The competitive Project M scene has seen many changes in the four years since the now-disbanded Project M Back Room published the third-ever official Project M tier list. In March of 2020, Project M became Project Plus, a massive game overhaul complete with new mechanics and balance changes. As a result, the community experienced a re-emergence of popularity and competition, only to crash back down to the harsh underground reality of competitive Smash mods. Still, the community made another defiant refusal to sink quietly into the shadows, and we saw the birth of the Project+ "shadow major" in 2021. Undertow, Shipwrecked, Blacklisted 6, and Jailbreak all showcased huge upsets and new breakout stars, which of course means that it’s time to revisit the creation of a community tier list for our game.
This list, coordinated by Sabre and Motobug, is the first official tier list released for Project+. It was created using ballots from the following players:
Players were asked to rank the cast. Their ballots were then averaged together with outliers removed to avoid having any one ballot dramatically skew any character’s placement. This methodology, adopted from the PMRank ballot process, is used to compile the aggregate opinions of top-level representatives from a variety of regions while mitigating the potential impact of any significant single outliers on the overall tier list.
All that being said, we present without further ado the first official Project+ v2.29 tier list.
S Tier: Meta Knight, Zero Suit Samus, Wolf
A+ Tier: Sonic, Mewtwo, Wario, Sheik, Fox, Captain Falcon
A Tier: Knuckles, Marth, Lucario, Ice Climbers, Ike, Donkey Kong, Mario, Lucas, Diddy Kong, Ivysaur, Falco
B Tier: Charizard, Pit, Link, Mr. Game & Watch, Roy, Pikachu, Ness, ROB, Squirtle, Toon Link, Peach, Bowser, Olimar
C Tier: Snake, Kirby, Samus, Ganondorf, Yoshi, Zelda
D Tier: Luigi, Dedede, Jigglypuff
For those curious about some of the biggest changes in the Project M/+ meta and competitive scene over the past few years, below are some short write-ups on the most notable differences from the PMBR v3 tier list back in 2017.
The most obvious change from the previous tier list: Knuckles is now in the game! The newest addition to Project+ debuts at a respectable 10th place on the list, with every ballot placing him within at least the top 20. His fast frame data, great recovery, and brutal kill confirms have led the character to great success at the hands of players such as Yono and Motobug. With Knuckles being the most underdeveloped character in the game due to his recent release, his meta is still filled with potential for growth.
Zero Suit Samus
Zero Suit Samus jumped up 11 spots on the list, now joining Meta Knight and Wolf in the S tier. While Blank’s phenomenal performances at events like Even Bigger Balc in 2018 heralded her rise in Project M, 2021 saw an onslaught of newly-minted Zero Suit mains convinced of her potential, with PMRank 2019’s #1 player Malachi leading the charge. Her quick aerials and great aerial maneuverability make her great at juggling opponents off of any opening, and equally fast frame data on her normals make her a consistently effective close-range scrapper.
Even though Ike received few significant changes in Project+, the community has only recently begun to recognize the strength of his kit. Players such as Envy, Pikmon, Rongunshu, and metroid have earned a top 8 placement in several events over the past few years, including Even Bigger Balc, Undertow, Blacklisted 6, and Jailbreak. Ike is now bringing consistency as one of the best heavies in the game due to his burst movement options out of Quick Draw combined with his huge normals range, resulting in his rise of 11 spots on the tier list.
Project Plus Reworks
Two of the most hyped-up characters upon the release of Project+, Bowser and Pit, both received significant changes that generated a lot of excitement among the scene. Their massive reworks have enabled a jump up of 9 and 13 spots respectively on this list. Thanks to Malachi, American Bowser, and Sosa, both characters have made occasional appearances in national top 8s, and have plenty of representation at the lower and mid levels. While neither character is considered a top tier in Project+, their reworks went a long way toward mitigating fundamental weaknesses the characters had in Project M, and subsequently increased the community’s confidence in their viability.
Former Top Tiers
As any meta develops, there are winners and losers. Mr. Game & Watch and Snake were both ranked among the game’s best characters in 2017, but fell by 18 and 22 spots respectively on this year’s list. There are two primary factors for this: actual balance changes to the characters, and a lack of representation in the recent meta. Both characters received significant changes in Project+: Snake had his C4 kill setups toned down and Mr. Game & Watch had nearly every move in his kit nerfed to some degree. Because of the balance changes, many of the players who had previously showed off these characters’ strengths moved on from their old mains or moved on from the game entirely. For Snake, Flipp and Professor Pro are no longer competing regularly in Project+, while for Mr. Game & Watch, Forrest (formerly MrLz) is inactive, and both Pikmon and Drugfreechu play other characters now. As a result, both characters have declined significantly in their tournament results in 2021, and their placement in the new tier list reflects that.
Decline of the Floaties
Some of the biggest declines on this year’s tier list come from characters that received little to no changes through Project+: Luigi, Peach, Samus and Toon Link. This can be attributed to the following factors: Peach and Toon Link are no longer as well-represented in today’s scene due to Malachi and dvd respectively switching mains, but also the overall metagame development of the last few years has made the game at the top level less friendly to floaties. Characters such as Luigi, Peach, and Samus struggle harder than ever to find openings, and more polished defensive play further reduces their already meagre punish opportunities on non-fastfallers. By association, Toon Link, often seen as a floatie-killer in Project+, has also dropped on the tier list because the meta no longer heavily features the characters against whom he has the best matchups.
Despite the fall of many floaties on the tier list, it is important to note that the four majors that took place in 2021 were won by Mario, Charizard, and Ice Climbers. Perpetual low-tiers such as Kirby and Ganondorf had some of their best results in PM history last year. The Project+ meta continues to evolve, and every character has been and can be played at a top level in the right hands. Today’s article is meant to capture a snapshot of our top players’ meta and to generate discussion among the community, not to dictate what the game will always look like. Thank you for supporting the Project+ scene through 2021, and we look forward to what 2022 has to offer for our community and the greater smash community.
Organization and Writing: Ryan “Sabre” Weinberg
Organization and Graphics: Paul “Motobug” Canavan
Kate “kate” Hluska
Devin “Reslived” Gajewski