Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (SSBU)

Donkey Kong Guide: Matchup Chart and Combos

July 2022 Major Tier List Update!
13.0 Best Character Tier List

Patch Notes and Updates
All Update and Patch Note History
Ver. 13.0.1 Patch Notes and Balance Changes

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Donkey Kong Guide

This is a guide to Donkey Kong in the game Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Everything about Donkey Kong, including how to unlock them, bread and butter combos, frame data, alt costumes and skins, as well as Donkey Kong matchups and counters, can be found here.

Donkey Kong Tier and Overview

Stats and General Info

Donkey Kong
Donkey Kong Image
Game Series Donkey Kong
Smash Bros. Debut Super Smash Bros. (64)
Fighter Number 2
Unlock Order Default
Number of Jumps 2
Weight 127 Units (3/87)
Dash Speed 1.873 (29/87)
Air Speed 1.208 (13/87)
Fast Fall Speed 2.608 (40/87)
Special Attributes None

Tier List Placement

SSBU Donkey Kong Icon C Tier Tier

A Heavyweight with good range and powerful moves

SSBU Donkey Kong is a heayweight character with hard hitting moves that have decent range. Several of his moves also have armor on them, allowing him to beat out many opponents' attacks to win the interaction.

While DK can deal a lot of damage, and has excellent grab game, his large size makes him both combo and projectile fodder, and his recovery has poor vertical movement, meaning he is easily edgeguarded.

See Our Tier List Here!

Donkey Kong's Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths ・Good range on his attacks
・Very powerful hitboxes, which often take priority over opponents' attacks
・Decent horizontal movement in his recovery (Up Special)
・Great grab game, allowing him to use cargo throws and get early KOs on opponents
・Moves have high knockback for finishing stocks
・Access to several spikes
Weaknesses ・Terrible vertical recovery
・Struggles when getting comboed, and cannot deal with projectiles
・Poor frame data, and lack of approach options

Donkey Kong Matchup Chart

Matchup Chart

Donkey Kong Image
Duck HuntFalcoMega ManMr. Game & WatchPalutenaPikachuSheikYoung LinkZero Suit Samus
Banjo & KazooieBowserBowser Jr.BylethCaptain FalconChromDiddy KongFoxGreninjaInklingIsabelleJokerKing DededeLinkLucasLucinaLuigiMarioMeta KnightMii BrawlerMii SwordfighterMin MinNessOlimarPac-ManPichuPiranha PlantPit/Dark PitPokemon TrainerR.O.B.RobinRosalina & LumaRoyRyuSamus/Dark SamusSephirothShulkSnakeToon LinkVillagerWarioWii Fit TrainerWolfYoshi
BayonettaCloudCorrinDr. MarioHeroIce ClimbersIkeIncineroarJigglypuffKenKing K. RoolKirbyLucarioMarthMii GunnerPeach/DaisyRidleySimon/RichterSonicSteveTerryZelda
Little Mac

Notes About Matchup Chart

1. -2 = Disadvantage. -1 = Slight Disadvantage or Even. 0 = Even. +1 = Slight Advantage or Even. +2 = Advantage.
2. The matchup chart was based around both the opinions of professional players of each character, as well as our own experience through playing Donkey Kong.
3. Characters within each tier are unordered
4. Pokemon Trainer's individual Pokemon (Squirtle, Ivysaur, and Charizard) as well as Echo fighters with no significant difference than their regular counterpart are not shown.
5. For other characters who are not shown here, we are still investigating the matchup.

Good Matchups For Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong has a pretty poor matchup spread, with only a few notable winning matchups. This doesn't mean nearly every matchup is unwinnable though, as like most heavies, playing the character relies on punishng human error for a win, rather than winning by purely exposing character weaknesses in a matchup. DK does do well against characters like Little Mac and Ganondorf though, since both are pretty helpless in the event DK can grab them and use a cargo throw offstage.

Donkey Kong Counters

Donkey Kong's huge body frame and poor disadvantage state mean that projectile heavy characters and combo heavy characters do extremely well against him, as they can easily find openings after his moves, and capitalize on them for a big punish. Characters like Mega Man or Palutena effectively shut DK down with their projectiles and disjoints respectively, while characters like Sheik and Pikachu can also find very easy punishes on him.

How to Beat Donkey Kong

Zone him out

Due to DK's large body and lack of a projectile or reflector, DK will have a hard time against projectiles or large disjointed hitboxes. If you have projectiles you can camp him out with, he will have a hard time getting in, and you will get several opporunities to put him in disadvantage. Keep away from where he can hit you with his tilts, and do your best to attack with safe options at a distance.

Punish out of shield

When Donkey Kong does get up close, he has very few safe options on shield. Donkey Kongs will use moves like Dash Attack very often, but it is not safe on shield, so most characters can punish it. In fact, most of his moves are safe on shield, so if you can bait one of them out, getting a punish is not too hard. However, note that side B can break shields (though it is slow enough you can react to it beforehand), and he can still grab you, so take note if he is coming in for grabs frequently, and use an attack to snuff them out.

Look out for cargo grabs

A large part of Donkey Kong's gameplan is based around his cargo grabーa forward grab that lets him walk while you are on his back. When this happens, DK players will you usually take you offstage to either throw you at the blast zone or at the stage for a stage spike. If you do get grabbed, begin mashing immediately (which is most easily done by rotating your stick as quickly as possible) to try and break free. If you don't get out in time, be ready to tech the wall of the stage by pressing shield right as he throws you at it, and you should be able to survive.

Keep him in disadvantage

Donkey Kong is easy to put into disadvantage, and very easily comboed once put there. After getting him up in the air, he has almost no fast options to help him break a combo, so you should be able to combo him even if you aren't frame perfect. Even if you do not combo him, simply getting him into the air makes it easy to juggle him, especially if you have a disjointed upair to hit him has he comes back down.

Donkey Kong Combos

Beginner Combos
①Dash Attack┳F-Tilt
③Grab━Forward Throw (Cargo Throw)━Up Throw
━Jump┳Up Air
    ┗Up Special
Advanced Combos
④D-air while in the air━Up Smash

Beginner Combos Explanation

Combo 1
Combo 2
Combo 3
Dash Attack Combos
This combo can be used on opponents with lower percents. Both the up tilt and forward tilt can be easily connected after landing a successful dash attack. Use an up tilt at the end of the dash attack to connect it and use a forward tilt earlier to connect it.
N-air Combos
This combo can be used on opponents with lower percents. Once a grounded opponent is hit with N-air, down tilt, forward tilt, and up tilt can all connect.
Grab Combos
You can get guarunteed percentage on your opponent by combining a cargo up throw with a jump and an up air (sometimes referred to as a “Ding Dong”). Use up special when your opponent has lower pecentage to rack on damage.

Advanced Combos Explanation

Combo 4
Combo 5
Down Special Aerial Combos
This is a combo you are going to want to use on opponents with high percentages. After slapping the opponent down into the ground, release an up smash to send them flying.
Forward Air Combos
Use this combo when your opponent is around 30%. This combo can add a lot of damage, but if the forward air is shielded, you will open to a counter attack due to end lag.

Donkey Kong Frame Data and Moveset

Best Out of Shield Options

Move Frames
Jump + Up B 7 Frames
Up Air 9 Frames
Back Air 10 Frames
Shield Grab 12 Frames

Donkey Kong's out of shield options are a bit limited, but Back Air is a decent option for opponents who attack you from behind. If you can land a grab, that is the best scenario, but a move will have to be very unsafe on shield in order to punish with grab, due to its 12 frame startup. While tricky, jumping out of shield and then using up B is technically DK's fastest option (7 frames), though it is likely to miss many opponents.

Jab (Neutral Attack)

1v1 Damage (%) Startup Frames Active Frames Cooldown Frames
Jab 1
4.8 5 2 18
Jab 2 7.2 4 2 29

Jab Information

A quick two hit punch. As it comes out in just 5 frames, it is a decent get-off-me tool for opponents in front of Donkey Kong.

Dash Attack / Tilts

1v1 Damage (%) Startup Frames Active Frames Cooldown Frames
Dash Attack
(Dash + A)
14.4 9 4 22
Dash Attack (Late) 10.8 13 12 10
Forward Tilt (Normal)
10.8 7 3 25
Forward Tilt (Angled Up)
9.6 7 3 25
Forward Tilt (Angled Down)
10.8 7 3 25
Up Tilt
9.6/10.8/12 5 7 27
Down Tilt
8.4/8.4/7.2 6 2 17

Dash Attack

Donkey Kong's dash attack is one of his best approach options, thanks to its long lasting hit large hit box that is easy to hit opponents with. It deals pretty good damage too, but it should be noted that it is unsafe on shield, so don't overuse it.

Forward Tilt

This move has great range, allowing Donkey Kong to swat at opponents in front of him with a disjointed hitbox. It can even be angled up or down, making it easier to hit, but it is notably unsafe on shield and has considerable endlag.

Up Tilt

This is one of Donkey Kong's fastest attacks at just 5 frames. The move is a disjoint that hits over DK's head and has decent range, so it is a good anti aerial, but it is punishable in its cooldown.

Down Tilt

Donkey Kong's down tilt is a good poking tool, as it has good range, fast start up, and low endlag compared to his other moves. Use it to attack grounded distance from a distance, but be mindful of your spacing.

Smash Attacks

1v1 Damage (%) Startup Frames Active Frames Cooldown Frames
Forward Smash
(Smash ← or → + A)
26.4/25.2 22 2 31
Up Smash 1
(Smash ↑ + A)
22.8 14 2 34
Down Smash
(Smash ↓ + A)
20.4/20.4/16.8/16.8 11 2 43
Down Smash (Weak Hit) 21.6/21.6/16.8/16.8 13 2 41

Forward Smash

A very powerful move with good range and great knockback. Donkey Kong has better KO options than this move, and this move has considerable endlag, so it is not a move you want to whiff. Only use it when a hit is certain.

Up Smash

Another powerful move with good knockback for hitting midair opponents. Be warned that the hitbox is a bit smaller than it appears. It has considerable endlag, but it can be comboed into at high percents from a short hop into down B for a kill confirm.

Down Smash

This is Donkey Kong's quickest smash attack, and deals great damage and knockback. It hits on both sides of DK and is very easy to use, but it has the most endlag of all of DK's smashes.


1v1 Damage (%) Startup Frames Active Frames Cooldown Frames
Neutral Air
(A + no direction while airborne)
13.2 10 4 25
Neutral Air (Late Hit) 9.6 14 13 12
Forward Air
(Hold ← or → in the direction you are facing + A while airborne)
19.2 18 3 35
Forward Air (Late Hit) 18/15.6 21 3 32
Back Air
(← or → Opposite of the direction you are facing + A while airborne)
15.6 7 2 23
Back Air (Late Hit) 9.6 9 8 15
Up Air 1 (↑ + A While Airborne) 15.6 6 5 27
Down Air (↓ + A While Airborne 19.2/15.6 14 3 38

Neutral Air

This move has a long lasting hitbox, deals decent damage, and is -6 on shield. For the most part it is usable when you need a long lasting hitbox, and can be used for edgeguarding.

Forward Air

A very powerful move with a big hitbox in front of DK. Although the startup is pretty slow, there is a meteor hitbox on the later frames of the move, which can set up for early KOs.

Back Air

This is another long lasting move with good range and quick startup. Its endlag is much lower than DK's other aerials, and is good for applying pressure, but it is still -6/-7 on shield, so many characters can punish it. Also note that the intial hitbox is much stronger than the late one.

Up Air

Donkey Kong smashes his head above him, giving his head invulnerability during the move. It deals good damage and knockback, and can be comboed into from a cargo up throw (sometimes known as a Ding Dong) to deal a ton of damage, even KOing on certain stages with platforms.

Down Air

Donkey Kong punches directly below, which can deal a lot of damage and spike opponents for an early KO. Depending on where an opponent is off stage, you will want to use Fair for opponents in front of you, or Dair for opponents under you to set up a spike.


1v1 Damage (%) Startup Frames Active Frames Cooldown Frames
Neutral Special
(Ground・Not Fully Charged)
- 19 2 42
Neutral Special
(Ground・Fully Charged)
19 2 27
Neutral Special
(Aerial・Not Fully Charged)
- 19 2 42
Neutral Special
(Aerial・Fully Charged)
19 2 27
Side Special
(← or → + B)
12 20 2 41
Side Special
12 20 2 41
Up Special
(↑ + B)
6 19 1 85
Up Special
1.68 25
Up Special
4.8 62 1 42
Up Special
(↑ + B)
6 4 3 -
Up Special
(Aerial・Hit 2-12)
1.2 - - -
Up Special
(Aerial・Hit 13)
2.4 - - -
Down Special
Ground, Hit 1
(↓ + B)
16.8 15 2 40
Down Special
Ground, Hit 2
16.8 26 2 29
Down Special
Aerial, Hit1
6 19 3 28
Down Special
Aerial, Hit2
7.2 28 3 19

Neutral Special (Giant Punch)

This move allows DK to charge up his power for a poweful punch. The move is stronger the longer it is charged for, and even gives him super armor at its max charge. While charging, it can be canceled via rolling, spot dodging, shielding, jumping, or air dodging. After fully charging, press B again at any time to release it.

Be sure to charge it up any time you have an opportunity, such as when an opponent has just been KOed, but not when you are vulnerable to getting punished.

Side Special (Headbutt)

Donkey Kong slams his head at an opponent, which will bury grounded opponents and allow for a powerful followup. It also has a meteor hitbox when used in the air, and gives Donkey Kong super armor. It is great for breaking shields too, and can be a decent mixup recovery option from ledge if an opponent is standing too close to the ledge while shielding.

Up Special (Spinning Kong)

Donkey Kong flails around in a circle, hitting both sides of him. It has poor vertical recovery, but can go pretty far horizontally, and nullifies windboxes or water moves. When used on the ground, it gives DK super armor, and is powerful as a KO option, although it is extremely punishable if whiffed. It comes out faster in the air than on the ground, so if you want to use it out of shield, you should jump and then use it.

Down Special (Hand Slap)

Donkey Kong beats his hands on the ground. Has a pretty good range on the ground, and also has a meteor hitbox in the air (his 4th spike). It is a powerful move on the ground, but in the air, it is primarily used for one of two things. You can B-Reverse it to mix up your landing, and the spike can also combo into up smash, which can be used to take stocks. In the air, it is -4 on shield.

Grabs and Throws

1v1 Damage (%) Startup Frames Active Frames Cooldown Frames
Pummel 1.6 2 1 5
Grab (Normal) - 8 3 28
Dash Grab - 11 3 33
Pivot Grab - 12 3 27
Cargo Throw (Forward) 14.4 15 1 30
Cargo Throw (Back) 15.6 16 1 26
Cargo Throw (Up) 14.4 15 1 14
Cargo Throw (Down) 13.2 17 1 27
Back Throw (Throw) 13.2 15 1 24
Up Throw (Throw) 10.8 14 1 29
Down Throw (Throw) 8.4 19 1 35

Forward Throw (Cargo Throw)

One of Donkey Kong's most essential (and unique) abilities he has is his forward through, which allows him to pick up an opponent, put them on his back, and move/jump while they are held. From there, he can throw in one of four directions, each with different applications, with many good KO setups.

Cargo Forward Throw

Throws opponents slightly upward and away from the direciton he is facing. Useful for KOing opponents if you grab them and take them to the blast zone before throwing them.

Cargo Back Throw

Throws opponents behind the direction he is facing. The main application for this throw is to take opponents offstage, then throw them at the lower part of the stage for a stage spike. Forward throw can be used here too, but back throw is much easier. The opponent can tech the wall, but if they aren't expecting it, they may miss it and die for it.

Cargo Up Throw

Donkey Kong throws the opponent upward, and can connect into upair. Using it on a platform may allow you to KO with this confirm.

Cargo Down Throw

Throws an opponent downward. Like forward throw, can be used to take opponents offstage with poor recoveries and throw them down, making it impossible to return to the stage.

Back Throw

Throws an opponent behind him. Mostly used for stage control or to put an opponent offstage, although cargo throw is generally better for this.

Up Throw

Throws an opponent upward. Again, cargo up throw deals more damage and can combo, so you are better off using that instead.

Down Throw

Can sometimes be used to set up a jab lock on an opponent, as it sends them pretty low to the ground. If they miss the tech, jab to lock them in place, and unleash Giant Punch for an early KO.

Final Smash

Attack How to Use Effect
Jungle Rush Press B after obtaining the Smash Ball DK hits the opponent with a flurry of punches and ends with an uppercut. It will not do any damage if the first hit misses, so be sure an opponent is in range.

Donkey Kong Balance Changes

Version 13.0.1

Neutral Attack 2 Increased the amount of time hit detection lasts. Reduced vulnerability.
Down Tilt Attack Extended the amount of time opponents will be in the damage animation.
Neutral Special Increased the speed that super armor activates.

Version 7.0.0

Other Increased shield size.
Made the head briefly invincible after deactivating shield.

Version 6.0.0 Balance Patch

Side Tilt Attack Extended launch distance.
Neutral Air Attack Increased power.
Increased attack range.
Neutral Special Extended fully charged launch distance.
Shortened the charge time until reaching max charge.
Up Special Increased the speed that super armor activates when using the move on the ground.
Made it easier to hit multiple times when hitting an airborne opponent when using the move on the ground, and extended the last attack’s launch distance.
Down Special Increased attack speed when using the move on the ground.
Reduced vulnerability when using the move on the ground.

Version 4.0.0 Balance Patch

Basic Movements Adjusted the vulnerability when waking up from sleep to match other fighters.

Version 3.1.0 Balance Patch

Neutral Special Super armor lasts longer after unleashing a fully charged move.

Version 3.0 Balance Patch

Neutral Special Increase the attack range.

Version 2.0.0 Balance Patch

Forward Air Attack Shortened the landing time after using the move.

How to Unlock Donkey Kong in World of Light

In World of Light, Donkey Kong can be found in the Kongo Jungle. Head to the east jungle to unlock him, then defeat him in order to use him.

Donkey Kong Alt Costumes and Skins

Donkey Kong Reveal Trailer

Smash Ultimate Character Guides

List of Fighters
Tier List
Tier List
Unlocking Characters
Unlocking Fighters

Character Stat Lists

Character Stats
Weights of All Characters Run Speeds of All Characters
Air Speeds of All Characters Fast Fall Speeds of All Characters


    Walkthrough Menu

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