Photo Credit: Joey
We're right near the end of the list, so it's time to honor some of our community's finest competitors.
Welcome everyone to another year of PMRank! PMRank is a panel-based Power Ranking of the Top 50 Project+ players in North America. We're excited to put together another list of the best performers throughout the 30+ eligible events this year, covering Exodus 2023 through Honeypot 6. Initially, 76 players were qualified to be ranked based on their placings and attendance at major Project+ events throughout 2023. Panelists were tasked with reviewing this data and ranking each player in order, from #1 to #76. 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 to determine the placement of our PMRank Top 50.
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 full list of eligible events and eligibility requirements for PMRank 2023 can be found on our start.gg hub.
No stranger to the peak of performance in Project+ and continuing his perfect PMRank attendance (in the top 10 no less), Malachi returns once again to this year's iteration. Malachi saw a smaller tour of travel this year and stayed within his region to play more of hometown hero rather than the usual stretch of coast to coast dominance we have seen from Malachi. At the end of 2022, Malachi seemed to struggle with his character choice contributing to an uncharacteristic fall to 8th on PMrank 2022. Unsure if solo ZSS was the right path, Malachi began to experiment and utilize a new flame in Ganondorf for trouble matchups. After much refinement and work, Malachi showed that the combination of his lightning fast ZSS and absolute tank of a Ganondorf pocket is a powerful and wicked duo of characters to bring to the sticks. Starting his year off at Lake George Snowdown, Malachi unleashed the Ganon right out of the gate, powering through the likes of Wombat and WouldSmokeCraq, only to have his Great King of Evil be met by an old nemesis in the Great King of Charizards Kycse. Falling to his age-old adversary, Malachi continued his charge through losers with Ganon picking up a win on Flarp before being silenced by Phresh who was on his run to victory. Malachi next took a trip down town to protect his home turf at Cream of The Crop: June. Here, he showed that, despite a solo Ganondorf run in his last event, his ZSS was still ready to pounce and take the competition by storm at a moment's notice. Malachi and the galactic bounty hunter made quick work of Mr.Watch&Learn, Mar, WouldSmokeCraq, Drlobster, and seized a commanding bracket reset to take the event over Shiny Zubat. Finally, Malachi descended upon Massachuchetts for the Project M/+ staple event, Blacklisted 8. Malachi has attended all but the first Blacklisted, and he has not only placed purely in top 8 in those he entered singles at (sorry BL4) but has taken home victory at the second and fifth iterations. With such a tenured resume for the event going into the eighth entry, he was looking to secure gold for a third time to only add more shine to an already impressive display. Malachi began day one by dismantling his pools matches with ease without dropping a game, and he had an explosive doubles run with fellow NY native Boiko, showing that the New York titan was playing in peak form. After riding the wave of day one and pulling out a risky maneuver in the late night degen Domino's pizza power-up, Malachi emerged day two as a man poised to take the whole event, and he showed just that from game one of his top cut run. Malachi demonstrated his ability to swap between his characters effortlessly and masterfully use a blend of ZSS and Ganondorf to make quick work of Boiko and Flarp to enter top 8. In top 8, he was set back by the massive hurdle that was dvd, suffering a loss and falling to loser’s side. However, Malachi refused to stay down and endured a mountain of a gauntlet in Bongo, SipMastah, and a victorious runback against dvd, only to reach the summit to see a pair of Ice Climbers and their pilot bumping a familiar beat waiting for him. This time, however, we would not see a repeat of Lake George, and Malachi rose beyond Phresh and took the event in the Grand Finals reset. 2023 was an interesting year for the King of New York. After struggling in 2022, some questioned if Malachi was starting to fall behind in the current meta after making such a major jump from his historic Peach/Sheik duo to his now ZSS/Ganon combination, but any shades of those struggles and doubts seem to have been washed away as we saw Malachi make a return to his excellence and once again command and take gold with seemingly effortless ability. Maybe in 2024 we will see much more of what this tenured titan of the game has to show us.
Written By: Mr.Watch&Learn
The best Project+ player in the world in 2022, NorCal’s very own The Doctor had proved that he was the best Mario player to ever touch P+. Reaching the top was a goal he had always dreamed of as he rose the ranks year after year. This year was the first time that there was no more room for The Doctor to climb, but instead, he would have to fend himself off from hungry players below eager to prove themselves against the best of the best. In a spot where pressure and expectations are at their highest, it would be understandable for any competitor to bow out while on top. However, The Doctor did not shy away from the challenge, and he still showed up in full force to three major events in the 2023 season. Starting the year off at Exodus, there wasn’t any sign of a slowdown from his 2023 momentum as The Doctor swept the whole bracket while not dropping a game. Here, The Doctor easily defended the NorCal turf as he ran through top players Av, Dirtboy, and Stango twice. After raking the gold at Exodus, The Doctor traveled out-of-region for the only time in 2023 to the stacked Mile High Club. At the Colorado major, The Doctor continued his streak of not dropping a single game in his sets with swift 3-0’s versus top Ike metroid and an ironically fiery-hot Squirtle in Cloudburst. However, The Doctor’s lab coat-shaped armor began to fracture as top 8 started. In Winners Semis, the best Sheik in the world, dvd, claimed the first game off The Doctor this year. This showed that, despite a 3-1 victory, The Doctor was not invincible and there was only going to be more challenges to face as he continued his bracket. Waiting in Winners Finals was fellow top competitor and fierce opponent Rongunshu. Here, we witnessed one of 2023’s most entertaining sets in a tight game five with many strong adaptations and fierce plays made on both sides. Ultimately, The Doctor fell 2-3 to Rongunshu, setting him up against his NorCal co-competitor and another fellow top player SipMastah. The Doctor showed a resolute performance, making a reverse 3-0 comeback and earning his rematch with Rongunshu. In what some consider the set of the year, the two clashed again, going blow for blow in another tight game five set, but The Doctor was bested again by Rongunshu. The Doctor took his second place with grace, showing great character in praise of Rongunshu for taking the tournament. The Doctor then attended his last tournament of the year in NorCal again at the The Grand Line #2. The Doctor advanced to top 8 with swift 3-0’s over NorCal Knuckles I0N and NY/NJ’s top Falcon Bongo. In Winners Semis, a hungry and well-studied dvd claimed revenge for his Mile High Club defeat with his first victory with Sheik over The Doctor in a surprising 3-0. Undeterred by the loss, The Doctor fought strong through losers over Washington’s best, Pikmon, and again through his NorCal friend SipMastah. In Losers Finals, The Doctor met Rongunshu in a much anticipated rematch, but there was a new outcome - a 3-1 victory for The Doctor. Earning his runback against dvd, The Doctor gave it his all to defend his region, but the NorCal champion was defeated 3-0 again to the NY/NJ invader. After The Grand Line 2, The Doctor ended his year competitively to take some time to focus on other areas of his life. Despite a short tour in terms of major competition in 2023, The Doctor was still able to show us top-level gameplay and consistency, giving us some of the best sets in P+ history. With this in mind, there is no doubt that he has earned his #5 ranking for this year. If you’re looking for The Doctor these days, you can still find him searching for games in various West Coast Netplay Discord servers, where he has become a Diddy Kong and King Dedede menace. It’s great to see The Doctor still enjoying and playing the game in his time off from competition, and we are all grateful that we still had this year to witness PMRank 2022’s best in the world refuse to shy away from the challenge in the tournaments he did attend.
Written By: Suvir
Our constant reminder that the NA PMRank includes regions outside of the US, Rongunshu solidifies his place in the upper echelon of Project+ players taking the #4 spot, continuing his rise up the rankings. Flying down from Canada to start off his season at Mile High Club, Rongunshu cut through the stacked bracket of 113 entrants without dropping a single set to heavy hitters such as TRai, Fearless, Phresh, SipMastah, and most importantly The Doctor (who at this point had been undefeated since Blacklisted 7 in November of 2022) ...twice. After taking the gold at Mile High Club, the multi-main trekked from the mountain tops of Colorado and out to California to test his grit at The Grand Line #2. Once again, slashing through the top of the top, he added Darc and Sabre to his top player victories, but dvd put up a wall in Winners Finals and The Doctor won the runback to solidify Rongunshu’s third place at Grand Line. For his final event of the season, he made the trip out to Davenport, Iowa for the sixth installment of Honeypot. Here, Rongunshu swept through his pool including 3-0’s on Star and Spicy, and he continued that momentum into the next day. Within top 48, he shredded through Rise, Thalia, and Shadowhawke on his way to Winners Finals. Here, Rongunshu was knocked into lower bracket by renowned Ice Climbers main, techboy, and finished at a solid third place after a tense last stock, last hit, nail-biting game five set with SipMastah. With an impressive list of victories this season to reflect on, Rongunshu made sure to show us that no matter who or where he is playing, he is going to be amongst the best of the best.
Written By: [Fleabag]
Other PMRank 2023 Articles
Last Year's Rankings
- Che “Che” Woodson
- Brennan “FlashingFire” Connolly
- Paul “Motobug” Canavan
- Peter “Pikmon” Woodworth
Graphic Design and Character Renders:
- Paul "Motobug" Canavan
- Cosmetic Standardization Project (CSProject) & the Project+ Development Team
- rye "evil lesbian"
- Artemis "[Fleabag]" Groobert
- Timothy “ilikepizza107” W.
- Paul "Motobug" Canavan