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Skill Gate Characters
Characters that are easy to use effectively for an amateur, but also easy to counter for an expert. These tend to be extremely slow, so that a faster character can bash them around without ever getting hit, or extremely frail (and possibly fast), with sturdier characters demonstrating that the most important Hit Point is the last. Crippling Overspecialization may also be at play. However, these characters may sometimes stay solid past the end of their "glory days" if used well enough and not have their once powerful weapon expected to be a Game Breaker.

Contrast the Lethal Joke Character, which is weak unless used by an expert player who knows the trick(s). Also contrast Difficult but Awesome, who is more obviously useful but appears worthless at first because (s)he/it is, well... difficult to use. Sometimes a Skill Gate can also be either, creating an inverted bell-curve where it does well in the hands of both the newbie and expert players in their own tiers but appears to be horrid for average players. Not to be confused with a Crutch Character, which starts strong, but is inferior to other characters, sometimes because they have trouble keeping up. Compare Wake-Up Call Boss, which is a PvE encounter that similarly serves to separate new players from the experienced. Skill Gate Characters may be overly reliant on That One Attack and thus falter once the opponent learns how to counter it. Has some overlap with Necessary Drawback, in which a skill or character has drawbacks that prevent it/him/her from being overpowered.


  • Super Smash Bros. Brawl has Pit, neither a Glass Cannon nor a Mighty Glacier. Being based off of Cupid, Pit is annoying because he uses speedy arrows that cause interruption to make the lives of decent players miserable, and touching him, let alone gimping him, can be made bothersome what with him being able to fly. Aside from that, however, Pit has no glaring strengths and slightly sub-par melee (although said melee has multiple multi-hit attacks so it can't be all bad).
    • Another example is Zelda, who has an amazing projectile, kills at ridiculously low percents, and outprioritizes everything... until you realize that her projectile can be spotdodged/powershielded/whatever on reaction. Then you realize her grab is slower than reaction time meaning she has no real answers to a shielding opponent, and suddenly her approach game becomes awful. Then you realize that her slow grab combined with slow moves out of shield means bad punishment and you get the idea. Furthermore, multi-hit moves are becoming less effective. This in turn makes characters that depended on them Skill Gate Characters.
    • Some players consider Ike this as well. He's slow and cannot take as much punishment as the other Mighty Glaciers but he hits like a freight train, his moves are hard to interrupt, and his attacks have a wide reach. Again, he is a case of: stomps newbies, walked all over by more skilled opponents, DEADLY in skilled hands.
    • In Melee, Link was a very easy character to use at low-level play, with multiple killers that are easy to hit on slower-moving opponents and a powerful shield grab. Once players learn how to better exploit the speed and mobility of the better characters, his value drops dramatically due to his slow speed and attacks. Young Link, who appears to be a mostly worse version of Link at first glance, is marginally better than his adult form as he trades off reach for speed.
    • Also in Melee, in an odd twist, Princess Peach was evidently intended to be this; official guides and the in game trophies made much ado about how she is "good for beginners" due to her fabulous recovery skills, but was theoretically held back by her "weak moves." In practice, however, she's a powerhouse in the air and has an all around versatile moveset (on top of aforementioned recovery skills). She's been sitting pretty in the tier lists basically since release, and performs well both in low and high level play.
    • Wii U / 3DS has Little Mac, seen almost constantly online because of his speed, power, and KO Uppercut. However, if he gets hit into the air even once, which is one of the first things starting competitive players learn how to do, he's finished, because he has the worst aerial attacks and recovery in the game.
    • Another interesting case from U/3DS is Lucina, where this trope was intended to be invoked. Players were intended to use her to learn Marth's playstyle, then graduate to Marth and learn his high-skill "sweet-spot" mechanics. However, after 2 straight games of seeing heavy use in top-tier play, Marth was nerfed. Additionally, Lucina deals consistent damage no matter where her blade hits you, she moves a bit faster and since she's shorter, she has a smaller hitbox. Players are now testing to see if this makes her as strong, if not stronger, than her more complex counterpart in the new meta, meaning this trope may be subverted.
    • Charizard is another example. Its Flare Blitz attack is a strong, fast and damaging flaming tackle that covers a lot of distance. The move on its own is devastating against inexperienced players, but as the move is telegraphed and deals damage and recoil to Charizard itself, better players can easily see it coming and avoid it (by shielding or dodging).
  • Advance War: Days of Ruin has Tabitha, who ties with the final boss for highest attack and defense bonus to allied units, but also has the smallest area of effect (initially just one unit.) She can annihilate lone units, but she has no good response to concentrated fire, especially from artillery and other indirect-attack units.
  • Zangief from Street Fighter IV. He has a spammable spinning attack that average/new players will get creamed against, but it is severely punishable by expert players.
    • That Damn Ken and his Hurricane Kick spam! Until you notice his upper body is completely unprotected...
    • The Shoto Clones are arguably an example of the "bell curve" type of Skill Gate Characters in IV. They are easy to use and get into, but tend to be very predictable to fight for average players. But they get better after that thanks to good players abusing their normal attacks with quick recovery...
    • Vega's speed and claw range would overwhelm new players until they learned his fairly simple patterns. He gets better in expert play though, because of the skill and timing required to perform his Difficult but Awesome tricks, such as the safe claw dive/grab mixup in II and IV, and his infinite combo in the Alpha series.
  • In Rise of Nations, the Russians were mildly overpowered in matches between casual players but were considered one of the worst factions by expert players. The developers didn't think this was a problem because there were nearly 20 factions to choose from.
    • A main reason for this is that the Russian national trait is that their territory causes additional attrition, as an implementation of "Never get involved in a land war in Asia"/"Never invade Russia in the winter". Seems awesome, because who doesn't want to watch invading forces shrivel and die without having to do anything?... but basic attrition is significant enough that strategists quickly learn not to invade anyone without accompanying supply vehicles to protect them, which eliminates any advantage the Russians have and forces them to confront armies whose national traits may allow them to field better units or more of them faster.
  • In Team Fortress 2, Pyros end up as these in higher levels of gameplay. Pyros can seem overpowered to new players but at higher levels of gameplay, they lack any form of advanced movement (which is very important in this game) and are near useless outside of close range. Their only decent competitive tactic is reliant on the enemy to attack them with specific weapons they can deflect and is easily countered. However, it should be noted that expert Pyros may retain their usefulness by taking advantage of ambush tactics and the aforementioned deflector, as well as presenting constant threats to Spies and making enemies temporarily retreat. Only the W+M1 strategy is what makes newbies a bit dangerous.
    • A sub-example for this class is the Phlogistonator. It chews up anything at close range and has a "Mmmph" function that restores health and guarantees 8 seconds of Critical Hit firestorms, as well as hefty damage resistance while activating "Mmmph." The biggest thing about it? It can't use the deflector at all, and it can easily be countered by staying away and pelting the offending Pyro with explosives. Against players who are caught unaware or don't know how to deal with it? Fiery death. Against those who know how to keep away from the Pyro? Not a chance.
    • The Engineer gets to be this way. On pub servers, a single Engineer camped on a Sentry gun with a Dispenser can be an obstacle insurmountable to the whole team because the sentry's aim is perfect and they tend to fight it one at a time. However, players can improve their effective damage by learning to aim better while the sentry's power is static, and players also learn how to either kill the Engineer or destroy the sentry fast enough that it can't be repaired in time. You'll be lucky if your fully upgraded sentry stops the enemy for more than a few seconds in a higher level of play.
    • Spies also fall victim to this trope, as it's tough to use their one-hit kill when the enemy is competent enough to check behind them regularly; the only reason they're useful in comp play at all is because nobody expects you to use a Spy. This is especially true in Highlander matches, where each team has one of each unit: while most units are at least somewhat useful within their niche, the Spy not only has to deal with the near-impossibility of backstabs, but the fact that there's always an enemy Pyro on the field.
      • That being said, all of the classes can very easily fulfill its designated role in the Competitive Balance, even when taking player skill into account. For example, in high-level play such as the aforementioned Highlander format, it is extremely unlikely to see Pyros and Spies racking up lots of points, since their deathmatch capabilities are extremely low and they tend to be eaten alive by the other classes in a straight-up one-on-one fight. However, they can still contribute vastly to their teams in their own way; Pyros can airblast players away from key objectives as well as force a (however temporary) retreat by setting enemies alight. Spies will not generally outlive their victims in any well-organised and communicating team, since a kill will typically follow-up with the enemy team turning around and massacring the Spy, but who and when the Spy kills can be absolutely game-changing. Killing an enemy Medic with a full Ubercharge, for instance, can result in that Spy's team emerging victorious, even if the Spy had to die to make the kill.
    • All in all, practically every class in "Team Fortress 2" has some level of Skill Gate attached to them, primarily because all the classes have a surprising amount of depth to them which can only be fully utilised via experience. For beginners (or players who have no intention of improving), each class seems to have a very simple role which can be fulfilled quite simply. However, in the more competitive circles, playing in this style is utterly predictable and makes newcomers easy pickings for veterans. Mastering advanced mechanics (or even learning to utilise simple ones in less predictable ways) such as the Rocket Jump and Double Jump, as well as learning the effectiveness and weaknesses of different loadouts, is essential in order to even have a chance at competing.
  • From Virtua Fighter: We have Jacky Bryant. He has high/low attack strings, 360 Hurricane Kick sweeps out the ass, god damned "Lightning Legs", and, worst of all, a super-prioritized and super-damaging Deathflip. The drawback? A lot of those moves have a lot of recovery. So, for the player who stays hot on their toes, they can very easily punish these attacks, either with a string of your own, or a guaranteed throw. On a different note, he's also in the same weight class as characters like Akira, Wolf, and Jeffrey, so some of your combos may not fully connect on him.
  • Hunters from World of Warcraft until halfway through Burning Crusade. High damage output by mashing three buttons, a pet to push back castbars, and plenty of ways to escape an opponent. Also had a 3-yard yellow zone between their melee and range radii wherein they couldn't do anything but watch their pet attack if you managed to root them in the appropriate place.
    • Warriors also have a 'donut of safety' where you're out of their melee range, but not far enough to get charged... Except Tauren Warriors, whose hitbox is 8 yards instead of 5, the minimum Charge range.
    • Hunters and Paladins have a version of this. Both are very good solo classes for new players that are easy to level in PvE, but that means a lot of them are suddenly and utterly stomped by the end-game content as they lack the relevant skills.
  • These crop up in various CCGs from time to time. One extreme example was Pokemon's Mulligan Mewtwo deck. Chances of defeating an expert player with a good deck? Near zero. Chances of defeating a new player who doesn't understand what it's trying to do? Near 100%. Naturally, it stopped showing up in tournaments rather quickly as people figured it out.
  • In Magic: The Gathering, the "4 of every Circle of Protection" deck. It can beat any deck that can only win by damage, has no enchantment removal or bounce, kills slowly enough that you can somehow win even while sinking mana into Circle activations every turn... in other words, only terrible decks.
    • But in fitting with the trope Circle of Protection can be very useful depending on the opponent's deck. Stopping that giant creature with trample and lifelink from ever doing damage is worth one mana a turn.
    • The pre-packaged decks Wizards of the Coast sells are generally skill gates in themselves: Competitive against each other, but will get crushed against tournament-level decks. But they are useful in teaching newer players how to modify their decks to win more (first tip: Buy two of the same pre-packaged decks and smoosh 'em together.)
    • Event Decks are designed so you can enter competitive play extremely easily, as well as contain a proportionally high number of valuable and powerful cards (as opposed to starter decks or other types of preconstructed decks, which usually contain no more than a handful of valuable cards, if any). In most kitchen table games and low-tier competitive scene, they're exceedingly powerful straight out of the box. In higher levels, you would likely need 4 copies of the same event deck just to get four copies of the powerful cards you would want to consistently show up, and that's not including the Mythic Rare cards you might need. Even then, professional level decks can still easily destroy them.
  • BlazBlue's Jin Kisaragi, to an extent. Most new players crumple and die against ice car spam, but competent players can easily counter these tactics.
    • Note that ice car spam is nowhere near the best way to play Jin, and he does his Game Breaking in serious tournament play by having boatloads of invincibility frames and frame advantage. But Ice Car Jins are most certainly Skill Gate Characters.
    • Noel is also one easy-to-pick-up character whose confusing and seemingly relentless Drive attacks can overwhelm novices but can be taken apart by experts who recognise the openings.
    • Iron Tager has become this in BlazBlue: Continuum Shift. His incredible power coupled with the fact that he is much easier to use than he looks makes him widely hated by new BlazBlue players. Expert players who can keep him at arm's length and not get magnetized, however, can skillfully dissect him. Ironically he was firmly on the Difficult side of Difficult but Awesome in Calamity Trigger.
      • It has reached a point where people at low levels are Rage Quit ing on the VS screen because of their opponent picking Tager.
      • However, Tager has the same thing Jin has in that, in good enough hands, he can decimate magnetized players due to his attacks dealing massive damage if they connect.
  • Gado in Bloody Roar 2, degraded from a Game Breaker in the first game. Hits like a truck, and has some nice combos that can chew off life if you don't know how to handle it, but moves so slow. Seems devastating when your first fight against him or unlocked, but seems less and less fearsome as you understand the game and get better at it. Still makes a helluva annoying boss for new players. Unfortunately, in later games he was Nerfed to sheer uselessness.
  • Guild Wars 2 has the Warrior. Capable of pumping out some of the highest DPS in the game, especially when armed with a greatsword, and access to good defensive skills and traits. In PvE, they're much sought-after for dungeon runs, and their entire strategy can often be boiled down to "run in, hit 1-5, watch things die". However, as most players will tell you, they're one of the least desired classes for Pv P. Their entire skill set just ends up translating much better to killing trash mobs and AI bosses than it does to taking on real players.
  • There was a time during Starcraft's long lifespan when the (mostly average skilled) playerbase was complaining about how overpowered Zerg were (particularly Mutalisks) while many of the top players were playing Terran instead: Terran defenses combined with a sublime powers when microed (for example, the famous tank-and-dropship dance) made them far more powerful in skilled hands then the much simpler Zerg. Another example is stealth units: Against a good player, it's extremely difficult to pull off Dark Templars or nukes, but against a player who isn't good at detection management either can be an instant win.
    • Near the end of the Starcraft era however, "Fast Mutas" were considered to be the best Zerg opening, and most Terran and Protoss builds were judged against this build. Said Terran and Protoss builds were only considered viable if they were fast enough to outproduce or counter the initial Zerg Rush of Mutalisks. Certainly an example of the "bell curve" Skill Gate.
    • Most beginners and intermediate players gravitate to the Protoss because their playstyle is based around having fewer, stronger units without too many special abilities to make them 'work'. In armies of equal cost, it's typically easier to control 10 beefy units rather than 30 units that die instantly if you make a mistake. Add to this that building 30 units takes more work than building 10 and you'll see why most new players like the toss: easier micro and easier macro. Of course, once you get good none of that matters in any meaningful way anymore and player skill becomes increasingly important.
      • Especially noticeably, Protoss has the lowest Tournament Wins fo the three factions by a fair margin, in contrast to the supposed 50/50 win average. There are notoriously few professional Protoss Players in relation to both Terran and Zerg.
  • The Starcraft II metagame is a constantly evolving version of this trope. A pro player will come up with a build that is considered "nigh unbeatable" in a particular matchup, until another player develops a build to counter it. Much more prevalent in a Mirror Match, where often pro players will go the exact same build, and it falls to execution.
    • An example from the Wings of Liberty era is the infamous "bio ballnote ". Albeit there were plenty of units that could quickly dispatch the bio ball, they were higher on the techtree and inaccessible in the early game.
  • Eddy Gordo got this reputation in Tekken 3. Novice players would enjoy Button Mashing and the flips and spins he'd do, stymieing most others..except those who figured out his patterns. Or just picked Kuma and smashed him to bits before he could even get in range.
    • Eddy is an interesting case, because of two reasons. One is that until mastered, most players will do better with him if they just employ Button Mashing and joystick waggling. The other is that it takes a disproportionately high degree of skill to beat button mashing Eddy players consistently. Even experts that are below master caliber lose to button mashing Eddy players on occasion. This tends to start a lot of Trash Talking. The Tekken trash talking FAQ even mentions one of the prime reasons to trash talk is "You just lost to some psychotic crack-addicted button-mashing Eddy player and you feel it is your duty to comment on that particular playstyle."
  • One team tends to take on this role every season in Madden NFL, depending on whichever play or group of plays are considered Game Breakers that year.
  • League of Legends has a few:
    • Evelynn used to be an assassin type with invisibility and a stun attack. Against newbies she tends to get about 30 kills and carry the game. Anyone clever enough to figure out you need to buy an anti-invisibility potion will own her.
      • "Used to be", because people have began using her to jungle (kill neutral creeps instead of laning where the enemy can harass them). Meaning she can now get gold and levels, which she needs, without dealing with enemies who easily beat her up early game... And also to follow the enemy jungler around while invisible, steal his kills, organise a gank on the jungler or simply wait for the jungler to get heavily damaged by jungle creeps and then appear and kick his ass. She's so massively effective, frustrating and rage-inducing to play against that Evelynn was intentionally overnerfed just to make people stop doing that.
      • Just to give an idea of how bad it was, her mechanics have to be completely overhauled, and said overhaul completely changed the way she is played (her stealth becomes more of a Wallpaper Camouflage visible to opponents if close enough, rather than her old Invisibility Cloak)
    • Tryndamere is a melee warrior with the highest sustained damage output of any champion in the game, an additional damage bonus when low on life, the ability to pass through walls for an easy escape, a taunt that slows you if your back is towards him (aka you're running away from him), and an ultimate ability that makes him immortal for a short time. Many a lowbie has uninstalled the game after confronting this character and getting their ass kicked, only to watch Tryndamere escape through a wall once reinforcements arrived. It takes some experience with the game to figure out his weaknesses: he requires very large amounts of gold to afford his damage items and become useful, and critically his ultimate does not make him immune to disabling effects or damage over time. Add his awkward rune requirements (which are only relevant at higher levels) and low health and it is clear why Tryndamere is considered bottom tier.
      • Note the other reason why Tryndamere is a skillgate character: amateur team gameplay usually consist of fighting to the death, trying to mash QWER as fast as possible, and caring more about their personal kills over the wellbeing of their teammates. This is fatal when the entire team's Crowd Control gets blown 5 seconds into the team fight attacking that "low health" bait thus leaving everyone vulnerable, especially the carries, to get chomped to pieces one by one simply because they can't stop Tryndamere from approaching and attacking them, they can't kill Tryndamere once his ultimate is used, they can't take Tryndamere's high damage output and when they panic and run they most certainly can't outrun Tryndamere after getting taunted. But once a team gets their act together and learn how to act in an engagement it is a whole different story.
      • Other "SURPRISE!!" Glass Cannon characters such as Fiora and Master Yi tend to become skill gate characters in the same way.
    • Other pubstompers are Karthus (ultimate that hits everyone on the map; stays alive for a short time after death, often getting free kills in a chaotic teamfight; solution - magic resist and don't stand in his damage radius after he dies) and Katarina (offensive teleport and an immensely damaging channelled ultimate that can kill nearby champions in about two seconds; solution - almost all of her damage comes from said ultimate and any stun/bump/knockup/silence/fear/taunt ability interrupts it). Neither is viable against good players, but both will single-handedly win the game at low skill levels.
      • Karthus is definitely viable. He was used multiple times to good effect in the Dreamhack tournament, which had all the best League players across the globe playing. It's worth mentioning that he has the ability to place down a gigantic wall enemies can pass through that tremendously slows them and reduces their armor/MR that lasts for 7 seconds, is long range, and gives sight the whole time. This alone is absurdly useful.
      • Which still has nothing to do with the reason he stomps low level players. Using the wall requires skill. Dominating your lane opponent to get ahead, then using your global ultimate to terrorise his entire team does not. Low level players assumes what happens in mid lane stays in mid lane, until they lose half of their health to a laser beam on the head, giving Karthus a large number of free kills before the end of the laning phase.
    • Mordekaiser is statistically the best champion in the game. His high damage spells and incredible health give him a significant edge in a brawling match, and his regenerating shield makes it nearly impossible to scratch him in the lane. His weaknesses? Melee range, zero gap closers, zero crowd control and zero escape abilities. Eventually opponents learn how to kite, disable priority targets and generally not walk in a disorganised cluster towards the enemy. If he cannot reach you, he cannot regenerate his shield and dies like a useless potato sack.
      • His ultimate ability is a curse that damages an enemy player and creates a powerful ghost under his control if that player dies while cursed. Low level players tend to fight to the death rather than escaping at the last moment, meaning as soon as someone dies in a teamfight Mordekaiser gets a free ghost and the 5v5 battle just became 4v6.
    • Annie Manages to follow this trope in a sine wave: to the rookie, she's a fragile caster with a difficult-to-work gimmick. Once you have the basics like counting your spells and ability combos, her high burst damage and stunning passive make her a terror. These tricks become less godlike in the higher levels, but someone who's an expert with the Dark Child can make her extremely viable.
      • This trope is also what turns her training bot it an absolute nightmare against newbie players. Superhuman combo timing, perfect cooldown management and the ability to always land her stun perfectly are wonderful advantages for an AI to have when the character's effectiveness depends largely on those three things.
      • There's also the fact that learning newbies will have a hard time dealing with her early phase, as her stun can give her a distinct early game advantage if set up. This makes it easier for her to farm new players who don't know how to approach her without incurring the wrath of her stun shots, and as a result lead her to killing the player or keeping them from framing early game.
    • Darius' natural damage and crowd-control make him terrifying and a likely curbstomp to most opponents within his abilities' ranges. Outside of his abilities' ranges, which is lower than all the ranged-carry champions' autoattacks and the majority of ranged abilities, he is essentially helpless, and slowing effects are abundant amongst the game's champions to make it easy for him to remain so.
    • Tristana also teaches you how to play an ADC properly. Good last-hitting capacity with her E passive where it's active also serves a healing debuff? Check. Two self-peeling abilities? Check. A passive that gradually increases her autoattack range? Check. One of the best late game hypecarries? Checkmate. She's considered to be the easiest adcs to learn and play properly. More experienced players can counter her by taking advantage of her weak mid-game because all of her abilties scale in AP instead of AD, play an adc who specialize in early-game bullying note , play an adc that has a better late game note , or play an adc that have better teamfight presence note . Also, Tristana's E passive autopushes the lane, which makes perfect opportunities for the jungler to gank and kill her.
      • And with the discussion of adcs, Ashe and Caitlyn as well. Both have reasonable poking capacity and skillsets that teaches newcomers how to play adc properly.
      • In fact, Ashe is the champion that the player is given for the tutorial.
    • Some junglers can qualify. Shen note , Nunu note , Volibear, and Rammus note . Many lower skill players in Bronze or Silver who see them as a jungler would rage when someone like Nunu using their ultimate and destroying your entire team, Rammus taunting your adc and end up killing him/herself because Rammus has Thornmail, Shen popping out of nowhere with his ultimate and making a 2v2 fight into a 3v2 fight, or Volibear running up to your adc and fling the said adc behind him where the entire team destroys the said adc. More experienced players will counter them by knowing some of their clear weaknesses. For example, Shen's ultimate is very predictable and his clearing speed in the jungle is known to be the worst.
  • From the Soul Series, the nunchaku-wielders (Li Long and later Maxi) have somewhat erratic attack patterns and several easy-to-abuse moves that trap the opponent in them for multiple hits. For maxi, this is thanks to the Pure Soul Loop system. Pure Soul Loop allows you successfully button-mash forever, but at the same time, Maxi can only move in a straight line while combo-ing in general. Thus, stepping around him makes all the difference. Even still, Maxi has really high base attack, so Pure Soul Loop combos only have to succeed but a few times.
    • Kilik is a notorious "easy to pick up and defeat opponents" character. However, a patient user of Guard Impacts and parries can quickly dissect and destroy a button-mashing Kilik player with relative ease.
    • Necrid is generally considered this by those that don't call him a broken character because they think he's a Game Breaker. Necrid's movelist and gameplay tends to revolve entirely around Whoring, which means he can often get perfects against new players by simply pressing a button over and over. People that understand spacing and guard impacts, however, will usually curb-stomp Necrid since Spam Attacks are one of the only things his poorly-designed movelist is good for.
  • Shotia from DoDonPachi dai ou jou. Powerful regular shot, starts off with 3 bombs and maxes out at 6 (most of any character in the game)...but she also moves very slowly when she's firing her laser, and if she dies she loses all laser power, which is a horrible thing to have happen to you against a boss or midboss.
  • Robot Arena 2 has EMERGENCY, whose powerful drive train and armor, and very powerful flipper make him a nuisance for new players... until you realize that flippers do almost no damage. Avoid edges with out-of-bounds zones and make sure your bot can (or doesn't need to) self-right.
  • Deidara in Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 2. He is also VERY easy to spam with.
    • To elaborate, Deidara's power consists exclusively of sculpting animals out of explosive clay and allowing them to move like the animals they're based on. There is a particular long-range combo where he throws clay birds of increasing size and intensity, culminating in him creating a gigantic one, riding on it, and ramming it into the opponent. What makes this combo difficult for people not prepared for it is that Deidara goes up into the air bit by bit, becoming unreachable towards the end of the combo; and Deidara moves across the field for that last strike. However, this can be dismantled through good timing with support characters or by using the Ninja Dash to get right up to Deidara when he begins the combo, because the Ninja Dash will outprioritize Deidara's clay birds.
  • Cloud in Dissidia: Final Fantasy is easy to use for beginners but slow and predictable and therefore easy to block and counter. Though he has a couple of good wallrushing HP attacks that can hit hard if he has a decent amount of Brv, and he guard crushes in his ex-mode. In 012 his speed is improved on with aerial double cut, and assist combos means he has an easier time landing hits.
    • This is even lampshaded by Kefka for his pre-battle quote against Cloud in the first game:
    "Ah, the smell of inexperience!!"
  • Frank West in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 can be this. He hits hard, but if you know how to avoid his slide and knee drop (his two main ways of getting in), he can be pretty easily dealt with, as he doesn't truly have any answers for people who fight at a distance.
    • Once past the Skill Gate of average play, Frank tends to be a monster in high levels and tournaments, where he's never around except as an annoying assist with his shopping cart, and during tag combos designed to land two or more Supers that also power up the range of his normal moves with his camera.
    • Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age Of Heroes had an entire Skill Gate Team—Appropriately nicknamed "Team Scrub", the team consists of Cable, Sentinel (two of the best characters in the game), and Captain Commando (for his Captain Corridor assist). It revolves mainly around abusing Cable's zoning game in conjunction with Sentinel's Sentinel Force assist to keep them away and Captain Corridor to cover anyone who gets too close, as well as abusing safe DHCs with Sentinel whenever the team gets enough meter. It's a great team to use to understand the fundamentals of the game (proper assist calling, safe DHCs, proper meter usage) but ultimately pales in comparison to some of the other top tier teams in the game (like the infamous Magneto/Sentinel-or-Storm/Psylocke team).
  • High acceleration characters/karts in Mario Kart Wii, in contrast to the earlier games where they were arguably the most useful overall. This is because they have high handling and acceleration stats, and hence can initially do well due to recovering from item hits and are easier to handle for newer players. But in higher level play (anything above about 100%), they just get overtaken by all the high speed karts and can't do as well as far as world records/time trial goes.
    • It helps that Time Trial racers don't have to contend with other players attacking them, and therefore can maintain their top speed for the entire race so long as they don't make any mistakes of their own.
  • In the Touhou spinoff fighting game Touhou Hisoutensoku, Utsuho Reiuji will tear newbies apart due to her high-priority normal projectiles, full-screen lasers that do big damage, her Mighty Glacier traits being partially negated by her long dashes and a basic dial-A combo which takes out 1/4 of your health. Pros will be able to interrupt the long startup of every single move she attempts with any other character, stop her easily predictable approaches, spot all the holes in her blockstrings (none of them are airtight, relying on mixups to succeed) and take her offense apart with well timed attacks. Similarly, Yuyuko Saigyouji can utterly overwhelm newbies with her spam of butterflies and ghosts, but tactically, she has Glass Cannon characteristics similar to Utsuho, having rather slow movement and punishable abilities. And Aya Shameimaru's very fast movement, specials and and bullets can seem terrifying, but her bullets have terribly low density, and with some concentration it's possible to predict and counterhit her moves.
  • Full-Moon Riesbyfe Stridberg in Melty Blood Actress Again Current Code can be seen as this. With short but powerful chains that can easily do high damage, especially to more frail characters, she's held back by her absolute inability to deal with zoning in any capacity. As such, types such as Chaos can systematically take her apart.
  • A slightly different example is the four-move checkmate in Chess. White moves a pawn to free the bishop and the queen, moves the bishop and queen to attack the weak f7 pawn, then captures it - it's only defended by the king, but he can't recapture as the queen is protected, which means mate. The problem is that any player who sees this coming can easily protect against it, essentially putting the player who tried it in a bad starting position. Against a beginner, it's an easy win. Against an expert, it's an easy loss.
    • Also the Giuoco Pianissimo (Very Quiet Game) opening. Its simple developing moves ensure that a weak player won't make any of the typical beginner mistakes, and it also allows some tricks by pinning one of blacks knights so it can't move. Playing as an experienced player is simply boring and also allows the character of the game to be decided entirely by the opponent so few masters play it.
  • Bob in Fighters Destiny is a Mighty Glacier with emphasis on the "mighty"; a very large portion of his move list consists of outright One Hit Kills, and with the way the game implements its 2˝D, it is extraordinarily hard to get around your opponent, meaning movement speed is largely a non-issue. Because of this, he can seem very overpowered to new players. The problem is that in this game, every character has at least one One-Hit Kill move, and they can be blocked and/or dodged - and when an opponent starts doing this, you start to realize that Bob's moves are all very, very slow. Even if Bob does land a hit, one of the things balancing One-Hit Kill moves in this game is that HP is not the deciding factor in a match: it's points. Seven points are needed to win, and One Hit Kills are worth three - and Bob's special finisher, the only thing worth four points, is extraordinarily hard to execute.
  • In Borderlands, Mordecai's special ability, unleashing his pet hawk Bloodwing, can wipe out most low-level non-boss enemies, turning it into an "I Win" button in the early game. As the game progresses, though, the enemies increase in strength more quickly than Bloodwing does, reducing its effect and making the late game far more difficult.
    • Gaige's "Best Friends Forever" skill tree in Borderlands 2 was specifically designed this way, so as to allow novice players to succeed in the game without making Gaige a Game Breaker. Lead designer John Hemingway referred to it as "the girlfriend skill tree," i.e. the mode that your newbie girlfriend can play without being overwhelmed.
  • SUVs end up as this in Forza Horizon, since their poor handling makes little difference when most cars are piling into the walls on every corner whilst their large size and high weight work great for ramming, commonly used at low level as well as being the best vehicles off road. However, at higher or average levels, most people in smaller cars than an SUV can duck through their inside around a corner whilst the SUV driver is incapable of doing anything about it.
  • Co-op example: big characters like krogan, turians (original flavor), and batarians in Mass Effect 3 multiplayer tend to exemplify this trope. They have more health and shielding than smaller characters (humans, asari, salarians, quarians, etc.), but in exchange lack a dodge command. On lower difficulties, a well-built krogan can shrug off nearly anything that isn't a One-Hit Kill, and enemies with instant kills (which are particularly nasty against slow characters) don't show up in any great number. On higher difficulties, dodging becomes much more important, since enemies with instant-kills show up earlier and more often, and damage increases mean that even a Mook or two can pose a credible threat. A player who's relied on the durability of their characters to stay alive will end up dying a lot on gold and platinum difficulties; conversely, a player skilled enough to win consistently on these levels will be good enough at avoiding enemy fire that extra health and shields won't be nearly as useful as they first appear.
  • In competitive Pokémon, Electivire is considered one such example. It's got a good movepool, awesome offensive stats, decent speed, and alright defensive typing, which makes it dominate in the in-game and casual departments... But in the advanced metagame it starts to really fall apart. In a metagame where something with that kind of power is essentially required to be have the speeds to be a Lightning Bruiser (no pun intended) or defenses to be a Mighty Glacier, its "decent" base speed of 95, which, while in the top 20% of all Pokemon, is questionable in competitive play. Combined with the ubiquity of Earthquake, its Glass Cannon nature, and the fact that "super-effective" does not equal "One-Hit Kill" as is often sought for in the metagame, it doesn't fare well competitively.
    • Aegislash with King's Shield + Swords Dance + Shadow Sneak is shaping up to be this. It has a movepool that's just right for it, excellent defensive typing (Steel/Ghost), and its battle style involves buffing its attack and tanking hits in Shield Forme before switching to Sword Forme to attack, then using King's Shieldnote  to return to Shield Forme. While most in-game opponents or newbies easily fall for this and get massacred, experienced players would switch in a bulky pokemon with a Super-effective movenote  as soon as they see an Aegislash, set up on it when it uses King's Shield, then destroy it on the next turn. You could also cripple it with a burn via Will-o'-Wisp or prevent it from using King's Shield via Taunt, as King's Shield does not protect against Standard Status Effects. However, this only applies to this certain set- Aegislash can run other sets that are not as easily hampered.
    • Similarly, Mega Mawile often trounces teams by using Huge Power-backed Sucker Punches to annihilate anything that tries to kill it first, or use Play Rough and Iron Head on those who try other methods. As a result, Mega Mawile is almost unbeatable... unless you burn it, negate Huge Power through any number of Ability-changing moves, hide behind a substitute, or make it use up Sucker Punch's very limited PP, among other solutions not immediately obvious.
    • Talonflame, in the 6th Generation of Pokémon. This pokémon comes with the ability Gale Wings, which gives it priority to all of its flying type moves. That, coupled with a very high Speed stat and a decent Attack stat, means it can get one hit KOs against the majority of pokémon in the game, without even giving them the chance to strike back. Less experienced players have a lot of trouble dealing with it. But veteran players, after the initial shock, have learned to deal with it, and the metagame has adapted to it by having people use pokémon with better defenses to counter its mediocre attack and limited coverage. Nowadays it's still a pretty good pokémon, but it's only flawless against new players.
  • New Super Luigi U has Nabbit, who is immune to all enemy damage but can't utilize power-ups (though he can still take them). The official website explicitly bills him as this.
  • The Gears of War series has the Gnasher Shotgun - and Gears of War 3 adds the Sawed-off variety. With the kinds of movement skill that are vital in Gears multiplayer, the only thing mitigating the point-and-shoot ease of shotguns is the fact that everyone else has them, too. But when you move up to tournament levels of play, teamwork and co-ordination with assault rifle fire and power weapon procurement will utterly destroy any teams that rely on wallbouncing into shotgun range to score kills.
  • In Defense Of The Ancients and Dota 2, quite a few heroes are inherently imbalanced in the lower brackets where people tends to pick carries instead of disablers or supports, and things like warding, anti-invisibility and team coordination are largely non-existent, but because of their Weaksauce Weaknesses they are pretty much ignored in organised games:
    • Riki, the most hated hero in pubs. When he reaches level 6 and has his first point in Permanent Invisibility he becomes permanently invisible unless attacking. Because no one usually bothers with wards or dust, he is often able to sneak upon his enemies and use his first ability Smoke Screen, which creates a cloud that silences enemies in its AoE and gives them a chance to miss. The targets would then often panic and run away from the cloud, which makes them all the more vulnerable to Riki's passive Backstab, which deals extra damage if he is attacking from behind. Against newbies he tends to be an absolute terror, with 30+ kills each game. However, because of his fragility and dependence on money, he becomes food for even moderately skilled teams, who can gank him easily and render him dead meat.
    • Drow Ranger, whose damage comes entirely from autoattacks, has a good early laning presence which gives good farm and thus really good scaling, combined with her ultimate Marksmanship which gives her massive amounts of Agility. If she gets an early advantage she easily snowballs to a point where you can't even approach her because of Frost Arrows and Gust, which slows enemies and knocks them back, respectively. The execution basically consists of popping Shadow Blade, using Gust then right-clicking enemies (who tend to run away yet can't after being slowed by Frost Arrows) to death, making her extremely easy to use. However, she has no escape mechanism, is vulnerable to ganks early game, and Marksmanship is completely nullified when an enemy hero is near her.
    • Sniper, who much like Drow has amazing attack power in the late game and the longest attack range in the game on top of that, but lacks disables and escapes and is incredibly vulnerable.
    • Combine Riki and Drow Ranger... and you got Clinkz, and he works pretty much similarly. His skill sets allow him to go invisible and eventually gank another person, and shoot down damaging fire arrows in godly speed that tears down the enemy HP so fast they may not have the time to run away, and his Ultimate also gives him boost on attack, toss him an Orchid of Malevolence and he can pick up Drow's silencing ability. Not only Clinkz can be countered easily with wards or any other anti-stealth items, he's also extremely fragile that he goes down easily when detected and stunlocked, and pro players can use his strength to cause his downfall: The item Blademail, which deflects every autoattacks, and seeing that Clinkz depends on his high damage auto attacks while having a fragile body... having him attack someone activating Blademail may as well spell out the death of Clinkz. And bonus points if said target is a tanky hero, and even activates Mask of Madness, which increases damage taken by 30%... including those returned by Blademail.
    • Phantom Lancer, an agility hero that can create illusions passively, replace himself with an illusion and go invisible and split push harder than most heroes would seem like an overpowered threat. However, most experienced players knows that AoE attacks in general will pretty much take out his army of illusions and his stealth is countered by items that costs 180 and 200 gold and abilities like Bounty Hunter's Track and Slardar's Amplify Damage. Phantom Lancer isn't seen commonly in pro games outside of pushing strategies for a reason.
    • Ursa, one of the most terrifying heroes to fight in close combat, lacks a gap closer and thus is very vulnerable to being kited and can't reliably kill heroes with escape mechanisms. In higher skilled games he always needs heavy team support to be truly effective.
    • Spirit Breaker, a very powerful ganker when the opposing team has no ward vision and doesn't know how to counter his charges. He's capable of solo-killing most other heroes in the game, especially if he catches them far from their teammates. Yet if anyone places any wards around the middle of the map, it becomes easy to see when he's charging, and thus call a teammate to TP in or retreat to within tower range, or even put a player or two in his path to disable him as he charges, rendering him helpless and in a location with no backup. His reliance on magic damage for his bash and his ultimate also makes him little more than a melee-range disabler against anyone with magic immunity such as Omniknight, and he has little to no attack speed without a Mask of Madness, which greatly increases his vulnerability to all types of damage.
    • Bloodseeker, whose whose ultimate Rupture deals damage to the target whenever it moves. Whenever hit by Rupture, new players will often run away in panic, often killing themselves in the process, because of this Bloodseeker can easily become overfed and carry the game. In contrast, competitive players will simply use a TP scroll, which Bloodseeker cannot interrupt with his lack of stuns, or stay stationary and call the assistance of a teammate. Whenever Bloodseeker tries to gank an enemy hero, it'll probably end up as at least a 2v2 battle, in which he isn't useful at all for only having a single-target silence in addition to Rupture.
    • The basic idea with Huskar is that with Berserker’s Blood he gets stronger attacking power as his HP pool decreases, and both Burning Spears and Life Break give him convenient ways to lower his HP. However, having increased damage when hurt is rarely worth it when there are plenty of damage sources that don't involve deliberately crippling oneself, and are always active. Huskar is reputed as a pubstomper because against poorly organised players he has no problem hanging around a dangerous level of HP. In fact, it's practically an invitation for his opponents to wander in one at a time and be slaughtered. But players who can plan ahead have no issue with waiting for Huskar to give them the perfect opening to dump all of their burst damage into, and by the end of the game a hero with real DPS skills can easily outcarry Huskar while also being able to fight at full HP. In addition to this, he also can't do anything but what he's designed to do (single-target DPS), with little teamfight presence and no utility whatsoever. Because of this, he is extraordinarily rare in competitive Dota, even compared to other pubstars like Ursa or Riki.
    • Necrolyte is notorious for his high win rate in pubs but thats because pubs often like to team fight very often which necrolyte excels at thanks to his death pulse since players often do not have the coordination to either focus him down or a single hero. But not only did he require a lot of farm, he also scales very poor into the late game, which is why he does not get picked that often and even if he is picked, his win rate is extremely low due to his poor scaling.
    • Zeus is well known for his massive damage output and being as simple as a type on the keyboard, why is his pub win rate high while he is not seen as much competitively? Its because pubs like to team fight very often and rarely communicates to kill Zeus first or hell, just pick him off in the early stages since he is squishy and has no escape mechanisms and he will be missed from the later stages of the game.
  • Dwarf teams in Blood Bowl are extremely durable and begin with the Block skill; newbie players playing low-value games (who will probably favour the straight-forward blocking and running game) will be hard-pressed to find a team that's easier to learn how to use or harder to run up against. In high-level play Dwarves suffer from being incredibly inflexible: They can do one thing (blocking) incredibly well but elven teams run circles around them and well-leveled chaos and underworld teams (with easy access to claw) will tear them apart, and once they lose the initiative they will never regain it. Orc teams have similar tendencies to a lesser degree, being slightly more flexible at the cost of losing some immediate power.
  • Civilization 5 has Venice whom in single player games is a godly civilization thanks to its double trade route allowing players to quickly earn lots of gold either to pay money for city state alliances, quickly purchase desired buildings in puppeted cities or use it to convice a leader to declare war on someone thus allowing Venetian players to quickly score an easy diplomatic victory even in deity level difficulty. However, in multiplayer, such tactics are easily and completely countered as most good players know better than to let Venice snowball to death, thus not only can they simply declare war on them and plunder all of their hard earned trade routes but also embargo Venice as well as the city states to prevent trade routes completely shuts down their entire ability. Another downside is that neighbouring players will be able to get twice the land they can get due to Venice's inability to expand allowing opposing players to just wipe Venice out of the game. Because of all the downsides, whenever a player has randomed Venice, they are allowed to reshuffle their leader of choice for free.

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alternative title(s): Skill Gate Character
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