2023’s been a year of turbulence in Melee tournament results. In my most recent article, I broke down the results of whom I personally believe are the clear two best players in the world. But while the distinctions between them and everyone else are fairly clear the gap isn’t actually that large. This is especially true for three players whom I’d consider just beneath that level of play: Jmook, moky, and Plup. All three have had undeniably strong years. More interestingly, their great results have come in distinct ways. How can you compare them, side-by-side? Is it possible to do so?
might be the grimiest thing ive ever done pic.twitter.com/736jgSri1f
— moist | moky (@moky_dokie) November 4, 2023
Last week, the answer to the question, as it pertained to Zain and Cody Schwab, may as well have been a definitive “no.” However, I’m not going to be taking the easy way out for today’s column. I’m going to discuss Jmook’s, moky’s, and Plup’s year in great detail. I’ll be analyzing how their head-to-heads fare at the top level, as well as breaking down their consistency against the field and comparing the weight of their most notable tournament victories. At the end of the process, I’ll be ordering their years from best to worst.
NOTE: Leffen is notably missing from this group of players. In fact, some of you might wonder, if Leffen is not included here, why is Plup – and beyond that, is there any precedent to Leffen’s 2023 season with regards to “technically qualifying” and successful activity that’s still constrained to so few events? This will be explored in another column. For now, just stick with Jmook, moky, and Plup as the main comparison points for today’s piece.
Like I’ve previously written about, holding your own against the top echelon of play is a massive boost to your annual resume. Defeating the best players in the world multiple times can immediately distinguish you from everyone else. Like I did for Zain and Cody Schwab, I’ll be sharing how each of Jmook, moky, and Plup have performed against what most people would broadly consider the rough “Top 10” of sorts (those five, Leffen, aMSa, Mango and Hungrybox).
NOTE: Once again, I will not be counting results from The Off-Season 2 due to the shenanigan-filled rules of the tournament. While I have no doubt that there were sets played here in which both players presumably agreed to not play on banned stages, the nature of this event is ambiguous enough to where I believe that it should not be significantly factored in.
Jmook’s head-to-heads within this tier are undeniably strong. Although there’s one pretty clear “bad” versus aMSa (0-3), there’s many “goods.” In addition to holding the head-to-head lead over Zain (4-3), he also boasts the edge over Leffen (1-0), moky (2-0), and Mango (1-0). Combined with ties in limited attempts vs. Wizzrobe (1-1), Hungrybox (1-1), and Cody Schwab (2-2), and you end up with someone with a slightly positive record vs. the top echelon: 12-10.
Plup isn’t too far behind Jmook, although he has easily the fewest number of sets vs. this group. The immediately glaring negative to his head-to-heads is a continued struggle he’s had vs. Cody Schwab (0-5). An additional loss to moky in their only set together (0-1) doesn’t help either. At the same time, he’s done fine versus everyone else he’s played. Plup has standalone sets over Mango (1-0) and Hungrybox (1-0), has solidly beaten away aMSa (2-0), and, of course, a convincing record over Wizzrobe (4-1). All in all, a competitive 8-7 record.
Unlike what I did for the other two players, I’m not burying the lede with moky; his annual record vs. this group is a combined 14-16. Though it’s not too far behind his two peers, it stands out because he has the only “negative” head-to-head. I’d argue, though, that this is a little misleading. If it’s against aMSa (8-0), moky’s in the clear. To a lesser degree, he’s also found success vs. Hungrybox (3-2), Cody (2-1), Plup (1-0), and Wizzrobe (1-1). The three big problems, however, have been Jmook (0-2), Zain (0-5), and Mango (0-4). An additional loss to Leffen (0-1) pushes this marginally in the more negative area. But clearly, the overall record is not that much worse than his peers as much as it’s been unusually dependent upon the opponent.
Strictly within this category, Jmook definitely stands out as having the edge over moky and Plup. As far as Plup vs. moky is concerned, I suppose a 53 percent win rate is, in a vacuum, better than 46 percent. But is it fair to prioritize a seven percent ‘advantage’ that only exists because the player has half the total sets? No. Of course it’s not. We’ll get into that later.
Who is the Most Consistent?
Similar to what I wrote above, I’m going to be assessing each player’s consistency vs. the field strictly within this category. Before you get mad, just be patient – I’m not using things like “context” or “basic reasoning” to sully the pristine picture here; that will be for another time. With that disclaimer, out of the way Plup ‘technically’ dominates the other two players within this category. Across all five notable tournaments he’s entered (and not DQ’d out of) this year, he doesn’t have a single loss outside the Top 10. To find one of those, you’ll have to go back to Scuffed World Tour, where Fiction sent Plup to loser’s bracket right before the 2023 ranking period began.
moky follows Plup in turn as a consistent player, though technically not to the same degree. So far, he has attended 11 big events, ranging from regionals like The Come Up to premier tournaments like The Big House. Across all eleven of those tournaments, he’s only lost five times to players outside the Top 10: a loss to Zuppy at Collision, a dropped set to Aklo at The Come Up (which moky won), a loss to Soonsay at Battle of BC, a loss to Zamu (which moky followed up by DQ’ing), and an elimination at the hands of lloD at Riptide. This is not at the level of consistency as Zain or Cody Schwab, but all things considered, out of players who have attended as much as moky, it’s damn good. The DQ’s not great, but at least he’s going to tournaments.
Gotta say huge thank you to @EggdogEsports for flying me out to big house, they're really cool people. Go buy their shirts and merch right now >:(
— Plub (@Plup_Club) October 24, 2023
Were it 2022, Jmook would easily lead this category. But this is 2023 we’re talking about, and his tournament attendance has become the Smash world’s equivalent of when a new Targaryen is born. In all ten big tournaments he’s entered, he’s had five notable upset losses to MOF, Morsecode762, Skerzo, Aklo, and Faust. This is the same number as moky; however, with one fewer event and four especially notable losses out of that group of five, on a resume basis, it seems clear that Jmook is the last member of this group. Even if moky were to enter Arcamelee and be upset twice, I would not weigh that enough to give Jmook the advantage here for “not entering” (if that happens).
How Do Their Tourney Wins Compare?
This category isn’t hard to understand. Let’s start with the obvious: Jmook clearly has the most impressive tournament wins of these three. Not only does he have two majors – his two tournament wins are by far the most important out of anyone within this group. Genesis is literally our most prestigious tournament and Collision was one of the most pound-for-pound stacked tourneys of the year. At the end of this stretch, Jmook seemed like he had a shot at becoming the first player in SSBMRank history to win the first three majors of the year.
Plup’s resume in this category, though strong, is nowhere near as impressive as Jmook’s. However, you have to admit that it’s infinitely more annoying. More or less he’s entered three majors and done well at each of them (Genesis, Major Upset, and The Big House), and yet his tournament victories have come at events which could be best described as “almost majors” (CEO and Riptide). Beneath him is moky, who’s only won one big tourney this year in The Come Up, which came over aMSa. The order here seems pretty clear cut by the major count, let alone weighting them.
Winning a major affords you grace. For that reason alone, Jmook stands out as having done this twice. Furthermore, it just so happened that one of them was the biggest event of the year. Although he’s taken the most hits on the chin, at the very least, he’s had enough strong performances to solidify him above the other two.
Now, Plup has won more ‘events of notoriety’ than moky in far fewer tries. Additionally, out of the three events they’ve entered together, Plup has outplaced moky at two of them, so maybe you truly just think Plup is better than moky, pound for pound. However, I really don’t think any noteworthy advantage that Plup could possibly hold over moky in this area is fair to acknowledge without also addressing the fact that moky is twice as active. It would be one thing if Plup won an outright premier event like Genesis or has accomplished something so far out of reach, but he hasn’t.
Speaking for only myself here, Plup’s marginal advantages in consistency and ‘win-rates’ don’t mean much in comparison to someone who’s actually proven that his accomplishments in these areas mean something in the broader context of attending significant tournaments.
TL;DR: I’d go with Jmook, moky, and Plup in that order.