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Smash 4: The PGR V5 and the Future of Competitive Smash

Yet another Smash 4 competitive season is in the books, and it was one of the most interesting seasons to date. When Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios retired after 4 consecutive seasons as the best player in the world, the Smash 4 throne was up for grabs. This created a season full of tension and excitement.

With this season coming to a close, the fifth Panda Global Rankings (PGR v5) have been released, listing off the greatest Smash players based on compiled performances. The list began last week and concluded yesterday with numbers 10-1. Going into the final list, people had a pretty good idea of where the remaining ten players would fall, but a few surprises managed to wiggle their way in to the top ten. There are some pretty big implications that this list has on not just Smash 4 history, but the future of competitive Smash.

Some New Faces

Cosmos had a huge year and even picked up a sponsorship! // Image: Twitter

This version of the PGR saw many players rank the highest they ever have. Players like Brian “Cosmos” Kalu (#7), Tamim “Mistake” Omary (#6), and Ezra “Samsora” Morris (#12) all had their best seasons to date.

Landon “Captain L” Trybuch (#36) and Cole “Rags” Agan(#40) both saw their first ever placements on the PGR. These players, along with many other young Smashers have helped breathe new life into this scene.

This past season of Smash has showcased just how much this scene has evolved over the years. The early days of Smash 4 were arguably more mundane, since we would often see the same set of familiar faces in every top 8. As we saw the Smash 4 meta develop over the last few years, so too did we see an influx of players rising through the ranks. This has caused more recent tournaments to have a greater diversity of players to expect to see at the top of brackets. They also bring greater character representation and upsets, which are always a plus.

A New Champion

The title of “best in the world” was up for grabs for the first time in the Smash 4’s history, and the race to the top was an exciting one. Leonardo “MkLeo” Lopez Perez, Saleem “Salem” Young, Nairoby “Nairo” Quezada, and Gavin “Tweek” Dempsey were all picks to take the newly vacated Smash 4 throne.

However, one of those players fell out of contention early. One of the biggest surprises of the season was Salem slightly falling off. Salem didn’t travel as much this season, and coupling this a few surprise losses made him drop a few spots this go around, falling from #2 to #5 in the world.

NRG Esports’ Nairo made a big push early in the season, taking a big tournament win over MkLeo at Smash Masters League: Battle for Vegas. He placed high throughout most of the season, but after a big loss to MkLeo at Get On My level (GOML) 2018, and a few low placements to end the season, his stock dropped. Nairo ended up placing #4 and has bounced between 3rd and 4th best in the world for the past few seasons.

The Final Battle

MkLeo is officially the best Smash 4 player in the world. // Image: YouTube

The real battle for the top spot was between Tweek and MkLeo. Tweek has been playing incredibly well for the past two seasons, and it all culminated in his best season to date. Tweek rose for the proverbial mid-card and proved that he was a force to be reckoned with. MkLeo, however, was not to be outdone and continued his dominance. The two went back and forth all season, both placing high at every event. MkLeo went into the final event of the season, CEO 2018, with a set lead over Tweek. They were both basically guaranteed to be #1 and #2 respectively, but placement would come down to grand finals of CEO. Tweek made an amazing losers run, and even reset the bracket against Leo, but in the end, it wasn’t enough.

MkLeo took the second set of grand finals 3-1 over Tweek to solidify him as the #1 player in the world. Both players fought hard and it really could have gone either way, but Leo edged it out over Tweek. MkLeo is now the best Smash 4 player in the world, but what does the future hold?

Four More Months

With there being only four months until Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Smash 4 is beginning to wind down. PG stats did announce that there will be one final list of the top 100 Smash 4 players of all time, however looks to be the main focus moving forward.

Players are hungry for a fresh start with the new entry and anything could happen. Smash Ultimate looks to be the most diverse Smash Bros. yet. With significant changes to the game’s mechanics, all of which seem to complement and encourage competitive play, Smash Ultimate is exciting many Smash veterans. But perhaps more importantly, Smash Ultimate is likely going to be an entry point for many new players, making for an even brighter future for competitive Smash.

Who knows, maybe the next Smash bros sensation could be training for their first tournament. Or maybe ZeRo or MkLeo could just come back and dominate all over again! Either way, the future of Smash is one to keep an eye on.


Did your favorite player rank highly this year? Let us know in the comments below!

Featured image courtesy of Smashpedia.

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