Welcome back to my fourth article on the greatest players of Project M 3.6! Today I’ll be running through #20-16 on my list. If you missed my last three 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!
#20 - Jose V
Today’s list starts off with one of SoCal’s elite, Jose “Jose V” Villasana. Relatively unknown on the national scene prior to 3.6, the Ness main wasn’t even around enough to be on the region’s PR for the first two seasons of 3.6, but that quickly changed in 2016. After a mediocre performance at FinalBOSS, defeating Chevy and placing 13th, Jose V began to show up consistently at locals, and, thanks in part to regularly practicing with Sosa, put up results that were not only impressive but constantly improving.
He was ranked 3rd in SoCal within 6 months of FinalBOSS, and would make a strong play for #1 at Big Balc, the West Coast’s biggest major of the year. After a loss to Gooley in pools, Jose V tore through LUCK, ThundeRzReiGN, Venom, ilovebagelz, Westballz, to guarantee his place in top 8, before taking out SoCal kingpin Sosa to place 5th, a landmark performance for his first big “breakout.” From there, Jose V placed top 8 at EVO 2016, BroCal’s Gym: Leg Day, Salty Juan’s 3, Rewired, and even Olympus, picking up wins over the likes of Malachi, iPunchKidsz, Envy, Aero, Strong Badam, and XYK. From coast to coast, Jose V was standing out as the best Ness in the world, and a remarkably consistent competitor even in the volatile 2016 meta.
Jose V had a bit of a quiet start to 2017, placing well at regionals in both NorCal and SoCal with respectable wins over the likes of The Doctor, Blank, Aion, and Tealz, but once the summer rolled around he once again stepped up to make a case for the title of best Ness. At Bigger Balc, he took home wins over burntsocks and Dirtboy to place 9th, and followed that up with top 8 finishes at EVO 2017 and Supernova 2, defeating players like Jfyst and Boiko along the way. For as impressive as these placements were, throughout 2017 Jose V was beginning to accrue losses that felt out of character with his status as a top 10 player, largely beating players that he was “expected” to overcome at majors, and falling short against the main contenders to make top 8 or even win a huge event.
He was the first seed at EVO 2017, before falling short against both Filthy Casual and lloD, and even his losses to Flipp and Kycse to place 9th at Salty Juan’s 4 would have been shocking a year prior. At a local level too, Jose was beginning to become less active, dropping off the SoCal PR by the summer of 2018 after being ranked for 10 consecutive seasons, but he still showed up just often enough to squeeze onto PMRank 2018 at #38 in the world. At the Last Balc, Jose V showed up in force to place 2nd, trading sets with Blank and defeating LoyaL to secure an all-Riverside top 3. His last major event was a disappointing 33rd place finish at Even Bigger Balc, where he made it out of pools before being eliminated by Noghrilla and lloD for his worst placement in nearly 4 years, since Paragon Los Angeles.
Despite the relatively innocuous end to his PM career, Jose V’s incredible breakout at Big Balc, subsequent incredible performances throughout 2016 and 2017, and overall dominance of SoCal along with his practice partners Sosa and Blank, all contributed to a longstanding legacy that makes him an easy pick to start off today’s article.
#19 - StereoKiDD
One of the raw talents of early 3.6 that held strong until late into our dataset, Brandon “StereoKiDD” Boom’s resume includes amazing placements at some of the biggest events of 3.6, and across nearly three years. The New York Ness main started off 3.6 strong with a top 8 finish at Paragon Los Angeles, with wins over Seagull Joe, iPunchKidsz, and Silent Wolf, and put down yet more West Coast rivals a few months later with a top 8 finish at FinalBOSS over the likes of ilovebagelz and Jason Waterfalls. In fact, in the first year of 3.6 Stereo was consistently placing better on the West Coast than on his home turf, never placing below 9th at Paragon LA, FinalBOSS, and Big Balc, while he placed 13th at We Tech Those, and 17th at Supernova.
As the summer of 2016 continued, he continued to put up great events all around the country, with a 13th place finish at Low Tier City 4 after defeating Dirtboy and Fearless, and his best performance yet on the East Coast with a top 16 finish at Olympus, including wins over dvd, Fuzz, and Aion. Stereo’s loud personality and flashy playstyle stuck around in 2017, but largely peaked at smaller events. He fell victim to a set of upsets that resulted in relatively poor placements for the first half of the year, 17th at Flex Zone 2, 9th at Philadelphia Championships, and 33rd at the Bigger Balc, but he was still picking up huge wins behind the scenes. At the local leading up to Flex Zone, he tore through Twisty, Envy, Anther, Sosa, and Hyperflame to place 2nd in the stacked 50-man bracket, and otherwise performed reasonably well outside of these high-profile majors.The second half of the year was a bit stronger, albeit still underwhelming relative to such a high peak. He placed 9th at Supernova 2 with a win over Bongo, and took out both Yung Quaff and Flarp at Downfall 7, securing his place as a top 20 player in 2017.
While StereoKiDD’s activity at PM majors was slowly winding down throughout 2017, he attended two more majors in 2018, and his results were nothing short of dumbfounding. First, Stereo put up arguably one of the best major performances of his career at We Tech Those 3, placing 7th at the stacked major after taking out Flipp, Twisty, and Jason Waterfalls. However, three months later, he drowned in pools at Flex Zone 3, the first and only time that the storied Ness player would not make it to final bracket at a 3.6 major. While that was the last we saw of StereoKiDD entering PM brackets, his overall legacy from Paragon Los Angeles to We Tech Those 3 is downright remarkable. Not only was his hyper-aggressive Ness incredibly fun to watch, but Stereo was one of the first NY/NJ players to travel across the US for PM events like FinalBOSS and LTC 4, setting the stage for players like Malachi and Switch to rule the national scene in later years.
#18 - Gallo
While we’re on the topic of iconic NY/NJ players, Anthony “Gallo” Gallo was one of the best players from New York in the early years of 3.6, and remains one of the most memorable breakout stars of 2016 thanks to his bracket run at Olympus. Despite a mediocre 2015, placing 13th at We Tech Those with wins over Switch and Goode, Gallo actually placed 3rd at every major event he attended in 2016, and with great wins at each event to boot.
He made his way to Winners Finals of Blacklisted 2, defeating Kumatora, Twisty, Switch, and Envy, before being eliminated by dvd and the eventual champion Malachi, both on historic runs of their own. Despite an early loss to Kumatora at the next major, We Tech Those 2, Gallo came back with a vengeance, defeating Hyperflame, BaconPancakes, Phresh, Shiny Zubat, SonED (ending the tournament of a lifetime for the MD/VA Falcon), and the #1 player in the world, Junebug, before ending his run once again at 3rd place after a loss to Envy. He would find Envy a stumbling block at his next major too, defeating Dirtboy and dvd at Project M Showdown 5 before being knocked out by BaconPancakes and Envy.
Coming off of these consistently great performances at East Coast nationals, Gallo was considered one of New York’s stronger players heading into Olympus, but was no means the #1 pick for highest placing NY/NJ player at such a stacked event. In what was by far the most impressive bracket run in a career of crazy bracket runs, Gallo defeated Goode, Tealz, LUCK, and Hyperflame to make his way to Winners Quarters. After a close game 5 loss to Sosa, with whom he also traded stocks in the SoCal vs NY/NJ crew battle the night before, Gallo’s journey through losers began. He eliminated Emukiller, Jose V, and Junebug, all in game 5 sets, to guarantee himself the highest placement of any NY/NJ player, and a rematch against Sosa. In their second set Gallo looked like a new man, dominating Sosa in a 3-1 victory and eventually taking 3rd place at Olympus after a loss to Lunchables.
While Gallo’s incredible consistency didn’t stick around in 2017, his peaks absolutely did. He placed 17th at Flex Zone 2 after a shocking loss to Aklo, and 25th at both Bigger Balc and Blacklisted 3, but also put up great wins at smaller East Coast events like Downfall 6, SuperSmashCon and Supernova 2, picking up victories over top players including BaconPancakes, Twisty, Silver, and Aidan along the way. Gallo’s losses in 2017 look much more respectable in hindsight than they were at the time, as many of his upsets came at the hands of players like Bongo, Pikmon, and Fuzz, all of whom became top threats in their own right, but at the time it felt to some extent as if Gallo was beginning to fall from his pedestal as a top player by the end of 2017. Although he didn’t attend much in 2018, and wasn’t considered active for PMRank, his results continued to display incredible talent despite playing, and practicing, less often. He placed 9th at We Tech Those 3, with wins over MD/VA titans Hyperflame and BaconPancakes, and defeated Silver on his way to a 13th place finish at Retro Rumble, which would be the last major of his career.
It’s hard to talk about Gallo’s later career without comparing it to Olympus, and his incredible 2016 overall, but I do want to emphasize how well Gallo held up as a top player after 2016, which helps him stand out on this list from the many top players who stopped competing seriously, or fell off, after 2016. He remained a top player throughout the entirety of his career, consistently challenging the best players in the world at every event he attended, and rarely fell victim to truly surprising upsets from anyone who wouldn’t be recognized as PMRank by the end of the year.
#17 - Envy
In a shocking turn of events, it’s time to talk about… our 3rd NY/NJ player in a row! No but seriously, Pete “Envy” Grieco’s long career is fascinating, and far less linear than most players on this list, which means that we’ve got a lot to review. Although he’s best known for his Ike, Envy started off 3.6 playing Diddy Kong and Fox, and displayed significant prowess with both. He placed 9th at We Tech Those, defeating BaconPancakes and StereoKiDD, and picked up a win over Dirtboy at Supernova despite placing 49th.
Shortly after making the switch to Ike, however, his results began to skyrocket. He placed 5th at Blacklisted 2 after upsetting Hyperflame, and 2nd at We Tech Those 2 over Flipp and Gallo, before winning Project M Showdown 5 in a remarkable losers run through Switch, dvd, Dirtboy, Gallo, with two brutal victories over BaconPancakes in Grand Finals. Over the course of the summer, Envy rose to #2 on the NY/NJ PR, and was so consistently strong at East Coast regionals that getting 9th at Olympus to Professor Pro and Jose V was honestly his worst placing in several months. However, Envy’s next event would be even worse, placing 17th at Rewired after dual upsets by Strong Badam and Chevy. 2017 was a roller-coaster for an Envy fan, as he picked up wins over XYK and dvd at Philly Championships, but placed 17th at Blacklisted 3 and Downfall 6, and 33rd at Supernova 2. Dabblings with Wario would lead to a 49th place finish at Low Tier City 5, before yielding wins over Aidan, BaconPancakes, and Gallo, at Project M Showdown 6.
Upon returning to Ike, he closed out the year with a 9th place finish at CGC Redux, defeating Silver and MorKs along the way. However, unlike the previous two players on this list, both of whom had great 2016s and slowly stopped attending events in future years, 2018 would represent a return to form for the implacable Ike main, even if his first couple of majors didn’t show it. He placed 49th at We Tech Those 3 after losses to Ivayne and GP, and 13th at Flex Zone 3, but as always a trip to MD/VA would be just the thing to get his results back in order. Envy defeated BaconPancakes, dvd, and techboy en route to a 2nd place finish at Project M Showdown 8, and apparently this was just the warm-up for his West Coast debut at Even Bigger Balc. At EBB, arguably the best event of his career, Envy’s Ike defeated Blue, Silver, Punk Panda, Aki, lloD, and Boringman to place 5th at one of the most stacked events in 3.6 history. By this point, it’s safe to say Envy was back on his game. His next major performance was placing 2nd at Plus Ultra out in Michigan, taking out Silver, Ellipsis, Morsecode762, Rongunshu, and BaconPancakes. He rounded out his career with one last great performance at Blacklisted 4, with wins over Jfyst, Filthy Casual, and Flipp to place 4th at the last big national of 2018.
While it didn’t feel like it as a spectator, in hindsight Envy was actually crazy consistent throughout a 3-year career in one of the hardest regions in the world. He very rarely lost to players who weren’t already considered among the best in the world, and at any point in time was a threat to challenge or defeat top 10 players, even while playing secondaries. He was on the cusp of breaking into the top 10 for PMRank in both 2016 and 2018, and overall played a huge role in shaping the 3.6 metagame, especially on the East Coast, throughout our dataset.
#16 - Sothe
One of the biggest breakout players of 2015, Evan “Sothe” Cunningham’s unique and explosive gameplay pushed Ivysaur, and Iowa, in the PM metagame for the entirety of his career. Sothe had held decent placements at Midwest events in 3.5, but for many, the first time they ever heard of him was following Kings of the North IV, a Midwest regional where he defeated the legendary Professor Pro in two straight sets to defend his region’s pride and earn first place. Although not very active in 2016, he turned even more heads with a 5th place finish at Smash ‘n’ Splash 2, taking Lunchables to game 5, and wins over both Marshall and Red Ranger at Push More Buttons. He was ranked 36th on the first PMRank, but felt, and soon showed, that it was only a lack of data stopping him from being even higher.
In 2017, Sothe one-upped his SnS performance by placing second at SnS 3, defeating Hyperflame and double-eliminating lloD along the way. On the West Coast, he placed second at Balcy’s Palace, running through a gauntlet of Tealz, ilovebagelz, Aion, and The Doctor, before taking out Tealz and Blank for a top 8 finish at Salty Juan’s 3. Back in the Midwest, he closed out 2017 with a 3rd place finish at Neo Tussle City, defeating Phresh, Marshall, and Morsecode762 along the way. At smaller events, he proved capable of consistently challenging the more-established top players from Michigan, the long-established best state in the Midwest, such as Morsecode, Dirtboy, and techboy. These wins came together to earn him the 10th slot on PMRank 2017, a huge jump of 26 spots from the previous year.
These great results continued into 2018, beginning with a 5th place finish at We Tech Those 3 after wins on BaconPancakes, Junebug, and Yung Quaff, and another 5th place at Push More Buttons after defeating Kycse in dominant fashion. He picked up wins over lloD, techboy, and Kycse to place 4th at SnS 4, his 3rd top 8 in a row at the series, and barely missed out on top 8 at Even Bigger Balc after close losses to ThundeRz and techboy. Although he would place 17th at LTC 6 after deciding to play Fox in losers, and didn’t enter anything for the rest of 2018, Sothe also had a quietly very strong 2019 within the Midwest. He took first place at Spring Training, defeating Drugfreechu and ORLY (hot off wins over Morsecode and techboy), 2nd at Frozen Phoenix 2019 over MorKs, Bubbles, and Dirtboy, and a respectable 9th place finish at SnS 5 with a win over Boringman.
Although Sothe was never quite able to close out close sets against the likes of Lunchables or ThundeRz, his incredible consistency in defeating top players and making top 16 at majors helped to establish him as the greatest Ivysaur player of all time, and one of the best PM players in the world. He proved one of the best players in the Midwest, one of the only players able to challenge both techboy and Morsecode in 2018 and 2019, and singlehandedly kept both his character and his state relevant in the 3.6 meta for the entirety of his career. As an Ivy player, I can say for certain that Sothe brought a new flavor to the character once defined by Machiavelli’s slower playstyle, and redefined the character in unforgettable fashion.
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