LumiRank 2023 | 11 - 20

Welcome back to LumiRank 2023. Smash Ultimate has only seen its competition grow stronger week after week in one of its busiest years yet. LumiRank is thus proud to bring you the 150 strongest players in the world, based on the period from December 19th, 2022 to December 17th, 2023.

For information on the LumiRank 2023 schedule, check out the landing page here.

MuteAce || Photo: Bekah Wong (@alonelychime)

If you were showing a friend competitive Smash and wanted them to leave with the impression that Smash Brothers Ultimate is the most beautiful and amazing thing to ever happen to the Earth, you would be hard-pressed to find a player who could better convey that with their gameplay than MuteAce.

But beauty hurts, and hand issues have meant that MuteAce can’t always perform at the level Peach requires. Despite that, he’s had some of the most impressive bracket runs in Ultimate this year.

MuteAce has been ranked internationally every year since 2019, but in the past two years, we’ve gotten to see a completely new player. When he’s rolling, the complex movement patterns, impenetrable defense, and the scariest punish game in Ultimate combine to build an unsolvable puzzle that has taken down acola, Light, MkLeo, Sparg0, Maister, Riddles, and pretty much anyone else who has had the misfortune of seeing him in the bracket.

His run at Genesis 9, where he beat Monte and Maister in what he feels is Peach’s worst matchup, then acola, Glutonny, Light, and MkLeo before being double eliminated by Leo in grand finals at the second biggest North American tournament of the year is something that people will talk about until Smash 6. And his comeback against Sparg0 to complete a reverse 3-0 at ReWired Fest might be the definitive Smash clip of the year.

It hasn’t been the most consistent season, but MuteAce is not only capable of beating the world’s best players, he beats the world’s best players. And who knows? Next year, he could be the world’s best player.

— Jack “Trash Day!” Clifton

E36 | Hurt || Photo: 限界社会人ナナミ / Genkai Syakaijin Nanami (@takatou0711)

If you hadn’t heard of Hurt before this year, no one could blame you. After all, he’d only attended three offline events, none of them being particularly outstanding. But as with almost all Japanese prodigies appearing seemingly out of nowhere, he too was forged in the fires of Smashmate.

He did have a promising start to the year, but something seemed to have shifted at Kagaribi #10. After a rather early loss to Yez, he ran through a gauntlet of rather impressive opponents before being knocked out by none other than Dabuz in a close game 5.

After that, it seemed like the floodgates had opened. He won his first regional (in his home region of Kyushu nonetheless), entered and won his first international tournament, ACE-HIGH, and won another superregional all within the span of two months, double eliminating players like Yaura, Neo and Snow in the process.

This year, winning a major in Japan was something that was basically impossible, which could be attributed to acola’s dominance combined with Miya's incredulous work ethic. This meant that only 2 others managed such a feat, and although Hurt wasn’t one of them, he was the person that got closest to it.

DELTA #5 was definitely the defining tournament of Hurt’s year, and although an early encounter with Kameme meant he had a tough losers run ahead of him, he persevered. In this run alone, he beat five top 20 players, most notably including both of Japan’s top dogs, Miya and acola.

If his current trajectory is anything to go by, reaching top 10 next year isn’t only possible, it should almost be expected.

— Jonas “Fortuna” Stritzinger

iXA | Yaura || Photo: さきょう / sakyo (@sakyooooou)

Ending his two month hiatus in early January, Yaura got a big start to his year at Kansai series Sumabato SP. He’d defeat his former regional rival, Asimo, as well as both Yoshidora and Kaninabe. Like many players, though, he’d find himself stumped against an ascendant Miya.

These kinds of regional performances formed the backbone of his 2023 season. He would often take good losses at major events both stateside and in Japan, but he’d rarely go particularly far. This isn’t to say he never did – he would defeat a laundry list of top players in his run to 4th at DELTA #5.

Conversely, his more regionally inclined runs — including B+ Tier CEO 2023 — would see him regularly contend for the podium and often win outright. Combined with his high quality losses and some of his truly magnificent wins, Yaura would become one of the most threatening gatekeepers in 2023.

This isn’t to say that’s all he did, though — sometimes he’d truly stun. The best example for his year by far is at Golden Week. In an otherwise understated week, Yaura would utterly demolish Sparg0 in a 3-0 few expected, making him of Japan’s few top players to truly take a crack at Mexico’s best.

This complicated web forms Yaura’s best year to date, ascending to the top 20 and promising more year-defining runs to come.

— Joshua “Barnard’s Loop” Craig

SZ | Asimo || Photo: さきょう / sakyo (@sakyooooou)

After moving from his home island of Shikoku to the Chugoku area, Asimo would go on to have his most active offline year to date — a feat fitting for the World Warrior’s strongest soldier. Not skipping a beat from his first big year, Asimo would start 2023 off strong with a 9th at Umebura SP 9 and manage a second place finish at Kagaribi #9 just a month later.

In contrast to his occasional inconsistencies during 2022, Asimo became a remarkably consistent player in 2023. His peak run at Kagaribi — where he notably took a set off of acola — would still be his anchor for the year, but his consistency across Golden Week is worth noting. He would place 13th at all three supermajors, taking good losses and collecting wins that would age very well as the year progressed.

While his Kagaribi run was him trying to claw at acola through losers, his run at UltCore — Chubu’s first major series — saw him coming painfully close to winning a major outright. He managed to defeat Miya, Japan’s other big titan, in a close 3-2 set. He’d unfortunately lose the runback in another close game five.

This didn’t seem to discourage him for the rest of the year, as he’d continue to regularly appear in top 8s of Japan’s largest events, and even go on a lengthy losers run during his visit to Europe at Ultimate Wanted 5. Asimo has grinded his way through three continents and seems stronger as every year passes — what will his 2024 bring?

— Joshua “Barnard’s Loop” Craig

SBI | KEN || Photo: Bekah Wong (@alonelychime)

The blue blur’s most prominent Japanese player can’t and won’t stop for a breath: Attending thirteen supermajor events in both North America and Japan, KEN finally broke his issues with consistency overseas that had plagued him for much of Ultimate’s lifespan. Signs of this during the spring and summer of 2022 were there, but his 2023 became relentless.

For one, KEN has far fewer bracket demons than he used to. Players like Zomba, Maister, Sparg0, and more would prove to be near immovable walls no matter how close he came. This year, KEN finally defeated Sparg0 in a 3-2 that was characteristic of their other sets, only with KEN finally winning.

It wasn’t just bracket demons he’d be conquering: KEN would roll up to top 8 finishes at Smash Con 2023, Port Priority 8, Watch the Throne, and Delfino Maza, usually taking big sets in the process. His sets against MkLeo in 2019 proved to be prescient; after Leo took a clean win in pools at Watch the Throne, KEN eventually clawed his way back to Leo and took a 3-1 lifetime lead over him.

His performances in Japan would often vary more, but a huge keystone to his placing and a sign of what would come happened at MaesumaTOP #11 where he defied the odds and defeated acola.

His late year consistency only fielded more discussion about Sonic’s place in Ultimate’s metagame after Sonix had already emerged as one of the best players of the year, making KEN’s decision to largely sideline his Sephiroth seem like the right one. If KEN persists with this consistency into 2024, he may once again look like a top ten threat as he was in the later portion of Smash 4’s competitive scene.

— Joshua “Barnard’s Loop” Craig

Zomba || Photo: Brandon Prudencio (@TridentSkrt)

I wrote about Zomba back in July because I admired how well he was able to trash talk AND prove himself by simply being better at the game. 

The first few months of the year were rough for his placements. In fact, he didn’t actually make a major top 8 until LVL UP EXPO in late February. He seemingly struggled to keep up with certain playstyles for a while, but this was just the beginning of the year. The improvement that followed this was something that few could have seen coming. 

In May, Zomba would attend Golden Week in Japan. The first tournament of the weekend, DELTA #4, was not quite up to his standards, but he didn’t give up and nearly made top 8 at Kagaribi #10, the biggest tournament of the first half-year. He would gain some solid experience and decent wins, giving him the confidence to redeem himself back in North America at Battle of BC 5. This would start Zomba’s summer with a bang.

Within the span of a month, Zomba would attend 4 supermajors, and would only improve in each subsequent one. At DELTA #4 he got 25th, Kagaribi #10 he got 9th, Battle of BC 5 he would get 7th. Crown the Third would continue this streak. Zomba’s performance at this supermajor was something nobody saw coming. Not only would he win, but he had to go through Chag, Sonix, MkLeo, Tweek, and Shuton just to be able to make it to grands. 

From there, Zomba would continue to exceed expectations, adding even more supermajor and premier top 8s to his name, and wins over a good portion of the top 20. The final months of the season were fairly slow. He took it easy, not attending much outside of the supermajors once a month. It’s difficult to show all of what Zomba has done in a short blurb, as this merely scrapes the iceberg of all of his wins, placements, and sets. Zomba has shown that dedication and practice really does lead to success.

— Benjamin "BennyTheGreat" Schmid

Liquid | Dabuz || Photo: Bekah Wong (@alonelychime)

A few months back, I wrote my magnum opus for Team Liquid: a full dissection of Dabuz’s season. The only reason I’m proud of this piece is because of how deep I could get into the subject matter; Dabuz and I hopped on a call and talked for two straight hours. Dabuz has seniority, and his years of studying Smash as a science make him the single most articulate voice about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. It’s this analytical — and dare I say, galaxy-sized — mindset that carved his path to Grands of the year’s largest event, Smash Con, taking down a white-hot Marss and an unstoppable Miya in the process. This run serves as the culmination of the “we’re so back” energy that broke him out of his early year slump through his monumental losers run at Kagaribi #10 and his event win at CEO.

Dabuz’s journey this year involved throwing out the entire traditional Rosalina playbook to modernize the character as one that could effectively hang with the increasingly polarized meta threats. It’s this sense of innovation that led him to accomplishing unprecedented career feats this year, such as taking his first ever set over Light at the “LIT”vitational.

With that said, though, Dabuz has a fresh set of problems to solve going into 2024, whether it be a new demon in Lima, or the new guard of Sparg0, Sonix, Glutonny, and acola all seeming to have his number, not to mention Miya’s Zombie. All eyes are on whether Dabuz faces them down with the familiar Min-Min/Alph/Rosa trifecta, or perhaps a fourth, more brooding option.

Smash’s greatest thinker has had a rollercoaster of a year, but I have no doubt that the future will hold more for him. After all, nobody can beat Batman with prep time.

— Hugh-Jay “trade war” Yu

You can read more about Dabuz’s journey in Dabuz’s odyssey: A king’s journey home.

R2G | Kameme || Photo: Bekah Wong (@alonelychime)

This year’s bracket luck has been quite cruel to Kameme. He had several encounters with one of his personal worst matchups, Wolf, often ending his runs much earlier than one would have hoped. He also had a few run-ins with legends, who just had to turn up with their A-game on that specific day. But two players specifically were the biggest thorns in his side: Miya and Shuton. With acola and Miya having such a firm grip on basically every major they entered in Japan, winning one was more difficult than ever. Kameme managed to finish 2nd at a major a whopping three times, with all six of his losses coming from the aforementioned duo of Shuton and Miya

The most unfortunate instance was seibugeki #13, where he finally got his first win over Shuton in their eleventh encounter, just to swiftly be dispatched by Miya in grand finals. But why am I telling you all this? Just to drive in how impressive it is that Kameme has achieved the heights that he has. Having entered events in six different countries on three different continents, he not only got his aforementioned three major grand finals appearances, but he also managed to have two of the greatest losers runs of the entire year at Battle of BC 5 and MaesumaTOP #13, accumulating a mind-numbing five top 10 wins and three more top 20 ones in those two events alone. 

Narrowly missing top 10 once again, I would argue that if there’s a single player who deserves to finally make his way into those esteemed ranks next year, it’s Kameme for sure.

— Jonas “Fortuna” Stritzinger

ZETA | Tea || Photo: Brandon Prudencio (@TridentSkrt)

To the surprise of absolutely nobody, it was another excellent season for Tea.

Tea is the only Japanese player other than Shuton to never be ranked outside of the top 15 in Ultimate’s lifespan. He travels, he dominates, he conquers.

Tea is good enough that his Pac-Man and Kazuya could both be ranked in the top 20 by themselves, but as a duo Tea has an answer for nearly every problem posed to him. For two characters with completely different playstyles to be wielded so perfectly by one player is unprecedented, and Tea spent this year proving that he could keep up with Japan’s white-hot young talent.

He had top 12 finishes at six majors on three different continents; he defeated Glutonny, Maister, Dabuz, Supahsemmie, MKBigBoss, Chronos and Ouch!? all outside of Japan. He didn’t slack off in Japan either, making waves at Japanese tournaments like S+ tier Umebura SP 9 where he beat Kuro, who was on the PGRU v2, before getting wins on Toriguri, Yn, Munekin, Asimo, Kameme and Yoshidora.

But that wasn’t all; Tea had a well-rounded season that consisted of wins against most of Japan’s top talent throughout the year. He beat KEN, Shuton, Umeki, Repo, Huto, sssr and zackray on his home turf, along with defending the homeland against invaders like Scend and Cosmos.

Tea may not be the plucky upstart we remember from 2019 anymore, but his flashy combos, sound fundamentals and never-say-die attitude have made him one of the greatest Smash Ultimate players of all time.

And he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

— Jack “Trash Day!” Clifton

LG | MkLeo || Photo: Bekah Wong (@alonelychime)

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: this was not MkLeo’s best year. The surgical spacing and patience that brought Leo to the top of the world has seemed to falter in the new meta, one where hitbox spam and devastating on-hit have become the norm for the top of the top. Yet to call Leo bad, or washed, or any of the other things that get thrown around on Twitter reveals our biases: that we’re so used to an utterly dominant Leo that we can’t comprehend an era where he’s not divine. And while he may not be the untouchable deity that he once was, he’s not exactly mortal yet.

Let’s get this straight: MkLeo is the only player to have multiple set wins over Light, Sonix, and Sparg0. He’s the only one piloting more than three characters at the highest level. He’s made top 8 at eight separate majors this year — the lofty pipe dream of many a competitor is a feat that Leo pulls off on his off days. He’s continued to be an utter roadblock for players like Maister, Dabuz, and Tea. And it’s impossible not to mention GENESIS 9 — MkLeo is the only player outside of the top four to win a tournament so far above the rest that we had to make up a new name for its tier.

It’s been a while since MkLeo was the underdog — six years, in fact — but the fact that he’s made the climb once means that he can do it again. With his roster getting focused down and his own zero-to-death machine being added to his arsenal, there’s no reason to believe that Leo, putting in the effort, can’t return to the top of Olympus.

And the road once traveled is that much easier to travel again.

— Kenny “kenniky” Wang

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