Welcome to Part Three of the PMRank 2021-22 Mid-Season Contenders List.
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.
While he may have found his way over to Texas, Arizona’s knight-errant hasn’t lost his edge – returning after nearly four years of national inactivity, Blue has more than shown that he has what it takes to push Link in the modern meta. Self-proclaimed as a “pretty okay smash player,” Blue has claimed sets over Akimi, Twisty, Yono, Bongo, and above all, went 1-1 in sets with techboy. His greatest achievement came with his return to Arizona for Smash Camp 2022. After he was sent early to losers by rising star Kendrick, he didn’t drop a game, running through FingerStripes, TRai, grealy, Kendrick in the runback, Sneez, and finally taking down Yono 6-0 in grands. It’s been a promising return to form for Blue.
Photo Credit: Joey
One of only a handful of players to appear on every iteration of PMRank to date, Boringman elevated his results to a new level over the last year with top 8 appearances at every major he entered since the return of LAN events. With his trio of Lucario, Meta Knight, and Sonic all in play, Boringman defeated Kumatora, Silver, and Nogh to set up an all-NorCal Winners Finals at Undertow against The Doctor. While he may have lost that set at the beginning of the season, Boringman had the last laugh at Exodus, where he double eliminated his regional rival en route to a first place finish. In between these events, Boringman earned consistently strong results at both Jailbreak and You’re So Mad, picking up wins over Tealz, grealy, Sabre, Nezergy, Narq, and more in the process. Boringman’s improvement over recent months has been plain for all to see, and we look forward to seeing NorCal’s multi-character specialist continue to make waves throughout 2022.
Photo Credit: TheZardDog
Connecticut has been steadily growing stronger as a region over the last few years, but one thing remains constant - the absolute grip that Kycse has on the region. Starting off the season with his first ever national championship at Shipwrecked over players like Nogh, Jonny Sosa, Tealz, and JHamp, things looked promising for Kycse; unfortunately, Jailbreak was considered an underperformance for the Charizard main after he was eliminated at 17th by Kumatora. At The Project M Theatre, he would reclaim some glory with wins over Stango as well as Dr. Grin - a set that, given Grin’s antics, gave Kycse’s moniker of Big Business Bobby even more supporting evidence. Winning a major isn’t Kycse’s only goal achieved this season; with this ranking he breaks through a plateau of three years straight as the 12th best player in the world to join the other players in S tier.
Photo Credit: ExHale
The #1 player of 2019 came into this season with big expectations, and after working through the growing pains of his new main, Malachi reminded everyone why he’s one of the game’s all-time greats with fantastic showings at Blacklisted 6 and The Project M Theatre. He made an early exit of 13th place at Undertow after losses to AssTAStic and Chevy at his first major as a Zero Suit Samus main, but after that it was back to normal for Malachi as he put up back to back top 8 performances over on the East Coast. At Blacklisted 6, he earned 3-0 victories over Ivayne and Bongo and a dominating win over Stango in the Zero Suit ditto before falling to dvd for a 4th place finish. A few months later at The Project M Theatre, Malachi only dropped sets to longtime rivals ThundeRzReiGN and Jonny Sosa on his way to 5th place while picking up wins over Nogh, Kycse, Fearless, and Flarp to firmly establish his return to the top echelon of Project+ competitors. While we’ve yet to see him break into top 3 at a big tourney since his character switch, given the visible improvements he has made over the last year as he has become more comfortable with Zero Suit Samus, it’s only a matter of time before New York’s finest once again claims the gold at a major.
Photo Credit: Joey
Switching from his classic Toon Link to a totally different character and playstyle in Sheik, dvd entered the season with a lot to prove, but his stunning performances at East Coast majors left the scene in shock at his improvement over quarantine. At Blacklisted 6, dvd swept through Comb, Yono, Rongunshu, and Twisty before ending a lifetime losing streak against Malachi in style by securing a dominant 3-0 victory against the #1 player in New York. While he would fall short of Grand Finals at Blacklisted after being double-eliminated by The Doctor, dvd would get another chance at the NorCal titan at his next major appearance. At The Project M Theatre, he defeated Blue in pools and Fearless in top 16 before facing The Doctor, the event’s #1 seed, to qualify for losers side top 8. Looking to avoid the results of the Sheik-Mario matchup at Blacklisted 6, dvd broke out the Toon Link and went to work chipping away at The Doctor with nimbly placed projectiles and potent kill confirms to earn a 3-1 win. After going down 0-2 to Rongunshu in his next set, dvd would once again switch from Sheik to Toon Link to make a reverse 3-0 comeback and earn a 5th place finish at the stacked invitational. After years of grappling with Toon Link’s tough matchups, dvd seems virtually unstoppable as a dual main, and we hope to see even more of him at majors in the rest of 2022.
Photo Credit: Joey
Now going by Jonny Sosa, the PM Titan returns to the highest levels of the game without missing a beat after a nearly three-year hiatus. Maintaining positive records this season over competitors like Stango, Malachi, dvd, Blue, Boringman and many more, Sosa sits as one of the many contenders seeking to break into the S+ tier. Since his long-awaited return to the competitive scene, Sosa has made top three at every event he has attended, including Shipwrecked, Jailbreak, and The Project M Theatre. A win at a major tournament has eluded him though, with techboy, Thunderz, The Doctor, Kycse, and Nogh all having played a role in keeping him from taking the gold this season; however, this should not be seen as Sosa falling behind, but rather the field getting ever more competitive. We love to see Jonny Sosa succeed and know that while he’ll be 50-50-ing us in bracket, he has 100% of our hearts.
Photo Credit: ExHale
It is difficult enough to pilot just one character within the upper regions of the ever-shifting P+ metagame. Nogh does barrel rolls with three. Calling on the powers of his Ivysaur, Donkey Kong, and ROB as he sees fit, the Floridian has whipped, stomped, and burned many of the game’s finest during this ranking period. His Undertow run to 4th place featured wins over Shiny Zubat, Chevy and Twisty, and a pair of sets split evenly between himself and Lunchables. Nogh's torrential surge crashed into Shipwrecked at full force, where his only true roadblock was Kycse, and he took out Blue, ilovebagelz, and former PMRank #1 Jonny Sosa as he surged to a 2nd place finish. His exploits earned him a seat at The Project M Theatre, where he earned his most notable victory against the prodigious techboy. Nogh also claimed victories over Flarp and Rongunshu, with respectable losses to the east coast elite of Malachi and Stango. You can never be quite sure what to expect from Nogh from moment to moment, but his unorthodox playstyle has led him to incredible heights this year.
Photo Credit: Joey
Having made a full time switch to P+ from Melee over the last couple of years, Stango’s ability to play multiple characters at the highest level has helped him carve out his spot as one of the game’s strongest competitors. Swapping between characters with almost a preternatural ease, Stango has won sets over some of the game’s best with Fox, Marth, ZSS, and Donkey Kong. The only thing holding him back from reaching the highest echelons of P+ seems to be relatively low attendance. We only got to see him at Blacklisted 6, where he fell short of qualifying for The Project M Theatre despite beating Rongunshu, Envy, and AssTAStic on his way to a 5th place finish. This didn’t hold him back from making his way past the box office through the campaign trail, and at Theatre he defeated dvd, Nogh, and Trucker Hat to finish 4th. Stango’s rise to power seemingly has no end in sight, and we look forward to seeing his progress as the year goes on.
Photo Credit: Joey
From the young prodigy once referred to on commentary as “the future of smash” to one of the best players in the world, techboy’s rise was as meteoric as it was dominant. The Michigan Ice Climbers player continues to revolutionize the character at every event he attends. After shaking off a bit of rust at Undertow, where he placed 13th after losses to Blue and Comb, he has looked absolutely unstoppable. He took Blacklisted 6 from winners after defeating Cory and Malachi, winning his runback against Blue, and double-eliminating The Doctor to win his first ever major - and that was only the warm-up. A few months later, techboy would go on an absolute rampage at The Project M Theatre, dropping only a single game in the final bracket as he took sets against The Doctor, Jonny Sosa, and two from ThundeRzReiGN to claim first place at the most stacked invitational in Project+ history. Not only is techboy one of the best P+ players in the world right now, he has come to define the game’s meta, pushing incredible players like Jonny Sosa and ThundeRz to counterpick secondaries against a player that no other Icies in the world could prepare them for. After two dominant back-to-back national victories, techboy is the player to beat for the rest of 2022.
Photo Credit: Joey
Ever since his monumental triumph at Undertow 2021, The Doctor and his rock-solid Mario have been the face of high-level Project+ over the past year. After persevering through a lineup of Bongo, Twisty, Yono, and Boringman, his tournament run culminated in an emotional victory over longtime titan Lunchables and celebration from competitors and crowd members alike. Two months later, The Doctor made a rare East Coast appearance at Blacklisted 6, taking down Stango and dvd but meeting his match in techboy. Mere days later, his momentum returned at Jailbreak as he fought through Sneez, Blue, and Jonny Sosa twice in heated game 5 sets, seizing a win over a titan that had denied him his first national top 8 performance over 4 years prior at Low Tier City 5, and whom he had never beaten. It took The Project M Theatre, the most skill-dense invitational in P+ history, to bring about what can technically be considered The Doctor’s low point this season. While losses to dvd and techboy stopped him at 9th, he still defeated Trucker Hat, Stango and Kycse on the way there. Most recently, Exodus 2022 saw The Doctor double eliminate Sneez but receive similar treatment from NorCal rival Boringman. Regardless, The Doctor’s presence at any event he attends continues to make people question whether anyone else can win. The Mario master boasts an incredible defensive prowess, a punish game that looks like a solved puzzle, and an earnest competitive drive that has pushed him to the peak of this game we cherish.
Photo Credit: Joey
That concludes the PMRank 2021-22 Mid-Season Contenders List! Congratulations to all of the players recognized for their achievements, and we look forward to celebrating the community once again with PMRank 2022.