LumiRank Mid-Year 2023 Rankings | 40 - 31

Welcome to LumiRank Mid-Year 2023! As the Smash Ultimate scene continues to grow and talent pools continue to deepen, carving out a position at the top of the metagame is harder than ever. We’re excited to now recognize those players that have put in the work to rise to the top.

As a reminder, LumiRank Mid-Year 2023 is meant to be a check-in point as we continue through 2023, and our end-of-year ranking will cover the entirety of this season as well as the remainder of the year.

For more information about the LumiRank partnership, the release schedule, and more, check out the introductory article here.

#40. MRG VGBC | Umeki || Photo: アルファ / Alfa in Japan (@alfa_gorinne)

A longtime veteran of Smash going all the way back to Brawl, Umeki simply refuses to fall off or be forgotten. He’s always been one of his signature character’s best representatives, and his longtime hope to see Daisy in the game proper was fulfilled by Ultimate. 

Umeki’s seasons have always varied a lot, but he travels a ton and attends nearly any event he can, and the number of wins & good performances tend to offset his worse days. This season is no different; he’s stacked up wins on KEN, Shuton, Asimo, Yoshidora, and even took players like acola & Riddles to the brink in close game 5 sets. 

A big anchor ensuring his spot in the top 50 season is also his consistency during Golden Week, defying the chaotic nature of the period and placing top 24 at all three marquee events, where he also garnered some of his best wins of the season.

Joshua “Barnard’s Loop” Craig

#39. Masha || Photo: うってぃー / Utthi (@kamera_k_rool)

Wolf has seen quite the resurgence as of late, with Atelier, Ouch!? and Jakal all putting up phenomenal results. There's one Wolf, however, whose name definitely deserves to be up there but often flies under the radar. 

Masha is a brawl veteran hailing from Chubu, and although he’s been competing in Ultimate since 2019, this year is when he really started to find his groove. His season started off strong with a 7th at JAPAN 24, and all of his Chubu regionals showed great promise. He got top 6 at all three big in-region regionals, getting wins on Sigma, DIO and Shogun in the process. His defining tournament, however, was his victory at Chubu Smash Bros. Chronicle #2. There, he managed to beat Gackt, Jogibu, Atelier twice, DIO, and Shirayuki. And all this is not even mentioning his Kagaribi #10, where he quietly got wins on both Kameme and DIO en route to a 9th place finish.

Quiet is a good keyword when it comes to Masha overall. He has little online presence, and his results aren't nearly as spectacular as all the other Wolf players. But Masha quietly racks up wins, and before you know it, he’s built up quite an incredible season. And considering he only really started to regularly compete out of region in Ultimate a bit more than a year ago, you’re certainly going to hear a lot more about Masha in the near future.

Jonas “Fortuna” Stritzinger

#38. wG | ApolloKage || Photo: Brandon Prudencio (@TridentSkrt)

There’s something so scary about watching people go up 2-0 against MkLeo, especially when he’s on his Joker of legend. But he did it — ApolloKage clutched, and became one of only thirty-three unique players to have defeated MkLeo in an offline, ranked Ultimate set, and alongside a win against Glutonny, found himself in a top eight placement at Summit. But Smash isn’t all highs; his Frosty Faustings run ended in a C4-related heartbreaker and his Genesis was an uncharacteristic valley at one of the most important events of the year. 

But none of that gets to him — ApolloKage is a pure grinder, with one of the most positive mentalities Smash has ever seen, and his love for both the game and his home scene of the Midwest shows in his obscenely high local, regional, and major attendance. Just like his role model of Monkey D. Luffy, AK finds joy in the journey, and if One Piece’s length is any indicator, it looks like the Ultimate community is going to be Scooberting and Dooberting for many, many years to come.

Hugh-Jay “trade war” Yu

#37. CS3 CN | MKBigBoss || Photo: Ramz Baltodano (@BustedDrones)

MKBigBoss had an amazing start to the season. Starting off with an astounding 7th place at Let’s Make Big Moves 2033, he was able to clutch out wins on Kola, Sonix, and fellow ROB player Anathema before losing to Sparg0 and Light, two top 5 players. His power didn’t stop though — despite a poor placement at premier Genesis 9, he bounced back with a 17th at Collision. Soon after, he ended up winning DreamHack San Diego, even overcoming the less than ideal Mario matchup by taking out Dark Wizzy and beating Kurama twice. With the exception of his 65th at Battle of BC 5, BigBoss had a very strong rest of the season, consistently making or just barely missing top 8 at most B tiers and lower.

His final hurrah was Toronto’s Get On My Level, where he outplaced his seed and got 13th over the likes of Cosmos and Sisqui. BigBoss still seems to struggle with the top of the top, having multiple losses to top 15 staples like Riddles and Light, but he has shown his capabilities as a gatekeeper to the tippy top of the rankings.

Benjamin “BennyTheGreat” Schmid

#36. 8LX | HIKARU || Photo: さきょう / sakyo (@sakyooooou)

HIKARU is in a rather unique position. While he put up respectable results throughout the entirety of 2023 so far, his best tournament, and the main reason he ends up in this spot, was at the end of last year. At major invitational JAPAN 24, HIKARU made it out of pools with an undefeated record, and followed this up by shocking everyone by defeating Miya and Kameme to make it to Winners Finals. To do so he used a pocket Mii Brawler to surprise Miya, a pick that has been gaining in popularity.

While the highlight of his season was at the start, this by no means meant he slowed down after. He picked up many strong wins at the various regionals he attended, and placed a commendable 9th at Japan’s second biggest tournament ever in Kagaribi #9.

After arguably his best year yet in 2022 focusing mainly on Roy, HIKARU has since shifted his focus primarily onto Sora. A true Swiss army knife, he keeps reinventing himself every time you think there’s no more left to possibly reinvent. Only time can tell if Sora will help him reach new heights!

Alice “Alice” Len

#35. Jagaimo || Photo: うってぃー / Utthi (@kamera_k_rool)

If Paseriman is strongest in even-numbered years, his odd year counterpart is easily Jagaimo, who first drew attention to himself in late 2019 and established himself as one of the country’s strongest threats in the early post-quarantine era. But his 2022 saw him fall back a little, with twin 65ths at Kagaribis and lackluster regionals. The flip of the new year seems to have invigorated something in him, though, and Jagaimo is leading the charge of a new wave of Palutenas determined to supplant the original post-quarantine guard.

Though Jagaimo elected to stay in Kanto for the entirety of the ranking season, he was still able to show his face constantly, often boosting smaller regionals into notability as he showed up to compete. First place finishes at DELTA #3 and WAVE Champions #3 are paired with wins over the likes of Umeki, KEN, and Atelier, and his showings at larger tournaments have earned him sets on a large portion of Kanto’s absurdly strong depth. But his best win paradoxically comes with his worst placing — after being sent into losers early at Kagaribi #9 by TKM, Jagaimo would come across none other than Miya in his match for 49th. But four games later, the Palutena had prevailed, handing Miya his worst placement of the season, with Jagaimo shortly falling to another unlucky draw in Shuton for 25th. Jagaimo has proven to be one of Japan’s most solidly consistent players, and with extensive set history against some of the best in the country, he’ll likely continue to be prepared for whatever else comes his way.

Kenny “kenniky” Wang

#34. Marss || Photo: Ellie Pinheiro (@EllieJellieeee)

It’s easy to forget just how good Marss truly is. As he continues to build his brand as one of Smash’s premier content creators, competition has been put on the back burner for the world’s best ZSS. Yet watch any of his sets, and you’ll still be able to see the intuition and precision that first turned Marss into a household name.

Although Marss sports the lowest attendance of any player in the top 50, he’s made each of his appearances count. In particular, 2023 has been marked by turning previous setbacks into his favor; he evened up his lifetime record against Lui$ at LVL UP EXPO 2023 and decisively defeated Glutonny at Kawaii Kon 2023 after dropping to him in a tense game 5 series just one month prior. Yet his biggest accomplishment came in breaking a six-set losing streak to Dabuz — and, in classic Marss fashion, doing so while creating one of the highlight clips of the year. Don’t ever count Marss out — no matter how long he’s been out of the spotlight, he’s shown time and time again that he’ll always have what it takes to compete with the best.

Kenny “kenniky” Wang

#33. BUZZ | Neo || Photo: Nem (@NemSumeragi)

I found out about Neo after his performance at January’s DELTA #2, at which he took down a trio of internationally recognized players — KEN, Paseriman, and Abadango — one after another en route to third. Neo’s approach to Corrin is something so wholly unique: a clip monster looking for ways to melt your stock comically early with a clinical combo into pin or bair while simultaneously hyper disciplined in his ability to land simple, two-hit confirms to close games efficiently. 

I knew there was something special here, so I reached out and asked him if he wanted to come to America for Super Smash Con. Right after we talked, he competed at MaesumaTOP #11, at which he upset Tea 3-0, solidifying that Neo was a world-class talent able to hang with Japan’s top level. Since then, he’s made top 8 at a supermajor (MaesumaTOP #12), got picked up by budding team BUZZ e-sports, took home silver at Indonesia’s ACE-HIGH, and maybe most impressively of all, re-ignited Cosmos’s faith in Corrin. 

Neo is the textbook definition of a breakout star — fitting for his status as the highest ranking debut this UltRank season — and I’m happy to support him and his iconic tomato-red hair, both for his upcoming travel to Virginia for Smash Con, and as a fan for the rest of his career. We’ve got a star in the making here — there’s a reason why chatters all across the world refer to him as “MkNeo.”

Hugh-Jay “trade war” Yu

#32. Ouch!? || Photo: Bekah Wong (@alonelychime)

It’s hard to believe that Ouch!?’s breakout tournament only occurred a little over a year ago. British Columbia’s pride and joy has established himself as a mainstay of top-level Ultimate, sporting his trademark pink Wolf to unleash devastating sequences on his opponents. It’s telling that little fanfare was made when Ouch!? finished 9th at Genesis, clearing through players from three separate continents before falling just outside top 8. We already knew he was just that good.

Though Ouch!?’s appearances at majors have certainly become more frequent over the last year, it’s still at home where you can truly find him at his peak. He rules British Columbia with an iron fist, winning 10 separate tournaments in his province and the surrounding areas, often with little resistance. Take a look at his records vs the top 5 of the last BCR, for instance: 3-0 vs Captain L, 5-0 vs Opsine, 4-2 vs Lemmon, and an utterly commanding 7-0 against Big D. His sheer dominance of his region is one that very few players in the history of Smash can lay claim to, and, young as he is, he can only continue to go up from here.

Kenny “kenniky” Wang

#31. BUZZ | Hero || Photo: アルファ / Alfa in Japan (@alfa_gorinne)

Ever since Hero emerged from the Smashmate scene in Japan, he has been on the warpath. 

He’s just exceptionally solid. He overwhelms his opponents over time by playing good neutral, getting guaranteed punishes, producing excellent ledge trapping, and living until ludicrous percents. 

This season was more of the same we’ve come to expect from Hero. 3 top 8 showings at S+ or P ranked tournaments (out of 5 total) and wins over KEN, Yaura, Cosmos and Gackt show that he and Bowser can hang at any level. 

He’s just below the top tier of Japanese players and stands as more of a gatekeeper right now, but he has a mind like a computer, and he’s just getting started. He’s memorized every character’s ledge getup animation so he can react to them, and you can see that devotion in every game he plays. 

He’s still early in his journey, but with a little bit more time, Hero could end up as Japan’s final boss.

Jack “Trash Day!” Clifton

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