With over a year since their last tier list, the Project M Backroom (PMBR) has been hard at work to finalize and release their third revision of the official Project M tier list. With one of the most unpredictable years in Project M’s competitive life, the meta is reaching a point in which it’s no longer constantly changing. While there are still plenty of sleeper characters and techniques that could make waves in the future, as of right now, the meta is the at its most developed state, with players and characters making clear rises to the top.
The PMBR, which added many new members earlier this year, is comprised of 22 members. These members were all carefully chosen from applications in order to gain as much character and region diversity as possible. Many members are prominent members within the Project M community, whether it be as players or as content creators. The PMBR consists of:
Strong Bad (not present for the creation of the tier list)
The PMBR determined the tier list over months of discussion, using a method that involved averaging out each member’s character placements and editing the list further afterward. For more detail on this process, we have Nick Boiko to comment on the subject:
“The Project M Back Room is composed of 22 members. Of those, 21 participated in the tier list project. Strong Bad opted out of participating due to being preoccupied with other work related engagements.
The process for creating the tier list began with each backroom member creating a list based on a specific prompt. While the prompt focused more on results than theoretical potential, panelists were allowed to be flexible when they felt strongly about a certain character’s position. A great example of this is Falco. While Falco is very rarely in the spotlight, many panelists felt his theoretical strengths couldn’t be ignored, and they placed him much higher than his results could indicate.
It was stressed to the panelists that this list is not an attempt at a “final perfect tier list.” Rather, it was to be presented as an earmark of Project M’s current metagame, with reasonable adjustments made for theory and expectations. Another example of this is Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong is very clearly dominate with outstanding performances by Thunderz Reign, however, most of the panelists agreed that Donkey Kong has fewer strengths and more exploitable weaknesses than other high tier characters, and these weaknesses will be pushed further as the meta progresses.
After the panelists created their lists, a final average list was created. Tier separations were generally very obvious, with notable gaps between characters dividing tiers. Once this list was created, the characters with the greatest standard deviation were targeted as starting points for discussion. Discussions continued down the list until it was generally agreed upon that the list should be changed no further.”
Like Boiko mentioned, the list is not a “final” tier list. This list only represents the current meta, and will likely see many changes with next year’s list. Without further adieu, here is the offical Project M Backroom’s PM 3.6 tier list:
photo credit: PMBR
S Tier: Meta Knight, Wolf
A Tier: Mewtwo, Diddy Kong, Wario, Mr. Game & Watch, Sheik
A- Tier: Fox, Captain Falcon, Sonic, Donkey Kong, Snake, Zero Suit Samus, Peach, Lucas, Ice Climbers
B Tier: Marth, Lucario, Ness, Mario, Toon Link, Falco, Pikachu, Charizard
C Tier: Ike, Luigi, Samus, Ivysaur, Roy, Link, Squirtle, ROB
D Tier: Yoshi, King Dedede, Pit, Jigglypuff, Ganondorf, Zelda, Olimar
D- Tier: Kirby, Bowser
For those who have kept up with the Project M meta and competitive scene in the past few months, it’s clear how this list was affected by it. Some notable examples include DK, who was thought to be a lower mid tier character a year ago, and Fox, who many considered to be the best character in PM in every update of the game. With many controversial placings, several of the PMBR members have come forward to shed some light on the decisions made.
Sabre on the S-Tier:
“The decision to have an S-Tier was a hotly contested decision among panelists, with many arguing that Meta Knight and Wolf aren’t notably stronger than the characters immediately below them on the tier list. The decision to place them in their own tier was largely due to the fact that while there were a large number of characters proposed as the third best in the game, these two were unambiguously listed as the best. While Wolf’s peaks have been extremely high, featuring wins at nationals including Smash and Splash 3 and Evo 2017, Meta Knight’s more consistent placements and numerous top players such as Boringman, Emukiller, Yung Quaff, and Tealz led the panelists to place Meta Knight over Wolf as the best character in the current PM meta.”
Sabre on Falco:
“Falco has dropped six spots from the previous tier list, in large part due to a lack of results over the last year. The Melee veteran has mostly lacked top level representation in 2017, with Melee players like Westballz not entering PM majors. And while Silver has been the character’s primary top player, he recently decided to place Falco on the back-burner while he focuses on other characters. Falco’s oppressive neutral and strong combo game are offset by an exploitable short-distance recovery and a vulnerability to being comboed heavily due to his status as a fast-faller, both attributes cited by panelists in their decision to lower Falco on this edition of the tier list. In addition, many panelists argued that Falco’s strengths weren’t carried over as clearly from Melee to PM as his weaknesses were, reducing the overall theoretical strength of the character.”
Sabre on DK:
“Over the course of two tier lists, Donkey Kong has gone from being considered bottom five in the game to just outside of top ten, and this year his placement saw the largest boost of any character. The character’s brutal punish game has been at the forefront of the PM meta this year as ThundeRzReiGN has taken national after national, and while his placement is lowered by the fact that no other DK player has come close to replicating that degree of success, the emergence of players such as King Koney indicates that Donkey Kong might not be done rising through the tier list.”
Sabre on Mewtwo:
“Returning to a position on the tier list he hasn’t held since the days of 3.02, Mewtwo’s meta has evolved immensely over the last year, and with them has his results. Despite Frozen’s retirement from the game in late 2016, he still placed 5th at both Cashed Out and Smashadelphia this year, and Fuzz’s 3rd place finish at the Bigger Balc, followed by 5th at Low Tier City 5, blew the floodgates wide open for speculation on the character’s potential. With access to a strong combo game, a kill throw, and one of the best recoveries in the game, Mewtwo’s theoretical strengths more than match his results, perhaps Mewtwo’s true zenith has yet to be unlocked.”
FlashingFire on Fox:
“Fox was a rather controversial subject this time around. Panelists rated him as high as 3rd and as low as 18th during initial voting, and there are valid points on both ends of the spectrum. On one hand, Fox has just about everything you’d want in a character - high mobility, fast moves with low cooldown, lots of recovery mixups and ledge options, a non-committal projectile, good out-of-shield options, neutral tools that confirm into KO moves, a Shine, the list goes on and on. On the other hand, Fox representation has dropped off somewhat in recent months, and those who do still play the character haven’t managed to claim the results that he should be capable of achieving on paper. A notable exception can be found in Lucky’s Bigger Balc performance, where he defeated HF Neon, iLoveBagelz, Strong Bad and iPunchKidsz to reach 13th at the 3rd-largest Project M event of all time. Lucky also placed 7th at Shuffle: Battle of the Midwest, but outside of that it’s difficult to find any strong national results from Fox mains. At Low Tier City 4, Bobby Frizz and BaconPancakes (who was then still largely a Fox player) both placed 9th, but that was in 2016, before the last PM tier list came out. Furthermore, it is a sobering truth that Fox is much easier to combo to death off of one mistake than most characters, and in a game with as many matchups as Project M has, it can be difficult to maintain the consistency required to avoid that fate. In the end, Fox has dropped five spots to a still-respectable 8th place, and he awaits a player who can demonstrate how to wield his tools to the fullest in today’s metagame.”
FlashingFire on Sonic:
“Sonic, more than almost any other character, continues to see significant development in his character-specific techniques and punish game. His ten-spot rise on this iteration of the tier list has been driven by a potent combination of practice and theory. Sonic has robust representation from players such as Aion, Gooley, GabPR, and JFyst, the last of whom made 9th at Supernova 2 and took ThundeRz to a nail-biting game 5 at The Bigger Balc. Furthermore, the future looks bright for the blue blur, as Shockbound and other tech fiends spread awareness of techniques like the RASCAL that add truly scary combo potential to a character that already boasts unparalleled speed, consistent throw combos, and lethal edgeguarding tools.”
Pooch on Ice Climbers:
“With the arrival of Techboy on the national scene, accompanying the already established Phresh, the Ice Climbers have ascended an incredible 12 spots since the previous tier list. With an impressively potent punish game, rivaling that of their Brawl iteration, the Climbers have shown themselves to be more than capable of holding their own, even in match ups often considered to be disparaging. Both Techboy and Phresh had impressive runs at Smash N Splash 3 and Supernova 2, the former having them share the stage in top 8, with Phresh coming out on top in the ditto in loser’s quarters for a 4th place finish overall. Techboy returned the favor to score a top 8 spot in loser’s at Supernova, though, finishing out at 7th at that event after just falling short in an incredibly grueling five game set against DVD. These two champions have demonstrated the potential of the Ice Climbers in a national bracket, and they don’t show any signs of slowing down. With such a brutal punish game, and a neutral game that is getting sharper and more polished as their players push the character’s meta, it wouldn’t be shocking to see more major top 8 brackets hosting this slippery duo.”
Sabre on Charizard:
“Charizard’s rise in this edition of the tier list should come as no surprise considering the appearance of Kycse and Zen in PMRank 2016 and the recent emergence of Dingo at Smashadelphia 2017 and Blacklisted 3. Kycse in particular has spearheaded the fiery lizard’s results, listing an impressive 4th place finish at Smashadelphia and 9th at Blacklisted 3, and defeating the likes of Darc, Emukiller, Jose V, Frozen, and Twisty in 2017. Charizard’s strong punish game both on and off the stage led panelists to believe that his strengths on paper matched up with his results.”
Yata! On ROB:
“ROB has experienced the greatest decline of any character of the cast, falling a massive 20 places from his previous 12th place, a placement which came on the heels of the performances of ROB mains in 3.6b rather than 3.6 full—DrinkingFood in particular earned a second place finish at Low Tier City 3. However, LTC3 was two years ago, and much of the panel came to the conclusion that ROB’s nerfs between versions as well as the expanding metagame surrounding the character have not been kind to him. With a limited neutral game predicated upon item spawning and an edgeguard-focused punish game in a world of consistent kill confirms, ROB strikes many as lackluster. Adding onto that, ROB mains have not succeeded in putting up results resembling a top 12 character in recent times, with the peak performance being that of Sneez at Olympus nearly a year ago. Whether the character can rise to his former glory is to be determined, but in the present metagame ROB is underwhelming."
This year, the Project M scene has had some of the largest tournaments in its history, and can one can say with confidence that PM has developed its own unique meta. With continued character diversity at every tournament, and brackets rampant with upsets, it's likely this tier list could change dramatically in the future. No matter what happens, it's clear that the PM community will continue to support the game through all of it, and we look forward to seeing what the future of the game looks like
What do you think about the list? What characters would you adjust, and what kind of changes do you expect to see in the future?
Major thanks to Boiko and Sabre for working with us to publish the list, and the rest of the PMBR for helping with the process.