his side throws are important for getting the opponent off-stage. When they’re too damaged for combos but not enough for a KO, just throw them to the nearest edge. If their percent is low, down throw can combo into quite a few moves depending on the exact damage. His up throw can kill at high percents, which you will see a lot as Young Link due to his limited kill options. Make sure he knows he can kill with this.
- Fire Arrow: In normal competitive play, shorthop arrows are Young Link’s most powerful ranged option; in amiibo it’s a bit more complicated. If you teach him to shorthop arrow, he will think of this as a viable option any time he is in the air. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s important to know. That aside, this is his fastest projectile and it can link into itself multiple times at low percents. Make sure to rack up lots of damage with this, but only use it at a distance! You don’t want him firing these off at melee range. I’ll stop with the puns now.
- Boomerang: This is a surprisingly important move in Young Link’s kit. Using it as a shield from enemy projectiles or a spacing option can prove extremely handy, and it should be used about as frequently as adult Link.
- Spin Attack: A spinning slash that launches foes upwards and at an arc; Unlike the other Links, this is not a KO move unless at excessively high percents. It can be followed up with a fair, a nair, a uair, or even another spin attack in the air. Most importantly, on the ground, you can do this move right out of shield and punish the amiibo spamming your shield.
- Bomb: Much to the dismay of any fellow Young Link mains, he will not use them to the degree of competitive play. However, when he does manage to land these, he will attempt any of the many kill confirms you may have taught him. Don’t prioritize it, but be sure to show him what they can do. The more of his kit he’s able to use, the better.
If you would like to read more guides, follow this link to return to the master list.