From the Super Mario Wiki, the Mario encyclopedia
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The Special Flag is a recurring item throughout several Namco games, originally from Rally X. It appears in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as an item. When used, the player holding it will hold it up in the air and become immobile. If used successfully and held in the air for three seconds without being hit, the Special Flag will grant the holding player either an extra K.O. in a timed match or an additional stock in a stock match. When the player is hit while holding the Special Flag, they will automatically drop it. Any neutral attack will activate the holding animation, except a dash neutral.
Because of their function, Special Flags do not appear in coin or stamina battles regardless of item settings, nor do they appear in Smash Tour matches.
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