Welcome to the PMRank 2021-22 Mid-Season Contenders List.
The Project+ scene has endured a myriad of trials and tribulations since the release of PMRank 2019. The global COVID-19 pandemic threatened the safety of in-person Project+ events, forcing the cancellation of tournaments for most of 2020 and parts of 2021, and just when the safety of in-person events got a shot in the arm, an outbreak of threats by Nintendo and the fear of more forced tournament organizers to cancel major events within weeks of their tournaments. But the Project+ scene rose to meet these challenges with tournament organizers planning alternative major events in unreasonably limited timeframes, and players showing up in numbers to support these events and play the game they enjoy. While the last two years have presented hardships, the Project+ scene has undeniably grown and evolved with players old and new continuing to support the scene and push the game’s meta.
Since the return to in-person competition in the latter half of 2021, we have seen the rise of new top players making their mark on the metagame and positioning themselves to claim their places on PMRank 2022 later this year. In the absence of PMRank for the last two years, we are producing the PMRank 2021-22 Mid-Season Contenders List to honor the accomplishments of our players in 2021 and early 2022, and to present a current representation of the competitive meta.
For this mid-season ranking, we have elected to forgo the traditional ordered top 50 ranking format and instead highlight thirty-five players in seven unordered tiers that more accurately represent the current distribution of top players based on available data. Given the limited number of in-person tournaments in 2021 and 2022 so far, this format change was made due to the limited amount of data making it more difficult to directly compare players and produce specific ordered rankings with confidence than in previous years. This format allows us to work with the data we do have to represent the range a player may appear at on PMRank based on their performance at eligible events from September 2021 through April 2022.
This project is intended to serve as an updated reference point for those curious about our scene and the players currently defining its competitive meta. While this is not intended to be fully equivalent to an annual PMRank Top 50, we hope that the players recognized on the PMRank 2021-22 Mid-Season Contenders List will take pride in their accomplishments. PMRank will return to the traditional top 50 format for PMRank 2022 at the end of the year, using data from all of 2022, and we look forward to seeing how this list changes over the next several months.
With his boundless work as a community leader, tournament organizer, content creator, and commentator, no one might embody the spirit of the PM community more than Sabre. Hand problems prevented him from competing for nearly two years, but Sabre rose again in 2022 to grace the scene with his technical Ivysaur. Sabre signaled his return to top-level competition with wins over Grealy and PwrUp! at You’re So Mad and swept through Pinnacle, Av, and Studebacher Hoch at Exodus on his way to a top 8 finish at the NorCal shadow major. With his mastery of innovative techniques and dedication to pushing the Ivysaur meta, Sabre has once again affirmed himself as a legend of the Project M stories and mythos he has been devoted to documenting, preserving, and sharing.
Photo Credit: TheZardDog
While far from the only top Lucas player to have his breakout performance over the last year, Trucker Hat’s blindingly fast tech skill stands out even among other high-APM players, utilizing niche and difficult options to their fullest potential to secure every opening he can. Trucker Hat has had generally strong results at European events since the end of quarantine with wins over Ace, FoutNL, and SatanTM at various regionals, but his most impressive win came in his second of two trips to the United States in 2022. After placing 17th at Joey’s Birthday Bash in January, Trucker Hat successfully campaigned for The Project M Theatre and made the most of his second chance in the states with a massive 3-1 upset over Kycse in pools. With this ranking, Trucker Hat joins a pantheon of European players who continue to prove that their scene is not to be ignored or underestimated.
Photo Credit: Joey
Back in Massachusetts after a short period in California and a long time in New York, Yung Quaff had a ranking season that perfectly embodied his playstyle of high highs and low lows. Beginning his year at Undertow 2021, Yung Quaff would have the very unfortunate bracket of having to play against Malachi in losers round one of top 32. While he would pick up wins at Undertow on Vaporeon and LPag, his strongest performance of the year would come at Shipwrecked. After getting upset very early by Che, Yung Quaff would win six sets in a row in losers to place 5th, notably picking up wins on Blue, Suvir, Drinkingfood, and Dawn. From that strong performance he would have a relatively quiet Blacklisted 6 losing to Comb and Tealz while picking up wins on Frost and tia. One of Project+’s most dynamic players, Yung Quaff looks to clean up the consistency issues that have plagued him for years while maintaining the level of high quality wins he is known for.
Photo Credit: Everfresh
We didn’t see much of Cloudburst this season, but his results thus far all point to remarkable improvement from his PMRank debut in 2019. At Undertow, The Arizona Squirtle ended upset-heavy runs made by LoyaL and Gluteus, but losses to Lunchables and Malachi, two of the greatest players of all time, forced him to settle for a 17th place finish. It was clear he had the talent to make much deeper runs through the rest of the season, and he wasted no time in proving it. At Jailbreak, he traded sets with Fearless, cleanly defeated Nezergy, and even took Blue to game 5 on his way to the biggest top 8 finish of his career. With his worst losses this season landing solidly in the B+ tier, Cloudburst is well-positioned to rise further through the ranks as 2022 continues.
Reaching critical acclaim as a player, takedown artist, and by topping the charts with his full PM Theatre diss track “[REDACTED],” Comb’s strong showings at both Midwest regionals and nationals place him at B tier and set him up to rise from his #50 ranking on PMRank 2019 to a much higher ranking later this year. After a breakout run at Undertow, where he defeated Akimi and Kendrick and reverse 3-0’d techboy to eliminate PMRank 2019’s #2 rank at a whopping 17th place, Comb has become a mainstay of final brackets across the Midwest. With wins over Sothe, Yung Quaff, Mr. Watch & Learn, and Not Chris, all without wavedashing back, Comb solidifies himself as not just a rap god but a killer on the sticks.
Photo Credit: Obregon Design
Whether you know him as Cory, Sabre, The Ivy Player, or any other moniker, New York’s greatest hidden boss has become a household name - whatever that name might be - over the last year by single-handedly proving Kirby’s strength in the modern meta. He first garnered national attention after winning a Connecticut monthly over Twisty, and he more than lived up to that hype at Blacklisted 6. Cory defeated ~CP9~ and Switch in winners and even took techboy to game 5 before eventually ending his run at 17th place. After getting voted into The Project M Theatre, Cory had his chance to face off against the best players in the world, and he made it count with a reverse 3-0 over dvd in pools to hand the Sheik main his only loss to a player below S tier in the last year. After four years of PMRank Top 50 rankings, Kirby has remained one of few characters to never be represented at a top level in the modern meta, but thanks to Cory, the Hero of Dreamland has risen anew in the hands of one of P+’s greatest breakout players.
Photo Credit: Joey
Another (half) season in the books, another PMRank spot for the ever-present Luigi main. While Flarp’s Blacklisted performance was relatively quiet compared to his previous 5th place performance two years prior, he shook off the rust at The Project M Theatre. Only dropping sets to previous #1 players Malachi and ThundeRzReiGN in pools, Flarp defeated Cory and Fearless before falling to Nogh for 9th place. While the return of ilovebagelz may present an obstacle between Flarp and the title of undisputed best Luigi, the Massachusetts native’s post-quarantine results are nothing to scoff at; with a great region to practice in, we’re sure to see Flarp in national top brackets again and again.
Photo Credit: Joey
A gamer by any other name would be just as gnarly on the sticks - stun_chel, floridian slip, or as most know them, grealy, has gone from known grinder to a certifiable bracket threat. While there were some rough performances at Undertow and Blacklisted 6, Shipwrecked saw grealy take a set over local overlord Kumatora; however, it was Jailbreak where grealy begin to show signs of greatness - taking sets over Tealz, Strong Badam, and Qtip. You’re So Mad saw him taking sets from an ascendant PwrUp!, Boringman, and Catosat, and he made yet another run at Smash Camp after beating Kendrick and TRai. With such performances and the potential for more to come, grealy has a strong case for the throne as the best Lucas player of the modern era.
Photo Credit: ExHale
Making his appearances few and far between this ranking period, ilovebagelz’ one of a kind Luigi play still manages to turn heads year after year. While his run at Smash Camp 2022 was slightly underwhelming, losing to Yono and up-and-comer Kendrick, it was bagelz’ performance at Shipwrecked that culminated in one of Luigi’s best ever performances at a major. Weaving effortlessly in and out of his opponent’s range while mixing up approach timings and move choice, bagelz commanded Luigi’s movement techniques in an almost drunken master style of precision and looseness. Using this unpredictable style, bagelz picked up wins on Kumatora and Drinkingfood before topping it off with a reverse 3-0 on Fearless to net a 4th place finish. Although any future appearances from bagelz are up in the air for the rest of 2022, one can only hope the always entertaining Arizona native will grace us with another top 8 finish sooner rather than later.
Representing the state of Wisconsin on PMRank for the first time since Marshall in 2016, Kendrick makes his PMRank debut after explosive performances at Joey’s Birthday Bash and Smash Camp. From 10th on the pre-quarantine Wisconsin PR to his PMRank debut at B tier, Kendrick has had a meteoric rise to national prominence. Demonstrating a patient neutral game and a solid punish game, he started his year by defeating Comb, metroid, and Thalia at Joey’s Birthday Bash in an unexpected run that ended at 5th place. Potentially his most impressive performance came during his 4th place run at Smash Camp, where he defeated Studebacher, Mr. Watch & Learn, ilovebagelz, Potatoes, and Blue; an excellent run from a fast-rising player in an underrated state.
Photo Credit: Rye Bread
Tealz has shown us a more technical side of Meta Knight this season, pulling out crazy Dimensional Cape angles and creative punishes to consistently stay ahead of the field. He sent Twisty to losers at Shipwrecked on his way to a 7th place finish at his first major of the season, and he put together solid performances at Blacklisted 6 and Jailbreak with wins over Yung Quaff, metroid, JHamp, and Dotcom. Despite the stamina-testing format of You’re So Mad, Tealz didn’t drop a single game until top 8, eventually placing 5th after defeating Bladewise, PwrUp!, Qtip, and PotatoesAreYum. Now that Tealz has established himself as consistently capable of making deep bracket runs, the sky’s the limit for him and his Meta Knight.
Photo Credit: Joey