A lower-ranked character who checks or counters someone higher on the tier list.
A subtrope of Meta Game that goes hand in hand with Complacent Gaming Syndrome, and often facilitated by Tier-Induced Scrappy. In competitive games, an anti-metagame character is one that's perfect for handling a top-tier threat, even though they're placed far below them on tier lists. This attribute often goes far unnoticed thanks to the prevalence of Complacent Gaming Syndrome, and when discovered, it might attract a few players itching to get an easy win over popular top-tier users. However, even after an anti-metagame character's strengths are discovered, their placement will usually stay the same. This is usually because while that character can check or counter a few big threats, those threats have better matchups across the board and are generally safer choices. An anti-metagame character is not just a character who is used better than an opponent's top-tier character — they have a clear tactical advantage that counters one or more specific top-tier characters and renders a decent chunk of the skill difference between players irrelevant. The name "anti-metagame" comes from how these characters challenge the prevalent attitude that only top-tier characters can handle top-tier characters, which is common even in communities for games with balanced casts. This could be objective if the game outright designed something to be a hard counter against something else that's otherwise unstoppable. When lampshaded or required by the game, this is a Weapon of X-Slaying. This trope often overlaps with Not Completely Useless or Crippling Overspecialization.
- Since the release of Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire, Quagsire has consistently been at or near the bottom of Smogon's tier list, yet it's known for being one of the best Kyogre counters around.
- Shedinja will absolutely wall anything that can't hit it super-effectively or hit it with indirect damage, including Uber-tier Pokemon like Latios, Dialga, Palkia, Kyogre... and it's been bottom-tier since its debut.
- Numel - an otherwise completely unremarkable NFE who doesn't even get that much use in Little Cup - gets a surprising amount of use in Anything Goes, the tier where everything is legal. This is because the AG meta is dominated by Klefki, whose strategy tends to revolve around inflicting both paralysis and confusion on the opponent, and Numel is immune to both. Note Unfortunately, it still ranks pretty low on the viability list, since it's great at countering Klefki and horrible at literally everything else.
- The Fairy type is this applied to an entire element! By Generation V, many of the metagame's top-tier threats were either Dragon-, Fighting-, or Dark-types or relied on using moves of those types... but come Generation VI, the Fairy type was introduced and revealed to be explicitly anti-metagame. It scores super-effective hits on those types while resisting all of them (in Dragon's case, it's immune to them), and it's only weak to Poison and Steel, neither of which were known for their offensive potential. The Dark/Dragon-type Hydreigon, which Smogon prized as having "no true counters," suddenly gained a double weakness to Fairy and a strong case of How the Mighty Have Fallen. Still, the Fairy type on its own isn't enough to make a Pok√©mon top-tier, and some of the stronger threats it counters like Garchomp and Dragonite have held onto their OU placement despite it.
- The Dark-type was this in its introductory generation. Its attacks were all weak, they dealt special damage when most Dark-types (except Houndoom and Murkrow) specialized in physical damage, and the only Mechanically Unusual Fighter move it had at the time was Pursuit. The one saving grace it had was its immunity to the Game-Breaker Psychic-type, which was still a top-tier threat.
- In the early days of Fire Emblem Heroes, Takumi emerged as the first meta-centralizing top-tier threat. His best counter was considered to be Male Robin, who despite not being particularly strong or fast has high physical defense for a mage and a tome that gives him a weapon advantage over colorless units like Takumi, who are usually immune to the weapon triangle. When the meta developed and Takumi fell out of favor note , Male Robin largely disappeared as well.
- Super Smash Bros.:
- The mid-tier Ganondorf is considered a hard counter to the top-tier Ice Climbers in Melee thanks to his better neutral game. Samus's powerful projectiles also grant her a dead-even matchup against Fox and Falco, who are notorious for ranking at the very top of the tier list and centralizing the metagame around them.
- In Brawl, the Ice Climbers rank second out of 38 on Smashboards's tier list, but they're still countered by Peach from seventeen spots down. Meanwhile, Pikachu is considered to be the only character with an even matchup against Game-Breaker Meta Knight, although this is still debated.
- Overwatch: Before she was released, Brigitte Lindholm was stated by Jeff Kaplan, the head of the development team, to be "meta-changing". Specifically, Brigitte is a Support/Tank Hybrid character that is built to counter the dominant "Dive Meta" which had taken over the game since early 2017.note Brigitte's kit allows her to stun an enemy in one shot and her weapon is a flail that sweeps a wide area and is difficult to dodge, thus allowing Fragile Speedster heroes to be taken down easily. Said flail also allows has a long-distance attack that deals heavy Knockback, preventing diving Tanks from landing on the target they wish to kill. And to top it off, she also has healing abilities built into her Flail attacks as well as the ability to fortify one ally's health. These abilities are designed (in theory) to make a Dive composition less dominant and make room for slower, or more long-distance, compositions.
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