Japan's Top 50 Players To Watch

By PGstats | 08/11/22

PGstats is proud to present our list of the 50 Japanese Smash Ultimate players we're most excited to watch in the second half of 2022.

A panel of Japanese players and tournament organizers have come together and voted on the top 50 players from Japan in the PGRU v3 season, covering tournaments from March 1, 2022 through June 12, 2022. For more on the panel and methodology, see here.
The 50 Japanese players to watch for the rest of 2022 will be presented in alphabetical order. 10 featured players, those who have emerged as the most exciting through their skill and results, will be indicated by gold text in the player cards.
You can also see this presented in video form here:
Without further ado, the players:
By Kenny "kenniky" Wang
Smash veteran Yuta “Abadango” Kawamura continued to put up strong showings throughout the third season of the PGRU. His career in Ultimate thus far has been marked by a rotating door of character choices, and this season was no exception. Abadango was able to put his strong fundamentals and ability to pilot multiple characters on full display as he used an arsenal of fighters to counterpick whoever stood in his path.
At Sumabato SP 24, he used mostly Pikachu to take down his opposition, solidly defeating Lunamado and Rizeasu and taking acola to a close game 5. His Palutena came out to take down yuzu at WINNER! -Next Gen- and was listed as his primary character for his runs at Shinosuma HEROES #1 and MaesumaTOP #8. Samus appeared in the campier matchups, taking down Taikei’s Sonic at WINNER! -Next Gen- and defeating takera at both Seibugeki #10 and Shinosuma HEROES #1.
Abadango even drew back into his Smash 4 days at the end of the season, reviving the Meta Knight to face off against players such as ProtoBanham, Shuton, and Yaura, a character that seemed to improve every time he brought it out. Expect Abadango to climb even higher as he continues to shape his roster into one that is virtually uncounterable.
By Jack "Jackie Peanuts" Moore
Acola's emergence onto the Smash Ultimate scene is like nothing we've ever seen before. Even if you were one of the few who saw him coming from watching the Smashmate leaderboards like a hawk, there was no way you could have seen dominance like this coming. Since his arrival at offline events earlier this year, acola has finished no worse than fourth, and his most common placing by far has been first.
Before his 16th birthday, Acola had picked up wins on Japanese Smash legends like Shuton, Tea, Kome, HIKARU, Abadango, Gackt, Lea, Raito and more. The few times Acola has fallen, he has bounced right back with wins, reminiscent of a certain number one player from previous PGRUs. Yoshidora feels like the only player capable of repeatedly challenging Acola at Japanese majors right now... at least, until the Ultimate Wild Card zackray makes his return to competition.
But Acola's success wasn't limited to Japan. With his win at The Gimvitational, Acola became the first Japanese player in a decade, since Brawl Meta Knight player Otori, to win his first major tournament overseas. Acola took out many of the best players in the world in the process, including PGRU NA #4 Light in Grand Finals. Japan's prodigal son is already making history. The only question remaining is a simple one: How far can he go?
By Kenny "kenniky" Wang
After an exciting and successful 2021, fans were excited to see Akakikusu back on the big stage piloting his polished Hero to further victories, but unfortunately that was not to be the case at the beginning of 2022. A player who has notably had low attendance in the past due to a demanding work schedule and other real-life factors, Akakikusu lay dormant for the first quarter of 2022 while Hero enthusiasts waited patiently for his return.
Akakikusu made his comeback after three and a half months at WINNER! -Next Gen- at the beginning of April. There, after suffering an early loss to Min Min player Rinkururu, Akakikusu would go on a solid run through losers bracket, defeating Nata, nagu, and Kameme and getting the runback on Rinkururu before falling in a close last game set with Cloud player Akasa on the run of his life, just short of top 8.
The only other tournament Akakikusu would attend during the ranking season would be Kagaribi #7. After solidly defeating top Dr. Mario player Shissho, Akakikusu would drop into losers after a last game set with MASA in top 96 qualifiers. Day 2 saw him take down Twinkle and Sidarezakura before falling to Eim to take 33rd. Although these performances may not have been the top 8 finishes that Akakikusu had managed throughout 2021, they’re a clear sign that the Hero main is still a force to be reckoned with, and subsequent runs at tournaments like WAVE #1 and Seibugeki #11 after the ranking period ended are proof that Akakikusu hasn’t lost his magic touch.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
Asimo emerges as both one of the fastest climbing players in recent history for Ultimate and as one of the most unexpected. Hailing from Shikoku, Asimo had recently been ranked second in the region, which was obscure until a series of rapidly successful performances demonstrated that it was incredibly powerful.
At Kagaribi #7, Asimo shattered all expectations with a sweeping win over ProtoBanham in Winners Round 1, before eventually defeating Tea to place top 8 at the Japanese supermajor. His run to second place at the event — finally defeating Gackt — sealed his spot as the best Ryu player in an era where many shoto players are on the come up.
With incredible combo sequences and an unmatched disadvantage state, Asimo never quite feels out of the games he plays, and can often sweep players quickly, even in disadvantageous matchups. Building his top level Ryu in West Japan, Asimo has gone from a hidden boss with occasional good runs at Sumabato & Maesuma events to a top class threat.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
Towa “Atelier” Kuriyama made waves in 2021 when events were starting to trickle back. After nearly winning Kagaribi #3 and taking MaesumaTOP #3 outright, Atelier was eventually sponsored by Team Liquid, a result of his increasing success in Japan. It seemed that his consistent attendance of low-entrant events throughout 2020 was a boon.
By the time we reached the third PGR season, Atelier long since became one of Kansai’s most threatening players, often winning regionals outright. Starting things off, he won Sumabato SP 23, with only Shirayuki managing to take him to game 5. Later, he’d go international, first to the West Coast for GENESIS 8, where he beat MuteAce but finished just 33rd, eliminated by BassMage.
His performance at Pound 2022 would be his last major run of the season, and far more successful: After beating Sean, he lost to MkLeo, but rallied, beating IcyMist 3-2 and taking an important set win over fellow countryman KEN.
His run would end at 9th, losing to Gackt. To close out his season, he won two MaesumaHIT weeklies, accumulating four wins over Kome, leaving things on a high note. While slated for more events, he unfortunately had to pull out of many due to hand pain — though he intends on returning as a full-time Wolf main.
By Kenny "kenniky" Wang
Zero Suit Samus has struggled in the Ultimate meta post-quarantine; alongside Marss’s fall from top 5 worldwide, Japan’s once-thriving ZSS scene largely hasn’t reached the same peaks as before. Kuro’s sidelining of Zero Suit Samus for Sora and shky’s inconsistent performances have dampened the success of the character in her most historically prolific region, and although regional threats like shion, Gurudan and Muramura continue to improve, they’ve yet to fill the shoes of their predecessors. So it was a breath of fresh air for the player base when Toshimasa “Choco” Hayakawa made one of the strongest runs of the season to place 9th at Kagaribi #7, the largest Japanese tournament of the year.
After solidly defeating his round one, Choco faced off against a severely underseeded Shogun, clutching out the match with a 2-1 victory and kicking off a winners run for the ages. After Shogun, Choco defeated Taikei 3-0 then fought top Dark Samus Yaura in a close game 5 set to make top 96 from winners side. Day 2 saw him start the day off with a 3-1 win over Kameme and then another last game set with YOC to make it into winners quarters at one of the most chaotic events of the year. Although he eventually fell to Huto having his own run in winners and Kome in losers, Choco’s Kagaribi #7 was a reminder to the world that the longtime veteran still has what it takes to compete on the big stage.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
DIO has long been a top player in Japan. While he started in Brawl, he became a frequent threat in Smash 4 with Yoshi. Returning to Snake in Ultimate, DIO has carved out his spot as one of Chubu’s best players, coming close to being top 50 in late 2019 through impressive runs across Japan’s biggest events.
Post-quarantine, DIO made an early statement at national event Sumabato SP 25 by defeating Shuton in a 3-2 set, eventually placing third. Following this, he’d place 9th at MaesumaTOP #7, with losses to Jogibu and Kameme and wins over a variety of Kansai depth players.
His crown jewel performance, however, came at Kagaribi #7. Racking up various regional wins in pools, he then defeated Kome 3-2 in Top 32. After a loss to Gackt, he made top 8 with a swift win over Eim, and continued to run over Lea and Huto in dominant sets before he was defeated again by Gackt, ending his run at 4th.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
Seima “Eim” Tomonō moved through a few characters across Ultimate’s lifespan. A Sheik main in Smash 4, he struggled to find something that matched, leaning the most on Joker in 2019 — but he subsequently settled on his old Smash 4 main as the character received more buffs and meta development.
While many players in Kanto have limited attendance with one or two standout runs, Eim has accumulated a vast number of wins in Kanto through his frequent attendance of weeklies & regionals, training up his Sheik week-by-week. Despite the high number of runs, he didn’t seem to wear out. Attending four events in about ten days in and around Golden Week, Eim performed very well at Kagaribi #7.
His win over Shuton at WINNER! #9 unfortunately didn’t repeat, putting Eim in the losers bracket fairly early. However, he rallied, defeating Akakikusu and Etsuji 3-1 and narrowly scraping by YOC and Jogibu before running out of steam against Chubu Snake player DIO, placing 9th at the Golden Week supermajor.
Etsuji began his career over a decade ago, then known as "Edge," one of the best Meta Knight players of all time in Smash Bros Brawl. Fast forwarding through his Smash 4 career, he’d find an affinity for Diddy Kong and Sheik. By the time Smash Ultimate came out, he seemed to have a hard time choosing who exactly he’d go with.
After some success with Lucina in 2019, Etsuji would land on Diddy Kong during the character’s resurgence in popularity. By the time Golden Week approached, his Diddy was well refined and accomplished, setting him up for a big tournament. While his Kagaribi #7 was solid, it wasn’t quite the standout performance to follow up his run at Kagaribi #5 back in October.
However, his MaesumaTOP #8 run would be exactly that. Despite an early loss to ProtoBanham, he’d find himself tearing through bracket, culminating in several big wins — one being Asimo to make top 8, and the other being a reversal on ProtoBanham, this time defeating him 3-1. He’d lose to Yoshidora afterwards, but he has long since made the statement that he can beat virtually anyone.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
Gakuto “Gackt”Ito re-emerges as the country’s top Ness player and an international threat, snagging top wins in both Japan and the United States. While his top North American run at Glitch: Infinite falls just outside of the ranking period, he nonetheless put up an impressive top 8 at Pound 2022, where he notably defeated LeoN and fellow countryman Atelier.
Despite some greater consistency issues in-country, Gackt additionally put up a career-best performance in Japan at Kagaribi #7. There, he continued to stack up his winning record over Shuton, despite Shuton’s switch to the more advantageous Aegis matchup against Ness.
Earlier in the bracket, he snagged notable wins on takera and DIO, but also beat longtime threats & major winners Nietono and KEN. The only players capable of ending his stellar run were acola and Asimo, both in stunning reverse 3-0s, leaving Gackt with a strong third place finish.
By Jack "Jackie Peanuts" Moore
Many Smashers tend to have doubts about so-called WiFi Warriors as they attend their first offline tournaments. It's a very different game, after all. Can they handle the pressure of the crowd and the tournament environment?  Bowser main HERO answered that question and more at his first offline Ultimate tournament in 2021, Kagaribi 3, where he picked up a win over none other than KEN. Since then, he's hardly slowed down, making a case as the best Bowser player in the world while taking down many of Japan's best.
This season, HERO peaked with a 2nd place performance at his last major of the season, MaesumaTOP#8, a perfect winners run that saw him take down Paseriman, YOC, Yoshidora and Nietono before Yoshidora was able to get revenge in Grands. He also picked up wins over ProtoBanham, Kome and KEN in his second best performance of the season, a run to fifth place at MaesumaTOP#7. Despite playing a combo food character in a region full of hidden bosses, Hero is becoming one of Japan's most consistent players, and someone nobody wants to see in their bracket path.
By Kenny "kenniky" Wang
When Kuro visited the United States for CEO Dreamland 2020, he tweeted, “Is US a country of Roy?” That may be true, but Eita “HIKARU” Hoshi is on a mission to prove that the United States doesn’t have sole claim to the flaming swordsman. After going through a laundry list of mains throughout the past few years, HIKARU has settled on Roy as his primary character, and like his Western counterparts has seen much success with the Young Lion.
HIKARU’s strongest showings this season were during Sumabato weekend, during which two Sumabatos happened back to back. He made the trip out to Kansai to compete and took 9th at the first one, Sumabato SP 23, taking wins over DIO and Luminous, but it was Sumabato SP 24 that saw his most impressive run of the season. There, in round 2 of top 64, HIKARU would take a close game 3 set over a rising prodigy by the name of acola. From there he would handily defeat Gurudan and Abadango and emerge victorious over Asimo in a grueling game 5 set to make grand finals from winners side; although he was eventually defeated by acola in the runback, HIKARU emerged that day with a much-coveted win over the player who would soon become Japan’s best, staking a claim as a world-class Roy in contention with his North American peers.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
Formerly the Mario Bros. maining "bAhuto" in Smash 4, Huto has rotated through a lengthy number of characters, landing on a mixture of Falcon, Wario, and — most interestingly — King K. Rool. Perhaps as a result of a mixed character pool, his results have seen extreme highs and lows, but this season proved to be one of his least tumultuous.
Defeating hidden boss Chubu player Masha at Seibugeki #10 and placing 25th, Huto’s follow-up was an unexpected run that mirrored success Huto hadn’t seen since 2019.
At Kagaribi #7, he defeated Paseriman and continued his run with two more upset victories over Jogibu and Choco. With a top 8 under his belt, Huto fell to Asimo and DIO, placing 5th.
Rounding out his season, Huto managed a top 32 placing at MaesumaTOP #8, defeating Omuatsu and losing out to HIKARU to end his most robust season since 2019.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
Injelly has been around since late 2019, but has only recently established his footing. Featuring an unusual lineup of Wii Fit Trainer, Mii Brawler, Young Link, and even Steve, he has managed to be a persistent threat in Kansai across the numerous Sumabato series events he’s attended, appearing at all four during the season.
Despite a rough start at Sumabato SP 23, he’d quickly rebound at the 24th edition with wins over Shirayuki and Sylph in an lengthy losers run ending with a loss to tk3.
Injelly would get his first chance to make serious waves in the season at MaesumaTOP #7. After a narrow win over Manzoku, he’d go on to 2-0 Rizeasu and placed 13th after losses to Kameme and Hero. Late in the season, he would also have an extremely close set with acola at Sumabato SP 26.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
As is the story with many players in this season’s top 50, Jogibu initially appeared before quarantine, posting unremarkable performances. However, as things developed and events returned, he’d start to rapidly climb the ranks. Jogibu, in this case, became one of Japan’s best Captain Falcon mains after a series of upset performances at the Sumabato series.
A frequent attender of events, Jogibu easily qualified for the MaesumaHIT Champion Series #1, where he was double eliminated by sssr and defeated Lunamado and Luminous. Less than a month later, he attended events at Golden Week, placing 7th at MaesumaTOP #8 with wins over two top Chubu players: Sigma and DIO.
He’d see less success at Seibugeki #10, but had a respectable follow up at Kagaribi #7, where he beat Raito and placed 13th. With another handful of top wins & placements under his belt, his Golden Week would be marked as an overall success.
His last big run of the season at Karisuma #12 saw him snagging repeat wins over Sigma & DIO, but he couldn’t quite close things out, losing to DIO twice in Grand Finals. Still, Jogibu has solidified himself as one of the best Falcon players in the world, and is on the cusp of winning larger regional events. Until then, the grind at his locals continues!
By Kenny "kenniky" Wang
After a shaky 2021 marked by character crisis and underperformance, Takuto “Kameme” Ono has returned to his former glory with a shiny new main: Sora. Far from the reputation that the character has in western top 8s, Kameme’s Sora is efficient and effective, consistently stringing together IDJ combos and truly showcasing the potential that is otherwise only seen in Twitter training mode clips. Wielding the Keyblade Master alongside his tried and true Sheik and Mega Man, Kameme has once again proven himself to be a formidable force on the battlefield.
Though he hails from Kanto, Kameme’s most successful excursions were in his trips west to Kansai. At MaesumaTOP #7, he was able to successfully avoid the upsets that plagued his peers, defeating players such as Jogibu, DIO, and Injelly to finish fifth. He would repeat this placing at the next installment in the major series, narrowly clutching out game 5 sets against Sylph and Asimo and decisively ending a losing streak to Repo with a quick 3-0. With his new character lineup, Kameme has regained his footing as one of Japan’s elite and a bracket threat that any player in his path should be wary of.
By Jack "Jackie Peanuts" Moore
For as long as Kengo "KEN" Suzuki has competed in Super Smash Bros., he has been known for one character and one character only: Sonic the Hedgehog. Throughout the lifetime of Smash for the Wii U, KEN was the world's top-ranked solo Sonic player, and even as the roster ballooned with the release of Smash Ultimate, KEN stuck with his trusty Hedgehog.
That all changed in 2022. At his first major of the year, KEN was eliminated at ninth place by Rizeasu's Sephiroth. Within three months, KEN was winning tournaments with his own Sephiroth, finally serving as an answer for some of the pesky characters that are best at dealing with Sonic's evasive gameplan.
Such as the lightning fast Pichu, a matchup that had been a problem for KEN in the past. Nietono was one of the first players to fall to KEN's new Sephiroth, as did Raito and finally Shuton as KEN's new secondary locked down his first bracket win of the year at Sumabato SP 25. The Sonic still received more play on average, but planning for a set with KEN suddenly took on a whole new dimension. You didn't just have to be prepared for one of the best runaway characters in the game. You also had to be prepared for a switch to a character with massive disjoints, intense edgeguarding ability, and a terrifying unique mechanic in One Wing.
Nearly three months after his Sephiroth ascended to the winner's circle in Japan, it did the same thing in North America, as KEN made significant use of both Sephiroth and Sonic on his way to winning his first ever North American major, Battle of BC 4. Again, it was the Sephiroth that dealt the final blow, taking down both Tea’s Pac-Man and Kazuya. 
KEN has always been a strong player, but the addition of Sephiroth to his always tremendous Sonic has elevated him to one of the world's best.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
Kept has been notable as far back as early Smash 4 with Villager. While Villager saw a steep decline in usage from Smash 4 to Ultimate, kept stuck with the character, adding Isabelle to his lineup. Well-noted for his continued success in 2019, kept remains one of the best Villager players in the world.
His initial start to the season featured a win over momon at a 9th at Sumabato SP 25. Despite going 2-2 at his following run at WINNER! -Next Gen-, the packed nature of the event meant he still got a win over Tsubotsubo and his losses were high level Kanto players TKM and Across.
At his final event of the season, MaesumaTOP #8, he defeated Shissho and Sigma, both event-winning threats in their respective regions of Kyushu and Chubu. Closing the event out with a loss to MASA, kept placed 25th, marking his best major placement during the season.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
Kojika Yoshio has emerged from the deep well of Smashmate as the Chugoku region’s best player. After dominating the Hirosuma series since early 2021, Kojika Yoshio briefly tripped up at MaesumaTOP #7. Despite this, his next out of region event, Kamisuma #13, saw him double eliminating Kome.
His next Kansai outing at MaesumaTOP #8 seemed to back that his success at Kamisuma was no fluke: Seeded to lose to Levi in pools, Kojika Yoshio defeated them and proceeded to rack up wins over both Eim and Omuatsu in Round 2 of pools.
In Round 3, he defeated top Chubu player DIO and narrowly lost to Yoshidora in a nailbiter last hit set. After losing to MASA, Kojika Yoshio’s run ended at 9th, but his consistent dominance over his own region and series of excellent wins across two West Japan major events solidified him as one of many new big upstarts to watch.
By Kenny "kenniky" Wang
A longtime member of Japan’s elite, Seisuke “Kome” Komeda continued to assert himself as the strongest Shulk worldwide over the past season. Although the high maintenance play of his character led to occasional upsets and early exits at regionals, where Kome truly shone was the big stage; the three majors he entered all saw him finish with a top 12 placing.
After a solid ninth place at MaesumaTOP #7, Kome would enter Kagaribi #7 the following week. There, after defeating HIKARU in winners and losing a close 3-2 set to DIO, Kome would end the runs of some of the world’s strongest players in losers: 3-1 over Yoshidora, 3-2 over ProtoBanham, and 3-0 over Choco brought Kome to top 8, where he would eventually fall to Shuton for 7th. Not satisfied, Kome traveled overseas to Battle of BC 4 for the final weekend of the season. There, he took decisive sets off of Dark Wizzy, Cosmos, and ESAM, falling only to Glutonny and breakout star Ouch!? to claim another 7th place finish. Kome’s incredible results at the largest tournaments of the season prove that no matter how many sets he drops at Sumabato, when he steps onto the big stage, whoever’s sitting across from him had better watch out.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
komorikiri is a name most Smash 4 spectators and veterans would recognize. An all-time top 15 player and one of the best Sonic and Cloud mains in the game’s history, komorikiri was one of the game’s biggest threats. After Ultimate released, though, he focused on education and withdrew from his 2GG sponsorship. His attendance, besides a run at Frostbite 2019, would mostly be limited to Sumabatos where he struggled to find a character.
Since the release of Sora, komorikiri has seen increasing success, finally seeming to mesh with a character after attempts at Chrom, Wolf, Joker, Hero, and more. In late 2021, he would take sets off of Kome and Rizeasu.
In 2022, he placed 17th at MaesumaTOP #8, defeating Umeki, Nao, and Jogibu in his best tournament run since Smash 4. He would go on to further see success at Sumabato SP 27, winning sets over Kie and Shirayuki.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
Leaving the pre-pandemic era off with a 7th at 2GG: Kongo Saga, Lea’s status as a Greninja legend could not be understated. After narrow losses to Sparg0 and Marss two years later, he was still well-known — but seemingly on just a bit of a backfoot, compared to his clutch victories during his prior American appearance.
Though before the start of the season, he’d quickly silence most doubters with a win over ProtoBanham at Kagaribi #6 just a month later, and his in-season run at Kagaribi #7 during Golden Week saw a repeat victory over Shuton, as well as wins on Etsuji and Yamanaction.
His season defining run would end with losses to acola and DIO, with the former being a trial by fire set where he often found himself ahead of acola, but unable to close stocks out. If Greninja fails to get the job done in the future, Lea might turn more to Sora, a character he’s had in his pocket for quite some time. Despite the frailty of Sora pockets, Lea’s past pocket picks like Chrom have seen success — so only time will tell.
By Kenny "kenniky" Wang
One of Kansai’s recent rising stars, Luminous has made his mark as one of Japan’s finest competitors over the last season. A prolific presence on the Smashmate ladder and online tournaments, Luminous became particularly active offline following the pandemic, and his efforts have paid off. One of the premier Joker players in the world, Luminous has utilized the character as well as other strong picks like Aegis and Cloud to establish himself as one of the more consistent players in the Japanese scene.
Of particular note with Luminous is the number of players that he has played multiple times this season without being defeated. He possesses 2-0 records on solid players like Mao, Kuroponzu, Kaninabe, and even strong national threats such as Ryuoh. His loss profile is also strong especially in the turbulence of Japanese results; he was only upset once at the three majors he attended, while gathering strong wins himself over the likes of Omuatsu and Eim. As he continues to hone his skills, expect Luminous to continue to perform at events, and don’t be surprised if he strings together a series of big wins for a breakout run sometime in the near future.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
Despite being a popular character in Japan, few Falco mains outside of Seven had been able to make any kind of splash in the country. MASA, however — a former Ness main in Smash 4 who used the 3DS as his controller — became a sudden success in 2020-2021, racking up big wins over players like Kameme and KEN, and ranking high on unofficial panels by the end of 2021.
MASA took this momentum and continued to run with it at every event he attended. Despite rare attendance — he made this season’s ranking off of just two events — he would never waste an event, placing 17th at Kagaribi #7 with wins on Noi and Akakikusu.
His more notable run, however, was MaesumaTOP #8. Despite an early loss to YOC, MASA would go on a rampage of a losers bracket run, defeating Rizeasu, Floyd, Kojika Yoshio, and kept just to start.
By the time he reached top 12, he had to fight YOC again — but he won this time in a swift 3-0, and went on to defeat Kameme like he had across several Kanto events. His fourth place finish would represent one of the best-ever Falco runs seen in Smash Ultimate, and land him as one of Japan’s most formidable players.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
momon has led the Ridley metagame in Japan since the end of quarantine. Frequenting events in West and Central Japan, momon started as a frequent attendee of both the Sumabato and Maesuma series, both the primary large events for the Kansai region.
After decent success at the weekly MaesumaHIT series where be beat Kome, he would eventually be invited to the MaesumaHIT Championship Series #1 where he would take sets off of sssr and Lunamado to place 3rd, losing his runback against sssr and taking a loss to Kome.
At Kamisuma #13, he also defeated ascendant Chugoku player Kojika Yoshio in a 3-2 nailbiter, narrowly losing to Asimo to end a lengthy losers run for 5th at the Chubu event, where he picked up other notable wins like Injelly. His success here sealed him as one of Japan’s players to watch, and as one of the best active Ridley players.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
Despite hailing from Chugoku, Munekin is known for frequent attendance and success in the neighboring Kyushu region. His start to the season featured event wins at Fukuoka Smash Bros. Re:Re: and Shulla-bra SP 9, defeating mainstay players, including Shissho and KBTIT.
After that, he attended 3 majors during Golden Week, beginning with a 33rd at MaesumaTOP #7 and a 17th at Seibugeki #10, where he took wins over top Tohoku player Riteshia and a set over hidden boss Pac-Man player Hidaka Drapion.
Just two days later, he’d attend Kagaribi #7, defeating Higusaki and top Ganondorf player Komegura, faltering to Tea and Yoshidora for 25th. Across the three events, he lost to Tea and Rido twice each.
Overall, he ended the season with a collection of unique wins from various regions across Japan. While not as incredible as his record pre-quarantine, Munekin is primed to be a top threat again if he can snag critical wins over roadblocks like Tea.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
Nietono has been spearheading a revival of Pichu’s lethargic metagame. After rarely appearing beyond sporadic local appearances at the WINNER! series, Nietono started to climb back into things with rare appearances at Kanto major events. At Kagaribi #7, he placed 25th, defeating Sigma but losing to Gackt and Yamanaction.
A little over a month later, Nietono made a triumphant return at Kansai major MaesumaTOP #8, where he clawed through the bracket. Struggling initially against Motsunabe and Jogibu, he managed a swift win over Sidarezakura and was slated to face off against ProtoBanham.
The set that followed was a nailbiter victory, with ProtoBanham’s Lucina quickly becoming an issue for Nietono until he got his footing with a Diddy Kong switch. After swapping back to Pichu game 5, Nietono narrowly won over the wide favorite to win the event.
Following this, he’d take another close set over Kameme before falling to Hero and Yoshidora for the best run of his career since early 2019. After all these years, you can’t ever count Nietono out!
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
Omuatsu is one of Chugoku’s new premier top players. Having made a name for himself online as an early adopter of Min Min, Omuatsu eventually climbed to the top of Smashmate’s ladder ranking during volatile and competitive seasons in quarantine.
Offline, Omuatsu has steadily racked up wins in West Japan, going back and forth with Chugoku #1 Kojika Yoshio and snagging regional wins at Kansai events, notably taking a set off of recent upstart R.O.B. player sssr and longtime Mega Man main Noluck.
Having come close to taking bigger wins and having good competition in a growing region, Omuatsu seems likely to climb the rankings in the future as one of many top Min Min players. He came shockingly close to defeating acola at Kagaribi #7, but fell just short — but Omuatsu’s record shows promise, and it’s just a matter of time before they start snagging huge wins.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
Yutaro “Paseriman” Nagumo has had a long journey to become the top player he is today. Struggling to find his groove for a good chunk of 2019, he made sudden waves late in the year win his win at Sumabato SP 11, where he defeated Tea and Shuton. His stocks would continue to climb, with successful runs at EVO Japan and Frostbite 2020.
Paseriman’s return was a bit tumultuous, featuring some underperformances. Still, after enough work, the spark of a top Fox player returned by early 2022, with Paseriman snagging local wins in Kanto. He would perform well at Smash OPEN at Akihabara, defeating KEN.
He would truly revitalize his image as a deadly Fox player with his incredible run at Shin-Ken League, where he placed second and took a set win over ProtoBanham. While the rest of his season slowly built up an impressive resume of wins, his repeat of a win over KEN and challenge presented to ProtoBanham brought everything together and affirmed Paseriman was back in the fold.
By Kenny "kenniky" Wang
After a resoundingly successful trip overseas to Smash Ultimate Summit 4, garnering wins over titans MkLeo, Tweek, and Dabuz among others, you’d be remiss not to expect Naoto “ProtoBanham” Tsuji to continue the in-country dominance that he’d shown in 2021. Although he wasn’t able to reach the same highs in Japan as he’s showed overseas this season, ProtoBanham continued to use his refined, aggressive Lucina and Min Min combo to be a fearsome presence in every tournament he entered, cementing his status as one of the best both in his country and the world.
ProtoBanham performed decently at the three Japanese majors he attended despite suffering occasional upsets, but easily his strongest in-country performance during the season was at regional Shinosuma HEROES #1. There, he defeated yuzu and Abadango before decisively 3-0ing both Shuton and KEN to make Grand Finals from winners side. Although he ended up losing the tournament to Shuton, his run through winners bracket served as a reminder of ProtoBanham’s skill. Additional wins over the likes of Asimo, Rizeasu, and Etsuji were evidence that the world’s truest dual main would continue to perform. Some might even say they were an early harbinger for the beginning of the next season, when ProtoBanham would fly overseas to a certain upcoming tournament in Las Vegas.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
Repo has ascended the Mega Man ladder post-quarantine. While always a formidable player, Repo has become the best solo Mega Man player in Japan and possibly the world after a series of back-to-back star performances where he beat much of Japan, culminating in a 3-0 record over fellow Mega Man player Kameme.
His start to the season was a solid 5th at Chubu Smash Bros. Chronicle #1, defeating Toura. Later, he’d also beat Yaura, giving him a reputation of being good against more zoner-heavy characters in general. After falling victim to an underseeded Ron at MaesumaTOP #7, he would return for a solid finale to his season.
At MaesumaTOP #8, he finally fell to Kameme, with the Mega Man legend now piloting the best Sora in the world. The experience proved valuable against komorikiri, his next opponent, whom he swiftly defeated before repeating a win on Yaura. Despite running into YOC, who swiftly ended his run at 9th, Repo’s season ended on a relatively high note.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
In the absence of T, Rido has become Japan’s best Link, starting his presence as a top player on Smashmate, Japan’s Wi-Fi ladder. Hailing from Hokuriku, a coastal area in West Japan, Rido’s attendance was limited to in-region performances, where he became Hokuriku’s best player.
His top 50 status in Japan was solidified through a variety of runs at majors & regionals between Kanto, Chubu, and Kansai, with his best run of the season coming at MaesumaTOP #7. There, he defeated fellow top Hokuriku player Nagahari, top Ryu player Munekin, and recent top 8 major finisher Sylph for a crisp 17th, losing out to Paseriman in a close game 3.
Despite some limited finishes, his loss quality tends to be quite high, taking losses to Toura, acola, Rizeasu, Asimo, and more players who are considered threats deep into the bracket. Given his run at last year’s Smash World Tour East Asia Ultimate Regional Finals, it seems inevitable that Rido will have a breakout run.
By Kenny "Kenniky" Wang
There are players who solo main, players with secondaries, and players who switch their mains constantly — and then there’s Rizeasu, who seems to be have a constant arsenal of a dozen characters at a time, picking into matchups without much rhyme or reason, choosing his fighter seemingly at random and succeeding despite all common logic. So it wasn’t particularly out of the ordinary when he showed up to Sumabato SP 23 and decided to go solo Terry for the entire thing, a character that he had next to no recorded tournament playtime with, and finished 4th despite losing his second match of the bracket. Just two days later, he would use his newly initiated Terry alongside the rest of his usual sword-wielding roster to take first at Chubu Smash Bros. Chronicle #1, defeating Paseriman and taking two sets off of Yoshidora to claim a win at the equinox tournament.
In addition to the above, he made a whopping 12-set run in losers at Kamisuma #13; after falling in his first round to Eleven, Rizeasu tore through lower bracket, taking out names such as Jogibu, Omuatsu, Rido, and Asimo before falling to Yoshidora to get 3rd. He even used Byleth to take the first two games against ProtoBanham at MaesumaTOP #8, at one point causing the world’s premier Min Min to consider Lucina instead of opting for the matchup that not even MkLeo will play the other end of. It’s safe to say that this past season was one of Rizeasu’s best, and there’s no question that he’ll continue taking his esoteric lineup of characters as far as they’ll go.
By Kenny "kenniky" Wang
Japan’s Ultimate scene has had a history of successful Diddy Kong players. Names like Twinkle and chicken have made strong waves both in Japan and overseas, and following in their footsteps is none other than Ryuoh. Only consistently attending offline tournaments post-quarantine, Ryuoh started his career as a decent depth player and has quickly risen through the ranks to become one of Japan’s best.
This season, Ryuoh’s best performances occurred within days of each other, during Golden Week. At Seibugeki #10, he defeated Yamanaction in winners and made a four-set run in losers where he defeated the likes of Huto, Jogibu, and Konokururu, placing 9th overall. 48 hours later he would attend Kagaribi #7, a tournament over four times the size, and almost match his placing. After a win over Yn and a loss to a severely underseeded T, Ryuoh would carve a warpath through losers, taking out players such as shion, HIKARU, Suinoko, and RYO before eventually falling to Yamanaction in a runback to take 13th. Although he faltered a bit at the end of the ranking period, there’s no doubt that Ryuoh will continue to be a threat — in fact, on the first weekend of the new season, Ryuoh won superregional WAVE #1, a potential portension for his performances down the road.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
We’ve seen quite a few character shifts since quarantine ended, but a long-term trend that even seemed to be occurring in 2019 was Inkling’s decline. Set back by widespread drops and a lack of new mains, the character’s meta saw a steep shift downwards. Emerging in this meta state, Shirayuki would pick things up as Sumabato events returned in late 2020.
By Sumabato SP 23 — Shirayuki’s first event of the season — he had long since become a top contender for best Inkling worldwide, having won prior Sumabato series events with a long list of wins on nearly every top player in the region. Prior to Golden Week, Shirayuki took a set off of acola at Maesuma Offline 2.
During Golden Week, Shirayuki put up a formidable performance at MaesumaTOP #7. Despite an initial struggle with Umeki, Shirayuki would take the set 2-1 and go on to beat Tofu. After a narrow loss to KEN, Shirayuki took a swift set off the returning Brawl legend Shogun and finally fell to Sigma at 9th afterwards.
Even with meta shakeups, Shirayuki has continued to perform very consistently in an increasingly difficult region, even managing to best one of the world’s best players with a character long written off.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
After two years of minimal attendance during the quarantine era, the Brawl legend returns to Smash Ultimate with both Snake and Fox. Shogun began with the WINNER! weekly series, before attending MaesumaTOP #7 and taking wins on Rizeasu and Shirayuki, placing 17th for a solid return to majors.
Three days later, he placed lower at Kagaribi #7, but his early loss was prior top 20 player Choco, a result of low seeding for players inactive in 2021. He managed to run through six sets in the losers bracket, peaking with a win on FILIP before losing to ProtoBanham for 33rd. Despite the low placement, it could hardly be called a poor performance.
Shogun would continue to attend Weekly Smash Party series events, a Kanto weekly, snagging wins on top Kanto players. While these are just weeklies, it shows that Shogun shed whatever rust he had quite quickly. To end his season, he placed 25th at MaesumaTOP #8, defeating momon, with losses to Hero and Toura, marking a solid end to a strong returning season.
By Kenny "kenniky" Wang
The name of the game for Shuto “Shuton” Moriyathis season was consistency as he transitioned to mainly using Pyra & Mythra over the Olimar that he initially made his name known for. Across the entire season, Shuton only placed outside of Grand Finals twice, and both times he got 5th, a feat impressive even without considering the deep talent pool that he regularly faced off against and the propensity for upsets in Japan. 
It’s frankly hard to choose a tournament to highlight for Shuton because every single run was impressive — it’s telling of his success when his trip overseas to Battle of BC 4, where he placed fifth and defeated top European threats Peli and Sisqui, was considered a blemish on his record. He took wins at Seibugeki #10 and Shinosuma HEROES #1, defeating Asimo, ProtoBanham, and KEN among others. His two trips to Kansai saw him place second, with a losers run at Sumabato SP 25 through Yaura, Nietono, DIO, and KEN and a breeze through winners bracket at MaesumaTOP #7 all the way to grand finals winners side.
He only has losing records against four people (acola, Gackt, Lea, Ouch!?), and three of them are players that he only fought once this season, a statistic that’s made even more impressive when you consider the fact that he fought every single member of Japan’s top 10. No matter how you look at it, Shuton has solidified his place among the best of the best of both his country and the world
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
Since 2016, Sigma has been one of the world’s best Toon Link players. Hailing from Nagoya, he’s known for frequent attendance of Chubu-bound regional events with occasional heavy hitting performances at adjacent Osaka and Tokyo major events. Prior to the season, he took two sets from Yoshidora in the holiday season of 2021, setting high expectations for the increasingly active 2022 season.
His first event of the season would be MaesumaTOP #7. Starting off with immediate victories over Alice and Eim, he’d falter against Shuton before taking wins off of Lea and Shirayuki. Jogibu would prove to be too difficult, sending Sigma out at 9th.
At Karisuma SP 12, Jogibu would again be difficult for Sigma — this time in winners, with Sigma losing out 2-3. While he wasn’t able to rally and win the event, he did take a win off of komorikiri, as well as earning a win over Toura earlier in the bracket. He would quietly end his season at MaesumaTOP #8, running into Repo — a powerful anti-zoner player — and kept for 33rd.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
Emerging from the Wi-Fi grind, sssr quickly made a statement in 2021 at Kagaribi #5, where he abruptly placed 17th despite difficulties at his first two in-region events in Kansai. Afterwards, he quickly rose through the ranks through participation at the Kansai weekly series MaesumaHIT.
His eventual success at the weekly series prompted an invitation to the MaesumaHIT Champion Series #1. Taking place in April, sssr lost in Round 2 to momon before shredding through the bracket, taking every remaining set 3-0 or 3-1, culminating in a double elimination of Kome. He would defeat Kome again at Sumabato SP 26, eventually building up to a 4-2 record on the world’s best Shulk across the season’s events when including weeklies.
Besides his success in Kansai, his other major highlight in the season was at Seibugeki #10, a submajor series in Kanto that skyrocketed in high-level attendance. He placed 4th at the event, besting Abadango and Luminous, and went on to quietly finish his season with a top 64 placement at MaesumaTOP #8.
By Kenny "kenniky" Wang
Sylph is potentially the biggest Sheik loyalist in the world. Having mained the character since Brawl, when he went by Cross, Sylph is a player that knows Sheik’s ins and outs like the back of his hand, and it shows in his play. The Kansai player made waves before the start of the season when he made a stunning run to top 8 at Kagaribi #6, and although he hasn’t quite managed a feat on that level since, he’s continued to prove himself as a strong force in the Japanese metagame.
Sheik is usually thought of as a high-variance character due to her demanding precision and reliance on specific setups for kills, but Sylph has quietly established himself as one of the most consistent players at his skill level. With an unorthodox yet methodical style stemming from over a decade of Sheik experience, Sylph put up solid results across the board; across the six tournaments that he entered, all but one of his losses were to players on Japan’s 50 Players to Watch ballot, and he also took sets off of bracket threats such as kept, Tsumusuto, and Karaage. If Sylph continues to perform to this level, it’s only a matter of time before we see another Kagaribi #6-esque performance from him.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
takera has long been one of the world’s best Shoto mains. Often in the conversation for the best Ken in an extremely crowded field, he’s the best primary Ken in Japan at the very least, and has shown his skills internationally and domestically. While sometimes inconsistent, he started his season off with a bang, defeating KEN, Paseriman, and Shuton at Smash OPEN in Akihabara.
After mixed results at regional and major events — peaking with a 9th at Sumabato SP 25, where he defeated Tsubotsubo — he would go on to have a successful run at Pound 2022. Despite an early loss to Pellonian, he would run through the losers bracket, defeating Zie and Dark Wizzy before falling to Sean to place 25th.
takera would continue to see occasional wins in the bracket for the rest of his season, with multiple set wins on top Diddy Kong player Ryuoh at multiple events, including MaesumaTOP #8. Despite some limited runs and early losses, takera can’t be counted out, and is capable of defeating nearly any player with his precise shoto gameplay.
By Jack "Jackie Peanuts" Moore
The Pac-Man is still here, and it's still dancing on people, but when it comes to Takuma "Tea" Hirooka, there's a new main event in town: KAZUYA MISHIMA.
OK, OK, this might be a touch disingenuous. Most of Tea's biggest wins still came with Pac-Man this past season: Specifically, the win over Kameme that sealed his top Japanese placement of the season, and the win over Glutonny that earned him a trip to Winners Side of Top 8 at the season's final North American major, Battle of BC 4.
Tea's Kazuya, though, has swiftly become one of the most exciting spectator experiences in Smash Ultimate. Is it optimal Kazuya? Not... exactly. But does it work? Ask PGRU NA #20 Ouch?!, who was unceremoniously dropped 3-0 by Tea's electric-spamming Kazuya. Tea has an ability to find his way into opponent's heads that his Kazuya is uniquely able to exploit, and the momentum he can pick up is capable of sending crowds into a frenzy.
The Kazuya did legitimate work in Japan, too. It was a successful counterpick against one of the country's best Cloud players, Luminous, a great answer to one of Pac-Man's toughest matchups. It has also forced counterpick wars in his sets with Shuton's Aegis, one of his biggest bracket demons of the past year. Tea has proven that Pac-Man is a better character than any of us could have imagined heading into Ultimate. Now, his work with the one and only KAZUYA MISHIMA may be what pushes him to the next level.
By Kenny "kenniky" Wang
On the surface, 33rd and 65th at major tournaments don’t seem that impressive, but when you look at Samus main Toura’s runs to those positions, it’s easy to see that these lower placements were more a result of bracket luck than anything else. At MaesumaTOP #7, Toura fell in a 1-2 set to Kome, then immediately had to fight Lea for 33rd. Similarly, at Kagaribi #7 just a few days later, a loss to HIKARU in top 96 qualifiers sent Toura straight into top competitor Hero, where he fell again with a placing completely unindicative of the losses he took to get there. It’s hard to draw many conclusions from these types of performances, but a solid 9th place at Sumabato SP 26 with wins over Jogibu, Rido, and Tsumusuto suggested that Toura had the ability to make a deep run if his bracket didn’t shake out the way it had during Golden Week.
Just a month later, this theory was proven correct at MaesumaTOP #8 with stunning results. After falling 1-3 to Kameme, Toura won six straight sets in losers against some of the country’s strongest players. Wins over Shissho, tk3, Yamanaction, Shogun, and close game 5 victories against DIO and Tsubotsubo, both of whom had beaten Toura in their last encounters, brought the Samus main all the way to top 12, where he eventually fell to ProtoBanham to claim a 9th place finish. With this run, Toura proved without a doubt that he has what it takes to compete with Japan’s best, and the next time he meets a top seed early in losers, he may just pull the upset to continue forward.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
Rising up in the ranks, Tsubotsubo returns to the upper echelon of Japanese Smash in 2022 with performances both in Japan and the United States. Initially a top Olimar in 2019, Tsubotsubo has since added Joker to his kit.
Stateside, Tsubotsubo put up a solid performance as GENESIS 8 as one of the few Japanese players in attendance. He defeated Scend to make Top 64. The next week, he went on a more extended run at Pound 2022, losing early to Axiom XL before going on a losers run where he defeated top Mega Man players MPg and Peabnut for an impressive 17th.
At home, Tsubotsubo’s best run was at MaesumaTOP #8, where he took a round 2 loss to Lagnel before shredding through the losers bracket. Just a sampling of his wins to place 13th include Abadango, Rido, Shirayuki, and Kuro. Despite some off performances, Tsubotsubo has performed best in losers brackets, where he’s achieved a dozen solid wins.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
Umeki continues to appear on rankings as Japan’s most prolific Daisy player. The namesake for the on-hold Umebura series, Umeki is an important facet in Japan’s scene, but still has plenty of time to hop into brackets and snag wins. While not as internationally active as 2019, he remains a threat in Japan.
Starting off with a 7th at national event WINNER! -Next Gen-, Umeki defeated Kanto regular Higusaki and took losses to KEN and Akasa. At his first major outright, he took wins over Eim, Kirihara, and Rarukun in a brief losers run at MaesumaTOP #7, placing 17th after a run-in with Injelly.
Umeki later placed 49th at two majors to close out his season, taking wins on Ly and Noluck to supplement his win record for the season. Despite struggles against some mainstay names in the Japanese scene, Umeki continues to be a serious threat, with even better results just outside of the v3 season, showing his continued relevance this season wasn’t a fluke.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
Luigi as a whole has emerged as a more notable character in the post-quarantine meta for Japan. With prior notable Luigi players sidelining the character or quitting, Yamanaction would go on to lead the charge as the country’s top Luigi and one of the top Roy players in the country.
Showing some potential in the pre-quarantine period, he emerged in 2022 with an expected and upset-laced run at Kagaribi #7. Despite losing to KEN early in bracket, Yamanaction would squeeze past Repo in a 3-2 set before defeating Nietono, MASA, and Ryuoh, a collection of four Japan Top 50 players in one bracket run.
His tournament run ended in a set against Lea, placing 9th and achieving the best Luigi result for the character in Japan since Navy in mid-2019. His following major event, and his final event of the season, MaesumaTOP #8, was far less explosive, but he’d still snag wins on Kie and Masashi despite placing 33rd.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
Shikoku’s rise has become one of the most unexpected aspects of Japan’s return to the spotlight. While most eyes are on Asimo after his stellar performance at The Gimvitational, Yaura began Shikoku’s rise in-country. After some hype from Smashmate, Yaura entered the offline scene snagging sets on Gackt and Atelier.
His biggest runs this season came at two West Japan events. Starting his season with Sumabato SP 25, he beat Atelier once again and faltered against Shuton for the second time in a row, likely due to the sheer difficulty Samus faces in the Olimar matchup — one Shuton has won against multiple top Samus players, including Sisqui.
After a 49th at Kagaribi #7, Yaura picked the heat up and beat both kept and Abadango in 3-2 sets before finally dropping a set to fellow Shikoku titan Asimo. After taking a swift win over Luminous, Yaura’s run would end at 13th when he lost to Repo, Japan’s best solo Mega Man player.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
YOC has seen a resurgence in notoriety in the post-quarantine era. Once one of Smash 4’s best Corrin players and a depth player for Kanto since 2015, YOC struggled in Ultimate to find a character that fit. Eventually, YOC landed on Cloud, and retired his Joker in favor of an old Smash 4 secondary, Sheik.
YOC has largely been active at the local level, playing at the semi-weekly WINNER! series and the Weekly Smash Party series. Despite issues at Shin-Ken League and MaesumaTOP #7, YOC recovered his season at MaesumaTOP #8 and Kagaribi #7. At the latter, he defeated top Toon Link player Sigma and placed 17th.
At the former, he defeated another top Toon Link player Lv.1. After a close set with Japan’s top Falco MASA, YOC would take out AyaLin before losing to Hero. Defeating Repo, YOC made his first Top 8 at a major since Umebura 23 in 2016. While he lost the runback against MASA, he has reclaimed his status as a serious hidden boss.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
Yoshidora is something of a marvel. After having issues becoming a defined top player in Smash 4 despite a successful Wi-Fi career, he wasn’t looked at as a potential top threat in Ultimate. Despite humble beginnings, a job, and even a family, Yoshidora has emerged as one of Japan’s best players, and the definitive best Yoshi player in any Smash game since aMSa took the character to new heights in Melee.
While not irrelevant pre-quarantine, Yoshidora struggled to place that well until the start of the pandemic. With sporadic events held across 2020, Yoshidora emerged as a winner of the Sumabato series, and by 2021, was regularly defeating top Japan players like Shuton and Tea, ending the year as a global threat.
Despite an initial slump early in 2022, Yoshidora immediately became best known for his extended rivalry with firebrand player acola, becoming the only player in the world to date to regularly trade sets with the ascendent Steve main.
While striking even with acola was impressive, he ended the season with his biggest achievement yet — a win at the prestigious MaesumaTOP #8, a Kansai major event that saw attendance from all over. This marked Yoshi’s first major win in Ultimate, and solidified Yoshidora as one of the current best players in the world.
By Joshua "Barnard's Loop" Craig
The legendary low tier main ZAKI returns to the fold, attending just three events during the season. Despite low attendance, as always, ZAKI left a big mark as the world’s best King Dedede main. Well-known for his stateside runs, ZAKI has remained entirely in Kansai for the season, attending 2 MaesumaTOP majors and Sumabato SP 26.
ZAKI proved to be formidable against Wi-Fi threats like Luminous and Rarukun, and fared well in difficult matchups against Tofu, Tsuna, and Levi. Despite Kansai having years of experience against Dedede, ZAKI still seems to be able to close the gap. Long proficient in sword-based matchups, ZAKI also defeated Roy players alice and Mao.
While his wins stack up and manage to be impressive, his losses are also noteworthy. Despite limited bracket runs with two 25th placements, three of his losses were Acola, Asimo, and ProtoBanham, showing consistency in losses despite maining a volatile character.
Congratulations to the Top 50, and to our featured players, listed again below:
The PGR Early 2022 release concludes this afternoon with the reveal of the MPGR Top 10. Follow us on Twitter, subscribe to the channel, and bookmark to keep up with the latest on the PGR and Smash as a whole.
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