Welcome back to my second article on the greatest players of Project M 3.6! Today I’ll be running through #40-31 on my list. If you missed my last article, which includes a more extensive introduction to the series, you can catch that here. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
#40 - Filthy Casual
Without a doubt one of the flashiest players in PM, Neil “Filthy Casual” Goel first made a splash with a 7th place finish at FinalBOSS, taking out Pikmon, Blue, and Machiavelli with his “YES-”heavy Captain Falcon. However, as his career developed, Filthy Casual began to transition away from Captain Falcon and towards Wolf. While his results took a short-term dip as a result, by the end of 2016 it became clear that he had made the right decision after taking down ilovebagelz and burntsocks, and pushing ThundeRz to a tense game 5 before placing 9th at Rewired. Filthy Casual barely missed out on making PMRank in 2016, but in 2017 he made himself a lock for top 50 after defending the Southwest and taking home 1st place at EVO 2017 over lloD, Neon, ilovebagelz, and Jose V. Combined with wins over MorKs, Fearless, Tealz, Aion, and Connor, Filthy Casual’s results for the next two years seemed to be that of a solidly high-level player, without any particularly unusual wins or losses, but before long he would break out of this mold with a set of landmark performances towards the end of his career.
After a lackluster 17th place at Low Tier City 5, and a loss to Tonton in his first round of pools at Fair and Balanced 2, Filthy Casual seemingly leveled up mid-tournament. His signature laser game and utilization of Wolf’s shortened Flash in combos became downright oppressive as he tore through Red X, Bubbles, Matasd, and Mr Watch & Learn to face off against Ivayne in a wolf ditto for top 8, and appeared perfectly prepared to handle Ivayne’s patient playstyle as he entered top 8 after a brutal 3-0. For as impressive as it was to place 7th at Fair and Balanced 2 after losing his first round of pools, that seemed like just a warmup for Filthy Casual as he put up the best performance of his life just a few weeks later at Blacklisted 4. After defeating Boiko and Kycse, Filthy was knocked into losers after a game 5 set with Envy, and proceeded to take on Dirtboy, Twisty, and dvd, win the runback against Envy, and eliminate techboy, before facing off against Switch in grand finals and walking away with a 2nd place finish at one of the biggest majors of the year.
Unfortunately, Blacklisted would be one of Filthy Casual’s last tournaments, as he retired in early 2019. However, Filthy Casual’s legacy goes beyond simply a reputation for fast lasers and stylish combos, he also kept New Mexico on the map for years as both a top player and a tournament organizer for the Salty Juan’s series, and stands as one of the best Wolf players in Project M history.
#39 - Venom
Despite his oft-repeated moniker of being “mediocre at best,” at his peak Jake “Venom” Hefner stood as one of the best players on the West Coast, and in the world. While he rose to prominence as one of the best players in SoCal in late 2015, a 33rd place finish at Paragon Los Angeles didn’t particularly indicate signs of future greatness for the slick Captain Falcon main. Venom’s first major of 2016 was Supernova, a New York event where, after losing to Red X in pools, he would go on a bracket run for the ages. Venom would defeat Goode, dvd, Machiavelli, Sosa (who he heavily struggled against in-region), Zhime, and Malachi to place 2nd at one of the most stacked events of the year. If that list of names didn’t tip you off, even three years later Venom’s run at Supernova, one of the first 3.6 nationals to feature all of the best players from the East and West coasts, stands out as one of the biggest national breakouts in PM history.
However, Venom’s performances after Supernova would never quite reach that calibre again. He would place 17th at Big Balc, and 13th at Olympus, with great wins over the likes of StereoKiDD, Switch, and YadoR, but despite continuing to compete in 2017, his results largely declined over the course of the year. Forays into secondary characters like Fox and Marth would cause Venom to drown in pools at BroCal’s Gym: Leg Day and Fair and Balanced, and his best major performances throughout the year were 17th at Low Tier City 5 and 33rd at The Bigger Balc. While Venom was clearly still a threat, picking up a win on Jfyst and performing well at locals when he played his main, his results were inconsistent, and never quite returned to the high points that he achieved in 2016.
He was even less active in 2018, but he would make it out of pools at Even Bigger Balc with a dominant victory over Pikmon, in a matchup that had always proved to be one of his strongest. Even Bigger Balc was Venom’s last major event of 3.6, but in my opinion it serves as a pretty accurate summary of his legacy. Despite not being active, and the overall decline of his results in the two years since Supernova, Venom reminded everyone for that one set against Pikmon that he was still a threat to even the greatest players in the world.
#38 - Rongunshu
Brad “Rongunshu” Sanderson was easily one of the greatest success stories of 2018, rising from a little-known Canadian Lucario to an international contender over the span of just a few months. Prior to 2018, the Ontario native had only attended one major, Frozen Phoenix 2017, where he placed 17th. After becoming a dual-main with Marth, Rongunshu travelled to the U.S. for We Tech Those 3 with tons of Candian hype behind him, and placed 49th after losses to reslived and Flarp. Such an innocuous start only made it all the more surprising when, at Frozen Phoenix 2018, he would defeat Dirtboy, MorKs, XYK, and Ellipsis, and reset the bracket against techboy himself before placing 2nd at Canada’s biggest major. Not long after, Rongunshu would put up another great performance at Smash ‘n’ Splash 4, where he took home 5th place after defeating Aion, Dirtboy, LoyaL, Jfyst, and Junebug.
With his slick movement, explosive punish game, and obvious passion for the game, he quickly became a fan favorite around the world. In the year between SnS 4 and SnS 5, Rongunshu would remain a top-tier tournament threat, picking up wins over Nezergy, Ellipsis, and Dirtboy at various events, but also prove vulnerable to shocking upsets for a player of his calibre. He was forced to make a losers’ run to 5th place at Fair and Balanced 2 after an early loss to $wift in the Lucario ditto, and would eliminate Punk Panda, Pikmon, and Filthy Casual before going down to Boringman. The ditto would once again prove a weak point at SnS 5, where he lost to Poilu and Fearless to place 33rd.
Rongunshu has once again bounced back in the P+ meta, and continued to put up strong performances since SnS 5, but his 3.6 results alone speak for themselves. Despite playing two characters whose metas had seemingly been defined by incredible players in 2016 (Lunchables and iPunchKidsz), Rongunshu had no problem adding a new flair to both of his mains, and put Canada back on the map in the process.
#37 - Morsecode762
Despite (or because of) his meme-filled personality and fan base, Joshua “Morsecode762” Morse’s patient and off-tempo Samus has become over time one of the best players in the Midwest, and remains a top threat at majors. Morse kicked off his 3.6 career with a decent start in 2016, making top 8 at both Shuffle VIII and PM in the Big House, but a combination of poor losses and mediocre wins left him barely outside of the top 50 rankings. However, he started 2017 with a bang, defeating Ripple, Fearless, and Michigan rival Dirtboy to place 2nd at Frozen Phoenix 2017. This was the first time that many outside the Midwest had heard of Morsecode762, but his spectacular run, as well as the creative ways in which he edged out neutral win after neutral win against his opponents, quickly drew attention. While Morse didn’t quite live up to his Frozen Phoenix results for the rest of 2017, wins over regional threats such as XYK and Ellipsis at multiple regionals were enough to establish him as a top 50 player. At a time when Chevy had recently defeated Malachi, some were questioning whether Morsecode even had an argument for the title of best Samus, but he would silence any remaining doubters in 2018.
After a rough performance at Smash ‘n’ Splash 4, where he would place 33rd after being double eliminated by Houston players Fearless and Todayyz, Morsecode would bounce back by going to their home turf of Texas for Low Tier City 6. Despite a bracket full of historically difficult matchups for him, Morse went on the run of his life. After barely closing out a game 5 set against Bongo, he dominated Sothe, who had handily won their last encounter, in a brutal 3-0. After losing a close set with Pikmon, he went on to defeat LUCK, The Doctor, and Flipp in three long sets, each game more oppressive than the last, before finally being eliminated by BaconPancakes at 4th plqace. Morse rounded out his year with a win over Rongunshu at Plus Ultra, where he placed 5th, and a 1st place finish at Evicted over Sharkz, Anther, and techboy.
While techboy was generally putting up the strongest results of any Michigan player at nationals, Morsecode proved to be a consistent stumbling block for him by the end of 2018, and he would once again eliminate the young Icies player at Spring Training on his way to a 3rd place finish at the hands of ORLY. Morse won his runback against ORLY on the big stage at Smash ‘n’ Splash 5, but losses to Bubbles, Aki, and Emukiller would cause him to place 25th, his second worst placing in 3.6 after SnS 4. Despite these occasional losses, Morsecode has clearly established himself as the best Samus in the world, and a contender for the best player in an incredibly strong region. His great bracket runs at Frozen Phoenix 2017 and Low Tier City 6, and regional victory at Evicted, stand out from a crowd of national competitors to distinguish the meme-loving Morsecode762 as one of the best players in the modern Project M meta.
#36 - Oracle
Many players in this series only came to prominence around, or after, the time that 3.6 was released. Rob “Oracle” Dickson is the exception. The spectacularly tall Dallas TO has been a top player since the days of 3.02, putting up top 8 finishes at events like Apex 2014, but he found his stride once again in the early days of 3.6 with ROB. Oracle swept to winners finals at Paragon Los Angeles, then the biggest event of all time, without issue. On his way, he defeated Venom, Aki, Hero of Time, Plup, and even Junebug, before becoming another victim to Mr Lz’s historic bracket run. A quick victory over Mew2King yielded a rematch against Mr Lz, and this time, digging deep into his pool of secondary characters, Oracle would push their grand finals set to a game 5 with Wario. The reset was not to be, and Oracle would place second, but their set at Paragon Los Angeles remains one of the most watched 3.6 sets in history, and deservedly so.
Despite a disappointing 7th place finish at Oklahoma regional Super Bit Wars 4, Oracle’s next big tournament would be the Big Balc, in SoCal. He shook off a close call against Tealz in pools and made it into winners quarters over Aero and Frozen, before falling to Phresh in winners and immediately being eliminated just before top 8 by ThundeRz. While his set against Mr Lz was groundbreaking at its time, if you ask many players today about Oracle, their first response might be “isn’t that guy whose Wolf got 4 stocked by ThundeRz?” They’d be right, and many took that set as a marker that the meta had shifted, that the titans of 2015 were beginning to be surpassed in the 2016 meta, but Oracle was far from irrelevant. He went on to place 5th at two more regionals, defeating Fearless and LUCK at Clutch City Clash and Silver at ARLO 3, but decided to retire from competing and focus on TOing by the end of 2016.
Oracle is still active in the PM scene these days, providing us a home on the Tourney Locator YouTube channel and at Low Tier City each year, but his legacy as a player remains impressive to say the least. Whether it was 3.0 or 3.6, Oracle always showed up to play at big majors, and he left huge footprints for the Dallas scene to fill after his retirement.
#35 - Dirtboy
Without a doubt the most active top player in PM, Jacob “Dirtboy” Smith’s attendance pretty much determines what qualifies as a major these days. The Michigan Squirtle player attended 32 of the 81 events considered in our dataset, beaten out only by reslived, and was ranked in the top 25 on each iteration of PMRank. Dirtboy kicked off 2016 well, with wins over Strong Badam and Sethlon at Super Bit Wars 4, but a series of lackluster losses at the summer’s biggest majors would prevent him from making top 8 at anything significant until back to back 4th place finishes at Project M Showdown 5 and PM in the Big House 2, including wins over lloD, XYK, and n0ne. Dirtboy would carry this momentum into a 3rd place finish at Frozen Phoenix 2017, defeating Morsecode762 and Canadian hidden boss Sylarius along the way, and take home 4th place at Shuffle: Battle of the Midwest after taking out BaconPancakes and Twisty.
For the rest of 2017, Dirtboy would place somewhere in the range of 5th to 17th at everything he attended, including top 8 finishes at Smash ‘n’ Splash 3 and Showdown: Battle Royale, but his best performance by far came at the end of the year, at Neo Tussle City. After cruising to Winners Semis, Dirtboy was knocked into losers by techboy, one of his newly ascendant Michigan rivals, and proceeded to tear through Marshall, Morsecode762, Sothe, and reset the bracket in Grand Finals against techboy before walking away with 2nd place. 2018 featured a much less consistent, but equally strong, Dirtboy. After starting the year with underwhelming performances at We Tech Those 3 and Frozen Phoenix 2018, missing out on top 16 at both, he returned to form with a 9th place finish at Flex Zone 3 after defeating Envy, and took home 4th place at Push More Buttons 2018 with wins over Switch, Drugfreechu, and Marshall. However, Dirtboy’s summer was a bit less impressive, with several upsets taking place at SnS 4, LTC 6, and Even Bigger Balc to result in some of his worst placements of the year.
Even among these losses came wins over the likes of Mr Lz, lloD, Envy, Venom, and Cala. Dirtboy put up a strong 2019 as well, with solid performances at regionals around the country, and a 3rd place finish at Frozen Phoenix 2019 that included defeating Twisty, Bubbles, and Rongunshu. All in all, Dirtboy was a great competitor from start to finish of 3.6, and is only held back from being higher on this list for his relatively low peaks for such a highly ranked player. He consistently placed within the 9th-17th range at majors, and was far less likely to defeat top 10 players than he was to be upset by players below his general skill level, causing him to serve as a gatekeeper of sorts for those seeking their own breakout moment.
#34 - The Doctor
Although he only broke out onto the national scene in 2017, Kevin “The Doctor” Ascate spent most of 2015 and 2016 climbing to the top of NorCal’s scene. By early 2017 he had broken into NorCal’s top 5, and shortly afterwards would put up his best regional performance so far at Super Smashed Bros, where he took sets over Dr., Strong Badam, and Jose V to place 4th. This was The Doctor’s first taste of victory on a bigger stage, and it would be quickly followed by another, at the Bigger Balc. After a loss to Hungrybox in pools, The Doctor would go on to defeat both XYK and StereoKiDD to place 17th, by far his best placement at a major, only to quickly surpass that by placing 9th at Low Tier City 5 just a month later.
By this point, The Doctor, with his mix of patient neutral, occasional hard reads, and a flashy combo game, all leading up to a pop-off at the end of a particularly tense set, had become an expected figure in final brackets at any given major. He wrapped his year with two more great showings, 3rd at Balcy’s Palace over Sneez, Dr., LUCK, and Aion, and a top 8 finish on his home turf at Fair and Balanced after an upset over Fuzz. The Doctor would once again defend NorCal at Cashed Out 2018, where he eliminated lloD in losers, but he found less success at his next two majors. Back-to-back losses to Twisty, alongside an upset at the hands of Bongo, would lead to 13th and 17th place finishes at Flex Zone 3 and Even Bigger Balc, but he quickly returned to form, and remained a top 20 player for the remainder of 3.6.
An upset over Hyperflame would lead to a top 8 finish at Low Tier City 6, followed by a spectacular 2nd place showing at Fair and Balanced 2, complete with wins over Chevy, Pikmon, Boringman, and Rongunshu. His only major of 2019, Smash ‘n’ Splash 5, was similarly successful. He defeated Junebug and Drugfreechu en route to a 7th place finish, dropping sets only to Aki and Switch. Overall, after his first breakouts in early 2017, The Doctor maintained a strong upward trend for the next two years, proving himself a threat to the absolute top tier of PM competitors and one of the best players on the West Coast for the last two years of our dataset.
#33 - Aki
Undoubtedly one of the hardest people to rank on this list, and on PMRank every year, Washington’s own Aleck “Aki” Henderson left a huge footprint on the 3.6 meta despite how rarely he attended majors. While his first major of 3.6 was Paragon Los Angeles, where he placed 33rd with a win over Westballz, Aki’s real legacy begins nearly a year later, at Smash ‘n’ Splash 2. Aki, longtime practice partners with Pikmon, brought years worth of matchup experience to the table in an upset over eventual SnS 2 champion Mr Lz. A win over Dakpo in the same matchup would secure Aki’s path to top 8 at one of the biggest events of the year, where he placed 7th. Aki only attended one more major in 2016, placing 25th at Olympus with a win over Red Ranger and losses to Frozen, Aero, and Jason Waterfalls, enough to help secure a top 40 placement on PMRank 2016.
His 2017 was quiet as well, he picked up no notable wins at the two events he travelled to, Blacklisted 3 and Salty Juan’s 4, and was not placed on PMRank 2017 at all. As the other top Ness players at the time faded out of activity in early 2018, leaving the character’s spot in the modern meta in question, Aki returned to nationals in dramatic fashion, and reminded everyone that his domination over Washington, and historic performance at SnS 2, was no fluke. At Even Bigger Balc, Aki went to losers early after a loss to ilovebagelz, then defeated Bubbles, Connor (who had upset Pikmon in winners the day before), and Rongunshu to place 13th at the biggest PM event of all time. He would follow this up with a top 8 finish at Fair and Balanced 2, defeating $wift and Sneez along the way, and be ranked top 30 on PMRank 2018.
However, even this higher ranking likely didn’t accurately depict Aki’s full potential, due to his relative inactivity. The pattern would continue in 2019, with only one notable event to Aki’s name, and a suitably spectacularly showing to match. At Smash ‘n’ Splash 5, Aki placed 5th, his best major placement ever, with losses only to techboy and ThundeRzReiGN. Along the way, he handily defeated Emukiller and Morsecode762 in winners, and eliminated Bobby Frizz before clutching out a game 5 set against Sothe to make top 8. With one more game 5 set, Aki eliminated The Doctor, a notorious Ness-slayer, to guarantee his place in Losers Quarters, where he would lose to ThundeRz. Despite only attending eight notable events over the course of nearly four years, Aki’s fantastic runs at huge majors help to cement the Washington titan as far more than just a regional threat, and honestly he’s one of the players on this list who I truly feel had the potential to be far higher had he attended more majors.
#32 - LUCK
One of Texas’s long standing threats, Michael “LUCK” Provonsil was one of the most consistent players from the South across all of 3.6, showing up year after year to pick up impressive showings at big events even as his activity declined from 2016 onward. LUCK had an amazing 2016 if you look at his national wins, starting with a top 8 finish at Super Bit Wars 4, where he defeated Ripple and Dirtboy. Despite placing 17th at Big Balc (partially due to an unfortunate bracket of Jose V immediately into Sosa), he continued to make his case as a top player with three more top 8 finishes at everything else he attended in the summer of 2016.
LUCK put up a spectacular run at Low Tier City 4, defending his home region against the likes of Hyperflame, StereoKiDD, Pikmon, and Bobby Frizz to place 7th, and defeated both Fearless and IPK to make top 8 at Clutch City Clash shortly afterward. Despite a less strong end to the year, where he fell victim to early upsets in losers at ARLO 3, Salty Juan’s 3, Olympus, and Rewired, the Diddy Kong specialist was still able to pick up respectable wins over Anther, Sylarius, and LoyaL to close out 2016. While defeating Zhime at Flex Zone 2 and Filthy Casual at Balcy’s Palace were impressive wins, his best performance by far in 2017 came once again on his home turf, as his wins over Fearless and Fuzz brought him to a 3rd place finish at the first iteration of a new Texas major, No Fun Allowed. His other results in 2017 were still solid, he placed 13th at Low Tier City 5 and upset Blank for a 9th place finish at Salty Juan’s 4, falling just shy of top 8 after a game 5 timeout against Chevy.
The same story repeated itself in 2018, lower attendance seemed to have no impact on LUCK’s ability to put up great results and challenge top players even as he travelled less and less himself. He defeated Jason Waterfalls, who had eliminated him at Low Tier City 5, to place 17th at We Tech Those 3, the last time he would travel out of Texas for a 3.6 event, and followed up his great showing the previous year with a 4th place finish at No Fun Allowed 2. He also placed 5th at Don’t Sleep! 2 with a win over Tealz, and defeated both Ivayne and reslived to place 9th at Low Tier City 6. LUCK closed out his career with another 9th place finish at No Fun Allowed 3 after being upset by LoyaL in losers, perhaps the first time that any sign of rust was visible in his ever-consistent gameplay.
But when all is said and done, his consistency was almost unparalleled over the course of 3.6. LUCK placed top 32 at every notable event he attended over the course of 3.6, resulting in top 40 rankings for every 3.6 iteration of PMRank, and with especially strong performances at majors like LTC 4, Clutch City Clash, and No Fun Allowed it’s easy to see why LUCK was always considered a strong player despite his steadily declining activity
#31 - Pikmon
Unlike so many players featured in this series, Peter “Pikmon” Woodworth’s results represent a true upward trend throughout the entirety of 3.6, from a 193rd place finish at Paragon Los Angeles to 4th place at Smash ‘n’ Splash 5. The Washington native had a lackluster start to his career, following up his SoCal performance with a 33rd place finish at FinalBOSS with losses to Notorious and Filthy Casual. His first big breakout came later that year at Low Tier City 4, where he would defeat Fuzz and Dirtboy to place 17th, by far his best performance of the year. Despite a much-mocked 13th place finish at Super Smashed Bros, after upsets by Dr. and Coop, Pikmon would end the year strong with wins over both Boringman and Jose V to place 5th at NorCal regional BOSS 3.
In general, this would be the story of Pikmon’s 3.6 career: a clear upward pattern in his wins and placements broken once or twice per year by terrible results. In 2017 he got that out of the way early, kicking off the year with a 65th place finish at Bigger Balc to XYK and Sora, and then proceeded to not place below 9th at anything else for the rest of the year. He defeated Gallo, Strong Badam, Bongo, JJK, and Aion at Blacklisted 3 and Low Tier City 5, placing 9th at both events, and broke into his first major top 8 at Fair and Balanced, where he placed 5th, notoriously 9ing Sosa 4 times over the course of just 2 games in their losers set. Pikmon’s results continued to impress in 2018: he defeated lloD and Boringman to place 3rd at Cashed Out 2018, before, you guessed it, drowning at Even Bigger Balc to Connor and Venom. However, Pikmon bounced back with a top 8 finish at Low Tier City 6, defeating Boringman and Morsecode762 to make his way to 5th place, and ended the year strong at Blacklisted 4. After closing out a close game 5 set against Dirtboy, Pikmon would go up 2-0 against Switch before falling victim to a reverse 3-0 comeback, and after defeating Kycse in losers he was eliminated by Flipp at 7th.
For as strong as his top 8 performances in 2018 were, Pikmon had yet to prove that he could actually defeat a top 10 player at a major event, and had he been unable to do so he would likely be significantly lower on this list per the same logic applied to players like Dirtboy, but his amazing performance at the last event in this dataset, Smash ‘n’ Splash 5, provided exactly that proof. After defeating Emukiller and Bobby Frizz in winners, and being knocked into losers by techboy, Pikmon would once again emerge victorious from a set against Boringman, this time for a spot in top 8. With the Washington crowd behind him, not only did he defeat Drugfreechu in the GnW ditto in dominant fashion, but he claimed victory over Switch in a crazy close game 5 set, and took ThundeRz to game 5 as well before falling at 4th place in one of the largest brackets of PM history. Despite his occasionally poor placements, Pikmon’s improvement from year to year was visible and dramatic. He consistently proved capable of challenge players well above his perceived skill level even as that skill level continued to improve, and his incredible peaks stand out as easily deserving recognition on this list.
That’s a wrap for week 2 of this series! The articles have started to get longer since there’s so much more to talk about the further we get into the top 50, but I hope that it’s been interesting so far. 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 30-21, which includes a lot of the old-school titans that left their mark in 2016, so stay tuned for that coming soon!