10-1 is here! Tomorrow I’ll be doing a conclusion post with a few graphs courtesy of freeziebeats and a list of 101-175 on the contenders list, as well as the rest of the Hidden Bosses I didn’t show at the start of this series of articles.
10 – Dabuz
Dabuz’s game plan underwent a significant evolution this year, with him making the decision to regularly use Olimar as a secondary. It worked on multiple levels, as Olimar is an uncommon character outside of California, meaning he could very easily exploit a lack of match-up knowledge and integrate his patient style in with aggressive Pikmin damage tagging.
While Olimar failed to win him certain events like Super Smash Con 2016 or Umebura S.A.T., it gave him something to hold on at Aftershock 2016 and gave him a backup against several players he’s met in bracket during the year as an alternative in case he feels his opponent has “figured out” his Rosalina. We saw the switch work out for him against Captain Zack, Fatality, Kuro, Sigma, and other players during the year.
He got stuck between a rock and a hard place at ZeRo Saga, forced either to use Olimar against Tyrant in a state where Olimar is very common or contend with the Rosalina & Luma/Meta Knight matchup against one of the best Meta Knight players in the world.
He eventually got 9th, losing to MKLeo’s Cloud again like at Smash Factor 5, but this and KTAR XIX turned out to be his weakest placements since his 9th (infographic error) at Pound 2016. Those placements have denied him set wins that would but him higher, but he’s still one of the world’s most consistent players and extremely difficult to win against as an upset.
9 – VoiD
The world’s most technical Sheik takes 9th, carrying a myriad of excellent placements across 2016. With an emphasis on set wins for the year, his high placements but notable lack of many 1st place finishes at big events do hold him back from being higher, but his last outing at ZeRo Saga was still his most impressive yet.
He overcame his Nairo demon and unexpectedly took a set off of Sheik-killer MKLeo and placed third overall, his highest supermajor placement after a year of having difficulty breaking past 4th.
Despite a lopsided record against certain top players, VoiD still managed to take spread out wins across the world. Ranai at EVO, MKLeo at ZeRo Saga, Ally at Pound, Mr. R at KTAR Saga, and plenty of top-level U.S.A. players, including a near-even set history with fellow SoCal legend Larry Lurr.
8 – Salem
Ranking remarkably high due to his absolutely insane third and fourth quarter 2016 runs, the Brawl legend exploded onto the scene at Collision XIV, double eliminating both ZeRo and Tweek and 3-0ing Nairo. This was his best accomplishment in Smash 4 up to the point and arguably the biggest accomplish for Bayonetta as a character.
The biggest issue here is the discrepancy between his major placements and his regional performances that result in a ranking that’s standout compared to other players on this particular list of 10. However…
Salem spent a lot of time travelling late in the year to various events and managed to be totally successful in every regional venture except Rebirth IX. The key thing to note is that while a lot of regional wins aren’t especially significant due to their lower skill pool, Salem bucked the standard by repeatedly double eliminating numerous top level players.
Over a short period of time, Salem managed to take sets off of ZeRo, Ally, MKLeo, Larry Lurr, Tweek, Zinoto, Mew2King, Abadango, Kameme, Mr. E, and plenty more, with him carrying multiple wins over many of these players, sometimes through double elimination.
As a result, Salem manages to slip into 8th ahead of more consistent players due to his especially high peak play during the late portion of the year.
7 – Mr. R
Europe’s titan, Mr. R, displayed near absolute dominance over Europe during 2016, only dropping Smashdown World to two non-European players (Komorikiri and Kameme) and still placing 5th at that. This factor helps push him forward quite a bit, but a defining characteristic of Mr. R is his consistency.
Despite two remarkably similar incidents at EVO and ZeRo Saga where he placed 17th, Mr. R has placed in top 8 at nearly every major he’s attended this year and has no poor regional results, generally either placing 1st or 2nd at non-major events.
One problem for Mr. R this year has been his two demons – Kameme and MKLeo – being a constant thorn in his side throughout the year, often denying him stateside wins. He has a 1-3 record against Kameme and an even worse 2-14 record against MKLeo, with Leo very often putting Mr. R into second at tournies.
Mr. R’s only wins against Leo include a quickly rebuked win at Poplar Creek Bowl Weekly 76 and his 3-2 victory over MKLeo at Smash Factor Prelude. Otherwise, his record is lopsided in MKLeo’s favor.
Despite often running into and losing versus both of these players, Mr. R’s national record remains very impressive with his apex being a solid 3rd at Super Smash Con 2016.
6 – Abadango
While not PR’d particularly high in Japan due to his repeatedly lackluster placings there, Abadango’s international placements and his sheer consistency at major events make him an unquestionable top 10 player, only suffering from a major weakness to Diddy Kong players.
First legitimizing Mewtwo as a high tier by winning Pound 2016, Abadango went on to do well during the rest of the post-patch 2016 cycle by placing well at every major besides two disappointments at his own Saga and Umebura S.A.T.
Despite his often middling performances in his home region, Abadango still has a few accomplishments to his name. He won TUS Tournament 6 over KEN and Kameme and recently won the Hirosuma Tokaigi Qualifier, putting him first in line at NicoNico Tokaigi 2017 by defeating Kome.
Outside of his consistent national placements, he also has a myriad of regional and super-regional wins. He took Clutch City Clash and PPT Summer back-to-back over their region’s best. While only getting second, he also took out Australia’s best, Umeki, 9B, and reset the bracket vs. Mr. R to take 2nd at BAM 8.
With his last two U.S.A. exchanges ending in narrow losses to Komorikiri and ZeRo, Abadango is poised for some great performances in 2017 – with many believing he’s a hair away from finally taking a set off of ZeRo after UGC.
5 – Larry Lurr
*Edit: Larry Lurr was sponsored by Misfits as I was writing this. We’ll get a graphic update later today!
While Larry is well known for his aggressive and sometimes foolhardy style of Fox play, one thing that isn’t brought up a lot is his consistency. While much of it is persistent 7ths, he’s still managed top 8 in every major he’s attended except the TBH6 after upset losses to Ri-ma and Tweek.
As a result of this and consistently good regional performances that include him taking Mexico Saga over ZeRo, Larry Lurr quite narrowly breaks into the top 5 of 2016. He’s won numerous exchanges with ZeRo, took Ally and Nairo out in an impressive losers run at Abadango Saga that started at the beginning of losers bracket top 48, 3-0’d MKLeo at the Rio de Janeiro eGames Showcase, and retains a fairly even record with VoiD.
One of his best runs of the year was the one to send things off for 2016. At ZeRo Saga, he beat Ryo, Fatality, Abadango, Ally, and VoiD to enter Grand Finals winners side before ultimately taking second after losing two sets to MKLeo. Despite not winning, he capped off a convincingly good year with an equally convincing finish, earning him the 5th spot with such a strong set history record.
4 – Nairo
Rather appropriately, the top 4 of 2016 all finished 1st at a Supermajor. Nairo had a rough start to the post-patch cycle with a shocking 49th placement at Pound 2016, losing to Saj and Mr. II. While he retained good results by winning numerous super-regional events, his struggles against ZeRo and weak results at CEO and EVO hold his score back a bit.
Despite those missteps, Nairo is otherwise a remarkably consistent player, notably placing within the top 4-6 of most majors he’s attended. A successful supermajor run at Super Smash Con that had him beating Taiheita, 6WX, VoiD, Mr. R, and Dabuz earned him a huge lot of 249 points.
With that and a remarkably consistent record during mid-late 2016, the explosive fan-favorite Nairo earns his 4th place spot on the list.
3 – MKLeo
With a legacy that began in 2015 at Smash Factor 4 where he dominated Mr. R, MKLeo is one of the biggest success stories in Smash 4’s history. Hype and doubt surrounded his first out-of-country performance at Get On My Level 2016, where he sought to defeat both ZeRo and Ally.
He ended up impressing many people, defeating Nairo 3-1 and taking ZeRo to game 5 in losers quarters. This was his first opportunity to be in the presence of numerous good U.S. players, and he made the most of it despite losing to players he had hoped to beat.
Smash Factor 5 briefly reignited his international hype when he beat Dabuz and took the tournament through losers bracket by defeating Mr. R twice, making more wonder where exactly he placed in the upper echelon of players. There was little doubt he was good, but the question became HOW good.
Losses to Larry and Ally at the Rio de Janeiro eGames Showcase led many to believe he either had player specific problems or simply was one of many players in a top 20-ish blob that frequently exchanged sets with one another.
Despite his second loss to Ally, both he and Javi managed to prove themselves at Canada Cup 2016. Initially losing to Ally in winners final, Leo brought it back and put the two at 2-3 in sets, Ally’s favor. Leo had finally taken sets from Ally, leaving little doubt that he had the potential to be at the very top.
In late 2016, MKLeo obtained his visa – a key step to his high placement on this list. Following his visa obtainment, he got 3rd at KTAR XIX, dominated weeklies and regionals, managed to get a winning set record on Ally, and slowly prepared himself for a historic run at one of the most stacked Supermajors in the game’s history.
Despite suffering a slight misstep at UGC where he fell to Marss and reaffirmed a seeming weakness to Ryu by losing to DarkShad, he went on to make any doubters forget with his run at 2GGT: ZeRo Saga.
While Leo wasn’t a stranger to beating top talent at this point, carrying a stunning 14-2 record on Mr. R and finally overtaking Ally in sets, people awaited a much-anticipated face off between him and Komorikiri. Komo, generally considered to be the best Cloud, was handed a swift 3-0 loss while Leo moved on to fight VoiD.
With a massive amount of Sheik training through his cousin Javi, MKLeo’s record against Mr. R – and Sheik as a whole – made victory seem inevitable. Yet he lost 2-3, sending him into a shark pit of a loser’s bracket.
Despite the odds and despite the challenge it presented, MKLeo proceeded to go on what will likely be known as the single best losers run of 2016 – defeating Dabuz, ANTi, Ally, ZeRo, VoiD, and Larry Lurr twice in order to take the tournament.
This massive run solidified his position as the third best player of 2016.
2 – Ally
Canada’s absolute best player has enjoyed an incredibly successful year. Now sponsored by C9, Ally began his the post-patch cycle by double eliminating Mr. R at Midwest Mayhem and later taking second at Pound 2016.
His breakout victory for the year, however, ended up being his win at GOML after weeks of solid regional placements. He took the event over MKLeo, Larry Lurr, and ZeRo, starting what would become a dominant set record over ZeRo.
After his win at GOML, all eyes were on what his next move would be. Historically, he suffers a lot versus both Sonic and Nairo – two factors that brought him down at Momocon 2016 with losses to Wrath and Nairo. However, he still placed a strong 2nd, and followed it up two weeks later with two convincing set wins against ZeRo at Smash n’ Splash 2.
Ally was now considered a serious national threat and potential favorite to take whatever event he entered. Of course, as fate would have it, Ally would lose to Blue Beast and Zenyou to ultimately take 49th at CEO, a stunningly low placement for Canada’s best.
This didn’t seem to really deter him though, since he proceeded to win the biggest tournament of the year a month later in very convincing fashion, with his Top 32 Qualifer set against NAKAT being the closest he came to falling into losers bracket at the event.
With wins over Dyr, Dabuz, Abadango, and Kameme in Top 32, Ally had solidified himself as a potential candidate for #1.
He never seemed to match that success for the rest of the year, but never to the extent that you would say that he bombed out at an event like he did at CEO. The closest was TBH6, but he self DQ’d due to illness, meaning we’ll never know how a potential loser’s run from Ally might’ve gone at the event.
Despite some difficulty in taking sets off of the uppermost echelon of players and even finally losing to both MKLeo and ZeRo later in the year, Ally’s only significant misstep was his 9th at UGC. By ZeRo Saga, he reignited the belief that he was cream of the crop by defeating ZeRo 3-2 and going on to get 5th at the event.
With a myriad of strong major placements, a win at EVO, an excellent record on ZeRo, and dominance over the Midwest, Ally takes the title of 2016’s second best player.
1 – ZeRo
“Who’s the best?”
Despite going out of commission until GOML due to a finger injury, ZeRo retains the title of best in the world.
While his return featured his first tournament drop since MLG World Finals 2015, ZeRo still managed to impress people with a fantastic losers bracket run. Beating Mr. R, MKLeo, Nairo, and Larry Lurr, ZeRo went on to lose to Ally – a loss that would spark a rivalry between the two players.
ZeRo, having last went to game 5 with Larry Lurr at 2GGT: EE Saga, also proceeded to ultimately lose a 15 game exchange at 2GGT: Mexico Saga. Following this, he lost to ANTi twice at WNF, and then dropped Smash n’ Splash 2 to Ally.
While he later won Low Tier City 4, there was an increasing amount of wonder as to if the game even had a solid #1 anymore. ZeRo remained the most consistent, but the idea of a tournament having a clear favorite going in seemed to be on its way out.
This was no more apparent than CEO 2016, where upsets shook the brackets. ZeRo was among CEO’s many victims, losing 0-2 to Prince Ramen and later getting 9th after failing to defeat Larry Lurr.
After Mr. R and Dabuz managed to get their hard-earned first wins on ZeRo at WTFox 2, nobody really knew what would go down at EVO. It was mere weeks away, and ZeRo only had one tournament to his name since his return.
When the day finally came, ZeRo made it through most of pools before ultimately suffering another significant loss to Mr. E at the Top 32 Qualifier. After narrowly defeating Salem to make Top 32, ZeRo was left with the prospect of a terrifying losers bracket.
Despite ultimately losing to Kameme, ZeRo ran through losers bracket on Day 2 without dropping a single game until his fateful loss to Kameme. He beat Hyuga, Komorikiri, KEN, Larry Lurr, Abadango, and VoiD – all in the same bracket, all 2-0. This was likely his best losers bracket run of the year, surpassing his outing at GOML.
Despite dropping a second Supermajor, ZeRo’s losers bracket run still proved he was a threat to behold. The question of who the #1 was continued to rage on, though. Summer of Smash was going hot, and there was still time for ZeRo to put himself back on top or for Ally or another player to keep proving themselves.
Perhaps ZeRo’s career low at Smash Con lit some sort of spark. 13th was the lowest ZeRo had placed in over four years between Smash 4 and Brawl, and was at the hands of Ally – a player who had continued to give him trouble throughout 2016.
After this loss, ZeRo proceeded to turn things up to high gear at Endgame, managing to come back from a loss to Mew2King by defeating Ally and finishing the tournament with a rare and decisive JV3 against Mew2King.
After this and a seemingly effortless win at Shine 2016, ZeRo’s last misstep of the year until ZeRo Saga came in the form of a double elimination from Salem. After this, he took every tournament he entered for a period of nearly 3 months. By the time he 6-0’d ANTi at The Big House 6 after losing to him in winners final, ZeRo looked completely unstoppable.
He continued to have some breaks in his armor, being taken to game 5 by MKLeo again at KTAR XIX, and Abadango at UGC – but he was clearly poised to break the 2GGT curse and take his own saga, fittingly one of the most skill-pool heavy tournaments of the year.
This perception came on even stronger when he dominated ZeRo Runback, only being taken to game 5 by Salem and Mr. E. He was set to face either Ally or Dabuz in winners quarters, and with Dabuz being sent to losers by Tyrant, the stage was set for the two rivals to face off one last time for 2016.
In an extremely close set that paralleled their first exchange of the year at GOML, Ally closed the set out 3-2 against ZeRo despite having a rough late 2016 in performances. This failed to break ZeRo’s confidence, as he ran right through Locus, Komorikiri, and Nairo – but the 2GGT’s curse was immortalized by a swift 3-0 by MKLeo in losers semis.
Despite going out 4th at the event and having a rough summer, ZeRo’s sheer dominance in most of late 2016 and his losers runs at GOML and EVO both ensured that his two truly big missteps at CEO and SSC weren’t enough to keep him from being 2016’s best player.