by Caspar “Mobiusman”  van der Sman (Twitter: @moby_osman)

Everyone knows that July is Evo month. The vast majority of the new data in this ranking comes from Evo – 744 matches, to be exact, bringing the total for the 12-month period to a staggering 4,798. Everyone should also know by now who won, and as a result who is going to be ranked first in this article. Hungrybox’s victory was far from dominant, leaving open the possibility for any top player to win the next major, but it should be impossible to dispute at this point whose 2016 resumé is the most impressive. Just as Armada’s win last year cemented him into the #1 spot then, Hungrybox’s recent triumph has done the same for this year.

For any new readers, this is a ranking using scores generated by the Glicko chess algorithm, with a data set consisting of large tournaments from the past 12 months. I went into a bit of detail about Glicko and why it fits for Melee in my first article, which you can check here. However, I also explained that these results should be taken with a pinch of salt and considered as just another perspective on the metagame – not an attempt at an authoritative, objective ranking.

Rank (Previous) Player Score Deviation
1 (1) Hungrybox (Jigglypuff) 2382 47
2 (2) Armada (Peach, Fox) 2353 58
3 (3) Mang0 (Fox, Falco, Marth) 2316 45
4 (4) Leffen (Fox) 2288 71
5 (5) Mew2King (Sheik, Marth, Fox) 2182 48
6 (6) Plup (Sheik, Samus) 2152 55
7 (7) Westballz (Falco, Fox) 2108 48
8 (8) Shroomed (Sheik) 2075 53
9 (10) SFAT (Fox) 2061 46
10 (9) Axe (Pikachu, Falco) 2047 51
11 (16) Swedish Delight (Sheik) 2043.1 58
12 (14) Wizzrobe (C. Falcon) 2042.5 47
13 (11) Lucky (Fox) 2029 51
14 (19) Duck (Samus) 2015 54
15 (17) Colbol (Fox, Marth) 2012 59
16 (13) Druggedfox (Fox) 2005 58
17 (15) Ice (Fox) 2004 64
18 (22) S2J (C. Falcon) 1999 48
19 (26) n0ne (C. Falcon, Ganondorf) 1998 57
20 (18) Silent Wolf (Fox) 1991 67
21 (25) PewPewU (Marth) 1985.3 62
22 (24) Nintendude (Ice Climbers) 1984.6 58
23 (23) Wobbles (Ice Climbers) 1967 59
24 (21) MacD (Peach) 1965 61
25 (28) Laudandus (Sheik) 1933 66
26 (40) Zhu (Falco) 1930 66
27 (20) ChuDat (Ice Climbers) 1929 80
28 (32) MikeHaze (Fox) 1920 55
29 (27) Professor Pro (Fox) 1918 55
30 (34) Javi (Fox) 1912 76

Zhu bounds up the list in spectacular fashion after his Evo run, which included wins over Laudandus, Chu, and Lucky (all of which were 2-0). Zhu has been a fairly consistent performer, bubbling just under the top level, for a while now, but prior to July his best recent win was over MikeHaze at Emerald City 3. Evo proved he still has what it takes to compete in the modern era, with wins over three very different players who all looked like major threats going into the event. Ultimately losing only to Shroomed and Mang0, Zhu’s run is certainly my pick for the most impressive of the tournament.

The other significant jump this month is from n0ne, the player that everybody has been talking about since his victory over M2K at GOML. It might have been reasonable at the time to think that result was a fluke, but since GOML, n0ne has taken sets from Duck, KJH, MikeHaze, and S2J, with only one loss outside my top 20 (Laudandus). His absurdly hard Evo bracket meant that that tournament passed without any upsets, but that doesn’t mean he’s had a quiet July, taking first place at both SoCal Colosseum 2 and Smash Factor 5. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t hesitate to call n0ne the Falcon player to watch, but it just so happens that S2J and Wizzrobe are also enjoying more success with the character than ever before. When’s the new tier list coming out?

Speaking of underrated characters, MIOM’s newly signed Samus player Duck continues his inexorable march up the rankings. He started the month off by beating Colbol, against whom he had previously been 0-4 in 2016, and Druggedfox before being upset by The Moon at WTFox 2. At Evo he beat Westballz (again) and Chu before being eliminated by S2J in 9th place. This matchup in particular has proven problematic – Duck has picked up losses to all three of the above Falcon players in the last three months – but his overall consistency and reputation as a space animal slayer more than make up for it.

Chu takes a bit of tumble down the rankings despite a solid Evo performance, upsetting SFAT but losing to Duck and Zhu. The reason for this is that the data set last month included Chu’s top 8 runs at both Evo 2015 and CEO 2016, while this month the former rotates out. The competition between the top Icies remains extremely tight, with all three showing flashes of brilliance but seeming to hit a ceiling with what their character can achieve.

Evo was something of a reversal of the general trend of 2016 so far, in that more traditional top players like Westballz, S2J, and PewPewU – who had arguably been on the decline – outplaced their more fresh-faced counterparts like Wizzrobe and Swedish Delight. Despite this, there were several “up-and-comer” players who had good enough Julys to make gains on the leaderboard. Wizzrobe’s shock win over Hungrybox at WTFox 2 is already the stuff of legend, and in my opinion is likely to be one of the more memorable sets of the entire year. It’s a sign of just how high the expectations on Swedish have become that his deep run at Evo did not make headlines, with wins over S2J and PewPewU and losses only to top 10 players. MikeHaze meanwhile has recently added sets over Nintendude and HugS to his earlier win over Druggedfox. His steady improvement has already turned a few heads and is merely one good tournament away from causing a major upset.

There hasn’t been any movement at the top of the leaderboard, but looking at players’ relative scores still tells us a few interesting things. As expected, the gap between Hbox and Armada has grown while that between Armada and Mang0 has shrunk considerably. Another God-level placement from Plup sees him inch a few points closer to Mew2King, the two of them now seeming to occupy their own tier below the top 4 but above the rest of the competition. Many pundits predicted Westballz’s early loss to Duck at Evo, but an electrifying losers’ run with consecutive wins over SFAT, Axe, Nintendude and Swedish allowed him to retain his spot and dispel any doubts that he is anything other than a major threat for the second half of the year.

I’d like to make special mention of the player ranked 33rd on this month’s list – The Moon. His recent results are still being offset by some shaky placings from earlier in the year, but I fully expect him to come into focus in future months. Giving hope, along with PewPewU at Evo, to those viewers long starved of Marth mains, Moon has quietly been on an absolute tear in recent tournaments. He boasts wins in the last 3 months over Druggedfox, MacD, Colbol, Westballz, Duck, Bladewise, and Wobbles – and only has one loss in the same period to an unranked player (Gahtzu). There is a potential collision course for Moon and n0ne in the top 8 of Heir 3 later this month, and it will be exciting to see a clash between two players riding such strong momentum.

A lot of the pieces written recently about Hungrybox’s win at Evo have had an air of finality about them, but the reality is that this year’s Summer of Smash shows no signs of slowing down. Large events confirmed for August so far include Clutch City Clash (269 entrants), Heir 3 (475 entrants), Shine (680 and counting), and Super Smash Con (930). Hungrybox may wear the crown now, but he’s going to have to work to keep it.

P.S.: I will be going to Heir 3, so any European readers, say hi!