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PMRank 2018: 6-4


Photo Credit: Princess Hyrule

Our journey to the top approaches its climax. PMRank 2018 ranks 6-4 are here, and each of them are highly impressive for very distinct reasons.

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.

6 - techboy.png

Photo Credit: ExHale

Score: 9.33

Young prodigy Michael “Techboy” Leleniewski surpassed all expectations in 2018 as he pushed his trademark Ice Climbers and intelligent play to new heights. Finishing off 2017 with a PMRank debut of #8, Techboy’s hunger for improvement persisted throughout 2018 - at only 16 years old, he’s found himself in top 8 of every single event he attended in 2018.

Techboy’s weakest placement came at the start of the year. He placed 7th at East Coast major We Tech Those 3, where Malachi and Switch both dealt him resounding 3-0 losses. But speaks to his consistency that a top 8 finish at a prestigious national is Techboy's "weakest" result. Only 2 months later, he struck back with his first major win at Frozen Phoenix 2018 in March. Techboy tore through bracket on his way to winners’ side of Grand Finals after scoring wins on players such as MorKs, Sylarius, Ripple, and up-and-coming Canadian star Rongunshu. Though Rongunshu returned and reset the bracket with his lethal Lucario, Tech responded immediately with a 3-0 and a handshake to take home 1st place.

Techboy’s avalanche of momentum continued into the summer. At Smash N Splash 4, Techboy was able to defeat the likes of Wyld and BaconPancakes on his way to slaying his former demon, Malachi, in a 3-0 so stunning that it looked as if Ice Climbers had an advantage against Peach. While Tech would once again finish at 7th after losing a tense set to Sothe, his run at SNS4 cemented his status as one of the very best going into 2018. At The Even Bigger Balc, Techboy defeated Fuzz 3-1 in their first tournament set, following up with a 3-1 win over BaconPancakes before falling to Blank for 4th place.

In the later part of the year, Techboy continued to have incredible results, winning Plus Ultra while dropping only a single game the entire time. He triumphed over stiff competition such as Connor, Morsecode762, BaconPancakes (the winner of that one dropped game) and Envy. Notably, his set against Envy was a revenge match for Techboy’s loss at Project M Showdown 7. Techboy followed up on this excellent performance at Evicted, taking sets off of players such as n0ne, Dirtboy and Morsecode762 in a winners’ side run to Grand Finals. Morse ended up coming back to win the event, and Techboy took home 2nd place. He finished off the year with a 3rd place finish at Blacklisted 4, powering through players such as Bongo, Twisty, and Envy. His only losses were to Wolf mains Switch, his one consistent roadblock, and Filthy Casual, who played out of his mind on that day.

Boasting a slew of great results, a well-travelled resume, and a high degree of consistency, Techboy’s rise on this edition of PMRank is well warranted. As the Michigan maverick continues his eye-catching improvement and sharpens his mastery of an unconventional character, the world begs to see just how far he can climb.

Written By: Dirtboy, Vaporeon, and Jetfantastic

5 - MALACHI.png

Photo Credit: Tram Tram

Score: 9.44

Malachi "Malachi" Covington returns to the upper echelon of PMRank for the third consecutive year. His road to this spot was rockier than expected, but his accomplishments with his technical Peach/Sheik duo have been undeniably stellar. Malachi’s playstyle is, in a word, oppressive; his hitboxes are precise, his execution is consistent, his option coverage is demoralizing, his mixups are deadly. He sets up blockstrings that trip up even hardened veterans, and his throws are less of a 50/50 guess and more of a 75/75 cage.

His year began at We Tech Those 3, where he swiftly took care of JJK and Twisty before falling to Kycse, who would prove to be a thorn in his side throughout the year. This didn’t stop Malachi from obtaining 2nd place by tearing through Phresh, techboy, Sothe, Aidan, and DVD in a remarkable losers' run, eventually falling to an in-the-zone Switch. Don’t Sleep! 2 played out similarly, as Malachi stormed through Arsenals, Fuzz, and one of his most challenging foes, Lunchables, to make Grand Finals on the winners' side. But he would once again walk away with 2nd after longtime rival Sosa completed a small but stacked losers' run. Malachi broke this 2nd-place trend at Resting Stitch Face, where he toppled Sosa in Grand Finals to win the entire tournament; this win would come to him after he dominated Twisty, Switch, and a DVD that had just 3-0'd Sosa.

The Flex Zone 3 would mark Malachi’s first shaky tournament result. After breezing past Bongo and defeating Twisty, he lost to Fuzz in Winners Semis and proceeded to suffer another loss to Kycse afterward, landing at 5th place. Smash N Splash 4 brought even rougher waters in the form of midwest hero Bobby Frizz, who upset Malachi in pools. Still, Malachi regained his composure to take down ORLY, Jason Waterfalls, and Cala before Ice Climbers prodigy techboy stopped him cold. Techboy took the top 8 qualifier in a convincing 3-0 despite the heavy matchup advantage that Peach is traditionally thought to have against the climbers, and with that unforgettable set, Malachi finished 9th. Shortly afterward at Smashadelphia 2018, Kycse and his Charizard once again defeated Malachi. The East Coast titan responded by dispatching Reslived, DVD, and Flipp before lloD, the other bastion of high-level Peach play in Project M, stopped his run at 4th place.

Malachi hit his lowest point over the summer at The Even Bigger Balc in SoCal. Malachi proceeded to top 64 as expected, but in Winners Round 1 of that bracket he met an incredibly stubborn ilovebagelz. To the bewilderment of many, bagelz and his Luigi made Malachi look lost - he even tried bringing out a pocket Mr. Game and Watch to preserve his winners' bracket status, but bagelz prevailed and left him frowning severely. This was immediately followed by a heavy loss to Reslived in Losers Round 2, leaving PMRank 2017's #2 at 33rd. Nevertheless, Malachi would shake off this bump in the road and stampede into Low Tier City 6 with a vengeance, taking down The Doctor, BaconPancakes, and Flipp to meet Sosa once again in Winners Finals. Ultimately Malachi would lose to Sosa both in Winners Finals and in Grand Finals, but he still took down BaconPancakes a second time in Losers Finals and earned 2nd place at one of the most stacked nationals of the year.

This dramatic upswing is where Malachi would land in 2018. Although Malachi wound up on the receiving end of a high number of upsets, his dominance against the majority of the Top 50 cannot be ignored. Augmenting his tournament clincher over Sosa at RSF, Malachi has impressive set counts against BaconPancakes (2-0), DVD (3-0), Flipp (2-0), and Lunchables (1-0). He may not be quite the indomitable paragon he was last year, but Malachi's peak excellence has been showcased time and time again.

Written By: Grzly and FlashingFire

4 - thunderz.png

Photo Credit: Tram Tram

Score: 9.62

This past year has been complicated for Project M’s former #1 player. To start with perhaps the obvious: Thomas "ThundeRzReiGN" Thammavongsa has attended very few tournaments in 2018, particularly out of state. Early in the year, he felt intense burnout and avoided playing his signature DK even in serious tournament sets. As a result, PMRank 2017’s top dog underperformed significantly at the start of 2018. ThundeRz placed 5th at Poi Poundaz after losing to Melee Luigi player Ka-Master and rising talent Blank. He also ended up getting merely 7th at Cashed Out: Forbidden Fight Club after losing to in-region buddies The Doctor and Ivayne. This resulted in some drama - naturally, the players defeating ThundeRzReiGN, the #1 ranked Project M player in the world, wanted recognition for accomplishing such a difficult task. Yet ThundeRz himself didn’t think the matches were particularly meaningful, since he was not giving his best effort. He disliked the pressure of being in everyone’s crosshairs, preferring the days when he was competing for the fun rather than the increasing scrutiny and lofty expectations.

To compound the issue, ThundeRz could not fly out to We Tech Those 3 due to a sudden medical problem. Thereafter, it looked like ThundeRz had retired from the national scene, and perhaps even serious competition as a whole. In region there were jokes that he would have to pull his DK back out at some point as NorCal’s Power Ranked players defeated his many less serious characters. ThundeRz was looking like 1993-1994 Michael Jordan, putzing around a baseball field of SoPo and secondaries.

But just as MJ returned to the court, ThundeRzReiGN decided he wasn’t done just yet. Southern California’s The Even Bigger Balc broke records to become the biggest PM tournament so far, and one of the entrants in this 427-person bracket was a certain “Prematoga~” - an alias of ThundeRz that emerged from an in-region joke, a portmanteau of his friend’s name and the name of an anime character.

With Sosa as the new favorite, ThundeRz was given a lower seed. But this proved to be a blessing in disguise, giving him the chance to build momentum against a bevy of tenacious bracket foes. On the path to top 8 he defeated Chevy, Envy, and Sothe in close 3-2 sets. He always led off with his Falcon, but invariably his DK was required to seal the deal. In top 8, he defeated Blank with just his Falcon in a ferocious 3-1 before being sent to losers’ bracket by Sosa in a blood-pumping 2-3 loss. However, ThundeRz quickly rallied on the broad back of his DK alone, demonstrating his characteristically brutal punish game and patience. After smashing through Blank in a 3-0, ThundeRz returned for another set against his classic rival, Sosa. ThundeRz demonstrated peak mental fortitude and excellent adaptation by grinding out a 3-2 bracket reset over Sosa, and in the second set he toppled the SoCal savage for good with an explosive 3-0. The victor of The Even Bigger Balc, the largest Project M event of all time, was ThundeRzReiGN.

While winning it all at The Even Bigger Balc was a tough act to follow, ThundeRz also attended one other relatively large tournament, this time in his home region of NorCal: Fair and Balanced 2. There he beat Mr. Watch & Learn, Aki, Boringman, and The Doctor twice to win the whole thing from winners’ side, frequently pulling out tertiary characters like Ike and Marth. The two day regional event ended up looking like a NorCal local, a far cry from the intense competition and glory of the previous iteration. Even so, his bracket had solid victories that any PM player would love to have under their belt.

Looking toward 2019, the future of ThundeRzReiGN is uncertain. He has announced that he intends to enter Smash N Splash 5, but it remains to be seen how much he wants to play seriously and how much he just wants to have fun playing a cool game with cool friends at a cool water park. Fans the world over would certainly be thrilled to once again witness his disciplined, almost clairvoyant neutral game and his brutally imaginative punishes. But whether he wants to compete or to chill, ThundeRz will always be welcome among the Project M community.

Written By: Pegthaniel and FlashingFire

Other PMRank 2018 Articles

1/28/2019 - PMRank 2018: The Edge of Glory
1/29/2019 - PMRank 2018: 50-41
1/30/2019 - PMRank 2018: 40-31
1/31/2019 - PMRank 2018: 30-21
2/01/2019 - PMRank 2018: 20-11
2/05/2019 - PMRank 2018: 10-7
2/06/2019 - PMRank 2018: 6-4
2/07/2019 - PMRank 2018: 3-1

Last Year's Rankings

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
2/11/2018 - PMRank 2017: Recap

PMRank Staff:
  • Brennan “FlashingFire” Connolly
  • Devin “Reslived” Gajewski
  • Peter “Pikmon” Woodworth
  • Kyle “Pegthaniel” Guo
  • Courtney “Zesty” Coffman
Graphic Design and Character Renders:
  • Courtney “Zesty” Coffman
  • Paul "Motobug" Canavan
  • Jet "Jetfantastic" Breton
  • "waffeln"
  • Cosmetic Standardization Project (CSProject)
  • Brennan “FlashingFire” Connolly
Additional Editing:
  • Devin “Reslived” Gajewski
  • Alex “Darth Shard” Elert
  • Ryan "Sabre" Weinberg
  • Jet "Jetfantastic" Breton
  • Kyle “Pegthaniel” Guo
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I got Thunderz's placement correct, and almost got Techboy's and Malachi's placements (flipped from what I planned to be).
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