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

(Once again the ridiculously short turnaround between majors has worked against me, as this article was supposed to be published before the start of UGC. The results below only cover up to the end of November.)

The most magical time of the year is finally upon us. In a few short weeks, smashers around the world will wake up hoping that they’ve been good enough for Tafo and his elves to give them what they really want for christmas: a place in the MIOM top 100. Tournament melee has evolved so much in the last 12 months that dozens of great players are bound to lose ground compared to last year: the “skill floor” of the top 100 has increased drastically, and new-school players with a fresh approach to the game have all but eroded the gap betweem themselves and the old guard. Since the beginning of this project I’ve tried to emphasise the differences between it and SSBMRank. I don’t expect SSBMRank to closely match the below, nor do I think it should (sorry Laudandus). But I still think there’s value in a data-based alternative, and I look forward to analysing the differences between the two!

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 and just another perspective on the metagame – not an attempt and an authoritative, objective ranking. A couple of things to note on this list: Hax, aMSa, and KirbyKaze would likely be scored high enough to make the top 30, but they are excluded due to lack of data. In addition, a few results have been removed due to sandbagging (mainly Leffen).

Rank (Previous) Player Score Deviation
1 (1) Armada (Peach, Fox) 2464 52
2 (2) Hungrybox (Jigglypuff) 2396 48
3 (3) Mang0 (Fox, Falco, Marth) 2360 49
4 (4) Mew2King (Sheik, Marth) 2281 47
5 (5) Leffen (Fox) 2236 71
6 (7) Plup (Sheik, Samus) 2181 58
7 (9) Westballz (Falco) 2142 45
8 (6) SFAT (Fox) 2136 49
9 (8) Swedish Delight (Sheik) 2129 65
10 (10) Wizzrobe (C. Falcon) 2126 53
11 (11) PewPewU (Marth) 2114 54
12 (12) Shroomed (Sheik) 2109 57
13 (15) Axe (Pikachu, Falco) 2105 52
14 (14) Ice (Fox) 2090 55
15 (17) Duck (Samus) 2067 55
16 (13) ChuDat (Ice Climbers) 2060 72
17 (16) Laudandus (Sheik) 2042 74
18 (22) Nintendude (Ice Climbers) 2041 59
19 (21) Lucky (Fox) 2032 55
20 (30) Professor Pro (Fox) 2026.53 60
21 (20) Colbol (Fox, Marth) 2026.52 71
22 (19) Silent Wolf (Fox) 2024 67
23 (23) The Moon (Marth) 2022 55
24 (24) S2J (C. Falcon) 2020 54
25 (25) MacD (Peach) 1989 61
26 (18) Druggedfox (Fox) 1986 67
27 (32) Wobbles (Ice Climbers) 1984 63
28 (28) Zhu (Falco) 1981 67
29 (26) n0ne (C. Falcon, Ganondorf) 1980 60
30 (29) dizzkidboogie (Ice Climbers) 1961 64

The shockwaves from Big House 6 have died down a little, with the top 10 returning more or less to its familiar shape. Plup’s strong showing at Summit 3 and Westballz’s dominant run at Rewired help them reclaim the #6 and #7 spot, while SFAT’s own Summit performance cost him a couple of places. Axe’s win over Leffen has done a lot to reverse his downward momentum, but a double elimination at the hands of Westballz stopped him retaking his top 10 spot. The rest of the top players remained fairly static in November, the only real surprise being Leffen’s emphatic 3-0 win over Mang0 at Dreamhack Winter. Leffen’s 2-0 record against Mang0 this year is not exactly a large data set, but since Mang0 is the only person with a winning record over Armada this year, Leffen does add an interesting alternative angle to the top player matchup chart.

Over the last 6 months, I would argue a clear “second tier” of top players has emerged and separated itself from the other players who are traditionally considered top 30. This tier includes Wizzrobe, Swedish, PewPewU, Shroomed, Duck, and Ice, who have all (for the most part) had consistently strong performances since Evo. It’s hard to say how much can be read into this trend, but it is interesting to note that it is players like Lucky, S2J and MacD who have been displaced from this tier – i.e., players from the hyperaggressive SoCal school. As the melee metagame has gotten more sophisticated over time, it seems that a smart neutral game and methodical punishes have been become more important compared to the blistering speed that dominated the last era.

The lower third of the list remains volatile as ever. This month sees a huge leap from Professor Pro, who has been travelling and competing like a man possessed. The most obvious source for the boost is his nail-biting win over Ice at Dreamhack Winter, but it may also be caused by the greater number of European majors in general. For most North American players the last few months have been relatively quiet, and the last time many of them showed up in force was Big House 6, which was disastrous for most people’s ratings. Compare this with Prof: he did suffer a minor upset from KJH at Big House, but being eliminated by Plup in the first round of top 32 did very little to impact his score. And since then, he’s had “extra majors” in the form of Eclipse 2 (where he beat the highly-rated Trif), Dreamhack Winter (where he beat Ice) and even Kings of the North 5, where he took first place over Drephan and Prince Abu. Having more and more international competition is slowly removing this issue, but Europe’s isolation from the US scene does mean that most of their ratings are slightly inflated.

Wobbles, like Prof, benefits in a wonky sort of way from Plup’s loss at Big House: his early elimination at the hands of M2K and Plup meant that he was not upset by anybody. n0ne meanwhile has lost some ground after defeats and the hands of Chillindude and Prince Abu. Unfortunately for him, his dominant win over Druggedfox at Super Famicom was not included in the data set, but hopefully it is some indication of a return to form going forwards.

The small showing of Americans means that Dreamhack Winter was not quite the international showdown I was hoping it would be (Don’t Park on the Grass might still fulfil that role). There were certainly some interesting results in the games we did see, with MacD losing to top Spaniards Overtriforce and Trif, but the majority of the action came from the gods in attendance (and Leffen). Specifically, Leffen proved that Summit 3 was not his peak performance by taking out Wizzrobe and Mang0, and Armada and Hungrybox demonstrated that nothing will keep them from their respective #1 and #2 placings at the end of the year. It’s a strange position to be in that most people have already given 2016 to Armada, but he will be playing his biggest rival twice more before christmas. Regardless of whether these results come too late to influence SSBMRank, the prestige is very much still there to play for. In particular, if we were to see Mang0 or Leffen take down Armada, we would once again be going into 2017 as a completely open book.