LumiRank 2023 | 21 - 30

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.

BUZZ | Neo || Photo: アルファ / Alfa in Japan (@alfa_gorinne)

There’s an old saying by a personal role model of mine: “Have more faith. If you have no faith, why are you here?” And let me tell you, there’s nobody I have more faith in than Corrin extraordinaire Neo.

Last time I wrote about Neo, it was the week leading up to Super Smash Con, the event where I had sponsored him to attend. Frankly, I was working really hard to cast aside any competitive expectations. Anything can happen in Smash! Of course, he proceeded to go on a career defining run at Smash Con to 5th, taking down Tweek in the process, and with it, put his handprint on the ceiling of competitive Smash as the only man who made acola look mortal that weekend.

Neo’s year was far from over, though, as he traveled the world while still remaining high attendance in Japan: Miami, Seattle, Shanghai, Indonesian dental clinics; hell, he even found himself as the first Japanese player to be claimed #1 in Ohio. And although his major results may not have reached the heights of that initial Smash Con run, he still found smaller yet important wins; taking home Pearl Two over Kameme and Lucid over Onin.

More importantly though, the world got to learn about his infectiously hilarious personality, with an unparalleled drive to improve and love for the game. I’m proud to get to call Neo my friend, and he’s the living embodiment that the faithful always find a way to be rewarded.

— Hugh-Jay “trade war” Yu

WIN | Lima || Photo: @MajoraXrd

For as long as there has been Bayonetta, there has been Lima. Ever since his breakout nearly seven years ago at EVO 2017, Lima has been at the forefront of the Bayonetta metagame, pushing the character to her absolute limit every time he picks up a controller.

This year was no different, and with Bayo stocks at an all-time high in Ultimate, 2023 was the year that Lima became a real threat to beat any player he played, no matter how good they were or how ready they thought they were for Bayonetta. What sets Lima apart is his explosiveness. Stocks like these, against top 5 players, aren’t just exciting clips for Lima (don’t get me wrong, the clip is exciting) — they’re genuine parts of a consistently terrifying gameplan.

It’s like Bayo flows through him. He has such an intricate understanding of all of her options; if a solution exists, he finds it.

17th at both Japanese supermajors he attended, 7th at Riptide, 5th at Collision, 3rd at Rise ‘N Grind, and 3rd at the Coinbox IRL, Lima’s résumé this year can stand up to nearly anyone’s. Despite struggling somewhat in smaller tournaments, Lima’s smiley disposition, unshakable faith in himself and his character, and an inherent ability to shine under the brightest of lights have made him a regular sight in major top cuts.

Between him, MuteAce, and SHADIC, the Smash scene is learning a lesson that people have been trying to make clear for hundreds of years:

Don’t mess with Texas.

— Jack “Trash Day!” Clifton

BMS | Bloom4Eva || Photo: Théo Lalanne (@thlalanne)

It’s been an interesting competitive year for Bloom4Eva. Whilst a quick glance at their record would outstrip most of their peers on this ranking, further inspection would show a surprisingly low attendance in the latter half of the year, especially on the grandest stage. Despite this, Bloom’s consistent top-cut performances when they did make an appearance have earned them 28th on this ranking.

So here’s a fun factoid for you to start this off: In the first half of this season, Bloom won all but TWO of the tournaments they attended, and these include SmashUK/IE Circuit Finale, GLORY 3, and Invasion: April 2023, gathering wins over Glutonny, Sisqui, AndresFn, Luugi, quiK, and more. Most notably in this lineup is Shonen WAR #2, which saw one of the most outrageous top 8 performances with a 3-0 over AndresFn, 3-0 over Glutonny, and 6-0 over Sisqui to win. The year continued with a 2nd at ICARUS 2023 and Tech Republic VII, 5th at Tera, and 9th at Regen 2023, Ultimate Fighting Arena 2023, and Watch the Throne to close out the year with his only transatlantic excursion of 2023, which included wins over Lui$, Zomba, and further victories over Glutonny, Sisqui, and Luugi.

Whilst on the surface this still looks like an incredible year, the performances and attendance would fall short of their own standards. But this is just kind of the person Bloom4Eva is, striving to be the best in their field but simultaneously making sure to take care of themselves. Bloom’s absence from any social media is noted but once again falls into this category and I think this competitive year — more than any other — best showcases this mentality, and we can only hope they come into 2024 swinging for the fences once again.

— Tom “G-P” Scott

ZETA | Gackt || Photo: さきょう / sakyo (@sakyooooou)

One of Japan’s most explosive players had a lot to live up to after hitting top 30 back in 2022. Despite some stumbles along the way, Gackt has continued to impress. His unpredictability often manifested in North America, with a run to 9th at Crown the Third where he swiftly eliminated Sonix and took MkLeo to the brink for the first time in his career.

After his 49th at Smash Con, Gackt picked things back up just one week later at Delfino Maza. Ness is known for his polarized matchups, with Mr. Game & Watch being one the hardest, but Gackt managed an unexpected 3-0 over Maister as a crown jewel for his four set losers run.

In a career highlight, Gackt placed 3rd at MaesumaTOP #12, a high stakes Golden Week supermajor. Unfavored against Riddles going into the top 32, he’d defy expectations and win 3-1, securing a bracket path against Shuton and Tea. He’s been very competitive with those players in the past, and clinched both in game fives, continuing his streak of being the only Ness main to appear in winners finals of supermajors.

As was the case for many players this year, he’d find his run ended by acola and Miya, but it certainly speaks to how good Gackt’s peak runs tend to be. Only the best of the best can stop him when he gets going, and that’s why he’s one of Ultimate’s biggest wildcards.

— Joshua “Barnard’s Loop” Craig

Jogibu || Photo: うってぃー / Utthi (@kamera_k_rool)

Captain Falcon is one of Smash’s most iconic characters. Outside of Brawl, he typically had at least one representative at top level play, and for a long time, America would dominate conversations around him. The aggressive, combo-heavy fast faller found Fatality as its bannerman for over half a decade, but after his retirement, who’d carry the torch?

2023 found that answer: Jogibu. He’s been a good player for quite a while, ending up in the 80s in both the initial wave of post-quarantine events and 2022, but he skyrocketed nearly fifty spots this year.

His slate of runs at MaesumaHIT may have been a major catalyst for him becoming Falcon’s best player, and it seemed to mostly translate to majors and bigger regionals. He’d win tough events like ITSUKUSHIMA #1, both Grand Slums 13 and 16, and Sumabato SP 43 — all of which earned him top level wins against players like Yaura, Hurt, Miya, and Yoshidora. 

This wasn’t the full extent of his staying power. He’d struggle at a few events — mostly notably an underperformance at Tera that acted as a good showcase of Europe’s skill level — but his top 8 run at DELTA #5 proved to be one of Falcon’s deepest bracket runs in Ultimate’s history.

Falcon being fodder for characters with extremely polarized advantage states — a trait that defines much of Fighter’s Pass 2 — makes Jogibu proving Falcon’s proficiency at top level play all the more incredible, resisting a deadly tide of emergent top tiers and winning numerous difficult tournaments in the process.

— Joshua “Barnard’s Loop” Craig

Kurama || Photo: Bekah Wong (@alonelychime)

Kurama used to go by the tag “Prodigy” back when his biggest claim to fame was his win over MkLeo in his prime. But fast forward to today, and Kurama is known for far more than just that.

While some may have seen the old Prodigy tag as overzealous or cheeky, we can see now that it was chosen for a reason. Kurama is indeed a prodigy: of Mario, of US competitors, and as a player in general. Throughout 2023, Kurama has had an explosive year, his first stunning placement being his 4th place finish at the final Smash Ultimate Summit. This is paired with other good wins and perhaps most notably a 7th place finish at the S tier Crown the Third.

At a tournament infamous for top players getting upset before top 8, Kurama weathered the storm better than players like Light or Sparg0, and obtained wins over ApolloKage and Tea, as well as asserting his dominance over Dark Wizzy in the Mario ditto. Kurama was, and still is, a Prodigy; it’s just that now, there’s no need to advertise it. Everyone knows it now, and everyone can feel that Kurama’s legend is only going to grow heading into 2024.

— Matthew “RisterMice” Rice

Marss || Photo: Brandon Prudencio (@TridentSkrt)

Marss has played us all for fools. The world's best Zero Suit Samus player somehow managed to convince us all that he was a washed-up content creator playing a character who “sux”, and then he turned around and put up an entire year of exclusively single-digit placements. Let's make one thing absolutely clear: while his results may not be as good as they were pre-quarantine, Marss can still beat all of your favorite players (and then farm the sets for content on his stream a week later).

Marss started 2023 off with a bang, traveling to the west coast and making a run to 9th place at Genesis 9 with wins on Dabuz and Sisqui. That run was stopped by Glutonny, but Marss flew even further west to get his revenge, scoring a win on the Frenchman at Kawaii Kon in Hawaii, an event at which he placed 3rd.

Marss chose not to travel for most of the summer season, instead winning a couple regionals closer to home in New England. After an extended absence from the national stage, he made his triumphant return in mid-August at the biggest tournament of the year, Super Smash Con in Virginia. With the world watching, Marss put on a show, defeating Onin, Light, and ApolloKage en route to an unexpected 7th place finish.

Marss doesn't show up to many events these days, but sparks are sure to fly at any tournament he does decide to enter; his flashy, read-heavy playstyle always makes for must-see Smash Ultimate. His current hiatus is slated to end at the Parisian major King Con in February. Don't miss it!

— Victor “AnonymousBadger” Mujat

LG | Maister || Photo: @emmy1984_

You know the drill at this point. Maister has been the best player not named Dabuz to never win a major since 2019. Despite not catching his white whale in 2023, Maister remained a consistently great player this year, with a mix of wins at lower-tiered events and top 8 finishes at majors and supermajors.

He had a slow start to the year, missing top 24 at both Let’s Make BIG Moves and Genesis, but from March to November, Maister had better results than nearly any player in North America. First, at Collision 2023, he got wins over Dark Wizzy, Kurama, MVD, Zomba, ShinyMark, and Lima, and finished 4th at the S+ tier event, only losing to Sparg0 and a white-hot Skyjay who finished second.

In his next qualified tournament, Low Tide City 2023, he finished third, getting revenge on Skyjay for his loss at Collision and picking up quality wins on Syrup, ApolloKage, and Shoe. Then, just a week later, he picked up wins over Glutonny, Tweek, and Mr. E to finish 5th at the P tier Battle of BC 5.

He only finished outside of the top 16 once after Genesis in January, at the P tier Port Priority 8. He makes Smash look so easy.

He’s been making more content with his new sponsor, he got seven major top twelves this season, seven top 3 finishes at B, C, and D tier events and 11 wins over players ranked in the top 25 of the summer rankings. Maister has done it all.

— Jack “Trash Day!” Clifton

DFM | zackray || Photo: うってぃー / Utthi (@kamera_k_rool)

Who exactly is zackray these days? As we head into 2024, it's hard to fathom that the Japanese Smash legend was once considered a prodigy himself. zackray has done it all: won majors in three continents, mastered a smorgasbord of characters, and arguably paved the way for a new era of Japanese dominance. In 2023, however, he found a new role to play.

After an inconsistent return from his Pokemon Unite-induced hiatus in 2022, a middling season-opening 13th at Umebura SP 9 had fans questioning if zackray could adapt to new meta developments. When reports started circulating that he was exclusively playing Pit — an extremely underrepresented character he'd never played before — at his next major Kagaribi 9, many onlookers assumed he was done taking the game seriously, and an early loss to Rimu's Min Min seemed to confirm that. Then, something changed. zackray started winning with Pit… and he didn't stop.

zackray charged through the losers bracket, his newly minted Pit looking preposterously polished. At the end of the day he placed 3rd, having won ten consecutive sets including wins over Neo, Rizeasu, Yoshidora, KEN, and Kameme. The Pit was here to stay. While he gradually reintroduced his old mains back into his rotation, Pit remained his go-to character throughout 2023.

The rest of zackray's year was impressive, albeit a little all over the place. He notched two weak 33rds at the majors WAVE #4 and DELTA #5, but made sure not to disappoint each time another Kagaribi event rolled around. zackray matched his 3rd placing at the Japanese major's tenth edition with wins on Zomba and Hero, then closed his year by beating Hurt, DIO, and Etsuji en route to 5th at Kagaribi #11.

So, who will zackray be in 2024? Nobody can say for certain. Whatever zackray does next, it'll probably be unlike anything we've seen before.

— Victor “AnonymousBadger” Mujat

GIANTX | Sisqui || Photo: Théo Lalanne (@thlalanne)

In my mid-year writeup for Sisqui, I highlighted him as the textbook example of a workhorse, going above and beyond to push his brand and talent to the highest possible positions in the global community. At this stage I’m very glad to say he’s not only continued to harness his work ethic in this manner, but have gone from strength to strength since, with even more impressive performances to round out 2023.

To describe the Spaniard as a busy man would be the understatement of the century, but he perhaps would be better described as being a conquistador, traveling around the continent collecting a whole lot of precious metal. This is no exaggeration, as he finished 3rd at GamingHotel 2023 and Tech Republic VII, 2nd at DOSE2SUCRE - 2023.01, GLORY 3, Shonen WAR #2, and Ultimate Fighting Arena 2023, and acquired the all important golden medallion of WANTED 2023 - Edition Mai. The conquest bore fruit in other ways, as Sisqui earned victories over Glutonny, Luugi, Tarik, Leon, Raflow, Tea, Kurama, and many more . His trips to North America proved fruitful too as he collected an impressive 17th at Genesis 9, 9th at Battle of BC 5, 7th at Delfino Maza 2023, and 5th at Smash Factor X taking the victory over top flight players such as Yoshidora, Riddles, Kameme, Tweek, and more.

The fact this LONG list of wins and results is just scratching the surface speaks volumes to the work put in this year. I had mentioned in my previous writeup that Sisqui desires to make this his full time career, and while the support from his team will most certainly have a hand in it, no one can deny that the incredible effort has come to fruition in a big way, and I can only expect to see Sisqui positioned as one to expect in consistent top spots in 2024.

— Tom “G-P” Scott

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