Photo Credit: Delta (Jeff Mahieu)
Ladies and gentlemen, we have arrived. Today's article concludes PMRank 2018 with the top 3 Project M players in the world. We hope to do each of their stories justice.
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, 93 players were qualified to be ranked based on their placings and attendance at major Project M events throughout 2018. Only 50 highly skilled players made the final list.
PMRank staff collected and organized data from dozens of Project M events from the past year, seeking out tournaments with inter-regional competition. Panelists were tasked with reviewing this data and rating each player on the nominee 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. After an initial ballot, panelists were given time to discuss the aggregated results and move closer to consensus in the case of players with high standard deviations. Then, panelists submitted a second and final ballot.
Please note that the listed set counts do not include sets from locals, with the exception of locals that included significant out-of-region competition.
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.
The top 50 rankings concludes today, but keep an eye out for a recap article in the near future, where we'll analyze the characters used and the regions represented. We will also be releasing the PMRank 2018 top 50 combo video! As always, it has been an honor to celebrate the Project M community in this fashion. Thank you for reading.
Photo Credit: Princess Hyrule
For most people, playing video games is a fun little hobby. Zachary “Lunchables” Zain is not most people. For Lunchables, his time competing (and not competing) in Project M has been an integral part of his personal journey. The young Smash savant out of Texas has left a vast mark on the game, of course - no one is surprised at talk of his incredible dash dancing, suffocating follow-ups, and blinding movement, regardless of which character he wants to play. But perhaps more importantly, the friends he met through the game have helped him grow.
Lunchables was notably absent from PMRank 2017. He had announced prior to 2016’s Olympus, the capstone of the Project M Championship Circuit, that he intended to retire from the game due to a variety of reasons. But as 2017 drew to a close, he discovered that he was having fun with the game again, and after attending locals on and off he elected to give bigger tournaments another shot. His first big tournament post-hiatus was No Fun Allowed 2, where Lunchables proved that his Roy, Marth, and Toon Link had no semblance of rust on their blades by sweeping the tournament from winners’ side, defeating Fuzz and double eliminating Switch. At Don’t Sleep! 2 not long after, Lunchables again ascended to Winners Finals by taking a game 5 set from Sosa himself, but he was reminded of his mortality when Malachi seized victory from their duel and Sosa adapted to win the runback. At the Infinity and Beyond! 200 Shark Tank, Lunchables achieved victory over a host of regional talent, including Shokio, Arsenals, LUCK, and Fearless. But SoCal’s Blank would deliver him an upset in Winners Finals, and while Lunch reset the bracket in grands, Blank ultimately came out on top.
These consistent top 3 performances at high-profile Texas tournaments were all strong, but Lunchables was still looking for a victory at a national event. The crown had just barely evaded him at Olympus and at Low Tier City 4 before that, leaving a hole in an otherwise stupendous PM career. Over the summer, Lunchables travelled out of state for the first and only time in 2018 to Smash N Splash 4 to step up to the plate once again. After advancing to top 32 without issue, he swiftly sent Rongunshu to the losers’ bracket (though the Canadian would end up having a field day there), and while SNS 3 grand finalist Sothe put up a commendable fight, Lunch toasted him in a reverse 3-0. His Winners Semis opponent was Switch, and just as he did at NFA 2, Lunchables sortied his Marth to take the set. He then added Hyperflame to his list of victims after taking a convincing 3-1 Winners Finals set with Roy against the Lucas legend. The long-sought after victory was within reach.
The final obstacle would come in the form of Switch, fresh off of a trio of losers’ side top 8 wins. Their Grand Finals sets became an instant classic, some of the best Project M that has ever been played. At first, Switch’s momentum was unstoppable. Lunchables faltered against the flurry of lasers and insane punishes, and Switch forced a reset. It was looking like Lunchables might be handed the silver medal again… but this time, he refused to accept that. Lunch buckled down, dialed in, and played his heart out for the next 5 games. And when he hit the final Down Air to end Switch’s last stock, Lunchables rose from his chair, teary-eyed, into an embrace of his ecstatic and supportive close friends. It was a moment of intense catharsis for Zach, and Switch was right there with the rest of the jubilant dogpile, celebrating this momentous occasion.
It’s no surprise that when Lunchables entered Low Tier City 6, he did so with a less ambitious attitude. He decided to play Sonic for most of the bracket, and still performed exceptionally well, defeating ~CP9~ in a close set and sweeping LUCK to earn a match against Flipp. But it’s clear from watching Lunch and Flipp interact casually in that set that victory wasn’t the top priority. Even when Flipp pulled off a nasty Fair spike into footstool for a low-percent kill, Lunchables’ reaction was one of wonder than anything else. Flipp took the set and Lunchables DQ’d himself from the losers’ bracket, finishing at 9th place. For the latter half of the year, Lunchables didn’t go to any more notable events.
These days, it looks like Lunchables is moving on once again. He said via Twitter that he’s going to give Super Smash Bros. Ultimate a “serious shot,” which should be exciting news for his fans. Still, it’s hard to deny that his skill shines brightest in the Project M arena, where even his warm-ups are inspiring to watch. But wherever Zach goes from here, he will have the lessons and experiences that Project M gave him, and even better, he’ll have the friends he made along the way.
Written By: FlashingFire
Photo Credit: Delta (Jeff Mahieu)
Wolf pioneer and walking highlight reel Kyle “Switch” Carlon has had one heck of a year. He was repeatedly flown out to events across the nation, and his prolific travel blitz garnered him more tournament sets at majors than any other player, with the sole exception of Dirtboy. Switch consistently showcased his overwhelming pressure, flashy (pun intended) Wolf combos, and incredible durability, packing plenty of quality to his travels in addition to the generous quantity. It comes as no surprise that the best player in a region that includes killers such as Envy, DVD, Boiko, and Malachi also places highly on PMRank, but his #2 ranking recognizes him as one of the best Project M players to ever touch a controller.
To start the year, Switch placed 1st at We Tech Those 3, comfortably defeating Tealz, Aidan, Techboy, Kycse, and DVD to make into Grand Finals. Malachi rose from his considerable losers' run to challenge his NY/NJ compatriot, but Switch remained strong, shooting down Malachi's ascent and winning the event from winners' side. At No Fun Allowed 2, Lunchables curbed his momentum in both Winners Finals and Grand Finals, leaving Switch at 2nd place. In March Switch walked away from Resting Stitch Face with 4th place after suffering respectable losses to fellow greats Malachi and Sosa. This would end up tying with Retro Rumble for his lowest placement, showing the incredible baseline skill that Switch brings to every event.
The Flex Zone 3 would test Switch's resilience anew - after plowing through Dirtboy, Switch was handed a loss by Fuzz relatively early in top 32. Switch tore through the likes of Aidan, Yung Quaff, DVD, and Kycse, and while both Quaff and Kycse brought Switch to game 5, it would take a runback against Fuzz in Losers Finals to finally put him down. Switch then went to Project M Showdown 7, continuing his reign over poor Techboy and DVD before claiming 1st place over Envy in Grand Finals. At Push More Buttons 2018, Squirtle savant Dirtboy put together an incredible 3-0 upset against the New Jersey Wolf, but Switch clawed back momentum by eliminating Sothe, winning the runback against Dirtboy, and turning the tides against Fuzz. Sosa rose to clap up Switch in Grand Finals, stopping him at 2nd place. At yet another regional event, Revival of Smashing Grounds, Kycse would be the third pokemon main to send Switch to the losers' bracket. Switch rallied to defeat Twisty, knock out hidden boss Darc, win his tenth and final game of the day against Kycse, and run a train on Flipp with a pair of decisive 3-0 sweeps to finish in 1st place.
Switch carried this momentum through the summer, first earning 2nd place at Smash N Splash 4, the largest event he entered all year. He took down Fearless and Techboy to advance to top 8, where Lunchables once again stopped his progress with exceptional laser counterplay. Switch paved his road to Grand Finals with a narrow victory over Rongunshui's upstart Lucario and clean sweeps of both Sothe and Hyperflame. He dueled with Lunchables once again and reset the bracket, but when Lunch finally felled him and won his first national at long last, Switch was among the happiest people there. After that, he won Smashadelphia 2018 and Super Smash Con back-to-back, gaining additional wins over players such as Reslived, Dirtboy, Flipp and Kycse. He closed out SSC and ended the summer with an explosive ten-game set versus BaconPancakes, going the distance with the MD/VA Diddy main. Switch was notably absent from The Even Bigger Balc, which is ironic considering how he managed to attend just about everything else, but sometimes the timing just doesn't work out.
In the fall and beyond, Switch once again zipped across several states to compete in large regional events. He won Shine On You Crazy diamond over New England's best, took New Game Plus with ease over Connor and Dirtboy, and took 2nd at Invincible 3 after Drugfreechu got the better of him over the course of three sets. At the aforementioned Retro Rumble, Switch endured his most uncharacteristic loss of the year at the cold hands of Ice Climbers main Serbian Film, quite early in the tournament. He rebounded through most of losers' bracket, making it through Blank before running out of stream against Kycse in Losers Semis. But Switch's most notable placement toward the end of the year came at Blacklisted 4, where he won the event through winners' side over fierce competitors such as Cala, Pikmon, DVD, Techboy, and a rampaging Filthy Casual. In an incredibly entertaining Wolf ditto, Switch secured 1st place at the last major of the year.
To say that Switch was dominant in 2018 would be an understatement. He took home the gold at so many tournaments it's honestly difficult to keep track of them all, and despite having more questionable losses than some of his similarly ranked peers, his frequent travels and multiple strong tournament wins were rewarded favorably. In head-to-head sets, Switch is has stonewalled several elite competitors such as Sothe, DVD, and Techboy. The only players in the top 10 who he did not beat in 2018 were Sosa, who bested him at Resting Stitch Face and Push More Buttons 2018, and ThundeRzReiGN, whom he did not play at all this year. His stylish space animal has set the benchmark for intelligent laser use and crowd-pleasing combos, and his consistently upbeat attitude makes him easy to get along with both in and out of the game. There are numerous descriptors for what Switch means to modern day Project M, but none of them so succinctly capture it like the simple phrase the New Jersey titan repeats every chance he gets:
Switch is sick.
Written By: Wombat and FlashingFire
Photo Credit: Tram Tram
In the history of PMRank, the title of best player in the world has never been less contested than it was this year. While Jonathan “Sosa” Sosa has long been acknowledged as a titan of the game, the SoCal kingpin has always been vocal about his hunger for the ultimate throne. In 2018, put any arguments against his kingship to rest with awe-inspiring Wario play, a myriad of tournament victories, and unmatched consistency across the board.
After ThundeRzReiGN announced his retirement at the start of 2018, it seemed as if nobody would be able to stop Sosa from dominating the West Coast, and the first third of the year seemed nigh hopeless for any of his potential rivals. He took first place at Poi Poundaz, F*** It, One More Balc, and Player’s Club: Happy Hour, dropping a grand total of zero sets and taking down the likes of Blank, Ivayne, and Jose V. Even when the first cracks in his armor appeared after a game 5 loss to Lunchables at Don’t Sleep! 2, Sosa showed that he had another level he could tap into. Sosa trounced LUCK and Fuzz in losers’ side, won the rematch against Lunchables, and continued his win streak by taking two straight sets from Malachi in dominant fashion, laying to rest any hope that Malachi would continue to be one of Sosa's prime rivals.
A month later, Sosa found himself sent to the losers’ bracket at Resting Stitch Face by DVD, prompting another run to Grand Finals. He eliminated Ike emblem Envy and Wolf wizard Switch before taking revenge on DVD, arriving in grands with plenty of momentum to bear. However, his opponent Malachi was not to be denied in his home region, and despite dropping a game to Sosa’s Pit, the East Coast defender closed out Grand Finals 3-1. The win streak was broken, but, Sosa was not discouraged in the least. In his own words, “They might beat me once, but after that it never happens again.” Indeed, Sosa had already exacted swift same-day vengeance against Lunchables and DVD, and Malachi would not take another set from him for the rest of 2018. The next weekend, Sosa took first at The Flex Zone 3 in dominant fashion, tearing through Yung Quaff, Silver, DVD, and Fuzz without having to actually flex too hard. Shortly afterward, he won Push More Buttons over Drugfreechu, Sothe, Fuzz, and Switch, again without dropping a set.
The only other blemish on Sosa’s pristine record would come over the summer at The Even Bigger Balc. Sosa feathered his cap with wins over Dingo, The Doctor, lloD, and BaconPancakes, then emerged victorious after a hotly contested Winners Finals set with ThundeRzReiGN. But ThundeRz would come back to take the tournament after dealing Sosa a pair of defeats and halting him at 2nd place. Once again, the loss was a minor setback. At Low Tier City 6, Sosa defeated Yung Quaff, Captain Birdman, and Pikmon en route to a rematch from TFZ 3 against Malachi. True to his word, he defeated the New York native twice to take 1st place at yet another major.
When all is said and done, Sosa’s performance in 2018 was absolutely dominant. He boasts a 100% win rate against players ranked outside of the top 10 of this year’s PMRank, and a 77% win rate against the rest of the top 10. With the exception of ThundeRz, who he never faced off against again after The Even Bigger Balc, no one in the world proved capable of taking more than one set from Sosa and his signature Wario, and even those who emerged victorious once would never do so again. After two years of being relegated to #3 on previous editions of PMRank, Sosa was unanimously ranked #1 by our panelists for his impeccable results and consistency in 2018. Like many of his peers, Sosa is currently focusing on building his resume in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but after having established himself as the world’s best Project M player, we look forward to seeing him defend that title in 2019.
Written By: Sabre
Other PMRank 2018 Articles
Last Year's Rankings
- Brennan “FlashingFire” Connolly
- Devin “Reslived” Gajewski
- Peter “Pikmon” Woodworth
- Kyle “Pegthaniel” Guo
- Courtney “Zesty” Coffman
- Courtney “Zesty” Coffman
- Paul "Motobug" Canavan
- Jet "Jetfantastic" Breton
- Cosmetic Standardization Project (CSProject)
- Brennan “FlashingFire” Connolly
- Devin “Reslived” Gajewski
- Alex “Darth Shard” Elert
- Ryan "Sabre" Weinberg
- Jet "Jetfantastic" Breton
- Kyle “Pegthaniel” Guo