BLUR RANK 2021: Introduction & “Methodology”
In late 2021, the Crimson Blur announced that he wanted to make an international 2021 ranking for Melee. While similar to the PreGR, Blur’s aim for this ranking was to make a flat Top 30 in the world for last year’s online and offline results, rather than an offline, region-specific tier list of players. The question prompt given to everyone involved was simple, “Which 30 Melee players have had the most impressive tournament results during the 2021 calendar year?”
I'd mentioned it before, but now that SWT is over, I'm interested in making a baby rankings for 2021 (top 30-50 or so). Obviously won't be perfect, but something to get people talking and to update us from the 2019 list
Looking for ~10 or so panelists. Who's down? Should be fun
— The Crimson Blur (@OXY_Crimson) December 21, 2021
By the beginning of January, Blur had a team of 11 panelists. Each of them were given 71 players to rank, with a minimum of 30 players on each ballot. The final Top 30 list was an average of each player’s rank on a ballot. Any player who did not finish in any panelists’ Top 30 was given a neutral “45” score unless specified otherwise by a voter. For example, I ranked 35 players, so the five I had outside the Top 30 were given 31-35 scores. Here are the panelists:
Sadly, getting this finished was easier said than done. Most notably, everyone had their ballots finished fairly early, but Blur, the busy man that he is – though I’m not exactly sure with what – went AWOL. I asked him what happened and he told me he was struggling with blurbs. Thankfully, Jackzilla stepped up, and roughly a week ago, he messaged the group Discord to inform everyone that he was not going to let Blur Rank die.
The long story short: he got Blur in a voice call with me where he asked Blur for his gut thoughts on each player. We’ve used this conversation as the basis for each player’s blurbs, with special player cards made for each of the top five.
NOTE: These are roughly edited by me for readability and approved by Blur, since it is his project – but consider this functionally straight from the Blur himself. Take that as you may.
This is hard, hold up. What do I have to say about SluG? It feels like every time we talk about Ice Climbers on commentary, we have to mention wobbling legality or the fact that there are so few Ice Climbers left now. But SluG’s proven to be someone who goes against the grain and he picks a character who has completely fallen out of the metagame. It’s like we’ve collectively just decided to not practice the matchup, so if we run into SluG, we may as well just shake his hand before the set and get ready for loser’s bracket – especially if you play Marth.
Logan is a player who has risen up and taken the mantle of one of the top Marths through the course of last year. I remember one of the early conversations for the first half of 2021 was whether Logan or KoDoRiN was the second best Marth in the world. Considering this is Logan’s first ranking year, and that he comes from such a small region – and gained much of his skill from online play – it’s incredible that he’s even in that sort of discussion already. Also, his tech chasing is good, and contrary to what many might think of him taking losses hard, he’s actually quite notorious for making insane loser’s runs at the same tourneys.
I had the pleasure of going to Texas with Colin earlier this year and got to know him better as a person. You wouldn’t hear a lot of people talk about it, but if you look at the data, Colbol’s been a staple of the community for a really long time. It’s been what, 14 or 15 years of Colbol being around? His longevity is extremely underrated as a notable player to look out for, basically speaking for itself. It’s good to see an old head kicking it around still.
Kalamazhu may be the most underrated player in Melee today. He’s known for his extremely strong punish game against spacies and he’s always kept it close against a lot of top players or just outright beat them. His first half of the year was impressive, maybe even top 15 at the time. I think most people agree he still has an argument for second best Peach. Sometimes I think that if every bracket were spacies, Kalamazhu would be a Top 10 player. Going into 2022, if he can clean up some of the weirder matchups, we can expect even better things from him.
Feels like much of the community (including me) hasn’t caught up to the fact that Jmook is a bonafide top player now. Sure, he’s one of the “J-Sheiks” that sort of blend together, but the truth is that Jmook has actually stood out quite a bit over the course of last year. To everyone’s surprise, his results have been really solid and he’s established himself as a Top 30 player. It’s a good inauguration for Jmook into the top of Melee.
It really feels like half of Europe’s top players come from Sweden, but Pipsqueak’s been especially memorable. I really like his content on YouTube, his approach to Fox kind of reminds me of the way Setchi and Chef Rach approach Falcon and you can see it in how he talks about the game. He’s had a meteoric rise in Europe, where we take it for granted that he’s top three. But thinking about it a little more, breaking past the Ice and Professor Pro wall isn’t exactly easy and neither is taking sets from the second wall, Trif. It’s no surprise that Pipsqueak is the third highest European on this list.
I mentioned on Twitter once that I had a dream where I beat Lucky terribly. Wait, I shouldn’t add this here. Or maybe I should. Anyway, so many people clown on Lucky when he underperforms, but it’s only because he has extremely high expectations that make us believe in him. Look at how he won Netplay for Palestine over S2J, n0ne, and Hungrybox, or how he bodied NorCal in the GenAssist crews. He is a force to be reckoned with and one of the best Foxes we’ve ever seen.
Shepherd Lima is an enigma. He’s one of the only players ever to be able to completely switch mains and basically not drop a beat, becoming his old former ranking almost immediately after. Fiction is revolutionizing the Falco game with a much more laser heavy approach and makes it work, despite the modern anti-laser metagame. I think the character switch will pay off eventually in making another offline major top eight, which is pretty much about to happen any time now. Also, and I’m not sure about this, but has any player ever won more iterations of a tournament series than Fiction has at Verdugo? I swear he has won at least a 100 of those by now. That has got to be a record right?
lloD has had a weird 2021 where he juggled multiple controllers, ultimately going back to the GCC. It’s not the only thing he’s juggling – he’s working on his medical degree and working on things in real life, yet he’s able to be a top player. It’s hard to tell how much Melee he plays; it feels like less than everyone else. Everyone has to wonder what his actual ceiling is and where it will ever end.
Faceroll wasn’t very active in 2021 because he doesn’t like entering online events that much, but he was still able to get a respectable second place on the SoCal Power Ranking, and notably holds a positive record on KoDoRiN, the number one. He’s still at least as good as he’s ever been; 21 is right around where he has gotten ranked in other years, but truthfully his actual skill might be even higher than that.
20th for Axe may seem extremely low, but it’s definitely been an off year for one of the greatest players of all time – certainly the best Pikachu player of all-time. Still, with the rise of Swift and people learning more about the Pikachu matchup, can Axe elevate his play and go up to his former standards, or is this the end of the road for one of Melee’s greatest stars?
Oh, Gahtzu. Gatzhu is a player where, when you talk to other top players, their opinion of Gahtzu is higher than community or ranking consensus. The oft-forgotten fourth member of the great Captain Falcons right now, he has results that have actually never trailed that far behind the other three. In fact, this 19th place ranking is the highest of his career.
Magi is unique in Melee in that she has a very polarizing matchup spread – doing extraordinarily well against spacies and Captain Falcons ranked above her, but faltering in floaty matchups. If she cleans up those matchups, it’s clear Magi can only go higher in the rankings. Her amazing Summit 12 placement only goes to show that there’s a lot more potential in Magi yet.
In an era where everyone seems to be using cheater controllers, Aklo plays on caveman equipment and makes it work. He’s one of the most – let’s just say, the most – defensive players right now. He has a playstyle with Fox and Link that gives people fits, it’s awesome to see that old school style excel to this day.
Ginger clearly had the best year of his Melee career in 2021 with the crowning jewel being his win at Low Tide City, where he was able to take grands over Axe in two straight sets. With a growing stream and fanbase, it’ll be interesting to see if Ginger can keep it up with so many Falcos nipping at his heels for the title of second best Falco, like Fiction and Flash.
n0ne’s last two years were very weird. His first half was incredible and actually put him potentially top 10, then his activity waned near the end. This seems to be a trend with n0ne where he visits Nicaragua and his play drops off for months at a time. Obviously those are considerations with his life as a professional, but it remains to be seen if n0ne can balance it all; if he can get past his current ranking. Nonetheless, still another impressive year by one of the most stylish players to ever grace the game.
Moky is someone who I think, and most panelists think, is skill-for-skill stronger than this ranking suggests. Of course, we rank on results. And due to the pandemic and factors outside of Moky’s control, this is where he is. 14 is a very respectable ranking and hopefully he’s happy. He’s gonna improve on that even more going forward into 2022.
Trif is in contention with Polish for best Peach, and this is an era where we have a shocking amount of good Peach players. Trif’s dominance in Europe speaks for itself, and he has shown he can take his results stateside. Just looking at Europe, Trif has been a force. Basically if it’s not Leffen, with rare exceptions, Trif is winning.
Johnny Kim had a very weird 2021, where it started with us potentially thinking that he was as high as top 8 players in the world, maybe top 5. In the second half S2J definitely fell off, so it’s hard to say where his activity level will be going forward. But it’s clear with how angry he got about SoCal’s power rankings, he’s still got a lot of fire. Hopefully he picks up what he started last year.
During KoDoRiN’s Mainstage run, Mango just looked at me and said ‘So is KoDoRiN just a top player now?’ For Mango to say that means you’ve arrived. KoDoRiN’s rise has been amazing – with lessons from PP; he really brings a new style of Marth into the modern metagame. His dominance in SoCal is particularly impressive on a local level, since he wins almost everything he goes to in a region with so much talent.
Polish is interesting because the truth is they didn’t lose much. You could even rank Polish higher than 10th here, which is ludicrous to say for someone who wasn’t even close to that before this year. But matchup for matchup, they beat players even ranked above them. They’ve set themself apart and I think it just takes a little more activity next year to push themself even higher.
The planets revolve around the sun, the moon sets, the sun rises, and SFAT is a top 10 player. SFAT has put together one of the strongest years for his legacy – his growing legacy – and even though his long time teams partner PewPewU retired, SFAT was able to continue to be a force in singles. It’s really remarkable that SFAT, of all players, has kept his longevity going as much as he has. It really feels like I could be talking to you guys in 5 years and SFAT will still have this spot. It shouldn’t be taken for granted how insane that is.
For all the talk that Hungrybox has fallen off it’s only because we have such insane standards for him. Truthfully, his results improved a lot after he learned that Bluetooth headphones cause audio lag to your Netplay setup. Ever since that, the odd upsets have faded away and he’s been performing better online and offline. On the whole, his results are still actually quite good. Even though they aren’t near his standards for someone chasing the Greatest of All Time title, he’s still added notches to his belt.
There was a point during Smash Summit 12 where most of the people in the room thought aMSa was going to win. The way he dismantled Hungrybox and was stomping people in friendlies made us believe, and truthfully that’s the first time that’s happened in his illustrious career. He was never a threat to win a supermajor before. That’s changed, and it’s only a matter of time before he breaks that final barrier. I think he’s moving to Vancouver pretty soon also, so we might see a lot more of him against the rest of NA than we’re used to.
We’re writing this article after Leffen won two Ft5s against Mango and Zain, and then couldn’t compete in LACS itself. Those results weren’t taken into account for this ranking, but it shows Leffen is a clear threat to win a tournament at any time. Obviously he’s dominated Europe and is slowly regaining his skill through activity; I wouldn’t be surprised if at the end of 2022, Leffen was the No. 1 player, which would be a first for him and a clear milestone.
THE TOP 5 PLAYERS OF BLUR RANK AND BEAUTIFUL PLAYER CARDS FOR THEM AS DESIGNED BY JACKZILLA
Wizzrobe had a fantastic year even by his standards,retaining his spot as a top 5 player. It was a bit of an up and down year but nevertheless, he won Mainstage and was a favorite at many tournaments. Outside of Plup and Mango, who seem to be hard walls for him, he seems to be able to beat everyone. He needs just a few adjustments to even be as high as number one.
There are times where Plup looks like, straight up, the best player in the world when he’s moving so, so fast. His Sheik and Fox are so insanely technical and probably have some of the highest technical, consistent speed of anyone out there. He only really struggles against a couple of the players above him but he can be a threat to just about anyone. He’s one of the players of our modern era who can win a major at any time.
iBDW won Summit. That’s a sentence which is hard to believe going into last year. Though his rise was so meteoric, I don’t think any of us would expect him to be ranked third in the world this year. He’s truly risen incredibly fast and he doesn’t need much to push himself above Zain and Mango this year. Maybe 2022 will be the year he takes it all the way.
It’s felt like the COVID era has coincided with the prime of Zain’s career. Most of his major accomplishments have come when online was the primary way to play. A ton of the events he could’ve won have been canceled or postponed, and he hasn’t been able to show everyone his true skill to its completion. It doesn’t take a lot of projection to know this guy is as good as anyone, and we’re proud to say his ranking has finally been updated to show just how good he is.
The Greatest Player of All Time has yet another year on top. Mango has played Melee across three different decades ever since he was 16 years old, and to BBB’s dismay, he’s 30 now. He didn’t enter much, but accounting for his online performances and two great Smash Summits, it’s hard to take away from Mango’s 2021. Ultimately, if we had an offline tournament coming up right now and we had to pick a favorite, Mango would have the slight edge. Though few might match him in skill, his mentality and ability to close sets is still unmatched.