A year after Jmook shocked the world at Genesis 8, just under 19 years since the last Sheik main to win a national, and following a 2022 filled with heartbreaking runner-up performances, Jmook finally captured his first major at Genesis 9. In the process, he also became the first solo Sheik to ever win a supermajor: a groundbreaking first for a character that had never tasted so sweet of a victory before. To win Genesis, Jmook not only overcame Zain, but withstood a gauntlet of top Fox players, from second place finisher iBDW to moky, SFAT, and SFOP.
Dreamt last night that Jmook won Genesis 9!
Woke up to the realization today that it was no dream.
The Legendary Sheik & Our Champion, JMOOK🏆 pic.twitter.com/oo0GLxR5XS
— FlyQuest (@FlyQuest) January 23, 2023
Were it not for Jmook stealing the show, it would have been moky’s third place performance that stood out. He had the performance of his life in a run to third place. Reminiscent of his bronze medal showing at LACS 4, this one had no asterisks to it. Making it all the way to winner’s finals, moky vanquished his longtime offline demon Hungrybox, as well took home wins over iBDW and Plup. It cemented moky’s place among the all-time Canadian greats, as well as gained him the achievement of being the highest placing Ontario player at a supermajor ever.
Ironically, the tournament featured early exits from aMSa and Mango, two players who have dominated community headlines for their recent stellar performances and their controversial placements on SSBMRank. aMSa, who recently finished at No. 2, left Genesis at ninth place, losing to 2saint – who also beat KoDoRiN and Soonsay en route to their first supermajor top eight and seventh place finish – and iBDW. Mango, who was publicly outspoken about feeling burned out and frustrated with his No. 3 finish, chose to play secondaries, dropping sets to Taj and Matteo to finish at 97th place.
Between Jmook’s extremely meticulous playstyle, commitment to executing intelligent game plans, and his extraordinary ability to perform under pressure, there’s so much that you could dive into when it comes to talking about him. Not only does it feels cheap to try to pigeonhole Jmook by one of these traits – trying to adequately capture all of them seems like a task that I couldn’t possibly live up to in the space of one column.
But as someone who writes about Melee and knows a thing or two about Melee history, it’s worth examining where we’re at right now with Jmook’s results over the last two years. By no means does this entirely encapsulate all of his legacy. Players are obviously more than their results. I frequently roll my eyes when people instantly begin talking about “rankings” (myself included) after a supermajor ends. However, I think there’s a ton of cool details and context, as well as strange precedent for Jmook’s career trajectory. It may give us an idea of what’s more to come and what we can be excited to see moving forward.
When Was The Last Time We Saw Someone Like Jmook?
I’ve thought about this question for a long-time. In many ways, the circumstances behind Jmook’s rise are truly ones that could have only happened in a time like now. He’s, more or less, been a player with national-caliber potential since 2018, when he’d routinely take Top 50 players to the brink or outright beat them when they came to upstate New York. It was only in 2021 that we started to see more of him online, where he looked like a Top 25 player in the only format of the game we could see him semi-consistently compete in. Then, 2022 happened. Before winning Genesis 9, he made the highest debut (no – the original SSBMRank doesn’t count as a debut; shut up, pedants) on the Top 100 ever at No. 6. Now, he looks like he could be the best player in the world. Who else does that remind you of?
The instant comparison point that most people would make is Armada. After all, he also had his breakout come at Genesis, was similarly hidden away in an obscure region and had a series of heartbreakers vs. Jigglypuff (Hungrybox and Mango), as well as tough peers (PPMD) before finally winning the follow-up Genesis after his first one. Also, along with playing characters that are supposed to slightly lose to Fox, they even share the feat of slapping away the underdog story for the first major they won; Jmook trounced moky, 3-0, and Armada spoiled the dream run for Taj in similar fashion.
How about Jmook’s fellow upstate-New Yorker iBDW? Truth be told, I’m tempted to view the two’s skill trajectory as probably a bit closer in reality than what their broader reputations have been over the years. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that iBDW’s path to improvement was the exact same one as Jmook – and at the same time, I could totally buy the idea of Jmook being “Top 50 in skill” around the same time of iBDW. After all, this was the same player who was already going toe-to-toe with Fiction and Trif on his first try, let alone completely obliterating every Marth player he ran into. Yet because iBDW eventually did gradually take the more traditional modern path of becoming a top player, I’m inclined to still see them as significantly “different” stories.
Frankly, one of the best comparison points for Jmook might actually be PPMD. Both of them share being hidden away in an obscure region with players they constantly skill-gapped, finding ways to improve in spite of lacking competition. Though PPMD didn’t have something like Uncle Punch or Slippi, he was notoriously very heavy on solo practice during his rise to prominence. Jmook, even back before his breakout, was someone who did this often. I can personally say that I knew people in 2018 who mained Sheik and found themselves in Facebook chats with nationally prominent top Sheik players and Jmook alike. It kind of reminds me of what it was like in the late 2000s when PPMD had only attended a few majors, but quickly became regarded as someone with the potential to breakout at any point and was one of the leading representatives for Falco, as well as a frequent poster on Smashboards.
The short answer? PPMD or Armada – so a little over a decade.
How Much Does Winning Genesis Change Things Right Now?
In my All-Time Top 100 update from earlier this year, I brought up the fact that Jmook was a tough player to evaluate for an all-time discussion. Because he’s so relatively new in the scope of Melee history, I wasn’t sure how to compare his accomplishments to someone like SFAT or S2J. I erred on the side of caution, saying that wherever you had CaptainJack seemed like the correct place to put Jmook before he had won a major. Now he’s won a major. What is the value of winning a major? How many top eight appearances does winning a major eclipse?
The answers to these questions depend on who you talk to. iBDW, whose original No. 22 inclusion was controversial for being too high for someone as new as him, was 2021’s model case for it. I personally thought it was the correct call to have him there. Others, like Juggleguy, did not. Around that time, we both talked about it over a couple drinks. After much arguing, something we both agreed on was that there was a difference between winning a major like Riptide, and winning a supermajor like Genesis. So in light of last weekend, let’s reframe this question a little bit. What is the value of winning Genesis?
Without getting too into it, the Five Gods, Leffen, Plup, Zain, Axe, iBDW, and aMSa are the only other people to do something on that caliber over the last ten years. Maybe Wizzrobe as well if you count Smash ‘N’ Splash 5 as something as similarly impressive. Winning Genesis 9 puts Jmook at the “bottom” of this group, at the very least. Counting players before that would include people like Ken, Azen, PC Chris and Isai. Notably missing would be ChuDat, CaptainJack, and KoreanDJ, with each of those three winning significantly smaller events than Genesis. The end result is someone who is pretty unquestionably Top 20 of all-time right now, having made his way into a group of practically only 16 or 17 people do ever do something comparable to what he just accomplished.
Where Does Jmook’s Legacy Go Moving Forward?
Now that Jmook’s won a supermajor, the natural next stop for him would be to throw his name in contention for world No. 1. As of right now, only six people (Mango, Armada, Hungrybox, Ken, Zain and Mew2King) can ever claim to have been the best player on the planet for an entire year. Based on how competitive last year was, Jmook would basically need to win two more supermajors to put himself in contention for that group. It is not a surefire guarantee, but it’s something that absolutely seems more likely to happen now than it did even a few months ago. That was back when he was taking shots at a bar by himself after losing to Hungrybox three times at the same event.
The road there will likely be difficult. With Hungrybox, a whole legion of Fox players now be motivated to take Jmook’s Sheik as seriously as they do Zain’s Marth, aMSa, and potentially even some Ice Climbers in the mix for players Jmook can expect to see at a future supermajor, meeting these new sky-high expectations is going to provide an entirely new challenge. But either way, I’m thrilled to see where Jmook’s heading moving forward.