Welcome back to my fifth article on the greatest players of Project M 3.6! Today I’ll be running through #15-11 on my list. If you missed my last four articles, which include a more extensive introduction to the series, as well as players ranked #50-21, you can catch up on those here:
Introduction and #50-41
Without further ado, let’s get into it!
#15 - Kycse
Although it took Kyle “Kycse” Carrero a bit longer than most in the top 20 to obtain prominence, the Connecticut Zard player’s peaks shine as brightly as anyone else on today’s list. Kycse’s 2016 was a solid breakout year as they go, there were no spectacular top 8 showings, but his first big win came at Supernova, where he took a set over Emukiller in pools to make it out as the first seed, before placing 33rd. At his next major, he would send Malachi to losers bracket at Blacklisted 2, sparking one of the most legendary losers runs in PM history, and beginning a theme that would continue throughout 3.6. Wins over Shiny Zubat and Anther at East Coast majors like Olympus and We Tech Those 2 would be enough to secure Kycse’s place on PMRank 2016 at 44, but he didn’t stay there for long.
Although Kycse was victim of a few surprising upsets in early 2017, most notably Aklo at Flex Zone 2 and Serb at Downfall 6, he picked up great wins over Emukiller, Gallo, and Shiny Zubat at those events, setting himself up for a strong summer. At CGC he would place 4th, defeating MorKs and Yung Quaff along the way, and his West Coast debut at Bigger Balc would feature victories over Goode, Venom, and Filthy Casual before he was eliminated at 17th. Smashadelphia 2017 held a gauntlet of old-school faces for Kycse, as he defeated the likes of ESAM, Mew2King, and even Frozen to place 4th after being double eliminated by Hyperflame. At Blacklisted 3 he eliminated both Envy and Dirtboy in losers bracket, completing a reverse sweep against the latter to earn his best major placement thus far at 9th. After a disappointing 17th place performance at Supernova 2, Kycse began a great end to the year that would secure him a top 15 placement on PMRank 2017. He placed 2nd at CGC Redux after wins on Flarp, Twisty, Silver, and dvd, before placing 5th at Salty Juan’s 4 with notable wins over Jose V and Sothe. A 3rd place finish at Downfall 7, including victories over Flarp and StereoKiDD and trading sets with Silver, would be enough to seal his place as 12th in the world, a 32 spot jump from 2016.
2018 was arguably even better, Kysce kicked off his year with a monstrous streak of top 8 finishes, including some of the biggest of the year. He placed 5th at both We Tech Those 3 and Resting Stitch Face, with wins over Ivayne, Silver, Gallo, and Malachi, one of three times that he would defeat Malachi in 2018. He placed 4th at Flex Zone 3, with wins over Aidan, Dirtboy, Silver, and Malachi once again, and picked up his first ever win over Switch at Revival of Smashing Grounds. In the Midwest, Kycse placed 5th at Smash ‘n’ Splash 4 after defeating Cala, lloD, and Jfyst before rounding out his top 8 streak at Smashadelphia 2018, where he defeated Junebug and Malachi, and double-eliminated lloD, to place second. Coming into the second half of 2018, Kycse’s dominant records over players like lloD and Malachi made him a force to be reckoned with on the East Coast, especially as he was beginning to overcome historically troublesome opponents like dvd and Switch. He would place 9th at EBB, taking out Fearless and Ivayne but falling just short of top 8 after a loss to Boringman, but his next event would be the best of his career. At Retro Rumble, Kycse defeated Twisty before being knocked into losers by dvd. He then proceeded to win consecutive game 5 sets against Envy, Switch, and dvd to secure an all-CT Grand Finals against Flipp, who would walk away with a game 5 victory of his own.
Kycse’s last event of our dataset was Blacklisted 4, where he placed a respectable 9th after losses to Filthy Casual and Pikmon, but the fact that this was arguably his worst event of the year says a lot about the improvement for a player once ranked 44th in the world. Over time, Kycse went from a regional threat within New England to a player that could challenge, or even dominate, anyone on the East Coast, including those who had once seemed impossible for him to beat. He boasted top 8 placements at 6 of his 8 events in 2018, and wins over top 30 players at every single one, serving as the sole demonstration of Zard’s potential in the late 3.6 metagame.
#14 - lloD
Although he’s mostly known for his great results in Melee, MD/VA’s own Arjun “lloD” Malhotra had a quietly incredible PM career over the course of 3.6, pioneering not only Peach’s place in the more diverse meta, but also an avante-garde hatred of Ike even before Envy’s ascension as a top player. lloD started strong off the bat in 3.6, placing 9th at Shots Fired 2 with wins over Switch, Dirtboy, and Kycse. He followed this up with a 3rd place finish at EVO 2016, defeating iPunchKidsz, Hyperflame, and Junebug to earn his spot in Winners Finals before being taken out by Sosa, and then his regional practice partner Junebug. Although he placed 13th at SuperSmashCon 2016, with losses to Rolex and Bstuk, lloD would end 2016 as strong as he started it, picking up wins over Goode and Switch at Project M Showdown 5, where he placed 5th. Believe it or not, all that was in arguably the worst year of his career!
lloD performed even better in 2017, placing 3rd at Smash ‘n’ Splash 3 with wins over techboy, Junebug, MorKs, Lunchables, Hyperflame, and Phresh, a veritable “who’s who” of PMRank players all playing diverse matchups for him to overcome. At EVO 2017, lloD would make a brief but impressive losers run after a loss to Nevada Zelda player Chard, defeating ilovebagelz and Jose V before winning the runback to place 2nd. While he wasn’t overly active in 2017, these incredible wins were enough to secure lloD 11th on PMRank 2017, his highest ever ranking in any smash title. The next year, lloD placed 5th at Cashed Out 2018, dropping close sets to Pikmon and The Doctor, and placed just outside of top 8 at SnS 4 after losses to Kycse and Sothe. Although he had picked up solid wins over Marshall and Bobby Frizz at SnS, 2018 was clearly off to a rougher start for lloD than 2017 had been. At his next major, however, lloD would once again only prove stoppable by Kycse, defeating Emukiller, BaconPancakes, Malachi, and even dvd, the renowned floaty-slayer, before being double-eliminated by Kycse to place 3rd at Smashadelphia 2018. At his last PM event of 3.6, lloD placed 9th at Even Bigger Balc, taking wins over Jose V and techboy, even as the latter had stymied Malachi in the same Icies-Peach matchup just weeks before at SnS 4.
While it’s only fitting that he was eliminated from the tournament by Envy’s Ike, lloD’s 2018, and PM career as a whole, was undeniably impressive. Despite juggling the same character in two games with different engines and matchups, lloD proved a wall of consistency for any would-be top player to overcome, and demonstrated remarkable mid-set adaptation to new matchups even while competing in top 8s against players fully prepared to exploit his Melee habits. With wins over some of the best players in the world every single year of his career, lloD stands out as one of the most slept on players of 3.6, and I sincerely hope that we’ll see more of his play, in both games, in years to come.
#13 - BaconPancakes
Speaking of top MD/VA players, Raseen “BaconPancakes” Khan was a consistent national threat from start to finish in our dataset, and kept the title of best Diddy Kong in MD/VA long after Junebug’s focus on PM began to wane. Originally a Diddy/Fox player, BaconPancakes had a solid showing at his first 3.6 major, placing 25th at We Tech Those, but would quickly pick up the pace heading into 2016. He placed 3rd at Shuffle VIII, knocking Hyperflame into losers along the way, and made top 8 at Blacklisted 2 with wins over MorKs, Aidan, and Silver. One of the more heavily-travelled players of 2016, he placed 9th at Low Tier City 4 with solid wins over Dirtboy and Dakpo, and picked up a win on Switch at SuperSmashCon 2016, but his best performance of the year would come back on his home turf. At Project M Showdown 5, BaconPancakes found himself on the winners side of Grand Finals, with wins over Envy, lloD, and Gallo, all without dropping a game. Although Envy would win his runback in Grand Finals, this was by far BaconPancakes’ best showing of the year, and the first inkling of the potential that would be unlocked later in his career.
He ended the year with a solid 17th place at Olympus, defeating Frozen along the way, but honestly had a relatively mediocre start to 2017. He placed 17th at Shuffle: Battle of the Midwest, with a win over XYK, but mostly performed to his seed at Philadelphia Championships and Bigger Balc, placing 13th and 25th, respectively, at the two majors. His first big win of the year came at Blacklisted 3, where he eliminated Kycse, and was shortly followed by a reverse 3-0 over Boiko at Supernova 2 with the help of his pocket Donkey Kong. Sometime over the course of the summer, BaconPancakes dropped Fox, but his results certainly weren’t hurting as a result. He placed 5th at SuperSmashCon 2017, and picked up wins over Goode, Hyperflame, and Switch at Project M Showdown 6, where he placed 4th. A win over Cala to place 5th at Tipped Off 12 would close out his year in our dataset, but I would be remiss if I didn’t note that his biggest win of 2017 came at a smaller event, as he won Worlds Collide over techboy in two sets at the end of December.
Once again, BaconPancakes entered the new year with strong momentum, even if that momentum wasn’t necessarily realized off the bat. He placed 17th at both We Tech Those 3 and Smash ‘n’ Splash 4 after upsets by Gallo and JJK, and although he picked up a win over Hyperflame at Project M Showdown 7, he also incurred his first loss to techboy at the same event. In the second half of the year, however, BaconPancakes’ results would take a dramatic turn for the better. At Smashadelphia 2018, he placed 5th after wins over Emukiller and Junebug, sparking the beginning of a top 8 streak that would last until nearly the end of the year. He made a winners run through Venom, Connor, Fuzz, and Kycse to place 5th at Even Bigger Balc, arguably the best event of his career so far, only to top it just a few weeks later. At Low Tier City 6, BaconPancakes would defeat Noghrilla, Dirtboy, Hyperflame, Pikmon, and Morsecode762 to place 3rd in what was clearly the best performance of his career. Although slightly less impressive, he would continue bringing Diddy to new heights with two more top 8 finishes at Plus Ultra and Fair and Balanced 2, with wins over the likes of Ivayne, Dirtboy, Aki, and Twisty.
While the last 3.6 event in our dataset for BaconPancakes is a disappointing 17th place finish at Blacklisted 4, where he lost to both Boiko and Aidan, his second half of 2018 was overall a stellar cap to an already impressive 3.6 career, and yielded his highest PMRank placement yet at 13th on PMRank 2018. BaconPancakes’ steady growth has continued into 2019, with great wins at P+ events that have secured him a top 5 ranking on PMRank 2019, but looking back it’s no surprise that he got there after the consistent growth and amazing peaks exhibited by one of MD/VA’s best players year after year.
#12 - dvd
If we want to talk about just sheer excellence from the start to finish of his career, Brian “dvd” Sherbert stands out to me as one of the most consistently impressive players of all time despite how often he found himself overshadowed by some of his NY/NJ brethren. The New Jersey Toon Link player wasted no time in getting off to a great start in 2015, placing 7th at We Tech Those after defeating Kycse, Gallo, and Shiny Zubat, only dropping sets to Junebug and Profesor Pro, the top 2 seeds of the event. He placed 7th at his next two majors as well, picking up wins over ThundeRz, lloD, Emukiller, Ripple, and more at Shots Fired 2 and Supernova, before his true breakout at Blacklisted 2. There, he made a run to Grand Finals over Goode, Boiko, Frozen, Darc, and Gallo, falling short of 1st place only after Malachi made a monstrous losers run to win the event. The rest of 2016 was solid for dvd, if not quite as spectacular. He picked up respectable wins over the likes of BaconPancakes and Dirtboy at East Coast majors throughout the rest of the year, accruing respectable placements and losses to round out what was ultimately a top 20 year for dvd.
dvd’s 2017 started off pretty solid, or so I thought at the time. He placed 13th at Flex Zone 2, 5th at Downfall 6, and 9th at Philadelphia Championships, defeating players like Gallo, Kycse, Boiko, and Aidan along the way, and placed 13th at Blacklisted 3 with a win over BaconPancakes after an early loss in top 64 to Mask. While placing 13th at his worst event so far wasn’t a bad year by any means, dvd’s results absolutely skyrocketed following Blacklisted, leading into a streak of top 8 placements that would last for the rest of his career. At Supernova 2, dvd took out Kycse in winners before being knocked down into losers by ThundeRz. In losers, he tore through Kumatora, BaconPancakes, StereoKiDD, techboy, and Jose V, with multiple reverse 3-0s along the way, before being eliminated by ThundeRz to place 4th at the stacked major. His next showing was even better, at his first big event out of the East Coast he placed 4th at Low Tier City 5, defeating Sosa, Fuzz, Blank, The Doctor, and Jason Waterfalls, and dropping sets only to Malachi and ThundeRz. Without ThundeRz or Malachi to stop him, he won Project M Showdown 7 from winners over BaconPancakes, Aidan, and techboy.
Normally this is where players on a hot streak would begin to slow down, but somehow that never really happened for dvd. His worst placement for the rest of the year was 4th at CGC Redux, where he would lose twice to Kycse. Otherwise he dropped sets to Malachi and Switch, two of his longtime demons, for the rest of the year, and picked up wins over Phresh, Kycse, StereoKiDD, Boiko, and Yung Quaff at various regionals before carrying that momentum into 2018. At We Tech Those 3, dvd would once again find himself stymied only by Malachi and Switch, placing 3rd after defeating XYK, Phresh, Sothe, and StereoKiDD in winners. His next few majors were equally solid, he traded sets with Sosa to place 3rd at Resting Stitch Face, and defeated Kycse both there and at Flex Zone 2, where he placed 5th. Arguably dvd began to slow down after Flex Zone 2, but only barely. He traded sets with Envy to place 3rd at Project M Showdown 7, before defeating him, along with Kycse, to place 3rd at Retro Rumble later in the year. His “worst” events of the year were towards the end of 2018, 7th at Smashadelphia 2018 with a loss to lloD, and 5th at Blacklisted 4 with a loss to Filthy Casual, after wins over Phresh and Aidan.
To put this massive list of wins and placements into context, following Blacklisted 3 dvd would place top 8 or better at his next 13 major events, with half of his losses at those events coming from Switch and Malachi alone, and over two-thirds of his losses coming from top 5 players once we include Sosa and ThundeRz. The fact that being top 20 in 2016 is inarguably the lowest point of dvd’s 3.6 career is outright remarkable, and in my opinion he was by far the strongest gatekeeper in the world against anyone trying to break into the top 5, or even top 10, on PMRank 2017 or 2018. That being said, his win-less records against two of the best players from his region, Switch and Malachi, as well as the infrequency at which he made Grand Finals or won notable events, barely holds dvd back from making top 10 on this list, where, once again, he serves as a gatekeeper for anyone who would hope to surpass him.
#11 - techboy
For as wrong as it felt to put dvd outside of the top 10, it’s even harder to do so for Michael "techboy" Leleniewski. One of the youngest top players in PM history, not only did techboy break out in dramatic fashion in 2017, defeating top 10 players in dominant fashion, he did so at the age of 15. The Michigan Icies prodigy didn’t just come out of nowhere though, so let’s start from the beginning.
At his first major event, techboy placed 17th at PM in the Big House 2, with respectable losses to Professor Pro and Dusty. Locally, his results dramatically improved heading into 2017, but his first major showing of the year, at Shuffle: Battle of the Midwest, was nothing special, a 9th place finish after losses to Anther and Lucky. Shortly after, things would begin to change. Techboy placed 2nd at Bounty Hunters, a Midwest regional where he double-eliminated Michigan legend Anther before being taken out by none other than Malachi, and he placed 5th at Smash ‘n’ Splash 3 after wins over JJK, Hungrybox, and Dirtboy, before being eliminated by Phresh in the Icies ditto. He would take his revenge nearly two months later, when, after taking out Switch and Dirtboy to guarantee himself 9th at Supernova 2, he eliminated Phresh to place 7th at his first out-of-region major. From there, it was only up for techboy. He placed second at Project M Showdown 6, defeating Gallo, Switch, and Envy twice, but came up short against dvd in two sets.
By this point, techboy was clearly the best player in the Midwest, and arguably top 10 in the world, but for many it hadn’t sunk in yet just how good he was. Then he fought ThundeRz. At an innocuous regional called Showdown: Battle Royale 2, techboy made his way to Winners Finals with wins over Anther and JJK, to face off against the #1 player in the world, and proceeded to 6-0 him in absolutely dominant fashion. ThundeRz looked lost with both his DK and his Captain Falcon against the desync-heavy neutral and brutal handoffs that techboy brought to the table. For me, at least, that was the moment when I realized just how incredibly talented techboy was. He dominated the Midwest at their last major of the year, taking home Neo Tussle City over Drugfreechu, Dirtboy, and Sothe, and was ranked 8th on PMRank 2017, an astounding breakout year by any measure. In 2018, techboy began to show some weakness at last, dropping his first sets to Switch, Rongunshu, and Envy at various events, even as he picked up great wins over Emukiller, BaconPancakes, Gallo, and won Frozen Phoenix 2018 over Rongunshu.
Although his worst placement of the year came at Smash ‘n’ Splash 4, where he placed 7th after losses to Switch and Sothe, SnS also represented a landmark victory for the best Icies in the world. After taking out BaconPancakes in winners, techboy would become the first and only Ice Climbers player to defeat Malachi at a major in PM history, eliminating him just before top 8 in a shocking upset. Following SnS 4, techboy made another historic run at Even Bigger Balc, where he took out a “who’s who” of PM legends including Fuzz, BaconPancakes, Sothe, Boringman, Twisty, and Cala to place 4th at the biggest Project M major of all time. Back in the Midwest, techboy won Plus Ultra cleanly from winners over Morsecode762, BaconPancakes, and Envy, but in general, he was finding more and more challenges in maintaining dominance over his home region. After defeating Dirtboy and Mr Lz, techboy would trade sets with Morsecode, who had taken sets from him at regionals in the past, to place 2nd at Evicted, his highest-profile loss in what had already become a competitive local rivalry. He lost again to Morsecode in early 2019 at Spring Training, which, coupled with a shocking upset by ORLY in winners, led to a 4th place finish, techboy’s worst placing at a Midwest regional in some time.
However, techboy once again picked up his results at his last two majors of 3.6. He dominated the competition at Frozen Phoenix 2019, defeating Yung Quaff, Dirtboy, and Sothe to place 1st without breaking a sweat, and put up an amazing performance at Smash ‘n’ Splash 5 to round out his 3.6 career. After wins over Aki and Pikmon to make top 8, techboy defeated ThundeRz in a close game 5 set nearly two years after their last encounter. After a loss to Malachi in Winners Finals, he defeated ThundeRz once again, this time in convincing fashion, before trading sets with Malachi in a 9 game Grand Finals that ultimately yielded a 2nd place finish.
In hindsight, techboy’s dramatic rise from a local threat to one of the best players in the world over the summer of 2017 was incredible to watch, and the fact that he never once placed below 7th after Shuffle: Battle of the Midwest is amazing in its own right. techboy was, and is, one of the absolute best players to ever play PM, and I consider him a top threat at every tournament he attends. That being said, the only reason that I can’t justify moving him into the top 10 on this list is that he was never quite able to win a major. Showdown: Battle Royale 2, for as impressive of a victory as that was, had only 39 entrants, and he won no other events over anyone who will be featured in the top 10 on this list, which leaves him as the 11th best player of all time. If I do ever update this list to include results beyond SnS 5, however, I have zero doubt that techboy will rank among the top 10 greatest players of all time given that his stock is still rising even in 2020.
If you enjoyed this article and want to stay updated on my content, feel free to follow me on Twitter at Sabre_Metrics, or subscribe to my YouTube channel and my Medium. Next week we’ll be digging into 10-6, so get ready to start fighting over who should’ve been top 5!