PMRank 2017: 10-7

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Welcome back to PMRank 2017! Today we begin to share the stories of the top 10 Project M players in the world.

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 a little less than 20 panelists by the time of the project's conclusion. Initially, 77 players were qualified to be ranked based on their placings and attendance at major Project M events throughout 2017. Only 50 highly skilled players made the final list.

With that information in mind, the panelists were given a large collection of tournament data and the following prompt:
List all candidates on the ballot in order based on your perception of what is valuable in a competitor (recency, consistency vs. peaks, placings vs. head to head ratios, etc.).

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.

And now, here are ranks 10 through 7, hot off the press!

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Photo Credit: Jeff Mahieu

Score: 8.75

Evan “Sothe” Cunningham proved to be one of the most explosive and unpredictable players of 2016 on the few occasions when he attended large events, and 2017 was no different. The Iowa native began his year with an impressive losers run’ through top 8 to take home 1st place at Tales of Jank 10, defeating top midwest talent such as drugfreechu, Dirtboy, and Marshall. Just a month later, Sothe just happened to be in Southern California for a trio of local events, collectively known as Triple Tourney Weekend.

In the face of SoCal’s familiarity with the Ivysaur matchup thanks to years of playing with Machiavelli, Sothe placed top 3 at Outplayed!, Smash at the Balcony 89, and We Livin' V. Despite uncharacteristic losses to Blank and YadoR, both of whom he also defeated over the span of the same weekend, Sothe only found himself stymied by Sosa. He made it to Winners Finals of each tourney thanks to his brutal combo game and ability to rack up Solarbeams in a matter of seconds, but each time Sosa defended his region, defeating Sothe five times across three tournaments.

Sothe’s next opportunity to prove himself would come months later, at Smash ‘n’ Splash 3, where he surpassed his top 8 performance the year before by placing 2nd at one of the largest tournaments of 2017. After sending lloD to losers in a close 3-2 set, Sothe demonstrated his brutal punish game against HyperFlame and closed out another 3-2 set to advance to Winners Finals. Sothe would find himself blocked again from a first place finish, this time by Switch, but nonetheless his run at the waterpark tournament proved that he could hold his own against the game’s elite, even on the big stage.

It was nearly three months before Sothe appeared on the main stage again, but at Balcy’s Palace he once again made his way to Winners Finals after enduring a string of close sets in winners’ and a loss to Zenokids in pools. He was met by ThundeRzReiGN, who dominated the first two games before Sothe found his stride. The Ivysaur extraordinaire nearly pulled off a reverse sweep, taking the next pair of games with exciting Solarbeam combos, but ultimately it was Thunderz who prevailed. In Loser’s Finals Sothe won yet another tense game 5 set, this time against The Doctor, to earn a shot at the runback and the tournament. But between his Sopo, Ganondorf, and Captain Falcon, ThundeRz closed out the tournament and handed Sothe another 2nd place finish.

The last two events of 2017 yielded somewhat disappointing results for a player of Sothe’s caliber. He placed 7th at Salty Juans 4, making top 8 but losing to Sosa and Kycse, two amazing players in their own right. Sothe would go on to take 3rd at Neo Tussle City to end the year, defeating Morsecode and Marshall but losing to both Dirtboy and techboy.

Many felt that Sothe was underrated on PMRank 2016, and he demonstrated throughout the year that those people were certainly onto something. His impressive consistency against players ranked below him (he has a 79% win rate against PMRank #11-50), combined with an ability to repeatedly make it to Grand Finals on the big stage, indicate that Sothe may soon be taking home those coveted 1st place finishes in 2018, regardless of who stands in his way.

Written By: Sabre

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Score: 9.03

Known for his bright smile, Brian “dvd” Sherbert has made his way to top 10 on PMRank 2017. The New Jersey Toon Link main has developed an intricate item game that has been central to his success. Even seasoned Project M veterans struggle to catch dvd as he chips away at them with intelligent bomb throws, stellar option coverage, and unique aerial maneuvers.

The year started out rather slowly for dvd. After landing at #16 on PMRank 2016, he began 2017 with several losses to players ranked below him. He lost to Boiko at A Super Duper New Year, Bongo at Downfall 6, and Yung Quaff at The True King. His struggles against such opponents gave him his lowest placements of the year at both The Flex Zone 2 and Blacklisted 3, where he placed 13th. His loss at Blacklisted 3 came at the hands of Mask, the third player to use Meta Knight to upset dvd in bracket. It was becoming apparent that even dvd’s well-developed Toon Link had severe matchup struggles, and he would look to rectify those problems in the second half of the year.

After Blacklisted 3, dvd decided he needed to make some changes in order to continue competing at the highest level. He began consistently practicing the Meta Knight matchup, and he cited a “mentality switch” that helped him get through his next major. The mentality switch must have paid off because at Supernova 2, after an early loss to ThundeRzReiGN, dvd plowed through BaconPancakes, StereoKiDD, techboy, and Jose v for a 4th place finish, his highest placement at a notable event up to that point in 2017. After Supernova 2, dvd would only place 4th or higher at every major he entered for the rest of the year.

dvd carried his momentum into Low Tier City 5, where he defeated Fuzz and demolished Sosa in losers’ bracket for another solid 4th place finish. His first big tournament victory came at Project M Showdown 6 where he defeated BaconPancakes, 3-0’d Aidan, and double eliminated techboy. In fact, after Supernova 2, dvd never lost to anyone ranked below him at major events. Notably, he was able to take sets off of top Meta Knight players, including Yung Quaff at CGC Redux and Boiko at Downfall 7.

With dvd’s sudden uptick of skill in the latter half of 2017, there’s still a question of how far he can take his improved mentality in the face of a few lingering roadblocks. In some cases, lopsided odds have prompted him to experiment with secondaries such as Roy and Ness. He is winless against local rivals Malachi and Switch, and it’s unclear if Toon Link alone can break through in hard matchups like Sheik and Wolf. However, if dvd is able to overcome these final obstacles, it’s possible we could see him ascend even higher in 2018.

Written By: Reslived

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Photo Credit: Jeff Mahieu

Score: 9.11

From humble beginnings is where the story of Michael "techboy" Leleniewski starts. The youngest player on the PMRank Top 50 by some margin, having just turned 15 years old at the start of 2018, techboy has shocked the entire world since the Ice Climbers emerged from Eastern Michigan in 2015. His adaptive use of his character’s myriad options augment his fundamentally sound movement, giving him plenty of tools for each situation he encounters.

A major turning point of techboy's career came at Project MSU 4 in March of 2016. He didn't quite make it out of pools, but he did manage to take the amateur bracket of the Michigan regional. Since that breakthrough, techboy has climbed from unranked to #1 as of the Summer of 2017, ushering in a new era for the Great Lake State. As he rose through the ranks, techboy experienced difficulty with just four local players: Anther, Dirtboy, Lordy, and Morsecode. Although Dirtboy and Morsecode still prove troublesome to the young star, Anther and Lordy are very much obstacles of the past—after first defeating them at Bounty Hunters and Friday Night Smash Delights 41 respectively, techboy hasn’t dropped a set to either of them. In his own words, "The last time I lost a winning matchup was to Anther at Shuffle."

At Smash ‘n’ Splash 3 in June, the first major out-of-region showing for the young prodigy, techboy seized his chance to make a mark on the broader Project M scene. He was sent to losers’ bracket early by MD/VA Peach player lloD, but he subsequently accomplished quite a loser’s run; techboy hammered through Australian Sonic, Star; Nebraska’s top player, Camtwo; Illinois hidden boss and Samus main, Pooch; up-and-coming Ontario Game and Watch, JJK; and finally Melee superstar Hungrybox to qualify for top 8 of the midwestern national event. techboy also overcame his Michigan rival Dirtboy before falling to a different kind of rival—a fellow Ice Climbers main from New York, Phresh—to finish the tournament at 5th place.

This head-turning performance was then turned on its own head as techboy one-upped his SnS 3 performance at Supernova 2. There techboy exceeded all expectations, taking on New York’s second best player Switch in round 1 of top 48 and defeating the Wolf main in a tense game 3 set. From there, techboy once again won a close set with Dirtboy before moving onto Winners Quarters to deal with one of the East Coast’s premier Ice Climbers killers; Flipp. After forcing a game 5, techboy succumbed to the Snake titan and dropped into the losers bracket to face a familiar foe, Phresh, whom techboy took revenge on in a slightly-less-tense four game set. Having now made it into top 8, techboy would have to make it past dvd’s Toon Link to continue. In spite of the disadvantageous matchup, techboy was on the verge of defeating dvd in game 4 with his single remaining climber, but a missed tech chase gave his opponent an opening to come back and take the set 3-2. He took home 7th place, another strong finish at a national-scale event.

Following this, techboy returned to the Midwest and continued doing what he does best: employing inventive desyncs in neutral, taking smart risks to keep his opponents on the back foot, and demonstrating a truly unbridled aptitude for the Ice Climbers’ more elusive technical exploits. At Showdown: Battle Royale 2, a September regional event on home turf, techboy breezed through JJK and Anther before stunning the audience with two consecutive victories over ThundeRzReiGN, 3-1 in Winners Finals and 3-0 in Grands. Having claimed 1st place over the #1 player in the world from winner’s side, techboy proved that, in his words, he was “feeling it now.”

Techboy later ventured outside of Michigan to attend Project Showdown 6 in MD/VA, collecting wins on Gallo and Envy as well as a second win on Switch before falling twice more to dvd’s Toon Link. On the House similarly found techboy defeating old Shuffle demons in the form of Lucky and Drugfreechu before falling again to lloD in Losers Finals after a loss to Morsecode in winners’ bracket. Techboy rounded out the year by winning Neo Tussle City over Sothe and Dirtboy, expanding his résumé to include a victory over the Iowa native. It’s been a magnificent year for PMRank’s youngest player, and it seems like he’ll only be climbing higher from here on out.

Written By: Yata!

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Score: 9.22

One of the fan favorites of 2016, Alex “HyperFlame” Mireles retained his flashy and technical playstyle this year despite the inherent inconsistencies of such an approach. Known across the world for his speed, technical prowess, and brilliant combos, HyperFlame upped his consistency in 2017 to conquer some of his demons and place in the top 8 at every event he attended except The Bigger Balc.

The Virginia Lucas player began the year strong, eliminating Anther from the Nebulous weekly leading up to The Flex Zone 2, then placing 4th at the main event, defeating dvd and double eliminating Boringman before falling victim to Malachi’s losers’ run. The Sheik main had been a consistent thorn in HyperFlame’s side since 2016, defeating him at Supernova and at ARLO 3, but soon the tide would change.

HyperFlame returned in April to the site of his breakout performance a year earlier at Shuffle: Battle of the Midwest, but was double eliminated by Aidan in a shocking upset, resulting in a 3rd place finish. This was the beginning of Aidan’s ascension to the national level, and not the only time that HyperFlame would struggle against the up and coming Zero Suit Samus player in 2017. His performance at Shuffle was followed by a string of somewhat underwhelming performances at Immunity, Philadelphia Championships, and Don’t Sleep. He defeated the likes of Boiko and XYK, but he also dropped sets to LUCK, Sosa, Switch, and traded sets with StereoKiDD. At Bigger Balc, HyperFlame defeated Kycse and Emukiller before being taken down by Flipp in Winners Quarters, and he would place 9th after falling victim to another historic losers’ run, this time by ThundeRzReiGN. He also placed 5th at Smash 'n' Splash 3, defeating Hungrybox but falling to Sothe and lloD. While he placed respectably at each event, the MD/VA native’s competitive flame grew brighter as the summer continued, and his results soon grew to match.

At Smashadelphia 2017, HyperFlame lost once again to Aidan in winners, but he rallied for a 2nd place finish, taking consecutive sets from Fearless, Kycse, Aidan, and ThundeRz in one of the most unusual grand finals sets of the year. While ThundeRz prevented him from taking home the gold in Philadelphia, nobody would stand in HyperFlame’s way a week later in Massachusetts. He stormed through the winners’ bracket, defeating Boiko and Kumatora before 3-0ing Flipp in Winners Semis to reach Malachi. Clearly, something had changed since they last met at The Flex Zone 2. HyperFlame took two quick games from Malachi’s Sheik before trading games with his Peach to defeat the NY/NJ titan for the first time. Malachi eliminated ThundeRz in Loser’s Finals, forcing a climactic 5-game Grand Finals. HyperFlame took home his first national in spectacular fashion, throwing out a raw DACUS to eliminate Malachi’s final stock. HyperFlame put up another impressive performance at Supernova 2, where he placed 3rd after defeating Jose V and Emukiller and falling to Flipp and ThundeRz.

While HyperFlame had a few shaky moments towards the end of the year, dropping sets to Goode and Godtouch at Immunity 2, he closed out 2017 in dominant fashion at Tipped Off 12. After being sent to losers’ by JFyst, he made a spectacular losers run, taking down Silver and Dingo, avenging himself against JFyst to reach Grand Finals, and defeating Noghrilla in two sets to take the tourney. These fluctuations between dominance and mortality defined HyperFlame’s year perhaps more than that of any other player. He holds a positive record on Malachi and a victory at one of the most stacked events of the year in Blacklisted 3, but he is also weighed down by a number of negative records against players ranked below him. If he can match the peaks he demonstrated this year, while improving his consistency against the rest of the field, Blacklisted 3 may be far from the last supermajor title to which HyperFlame stakes his claim.

Written By: Sabre



Rest of the List

1/21/2018 - PMRank 2017: The Edge of Glory
1/22/2018 - PMRank 2017: 50-41
1/23/2018 - PMRank 2017: 40-31
1/24/2018 - PMRank 2017: 30-21
1/25/2018 - PMRank 2017: 20-11
1/29/2018 - PMRank 2017: 10-7
1/30/2018 - PMRank 2017: 6-4
1/31/2018 - PMRank 2017: Top 3


Credits

PMRank Staff:
  • Adam “Strong Bad” Oliver
  • Brennan “FlashingFire” Connolly
  • Cody “Yata!” Anderson
  • Devin “Reslived” Gajewski
  • Ryan “Sabre” Weinberg
Graphic Design:
  • Anna “Kumatora” Mayorskiy
  • Cody “Yata!” Anderson
  • Courtney “Zesty” Coffman
  • Eric “FingerStripes” Bohorquez
Character Renders:
  • David "davidvkimball" Kimball
  • Eric “FingerStripes” Bohorquez
  • Mike "Kuro Kairaku" Nickerson
  • "SylveonPlaysSSBX"
Editor-in-Chief:
  • Brennan “FlashingFire” Connolly
Additional Editing:
  • Adam "Strong Bad" Oliver
  • Ahmed “Apollo Ali” Akbar
  • Anna “Kumatora” Mayorskiy
  • Cody “Yata!” Anderson
  • Kyle "Pegthaniel" Guo
 
Last edited:
FlashingFire

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