Photo Credit: Delta (Jeff Mahieu)
PMRank 2019 resumes with some of the game's most thrilling players to watch. These four are true students of the game, and their wealth of practice has yielded a bounty of skill.
PMRank is a panel-based Power Ranking of the top 50 Project M and Project+ 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, 70 players were qualified to be ranked based on their placings and attendance at major Project M/+ events throughout 2019. 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 significant inter-regional competition. Panelists were tasked with reviewing this data and ranking each player in order, from #1 to #70. For each player, the highest and lowest rankings 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.
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.
Photo Credit: Joey Hogan
After a decline in both rank and motivation in 2018, Evan “Sothe” Cunningham and his flashy Ivysaur return to the top 10 in PMRank 2019. A player well known for his technical flair and constant Solarbeam KOs, he placed a stranglehold on nearly every tournament he entered in and around his home state of Iowa. After winning Be Mine? from winners’ side over LSDX, ORLY, Dirtboy, and Drugfreechu, he brought the same energy to SPRING TRAINING, where he again swept to a 1st place finish over Ripple, Drugfreechu, and ORLY. Moving northward to Frozen Phoenix 2019, Sothe defeated a stacked field of competitors including Dirtboy and Bubbles, but he finally proved mortal after dropping two sets to techboy that resulted in a 2nd place finish. Sothe bled again when he dropped a set early in bracket to Wisconsin Ivysaur Poonpounder at Invincible 4, but this only served to set up an incredible losers’ run. Wyld, Connor, Ripple, and ORLY were all victims of Sothe’s seven-set streak, which culminated in the double elimination of Drugfreechu in Grand Finals to take 1st place. The Illinois Game & Watch main would respond by defeating Sothe’s Fox at Papercut, but he found himself on the wrong end of yet another losers’ run shortly thereafter. Sothe ran a train through LSDX, Filthy Casual, and Drugfreechu before taking down Connor twice to claim his fourth regional victory of the year.
Heading into the summer’s biggest event, Smash‘N’Splash 5, Sothe found himself challenged more heavily by out-of-region competitors. Despite losses to Malachi and Aki, he padded his resume with wins over Boringman, Chevy, and Ellipsis on his way to a respectable 9th place finish. Sothe would find himself further challenged at Low Tier City 7, where an all-too-familiar matchup struggle would present itself. Those who follow top-level Project M may recall how Sothe has endured a considerable number of defeats against Switch’s Wolf since gaining the ability to meet him in bracket, a fact that was in part responsible for Sothe’s desire to learn to play Fox. At this event, Louisiana netplay warrior DrinkingFood’s Wolf opened the old wound by winning an early 2-1 set against both Sothe’s Ivysaur and Fox. Sothe was later eliminated from the event by Fearless at 17th, his lowest placing at a PM event all year.
Sothe took a hiatus from entering tournaments following Low Tier City 7, but he returned to action in December for one of the last majors of the year, Invincible 5. Despite a rocky start, which included a 1-2 loss to Massachusetts invader, Motobug, Sothe once again turned on the jets for another monster losers’ run. This time, he wouldn’t even go to the last game in any of his seven losers’ sets, which included wins over ORLY, Ripple, and a dominant 6-0 over Motobug in Grand Finals. With this, he defended both his 1st place title from Invincible 4 and his status as one of the most stalwart players in the Midwest.
Despite some painful losses at Low Tier City 7 and both Invincibles, overall Sothe dominated the Midwest in 2019 with amazing records over the likes of Drugfreechu, Dirtboy, Connor, and ORLY, all of whom had great years in their own right. The lack of similarly emphatic performances beyond the Midwest make it difficult to rank Sothe higher in the top 10, but this does not diminish Sothe’s improvement over his 2018 track record. He served as a reminder to never underestimate what Ivysaur is capable of, and if he solidifies his resolve to stick with the character in tough matchups like Wolf, Sothe’s growth could push him even further into the top 10 in 2020.
Written By: Sabre
Photo Credit: Delta (Jeff Mahieu)
Brad “Rongunshu” Sanderson has outdone himself in 2019, repeatedly adding top tier wins and placements to his name. Last year he established himself as an emerging dual threat with both his traditional main, Lucario, and a new addition, Marth. This year he brings to the table everything he had previously, plus even more refined execution and a new degree of unpredictability in his punish game. His feel for the game has been better than ever, and while last year he showed glimpses at top 10 potential, this year he has realized it.
He started the year off strong at Frozen Phoenix 2019. On his way up through winners’ bracket, Rongunshu handily defeated the hungry new PMRank members Motobug and altan. However, unlike 2018, Rongunshu faced a tough setback in Winners Quarters when he lost to Bubbles unexpectedly. He rallied himself and beat Poilu in a thrilling Lucario ditto, setting himself up to face Dirtboy’s Squirtle. While Rongunshu lost game one on Smashville, he came back strong on Fountain of Dreams and Final Destination, demonstrating a strong adaptation to Dirtboy’s slippery shenanigans. Dirtboy struck back on Delfino’s Secret, leaving Rongunshu in a tough spot to pick the final stage. Rongunshu took a risk and decided to bring Dirtboy to one of his favorite stages, Wario Land. The choice did not pay off, and Rongunshu placed 5th after the narrow game 5 loss.
Progressing into the summer, Smash‘N’Splash 5 would prove to be Rongunshu’s low point of the year. He lost in round 4 of the initial qualification Swiss pool to Tealz, forcing him to claw his way out of division 2. While he built up some momentum by defeating Cloudburst, that momentum was brought to a halt by two fellow Lucario experts: Poilu in winners’ side and Fearless in losers’. However, Rongunshu would begin to rebound at Blacklisted 5 just a month later. His bracket was a tough one, resulting in losses to Malachi and Pikmon for 13th place, but he still managed to show improvement by avenging himself against Bubbles.
Rongunshu demonstrated a full return to form at Resting Stitch Face 2, where he triumphed over both Flipp and Switch. His set against Switch was particularly tough, as Switch initially took control with a 2-0 lead against Rongunshu’s Marth. However, drawing on newfound resilience, Rongunshu kept calm under pressure and narrowly won game 3. In game 4, Rongunshu built on his momentum in spectacular fashion by breaking Switch’s shield, an extremely rare feat in competitive play. While charging up the Shield Breaker for a KO, he even stood up and offered Switch an early handshake, believing the game to be over, before Switch reminded him that he still had one more stock left. Both competitors had a good laugh before Rongunshu sealed the deal with a quick grab, a bit of corner pressure, and an impressive tour-de-platforms combo to flawlessly kill Switch. In game 5, Rongunshu closed out the set and completed the reverse 3-0 comeback, advancing to Winners Finals with a landmark victory behind him. While he put up a valiant effort by taking game 3, Malachi’s Sheik would prove to be too strong for Rongunshu’s Marth. At this point, Rongunshu would have to win against both of the NY/NJ titans he had just faced in order to secure a tournament win. Rongunshu showed that his adaptations against Switch held strong as he won Losers Finals in commanding fashion, 3 games to 1, but despite trying both Lucario and Marth this time against Malachi, he would ultimately go home at 2nd place.
Between his high-stakes adaptation and standout victories which book-ended 2019, Rongunshu has shown that his breakout 2018 was no fluke, and he continues to evolve alongside the rapidly changing PM landscape. The character-specific tech of his masterfully lethal Lucario is backed by his fundamentally sound, highly explosive Marth. If this year was when Rongunshu realized his top 10 potential, perhaps the next one will be when he stands out even among that elite group.
Written By: Pegthaniel
Photo Credit: Princess Hyrule
Returning to PMRank for the fourth consecutive year, West Coast veteran Peter “Pikmon” Woodworth breaks into the top 10 for the first time in his career. Pikmon has called both NorCal and Washington home at various times, and both regions have provided a wealth of high-quality competitors for him to hone his Mr. Game & Watch and Ike against. At Neon Genesix Evangelion, he placed 3rd with wins over NorCal threats Boringman and Sugydye, and he placed 1st at The Crucible without dropping a set or even going to a game 5 against some former PMRank heavy hitters: Washington’s own Aki, Punk Panda, and Chevy.
With those strong regional performances under his belt, Pikmon’s first out-of-region major of the year was set to be a good one, and he absolutely delivered at Smash‘N’Splash 5. After dominating a pool full of notable names including Ohio’s altan, NJ’s Emukiller, and Illinois’ Comb, Pikmon 3-0’d PMRank 2018’s #36 Bobby Frizz to make his way to Winners Quarters. Following a loss to techboy, Pikmon defeated both Boringman and Drugfreechu 3-1 before facing off against Wolf extraordinaire Switch, who had previously defeated him in a reverse 3-0 comeback in their most recent set at Blacklisted 4. This time, Pikmon’s trademark powershields and brutally efficient combos helped him gain the edge in a tense game 5 set, where with one last zero-to-death combo, he secured his place in the top 4 at Smash‘N’Splash 5. His next set featured another game 5 thriller where he was eliminated by the juggernaut that is ThundeRzReiGN. Finishing off at 4th place, this event was by far the best of Pikmon’s long career, and provided an excellent start to a summer full of events.
A new patch heralded a new character focus for Pikmon, who began to seriously utilize his secondary swordsman, Ike, in more and more important sets. Following Smash‘N’Splash 5, Pikmon made another solid showing at Blacklisted 5. After a loss to PMRank 2016’s #50 Shiny Zubat in pools, he claimed victories over both Gallo and Rongunshu before finding himself down 0-2 against Connor. With his back against the wall, Pikmon brought out his Ike for the first time at a major and brought the set to a climactic game 5 before falling short. Pikmon played mostly Mr. Game & Watch at The Encore where he took wins over Tealz and Nezergy with his long-time main, but found himself switching to Ike once more after entering into a counterpick war with Meta Knight/Ivysaur player Yung Quaff, who would eliminate him from the tournament at 7th place. At Smash Camp: End of Summer, Pikmon once again found himself the victim of an upset by Yoshi in pools, this time at the hands of Florida’s TomBoComBo. He was eliminated shortly thereafter by Poilu at 13th place, his worst and final result of 2019. Following his Smash Camp performance, Pikmon made the decision to fully switch to Ike as his main.
Although his Ike has so far been unable to close out the few high-profile sets it appeared in this year, Pikmon maintains his commitment to the character. He has transitioned away from using his tried and true Mr. Game & Watch at locals, where his Ike results have already begun to improve dramatically thanks to his ability to make uncanny reads and never let go of an advantage. Heading into 2020, the biggest question for Pikmon will be if he will be able to step out of the shadows of his old main and return to the top 10 again, giant sword in hand.
Written By: Sabre
Photo Credit: Toto Sripunvoraskul
One of the most popular and exciting players in the Project M scene, Kyle “Switch” Carlon brings his sensational playstyle to the upper echelon of PMRank once again. . The New Jersey titan retained his title as the best Wolf in the world all year long, kicking off his year by winning Smash Camp 2019 over Dirtboy and Filthy Casual and overcoming Fuzz and Dirtboy (again) at No Fun Allowed 3. Combined with dominant performances at New England regionals, which featured wins over the likes of Kycse, Flarp, Flipp, and Silver, Switch’s first half of 2019 was incredibly strong. At Smash’N’Splash 5, he defeated Nogh in winners’ bracket to face off against The Doctor. In a fast-paced and explosive game 5 set, Switch triumphed over the NorCal Mario player to guarantee himself a top 8 spot. He was subsequently eliminated by Malachi and a peak Pikmon at 5th place, a terrific placing for an event with nearly 400 entrants.
Switch did even better at Blacklisted 5, remaining in winners’ bracket despite upsets all around him as he defeated Anthony, Drugfreechu, Flipp, and Flarp to place 3rd at the Massachusetts major. At SuperSmashCon 2019, Switch would double-eliminate rising star Bubbles, but his momentum ground to a halt against BaconPancakes, whose tricky item play and low percent KO setups enabled two convincing set wins to defend his home region. At Resting Stitch Face 2, Switch again performed well with wins over Anthony and Poilu, but he suffered a reverse 3-0 comeback at the hands of Rongunshu in Winners Semis. After taking out Mr. Watch & Learn and Kycse in losers’, Switch once again fell short against the Canadian Marth, his creative recoveries and technical combo game not quite enough to edge out their rematch. Switch was tested further at his final event of 2019, placing 4th at Lazer Lazer 20 after wins over ~CP9~ and Jagz$ but proving unable to close out crucial games against Morsecode762 and Florida Ivysaur legend Cala.
Although his ranking this year is a few steps down from his #2 placement on PMRank 2018, Switch remains a widely-traveled competitor who stands as a one-man blockade to anyone seeking to enter the highest tier of competition in Project M. He holds a brutal 27-1 record against players outside of the top 10 on this year’s ranking, but he himself only took one of his ten sets against fellow PMRank top 10 players. If Switch can turn those game 5 sets into the victories that yielded such success in 2018, we can expect another year of pristine Project M and heartfelt laughter from New Jersey’s finest.
Written By: Sabre
Other PMRank 2019 Articles
Last Year's Rankings
- Brennan “FlashingFire” Connolly
- Paul “Motobug” Canavan
- Kyle “Pegthaniel” Guo
- Peter “Pikmon” Woodworth
- Ryan “Sabre” Weinberg
- Paul "Motobug" Canavan
- Samoe "Samoe" Fuchs
- Cosmetic Standardization Project (CSProject)
- Brennan “FlashingFire” Connolly
- Connor “Connor” Remington
- Paul "Motobug" Canavan
- Nick "Nick" Hluska
- Kyle “Pegthaniel” Guo
- Ryan "Sabre" Weinberg