Welcome to day 4 of PMRank! As each article goes on, the competition gets more fierce. Today's ranking primarily features a myriad of East Coast gatekeepers and few players you may know from their Melee exploits.
PMRank is a panel-based Power Ranking of the top 50 Project M players worldwide. Players, commentators, and tournament organizers within the community had the opportunity to apply to be panelists, and we ended up with about 20 panelists by the time of the project's conclusion. Initially, 85 players were qualified to be ranked based on their placings and attendance at major Project M events throughout 2016. Only 50 highly skilled players made the final list.
With that information in mind, the panelists were given the following prompt:
Given all of the results of 2016 in Project M, if everyone on this list entered 50 tournaments, who on average would place the best?
Panelists were also tasked with rating each player on their list from 1-10, with the lowest ranking player given a 1 and the highest a 10, scaling it appropriately. For each player, the highest and lowest rating on all panelists lists were removed when averaging votes to reduce variance.
This project would not have been possible without the dedicated volunteers who helped us engineer spreadsheets, track down tournament data, construct head-to-head charts, create and revise ranking ballots, write and edit player summaries, and gather photographs. A number of photographers have given us permission to use their high-quality photographs of Project M players for the purposes of this project as well.
Today we get into some serious national threats, with the top 20.
Photo Credit: Jeff Mahieu
Other Notable Results: 3rd at Super Smash Con 2016, 9th at EVO 2016
While Juan “Hungrybox” Debiedma is primarily known for his legacy as one of the greatest Melee players of all time, his performances at PM nationals prove that he can excel in both games. Though secondaries such as Ganon and Mario have occasionally made an appearance in bracket, it is his tried and true Jigglypuff which helped him make his way to 5th at Smash and Splash 2 and 3rd at Super Smash Con 2016, winning against the likes of Emukiller, Switch and XYK. Sparse attendance makes accurately ranking the Puff master a difficult task, but one thing is certain: no matter how few tournaments he attends, Hungrybox is ready to Up-Tilt the back of your shield. This Melee veteran is no slouch in any bracket, and is certainly capable of taking out even the best Project M specialists.
Written by: Sabre
Other Notable Results: 1st at Lost in the Darc, 4th at Blacklisted 2, 5th at GUTS 4
Dustin “Darc” Hayes is well-known by old school Melee players as one of the best Puff players to ever pick up the character. He now brings his strong mental game and fundamentals to Project M, which has been his main game since 2015. He can competently play an impressive number of characters, ranging from Melee top tiers like Fox, Marth, and Captain Falcon to more niche choices like Samus and Pit. Like any good Puff main, he uses spacing and hard reads to mentally devastate and overwhelm his opponents. While he doesn’t travel far outside of the Northeast, Darc still manages to have an impressive resume of wins, boasting even records vs. Hyperflame and Malachi and a winning record vs. Flipp. In addition, he completely dominates his own region of New England, rarely dropping local tournaments. Despite his Melee roots, Darc has shown that he's more than capable of using his neutral-heavy gameplay to dismantle Project M specialists and knock them out of a bracket. For those looking to shoot up the rankings this year, Darc serves as a terrifying gatekeeper.
Written by: Harmak and Apollo Ali
Other Notable Results: 2nd at GUTS 4, 5th at Gauntlet 6, 7th at Super Smash Con 2016
Project M players suspected for a long time that Wolf was a top-tier character, but until the rise of Kyle “Switch” Carlon, no Wolf mains had the results to solidly back up that idea. Switch has honed his claws in the fiery furnace of New York/New Jersey, and after 2016 there is no doubt that he is not just the best Wolf main in the world, but also a consistent national threat. Known to some as “PM Mango” due to his wild combos, laid back demeanor, and an uncanny physical resemblance, Switch has made a name for himself with victories over players such as Sosa, Malachi and Jaden. With a top 8 performance at the incredibly stacked Supernova under his belt, Switch looks to take his flashy, crowd-pleasing playstyle to the next level in 2017.
Written by: FlashingFire
Other Notable Results: 2nd at Nebulous Prime #33, 3rd at GUTS 4, 3rd at Nebulous Prime #36 (Supernova Pre-Game)
Originally an oldschool Melee player who was arguably one of the best Peach players in North America, Jaden “Jaden” Carr continued his focus on Project M in 2016, quietly taking names like Lucky, Phresh, Flipp, and Redd with his Sheik and Peach. Despite not entering any PMCC events, he managed to place 7th at Olympus after sending Flipp and Lucky to the loser’s bracket. As a player, Jaden is confident and direct, overwhelming his opponents into playing the game on his terms. Though he mostly focuses on his two mains at majors, Jaden has showed off a dizzying array of side projects at locals, including a committed Zero Suit Samus, a brief fling with Link, and on-and-off flirting with the spacies. Jaden has always seemed like a talent who stands outside of the tides and turns of the metagame — anytime he enters a tournament, whether in 2007 or in 2017, his results will turn heads.
Written by: Apollo Ali
Other Notable Results: 2nd at Blacklisted 2, 2nd at Project Clash 14 (Olympus Pre-Game), 3rd at Do or DI
Brian “dvd” Sherbert may not be the most active player in New Jersey, but he is certainly one of the best. Despite not attending many locals, his results at East Coast regionals and nationals are impressively consistent - 2nd at Blacklisted 2, 7th at Supernova, and 7th at Shots Fired 2. The agile red Toon Link from New Jersey implements glide tossing, wave bouncing, and perfect wavelands to buzz around platforms, bleeding his opponents until he’s able to convert a kill. dvd used that patient playstyle to take sets off Professor Pro, Frozen, Dirtboy, Gallo, and Jason Waterfalls this year. In addition, paired with his static partner Envy, he had incredible doubles success in 2016, placing top 8 at nearly every tournament the duo entered. Oddly enough, dvd rarely enters events that aren’t considered majors, unlike most players near the top who tend to dominate their local scene. Despite this, when dvd shows up, he makes sure he's seen, taking names at every turn.
Written by: Apollo Ali
Other Notable Results: 3rd at Push More Buttons, 5th at EVO 2016, 5th at BroCal's Gym: Leg Day
David "iPunchKidsz" Vargas has optimized Lucario's neutral and punish to a level no other player can match. With his mastery of Lucario’s on-hit cancel system, proficient dash dance movement, and consistent application of advanced techniques such as Aura Sphere-Canceling, IPK developed one of the scariest punish games in all of PM. When he’s not streaming Mario Maker on Twitch, he’s making combo videos out of any poor soul who runs into him in bracket. Going into 2016 he was already considered a top player, and he proved it with his wins over Frozen, Hyperflame, Jose V, Junebug and Sosa to place top 8 at FinalBOSS, Supernova, and Big Balc.
Written by: Maddox
Other Notable Results: 1st at Project M Showdown 5, 1st at Gauntlet 5, 5th at Project Clash 14 (Olympus Pre-Game)
Pete “Envy” Grieco has displayed flashes of brilliance in 2016, garnering national attention for his fearsome Ike and Diddy Kong, flashy combos, and strong placings on the East Coast. Envy made great strides throughout the year, starting with a 17th place finish at Shots Fired 2, following with 25th at Supernova, and then gaining steam with a 5th place at Blacklisted 2 over Hyperflame. After Blacklisted, Envy put together a string of fantastic performances including 2nd at We Tech Those 2, 1st at Gauntlet 5 with wins over Gallo and Flipp, and finally a 1st place victory at Project M Showdown 5 in August. In an incredible losers run, Envy eliminated Switch, dvd, Dirtboy, Gallo and BaconPancakes in order to take home the gold. Envy continued to prove himself on the big stage with a 9th place finish at Olympus a few months later, and closed out the year with respectable wins over Sora, Rikkel and dvd at GUTS 4.
Written by: Sabre
Other Notable Results: 1st at The Big House 6, 2nd at Super Smash Con 2016, 1st at Nebulous Prime #33
Jake “Frozen” Somma has long been known as the best Mewtwo in Project M, and in 2016 this old-school New York player proved that his reputation is far from unearned. Beginning the year with a strong 4th place at Do or DI, Frozen went on to win Nebulous Prime #33 over the likes of Jaden, Professor Pro, Flipp and Dirtboy. In the second half of 2016, Frozen’s strongest performances came at non-PMCC events, such as Super Smash Con 2016 and The Big House 6, where he placed 2nd and 1st respectively with wins over Emukiller, Hungrybox, Anther and BaconPancakes. While Frozen has diverted some of his competitive effort into Smash Wii U, he consistently showed up to PM events and took names this year to remind us that his uniquely patient Mewtwo is still a force to be reckoned with.
Written by: Sabre
Photo Credit: Jeff Mahieu
Other Notable Results: 1st at BEAST 6, 1st at Heir III, 2nd at Shots Fired 2
Aaron “Professor Pro” Thomas has been an international threat since 3.02, frequently showboating with his Snake’s tricky setups and explosive gameplay. He started 2016 off strong, taking 2nd at Shots Fired 2 over Mr. Lz and Flipp, and continued to prove his dominance over the European scene with a 1st place finish at BEAST 6. Professor Pro continued to live up to his legacy over the course of the year, earning another victory over Europe at Heir 3 and a respectable 9th place at Olympus. As Prof has begun to focus more heavily on Melee, only time will tell if he will remain a top tier threat in 2017, or if his divided attention will allow others in Europe and around the world to surpass him.
Written by: Sabre
Other Notable Results: 4th at Super Smash Con 2016, 1st at Project Clash 14 (Olympus Pre-Game), 4th at GUTS 4
Fans of the Project M 3.02 era will remember Michael “EmuKiller” Silbernagel as the woop-wooping Mewtwo player who emerged from relative obscurity to win SKTAR 3 over Mew2King, Armada, and Professor Pro. In 2016, EmuKiller demonstrated that his skill was not dependent on his character - he has transitioned into a player who is widely regarded as the best Meta Knight in the world. He took first place at We Tech Those 2 over the likes of Phresh and Darc, and at the Pre-Olympus Project Clash he embarked on a furious loser’s run through Switch, Envy, Aion, dvd and more, ultimately winning the event. With strong top 16 placings at Supernova and Olympus, as well as consistent top 8 results at East Coast regionals, EmuKiller is ready to fight for his place as a top ten player in 2017.
Written by: Sabre
Rest of the List
PMRank Staff: Adam “Strong Bad” Oliver, Cody “Yata!” Anderson, Brennan “FlashingFire” Connolly, Devin “reslived” Gajewski, Nick “Boiko” Boiko.
Graphic Design: Eric “FingerStripes” Bohorquez, Desiree “TinyKasama” Macasieb
Editing: Adam “Strong Bad” Oliver, Ahmed “Apollo Ali” Akbar, Cody “Yata!” Anderson, Brennan “FlashingFire” Connolly, et al.