Orange’s 2013 RetroSSBBRank

Disclaimer: This work was entirely done by Orange, with no input from myself. I, Pikachu942, have no affiliation with the content of the article outside of posting it on my side and some minor editing. If you have any questions on the content, please contact Orange, who you can find most easily on Reddit at Orange_SSBU.

It took the world ending for me to stop procrastinating and actually post something, huh? If everything goes as planned, you should be reading this on Pikachu492’s website. She’s been a great help to me ever since the very beginning of this account back in February of 2019. When I went to post the RetroSSBB Rank on Reddit, it failed because I passed the character limit… by 10,000 characters. I just love to write, ok? The first person I thought of was Pika since she posts semiregularly on this website, and well, the rest is history. Depending on how much I write on the 2014 SSBB Rank, it might be on here too, but it depends, and it’ll be posted on my Reddit account anyways so you won’t miss it.

Without further ado…’

We’ve gone a long time since the first RetroSSBB Rank in June of last year. Following the chronology too, it’s been a long time since 2008, and Brawl changed in so many ways. It’s around this point that Brawl was entering its Twilight years. The Meta Knight ban came and went, leaving a fractured and disenchanted scene. Sponsors had disappeared, majors were few and far between, and international players became more and more rare as time went on. To add onto the drawl, Brawl’s sequel, Smash 4, was officially revealed at E3 2013 (as well as newcomers Mega Man, Villager, and Wii Fit Trainer), making many competitors count down the days until 4’s release later in the following year. After only Melee appeared at EVO 2013 in July, Brawl’s counterpart began growing at exponential speeds, spurring many Brawl players tired of the Meta Knight and Icies centered meta to pick up the older game instead. Brawl had entered a new dark age.

Still, even through all of this, the scene remained. Dedicated pros from across the globe continued to play and shape the meta. With the ever growing popularity of Youtube, vods were more and more accessible to all fans, and combo videos and guides starting popping up for the eager learners of the community. 2013 was a year of growth too. Europe, a scene that largely lay dormant after Brawl’s first year or so, fired back up with young exciting players, and lesser used high tiers like Marth and Zero Suit Samus hit a second wind with new determined solomains (and a little bit of luck). Now then, who came on top in 2013 then?

As a sidenote, I will be posting a 2014 SSBB Rank as well. I know there is an existing ranking for 2013-2014 for Brawl, but, in my opinion, it’s not very accurate, it unfairly skews results from 2014, and doesn’t take a closer look at head to head rankings or regionals like I do. I also think it’s not doing the scene a favor by having one ranking over two years since 2013 and 2014 had very different results, and what kind of ranking has two #1s anyways? Lastly, I really enjoy making these posts so why not. This isn’t in any way trying to disrespect Clash tournaments work, but to supplement it with more in depth material and a birds eye perspective instead of the recency and legacy bias rampant in the 2013-2014 version. Stay tuned for the 2014 RetroSSBB Rank in the year 2023!

With that being said, let’s get started.

Honorable Mentions
Kamemushi WarioHeadSSBB.pngZeroSuitSamusHeadSSBB.png (East Japan)                                                                                                Vex KasraniKingDededeHeadSSBB.png (Pennsylvania)
DEHF FalcoHeadSSBB.png (SoCal)
Sakasaka ZeroSuitSamusHeadSSBB.png (East Japan)
Masha FalcoHeadSSBB.png (West Japan)

20. Esam (Florida)
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As his priorities shifted to graduating college, Esam spent less time practicing, and thus, spending less time competing. You can probably tell by the 16 rank drop from 2012. I could find Esam competing at only three tournaments this year but still, his few strong performances narrowly sufficed a nod for Top 20. While the 13th at Apex was unimpressive, on a trip to my home state of Maryland in February, he notched a solid win on ZeRo (as well as one on Chillin in Melee!) and at SKTAR beat Ally with a convincing two stock to finish off Game 2. The history of the Ally-Esam matchup is actually really interesting. Most people are familiar with how Ally was Esam’s demon throughout Smash 4’s history, but for all of Brawl, it was the reverse: Esam handedly beat the Canadian most times they met. In 2013, Esam was up 7-2 to Ally in lifetime stats and generally proved to be his biggest tournament roadblock whenever the Snake-Meta Knight main played. Pretty interesting.

19. Zinoto (Midwest)
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Most smashers, especially Smash 4 players, are at least somewhat familiar with Zinoto’s skill. 2013 was just the start for Zinoto’s lengthy and successful career. In their debuts in any ranking of any kind, sometimes its the storyline that X person worked really hard and catapulted into the best in the world, but, in all honesty, I wouldn’t say that Zinoto had some giant leap in success between 2012 and 2013. Of course he worked hard, but to reach the Top 25, he just got the perfect combination of skill and luck to make it on here. Usually I stray away from calling any player’s success a product of luck, but, in this case, it was very much true. Zinoto’s breakout tournament was SKTAR 2, where he got 5th. Expecting some grand tournament run, maybe with some W’s on Nairo, Mew2King, maybe ANTi for some spice? Not really. Zinoto’s best win the whole weekend was Atomsk, a player basically washed up from his former heights. Zinoto’s 5th place was almost completely created by nearly every top player being upsetted earlier in the tournament.

What about how Zinoto did at his locals, then? Zinoto was finishing Top 2 at most of the locals he played at, that wasn’t luck, right? Well of course you can’t finish Top 2 at your local scene with just luck, but Zinoto was already finishing Top 2 at his local scene before this. What changed? Ally moved to Michigan, attracting players to fight him there, thus attracting prospecting top players to travel there to test their skills. There, Zinoto got his wins on top players to boost him into Top 20 range. If Ally never moved, Zinoto wouldn’t have nearly as many opportunities to fight top level players and thus probably wouldn’t have risen to the top level as quickly as he did. Of course I’m not saying that all of Zinoto’s successes in 2013 were luck based, of course not. You can’t beat Ally, Nakat, Rich Brown, and Earth just by being lucky. It’s just that the talent that he always possessed finally found the perfect storm to coalesce against worthy opponents. So yeah, he was a lucky one.

18. Bloodcross (Tristate)
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Even though Bloodcross was just the latest in the long line of East Coast Meta Knights, he brought enough unique to the character to distinguish himself from his peers and establish himself among the best in the world. Inheriting a Mew2King-esque non-aggressive playstyle from his years playing Falco and observing the best Meta Knight players, Bloodcross was soon well known as one of the most defensive players in top level Brawl (which doesn’t say much at this point to be honest). This style made him excel against more aggressive top players like ADHD and Nairo, both players which he beat in 2013. Nairo in particular said on multiple occasions that Bloodcross was one of the players he was always wary to play against. So, what was Bloodcross’s biggest weakness then? I would have to say himself. See, as skilled as the MK-Falco combo could be, he was pretty prone to tilting, to say the least. A simple search of “Bloodcross Brawl” can give you more than enough content for me to elaborate my point. Overall, after years of average placements, Bloodcross had finally joined the cool kids club as a big threat locally and abroad. Let’s get to some more newcomers onto the Top 25.

17. Denti (Oklahoma)
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After Rich Brown largely fell off his former skill and Nietono spent more time experimenting with secondaries and not traveling to the US, Denti and his Olimar higher up of sorts Dabuz were the only top level Olimars left playing. Dabuz was well known for consistency and everyone knows how good Dabuz is now, so that should be no surprise that he’s returning to the rankings. But who is Denti anyways? That was a question many were asking well into 2013 when Denti started tearing up brackets across the East Coast. The Olimar main was the classic case of the criminally underrated hidden boss. We’ve all heard it before. Insert hidden boss hails from a weaker region (Oklahoma in his case), becomes the best in his region (he was the best in the Southwest at this point), and travels to a large and prestigious tournament to make serious waves and impresses everyone (SKTAR in this case).

2013 wasn’t the first year that Denti travelled to big tournaments, but it was the first year that he really made it count. And oh boy, did he make it count. After an eh 25th in January at Apex, Denti did a huge level up for his next major in August, SKTAR 2, where he would go on to shock the entire community to place 3rd, vanquishing Nairo, Nakat, and DKWill en route to 3rd place. He solidified his spot as a top level Olimar in October at WHOBO 5 a little closer to home where he placed 2nd out of 76 entrants just under Vinnie. By December, in the eyes of the community, Denti tied with a certain someone to be Brawl’s biggest wild card. Sometimes he could barely make it out of pools and sometimes he would damn near win a national. You really couldn’t know which. Honestly, I could see Denti anywhere between #15 and #25 (and even completely unranked) depending on how much you value his crazy peaks versus his lack of attendance. You can make the decision yourself. Either way, no one could argue that Denti was a Top 2 Olimar by year’s end.

16. Dabuz (Tristate)
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Speak of the Dabuz
(I had to, I had to)
The second shoo-in to the list after Esam, ever since his Top 20 debut in 2011, Dabuz made his fair niche in the competitive scene as the best East Coast Olimar player. Just like previous years, top players flocked to play friendlies with him to gain experience in the ever so rare matchup. This year he didn’t pull out any alter-egos or clutch out any unlikely tournament victories, but he still proved the scene that he was one of the most consistent players of the last few years. One of Dabuz’s standout performances in 2013 was his 7th at Apex, where he beat Ally, Kakera, DEHF, and Denti in an impressive losers run. All in all, despite a slight drop in rank, Dabuz sufficiently proved that he was still
a name to fear in brackets abroad.

15. MVD (Florida)
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Esam wasn’t the only half of the now iconic duo that was reaching success in 2013. Although he never reached Top 25 level, in all the years that Esam has been featured on these rankings, MVD has kept things competitive too. He placed just outside of the championship bracket at 2010’s MLG circuit, beat Esam, Xzax, and Vex in 2011, and placed a respectable 13th at WHOBO 4 in 2012. These results would’ve probably landed him a spot somewhere in the lower half of any Top 50 list, but not quite high enough to be one of the best of the best. 2013 proved to be a stroke of fate for him though. At first, it didn’t seem like it. He barely made it out of pools at Apex and finished a pitiful 33rd. Nevertheless, times were a-changing and with some bracket luck and back breaking training, at SKTAR 2, he reached the winners side of Grand Finals in a string of mindblowing upsets. Imagine if a borderline Top 50 player went to Smash Con this year and got 2nd. Almost as unpredictable as Denti coming out of nowhere and getting 3rd. The more I think about it SKTAR 3 was the Civil War of Brawl. On his legendary run, MVD defeated Ally, Vinnie, ADHD, Denti, and more. This combined with a solid 4th at Smashacre Glutonny and 13th at WHOBO 5 sent MVD straight into conversations for one of the best in the world and the best Snake solomain. And he was just getting started.

14. Mr. R (Europe)
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First Kameme in the Honorable Mentions, then MVD making his debut, and now Mr. R? Things are really starting to look like the beginning of Smash 4. As I introduced MVD and Denti, I said that the two were viewed as massive wild cards and were largely unexpected to go on the impressive runs until they actually performed. Mr. R was actually the opposite. All of Brawl’s history, the skill level of international players was debated and speculated, especially in the first few years. When Otori, Nietono, and Brood went on their impressive runs in the West in 2010, 2011, and 2012, many just assumed that the remainder of the international players were at a higher or at least comaprable skill. Many discussions asserted that if Otori and Nietono who weren’t even considered the best players in Japan could get 1st and 2nd at Apex, then the best player in Europe had to be Top 10 level, at least. Thus, when Mr. R, the player usually considered to be the best in Europe after 2010, started competing in American tournaments in 2012, many had sky high expectations… that were more or less let down. Looking at the majors he attended in 2012, the Dutch Marth main placed 17th at Apex 2012 and 9th at SKTAR. He played at a couple regionals and locals too, and finished underwhelmingly. Of course it wasn’t bad per say. Beating Seibrik, MikeHaze, and Salem (pre-Apex) isn’t bad in any case, but it wasn’t befitting of a Top 25 player or anywhere near the results that many of the Japanese were producing tournament after tournament. If I had to place him anywhere in 2012, it would be near where he is on the current PGR (#44). Not bad, but not amazing either.

Well, if at first you don’t succeed, try try again, right? Starting at Apex in the beginning of the year, Mr. R hit a new wind in his career, placing 7th, miles ahead of what was expected considering his flaws in the previous year. Landing just in Top 8, Mr. R beat ADHD, Esam, and Dojo, just to lose to Salem and Nairo. Mr. R kept up the heat in his second trip to the US in the summertime where he evened up the record with Salem and in his third trip in December where he picked up wins on Anti and Vinnie. He was well on his path to fulfilling those skyhigh expectations I was talking about. Overall, in 2013, Mr. R solidified his position as the best player in Europe in style and ultimately proved that he could persevere above his flaws in the past and adapt to the challenges of the future. Although he didn’t quite reach Top 10 or Top 12 like many were anticipating, he proved that Europe could actually live up to the hype, and that Marth really wasn’t as bad as people said.

13. Mikeneko (East Japan)
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If 2012 was a year of triumph for Japan, then 2013 was a year of uncertainty. Where the thrones of Otori, Rain, and Nietono once stood were now ashes of their former legacy: Otori remained Top 10 but never won a big tournament and placed more erratically than 2012. Rain kept winning tournaments but looked like a shadow of his former self and was miles away from #1. Upon losing interest with the game and focusing more on Meta Knight, Ice Climbers, and Diddy Kong, Nietono experienced a massive dropout of skill and wasn’t even viewed as Top 20 anymore. But, out of everyone, Mikeneko stayed consistent. Although now he was a well-known player in competitive circles, he kept doing what he was doing to get his success: meticulous spacing, patience against the top tiers, and a clean simple neutral. If the Marth main had any peak in 2013 it was his first (and only) trip to America at Apex. He stopped the winners runs of Ally and ZeRo en route to 5th in this stacked tournament.

12. ANTi (Tristate)
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I think I’ve fully fleshed out everything I could say about ANTi at this point. It’s ANTi. He was good at Brawl. What’s new. In 2013, ANTi stuck it out with solo-Meta Knight in contrast to his counterpicking experimentation in the year prior, and I’d argue it paid off, albeit quite marginally. A one rank jump isn’t much after all. Some highlights for the loudmouthed Copiague native include beating 9B at Apex and winning Collision VI over Nairo, Vinnie, ADHD, Zero, Denti, and more. Just to enforce his gravitas, his worst loss in the whole 12 months of playing was to Mr. R, the #14 in the world. So yeah, his 5th consecutive year in the Top 25 and ANTi is still the consistent force of nature that carved that niche in the community that he fit so well in. Of course, looking back, it’s kind of surprising that ANTi was the consistent one. Back in Smash 4, he’d do ridiculous runs like 4th at Hyrule Saga just to get 25th literally the very next weekend. Consistency wasn’t even in ANTi’s vocabulary. I guess those were different times, right? Let’s move on to some stiffer competition.

11. Nakat (Tristate)
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I remember responding to a comment on the Top 100 series that was skeptical (and rightfully so) about Nakat’s placement on the Top 100 of All Time. Nakat finished #74 which, just given his Smash 4 and Ultimate placements, is a little high, but if you look at how he did in Brawl, it makes sense. Nakat’s Brawl career really did the brunt of the weight. Here he is in all of his glory. In 2012, Nakat was a rising star Fox main that was just starting to take sets off of the best in the incredibly stacked region he had the privilege with sparring with. By the end of 2013, with his shiny new main, he hadn’t just risen, he was already starting to be lauded among the greats. The good thing? It’s always cool seeing players get good. The bad thing? Nakat knew he was good. Just watch the first minute.

 

Yeah, he had a big head around this time to say the least. And, I have to admit, for good reason. He held winning records against Nairo, Salem, Mr. R, ANTi (as you would’ve picked up if you watched the video haha), MVD, Bloodcross, and Tyrant, while the matchups that he didn’t usually win against he picked up at least one or two wins before the year was over. This included two against Mew2King (as contrasted with M2K’s six) and one on ZeRo (compared with ZeRo’s three). Well, he took games off of most of his losing matchups, that is. Denti and Vinnie were exceptions. Denti was a freak one-time loss in a weird matchup, but throughout 2013, Nakat didn’t win a single set off of Vinnie compared to the New Yorker’s 11 set win streak. This isn’t counting the sets they played in 2012 where Vinnie, again, went undefeated against Nakat in the numerous sets they played (although this feat wasn’t as impressive in 2012 when Vinnie was #11 and Nakat was barely top 50 level). I cannot make this stuff up. Eleven times. That’s some intense hazing for someone trying to pick up a new main if I’ve ever seen any. Nakat’s stumbles with various top players proved he had much further to go before he could fully live up to his trash talk, but his numerous impressive wins and headcounts cemented himself among the best players in the world.

Intermission

Ok, ok, it seems like I left out a little bit in the intro. As 2013 was a time of fading wonder for Brawl, there were fewer opportunities to show that you had what it took compared to other years. In a far cry from the 6 majors of 2009 or the 8 or so majors of 2010, 2013 only had two: Apex 2013 and SKTAR 2. There was almost exactly 6 months between them too: Apex was in January and SKTAR was in July. In many ways, they were the checkup to see whose local results could actually hold on their own when all of the regions came together to play.

Except they didn’t actually.

You see, in 2013, there were two types of players. First, the local grinders. These players did phenomenally at their local scenes, but when it came to Apex and SKTAR, they slumped. Then there were the wildcards, who, after middlebrow results at locals and regionals, excelled at Apex and SKTAR. The best players were those that had enough of each to be a consistent threat. Now, of course, it’s not supposed to be like that. If you win at your locals over 3 top 10 players you should be getting at least Top 8 at Apex, or at least Top 8 at SKTAR, right? That didn’t happen though. Apex 2013 and SKTAR 2 were like the 2GGC: Civil Wars of their time, but it happened twice in the same year.

As some are familiar, Salem won Apex 2013. Let me put that into perspective. Whenever I do these Brawl year posts I always go a bit past #25 when I rank players so I have a better view of the best of the year. For example, in 2013, I have up to #31 ranked, in 2010, I did up to #35 and so forth randomly. For the sake of brevity and simplicity, I only include the first 25 and for the sake of my own time constraints, I write up on only the first 20. When I created the 2012 rank and kept ranking players, I ended up ranking Salem as the 43rd best player in the world. Not too bad, not too good. He had a win on Atomsk (#30) and another on ADHD (#17), but was held back by occasional bad losses and an inability to make a real dent in the top tier of players. Still, 43rd best in the world is pretty good.

Now, let me paint a scene. The current #43 in the world for Ultimate is Bestness. What if, 6 weeks ago, Bestness won Genesis? That would’ve been pretty unpredictable, right? It wouldn’t be out of character for the entire smash community to go wild about it, being a giant upset (Bestness was seeded #27 at G7) and a monumental win for Ness, a midhigh tier or high tier depending on who you ask. Now, let’s make this scene a little more complex. 2/5 players in the world main Joker and the last time a non-Joker main has won a tournament with both Japanese and American top talent was 3 years ago (Larry’s Apex 2010 win in this case) and the last time a non-Joker main has won a major was almost two years ago (9B’s Sumabato 6 win in March 2011). Now, imagine that of the 3/5 players that don’t main Joker (not don’t use Joker, many people of these 3/5 use him as a secondary), the vast majority play Palutena, Snake, Mr. Game and Watch, or Olimar, four characters that are universally lauded as dynamic and fun to play against. Now imagine in this scenario that Bestness wins Genesis with these odds stacked against him in skill and matchups. Now let’s say that Bestness does all of these things, but in Grand Finals he beats losers bracket Leo. How do you think the community would react to that? Pretty wild, right? Salem was the quintessential “excels at majors but sucks at locals player.” You can say he profitted off of the wild upsets, but he won, and that’s all that really matters, right?

Now then, who won SKTAR? ADHD. Of course ADHD was a great player, he won Pound 4 and was 2nd best in the world at some point, but by 2012, his skill was on the way out. He was #17 in the world, and did really subpar at locals, then, out the blue, won the second biggest tournament of the year. Was he profitting off of the wild upsets of the tournament? Maybe. If unranked players got 2nd and 3rd at Smash Con, I’m sure people would detract from whoever won it by blaming it on the victor fighting those unranked players and avoiding the hard ones. But a dub is a dub. I’ll touch more on SKTAR 2 win in ADHD’s blurb, but the point is this duality between local success and national triumph haunted most of the top players of the time.

Let’s get back to the ranking with the Top 10 in the world.

10. Salem (Tristate)
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Speak of the Salem. Oh wait it doesn’t really work here. After placing a wimpy 33rd at Apex 2012 the year before, Salem tore through Mr. R, Otori, Dojo, Mikeneko, and Mew2King twice to achieve smash’s greatest upset tournament victory ever. I’m not even going to say it was “one of” or it was “probably”. It really was the most unlikely win in smash history. Now, even though he won the year’s biggest tournament, why is Salem only placed 10th? The big ole C word: consistency. Many people know that Apex 2013 was the first Brawl tournament Salem ever won, but it was also the last he would ever win until Smash 4 released (and does that really count?). The first tournament that Salem played in after Apex was Winter Brawl 7 where he placed 2nd, just under Mew2King but triumphing over ZeRo in Losers Finals. That’s not bad, right? Mew2King’s a legend and you can’t expect to beat him every single time you play, and ZeRo is a solid Top 10 threat. The next one was 3rd at Rescue 2. Ok sure, being outplaced by Nairo and Mew2King isn’t the end of the world. Then he got 7th at Rescue 3. Then he got 33rd at SKTAR 2. Really not befitting anyone near best in the world status, huh? Well, I can assure you that Salem knew this well.

 

You see, at first, he gained massive respect worldwide for winning Apex. But, as his results faltered after January, detractors of his skill began to string up and get gradually louder as his results rolled in. Many outside of Tristate (and many in specifically Texas spearheaded by Texas TO Xyro) were quick to belittle Salem as a one-hit wonder and a gimmick. Every tournament thread about tournaments that Salem attended (and didn’t win) became a battleground between ZSS, Tristate, Brawl, Salem trolls and belittlers and Salem’s friends and defenders. Especially after the 33rd at SKTAR, Salem’s pundits became more and more quiet and Smashboards became a one-sided Salem-bashing website. Yep, ever since the beginning, Salem has been embroiled by constant controversy on all sides. It seems nothing has changed at all, huh? All in all, Salem’s debut into the top scene was interesting to say the least. I would generally get into head to heads and matchups but I’ve already said enough. For now, Salem was Brawl’s best gatekeeper for the top level and the tie for best wild card in the scene. Who did I rank higher than Salem then?

9. Rain (East Japan)
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Wasn’t this the guy that got first back in 2012? What happened? If you remember what I described as Rain’s biggest strength back in my last post, it was experience: the more he played against a player, the better he became against said player. The more sets played, the knowledge Rain would attain would grow exponentially; back in 2012, Rain attended many tournaments and racked up useful knowledge to give him those consistent wins. In 2013, three things changed. First, Rain attended fewer tournaments. The combination of fewer tournaments being held and lowered motivation led Rain to play fewer people in general, gradually leaving him behind in MU knowledge against the players he had the upper hand against in the past. One thing in particular that gave Rain a lot of mileage in 2012 was the SRBT series, where the same top players competed in a series of tournaments roughly once every couple months. As Rain got to play the same players constantly, the usually won and immediately utilized that knowledge in other tournaments. 2013 didn’t have any series like that.

Second, many older players retired or played less around this time. As the multitude of top Japanese players that he developed years of matchup experience against stopped playing, Rain’s biggest strength stop being relevant one by one. It doesn’t matter if you have a dominant 4-0 record against a Top 5 player (which Rain had back in the day against some pros, he was ridiculous) if that player isn’t competing anymore.

And lastly, there was a lot of new blood in the scene. Many Smash 4 and Ultimate legends well known today like Abadango, Kamemushi, Etsuji (then known as Edge) and Choco were just starting their careers around this time. Again, Rain couldn’t take advantage of his greatest strength: matchup experience. Of course he would eventually get the data to fight these players, but if you’re getting 4ths and 13ths en route to the knowledge, you could say it’s too late at that point.

This isn’t to say that Rain’s 2013 was all negative. When he played in tournaments with many of the old Japanese gaurd, he excelled. He swept Piosuma 5 over Nietono and Otori like his prime never ended, and proved that fundamentals trump matchup experience any day when he won Piosuma 2.1 while beating newcomers like Abadango and Misaka. It’s just that he wasn’t at that 2012 level like before. Obviously it sucks to not be 1st in the world, but hey, what can you do? While a dormant force, Rain proved that he was still one to fear in the modern scene.

8. ADHD (Tristate)
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A little recap on the last couple RetroSSBBRank posts. Ever since ADHD’s peak in 2010 at an incredible 2nd place, he went on a rapid decline: 9th in 2011, then 17th in 2012. Seeing that he hasn’t careened off the list entirely, you can probably tell that 2013 was a bit better on the Diddy Kong main. No one could predict it from the beginning of the year though. The first three months of 2013 were a complete mixed bag for ADHD, judging by the impressive victory at United 1 over Nairo and the deflating 17th at Apex. Then, after March, he vanished. Especially coming off of underwhelming results for the last couple years, many were ready to write ADHD off as an old god, but ultimately irrelevant in the new meta. When the Diddy Kong returned in July, his results instantly started improving. He finally started to take sets again off of long time rivals like ZeRo and Vinnie who consistently proved to be impassable roadblocks for a good run by the Diddy. What boosted ADHD in this time period? Most say he had developed new techniques. You see, in 2013, most of the great Diddy mains had left and the meta grew stagnant. Gnes retired, ANTi dropped the character, and Japanese Diddys had faded into obscurity. However, ADHD still had one last trick up his sleeve. Down tilt.

Just like in Smash 4, most Diddy Kong mains had their minds stuck on abusing the simplest attributes of the move, always going for the least creative and simplest uses for it. During his hiatus from competition, ADHD turned things on a head and started implementing down tilt in ways that other Diddys (and he) had never done before. His total revamp of the way he approached down tilt opened a new world of options for shield pressure and optimal combos; it was some sort of a renaissance. If you read the intermission, you can probably tell that it all paid off. In the heat of August, ADHD won SKTAR 2, the second biggest American tournament of the year, beating Nakat, Denti, MVD twice, Zinoto twice, and more. Just to emphasize how crazy the tournament was, ADHD’s highest profile win in the whole tournament was in Winners Quarters against ZeRo. Winners Quarters. The two high profile players ended up scratching out a high profile set too. The last hit nailbiter is now one of the most famous sets in Brawl, mostly owing to its crazy ending.

 

While everyone experienced their own crazy story arcs in 2013, ADHD ended the year with a classic comeback story. After being nearly erased from the memories of Brawl players worldwide, I can’t say that anyone would say that ADHD was back; they’d say he never left.

As a small sidenote, 2013 was the peak in ADHD’s doubles reign with Nairo. Between September of 2012 and, well, now, the duo lost 1 tournament. And when I say now, I mean right now. Of the 18 tournaments they’ve won in that almost 8 year period, some of their best victories include Apex 2013 and SKTAR 2 this year. They were clearly the best team in the world and the ADHD/Nairo team would go on to be one of the most dominant in smash history. Not bad.

7. Otori (West Japan)
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Japan’s high variance in 2013 didn’t just hit Mikeneko and Rain, Otori was affected too. Looking at Otori’s 7th place, you could think that remaining Top 10 isn’t bad at all. Sure, nominally a five spot drop isn’t that much, but when you’re dropping from 2nd to 7th it does mean a bit. What changed in 2013 then? Otori generally just did worse in every category that gave him his meteoric 2nd in 2012. One of Otori’s most noticeable declines was his peaks. Where he placed 1st and 3rd at the two biggest tournaments of 2012, Otori placed 3rd and did not attend the other in the two biggest events of 2013. His consistency took a hit too. Now while I don’t think many would ever characterize Otori as the most consistent player in top Brawl, he was one of the most erratic players competing, he still kept things pretty stable throughout 2012, with only one non-Top 8 appearance. The next year he was all over the place, finishing 13th at Piosuma 2.1 just to win two tournaments later.

The spark that drove the jolly Meta Knight to the top levels in the past just wasn’t quite there anymore. I don’t want to write a whole paragraph just talking about Otori’s weak spots though: Shimane’s best player still had some tricks up his sleeve. Otori’s most notable highlight in 2013 was his 3rd place at Apex 2013, a tournament that he attended right before the burnout that crippled his results hit in late January. Entering the tournament as the first seed, he carried that momentum all the way to Mew2king, Brawl’s final boss, where Otori narrowly got reverse 3-0ed. The Japanese Meta Knight’s quite impressive run saw him running through Nairo, 9B, Vinnie, Dabuz, Tyrant, and Seibrik.

6. Nairo (Tristate)
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I love sharing what other people said to elaborate my points, so please, bear it with me just one more time. This quote is from a set in early March of 2013 from Keitaro as he commentates a set between Nairo and Bloodcross. Obviously I can’t fully understand your position, but I can imagine as a reader who sees these posts come up once a month and have no idea in heaven or hell who these players are (for the most part) that the swarm of Meta Knight players is a bit too much. Where’s the difference between all of them after all? I’m sure the vast majority of you are familiar with Nairo anyways, but I’ll just shed some light on what made his brand of Meta Knight so distinct.

Pierce: His (Nairo’s) spacing, precision, and speed are all top class…
Keitaro: He’s just so crazy, you just don’t know what the hell he’s gonna do. That’s one thing about Nairo: he’s definitely the most unpredictable Meta Knight in my opinion. You just don’t know what he’s gonna do. Like he has 600 different moves, like a fighting game character.

Not much has changed, huh? As I’ve mentioned before, this distinct aggressive and unpredictable style never failed to gain him fans, especially in the era where most were taking after Mew2King’s more passive approach. However, as fan-favorite as it was, this was still Brawl, a game favoring patience and discipline, so when Nairo let his style run more free in 2013, he inevitably lost some of the luster that had defined his peak months in the previous year. Nairo was quickly falling ito the “does well at locals, but poor at nationals category.”

Nairo also encountered plain bad luck in 2013. Up to this point, Nairo’s lifetime record with Vinnie was 7-4, and although it wasn’t a free win, seeing Vinnie in Nairo’s side of the bracket was always a positive for the young Meta Knight’s fans. Unfortunately for Nairo though, midway through the year, Vinnie moved to Texas for a few months, avoiding his bracket demon and leaving Nairo high and dry. Nairo faced more bad luck when Mew2King returned to competing more this year. Mew2King’s cold, analytical gameplay proved to be a direct counter to Nairo, and even though the young New Jerseyan kept the sets competitive, matches always tended to be in Mew2King’s favor. When Mew2King competed less in 2012, Nairo could play at his peak with his biggest bracket demon and make big runs, but Mew2King’s return in 2013 ultimately spelled doom in many occasions where Nairo would’ve regularly avoided in years past. Now of course, Nairo wasn’t washed or anything, 4th at Apex and 1st at KTAR 7 don’t come out of pure bracket luck, it’s just that 2013 was more of a transition year before he could achieve his full glory of the coming years. Who were the players that surpassed him this year anyways?

5. Ally (Midwest)
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If half of the players were known for crazy peaks and wild inconsistency, Ally was one of the biggest symbols of pure consistency. This isn’t just in 2013 too, if you look at how I ranked him over the years, aside from 2008 where he was just gaining skill, his ranks are in order were 2nd, 3rd, 3rd, 6th, and now 5th. That whole time he never went more than 4 spots from another rank he held. In 2013, Ally continued his consistency, except this time against a different set of foes.

In the late summer of 2012, Ally moved to Flint, Michigan, and, in turn, could not fight against the motley of Tristate players that he was accustomed to playing against often. That didn’t keep him from practicing though, as among the midwesterners that Ally played against often included exciting newcomers like Zinoto, V115, and Blacktwins, as well as skilled veterans that’ve made their appearances on my rankings before, like Shugo, Lain, and Anther. Aside from a few hiccups now and then, Ally swept the scene, becoming the most dominant player in the Midwest’s Brawl history within a period of mere months. That isn’t to say that Ally never went mano y mano with his old Tristate partners though. Throughout the year, Mew2King, Zero, and Nakat travelled to flyover country to fight the Snake main on his own turf, all to limited success because of their Canadian demon. When Ally traveled to Tristate in turn, he picked up several valuable wins on top players like Nairo, Salem, Bloodcross and more. Of Ally’s myriad of accomplishments in 2013, you could argue that his best was his record on Mew2King, which, for the first time in Brawl history, was in Ally’s favor in the end of the year. All of this proves that as new challengers rose and old kings fell, Ally stood the test of time as one of Brawl’s strongest to ever play.

4. Vinnie (Tristate)
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The Tristate Icies main returns for the 3rd year on my list, and now on his highest spot yet. At this point, Vinnie wasn’t just punching with the greats, he was one of the greats, and he proved it time and time again when he competed. You can’t tell this at face value though. At the two majors of the year, Vinnie placed 13th and 17th: definitely not befitting of the world’s fourth best competitor. Where Vinnie did shine, though, was at locals. You can probably tell what category of player he fell under. From what I’ve heard, the pressures of big tournaments often got to him, leading to unsavory losses and defeats to players he would normally roll over, but low stakes locals were just another walk in the park. Here’s an excerpt from the conversation I had with ADHD (yep, ADHD) about Vinnie and his mentality/playstyle:

Orange: Particularly in 2013, he (Vinnie) tended to buster out at the big tournaments, but at regular locals/regionals, he would do phenomenally over the best players like Nairo, you, and others…. Was there something about his personality that made him less pressured at smaller events?
ADHD: You’ve got to constantly be playing to handle national pressure…. Also Vinnie is a high (and) low player. Some players are just like that. His best is amazing and sometimes he’s really mediocre and plays very lackluster and loses to mid tier players. I’d say he gets nervous but also is inconsistent in general. He’s an awesome player though.

There you have it, from a reputable source. If you’re reading this, thanks for responding, ADHD, you make my job a lot easier! Especially compared to the steely consistency of Ally, the pure skill ceiling of Mew2King, and the discipline of ZeRo, Vinnie was the top level’s most inconsistent threat (even more than Nairo), but when he had those highs, he had those highs. During his stay in Texas, he handily won the legacy Texas regional WHOBO 5 over Denti, Rich Brown, Gnes, and more, and over the course of the year amassed a spectacular head to head count, only surpassed by the #1 of 2013. Of course, I can’t lie: a lot of that was him against Nakat. 11 wins is 11 wins after all. Vinnie had impressive head to heads outside of the young Icies main too, with a 1-0 record on Mew2King, 3-0 on Salem, 2-1 on ANTi, 2-0 on Denti, and 2-1 on Bloodcross. Since his debut in 2011, Vinnie has skyrocketed on my lists with skill and remarkable highs: he still had a bit to go before the best in the world, though. Who were the best players in 2013?

3. ZeRo (Tristate/Chile)
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I’m sure everyone is familiar with ZeRo and the crazy peaks he’s achieved in the past, so it shouldn’t be any surprise to see him all the way up here, as 2013 was simply a stepping stone for the greatness he had yet to achieve. The weird thing is that originally, I didn’t even have ZeRo that high on my rankings. If I recall, he was sitting pretty at 5th, which isn’t bad by any means, but actually a bit inaccurate if you were in the scene at the time. You see, from a birds eye view, ZeRo was a Top 5 player, but he wasn’t Top 3 level, y’know? If you look at ZeRo’s performances at the two supermajors of the year, he got 9th at Apex and 5th at SKTAR 2, not very becoming of a Top 3 player. However, with some further inspection, you’ll see that ZeRo’s 2013 is much more than what meets the eye.

Just like Vinnie, he typically performed poorly at the large tournaments, sure. With any top tier competitor, he was surrounded by pressures to place well, especially with the financial state of his family and the fact that he flew half of the world to get there too. ZeRo’s strength came a lot from the smaller tournaments that he attended. Of course he won every tournament in Chile, he had eclipsed any South American competitor in skill years before (in both Melee and Brawl, for the record), but he routinely swept locals in every area of the United States too. Honestly, there’s too many to count, but, at some point in time, ZeRo won a tournament against each American player in this list at least once. He wasn’t just farming Tristate too. He traveled to Maryland and beat Seagull, GiMR, and Logic. He went to California and beat Larry, Tyrant, and Rich Brown. In March he competed in Michigan beating Zinoto and Lain. And would this be an Orange post without head to head talk? He held winning records against basically everyone and his worst loss the whole year was to Dabuz, which, in all fairness, isn’t a bad loss at all. Aren’t sold yet? I actually wasn’t. However, Poyo’s insight changed my mind. Poyo is a Kirby and Meta Knight player that was an active player in Brawl during its entire lifespan. He’s currently ranked 14th best in the world in Brawl, and he helped me a lot with sorting the players and giving first hand perspectives of players at the time. In an initial draft of the Top 20, I placed Vinnie above ZeRo, and he responded with this:

“I’ve been thinking more about the 2013 ranking, and there wasn’t a single
tourney ZeRo went to that he wasn’t at least 2nd seed at WORST (except in January when he was super new in the US or when Nakat was first on the NJ/NY PR, but that PR was incredibly stupid). He may not have the head-to-head win count that Vinnie does (and to be honest a lot of Vinnie’s was a 11-0 farming Nakat) but he won both Rescues 2 and 3, won the 2 locals before SKTAR 2 (that had Nairo and Anti at them respectively) and won every Midwest and West Coast tourney he went to. I don’t feel like Vinnie has that many stacked tourney wins. Like I said before, I was around back then and the narrative at the time was pretty much that ZeRo was slated to win SKTAR 2 and the narrative was kinda that he was the best in the world if he did (since he won his last tourneys before leaving America</em in early 2013 then won the 2 locals returning to America in Summer 2013).”

Yeah, ZeRo was that dominant that he ended up Top 2 seed at virtually every tournament he played at. Kinda similar to Smash 4, huh? Even though this is just the second year that ZeRo is on the Top 20, the hard work and thirst for competition that defined his later career was already set. By 2013, he was well on his way to one of the greatest of all time.

2. 9B (West Japan)
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I mentioned in the rest of the Japanese writeups that the year was a turbulent time for their Brawl scene, and that was true. However, one player proved that he had what it took to persevere: 9B. After an iffy 2012 littered by suboptimal losses and being constantly overshadowed by his flashier peers, 9B exited the flames of 2013 as the player on top. Just like Vinnie, at face value, you wouldn’t really think so. His first and only American tournament of the year saw him place 9th, losing to ANTi and Otori while defeating ADHD and Nick Riddle. However, unlike Vinnie, 9B brought the consistency, and he brought it hard.

After Apex 2013, 9B didn’t lose another tournament the whole year. That should say enough. 9B thrived the most among West Japanese players, his most common training partners, in a Rain-esque way, but East Japanese players fell victim to him as well. Seasoned veterans like Earth and plucky newcomers like Shogun (yep, he played Brawl, too) fell to the monolith of skill alike, it didn’t really matter. Now, I usually have more of subtance to say. Maybe some head to head talk, maybe some bad losses explanations, but I really don’t. 9B was just that dominant. My man just won. He was the clear #1 in Japan by an incredible margin, and he regained his position in the Top 2 of the world. The only blemish in 9B’s armor was Apex but, even then, 9th losing to ANTi and Otori isn’t bad in any way.

You know what makes it even more impressive? Many of the tournaments that 9B won, he TOed at. Yep, he organized upwards of 100 people almost every month, and, while exhausted from TOing, didn’t hesitate to kick their asses. What was 9B’s secret? Was he aggressively cheesing his opponents? Rigging the brackets for favorable matchups? No. It was just hard work. When Mew2King and company travelled to Japan in 2012 and talked with the players there, the top Japanese players gave them a tour of where they practiced, and, according to them, ever since the game came out, 9B never missed a day playing the game. Four years through and it didn’t matter, rain or shine, if his competition was as fierce as Rain or Mew2King, 9B would never fail to pick up the game and put in the time to get the results. Legend.

If you’re reading this on Pikachu492’s website, logically you’ve scrolled far enough to see the #1 player. It shouldn’t be any surprise but without further ado…

1. Mew2King (Tristate)
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Remember when I said in the Intermission that there were two types of players? The “does well at locals but sucks at nationals” type and the “does well at nationals but sucks at locals type”? Mew2King had mastered both. Oh wait that sounds stupid. Mew2King did well at both. Sounds even stupider, whatever. Many people associate the back half of 2013 to be Mew2King’s “Return of the King” in Melee. After years of tournament finishes being outclassed left and right by his fellow gods, and more and more losses to nongods as the years passed, Mew2King hit a new beginning in his career starting in October of ‘13, eventually ending at Apex 2014 where he finished 2nd. In this revival of sorts, he won 18 tournaments in a row, and this wasn’t just locals, this includes stacked majors like the Big House 3 and the Revival of Melee 6 and multiple locals/regionals with gods in attendance. What people know less about is that the King had a sort of resurgence in Brawl too that year. Let’s recap on where we left Mew2King in 2012. As his attention was split more and more between school, work, Melee, and Brawl, his results suffered and he dropped from #1 to #8 in 2012. He was still a Top 10 player and often first seed at regionals and locals for simple legacy bias, but he had lost his respect as the best player in the world. What changed?

I’m not some psychologist or any close friend to Mew2King, so I can’t say for sure, but from what I can find: EVO 2013. Up to this point, smash in general, both Melee and Brawl was looking to go out the door. However, EVO 2013 shined as a hope of what could be to come for the scenes: longterm financial investment: this gave Mew2King some motivation to practice more and compete at high levels again. This is loosely adapted from what he said in this video where he watches the smash documentary and gives insight on his experiences at the time. Of course I don’t know Mew2King in any sort of the matter anyways so take what I say with a grain of salt. With all of that said, what did Mew2King do to regain #1? Most simply, his win rates. Aside from a 0-1 record with Vinnie and 1-2 record with Ally, he had the edge on every single player he fought on in the year with no bad losses. In region greats like ZeRo, Salem, Nairo, ADHD, Nakat, ANTi, and more, as well as Japanese rivals that gave him trouble like Rain and Otori (the #1 and #2 of 2012) all finished the year with losing records to the king by years end. Sure, about half of these records he lost a couple times. But the key for Mew2King this year was consistency: as many times as he got beaten by opponents, he beat them harder and more and more often. He wasn’t looking bad in cold hard tournaments too. He placed second at the most important tournament of the year and won KTAR 8 over some of the best in the world. This is not even mentioning that aside from a 4th and a 5th, he finished Top 2 in every Brawl tournament he played at the whole year.

Yeah, the King had returned.

I hope you guys liked this, I put a little extra love to it. One more time, I’d like to thank ADHD and Poyo for their responses, Poyo for his dedication in helping me in the last stages of the project, and Pikachu492 for letting me use her website. 2014 comes when 2014 comes. Stay safe, and I’ll see you then!

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