MPGR Early 2022: Area 51 + 50-31

By PGstats | 08/09/22

Welcome to the reveal of the MPGR Early 2022! Today, we begin with a run through the Area 51, as well as the players ranked 50-31 in North America.

To see the rest of the releases from the PGRUv3 rollout and to see answers to some frequently asked questions, please see the Hub + FAQ post here.
By Darren “Krakhead” Lynch
Joseph “Azel” Resplandor showed a lot of heart in 2022 with respectable tournament consistency across the board. While it might be sacrilegious to mention, his performance in doubles is also impressive as always, with fifth at Genesis with SFAT and 1st at Smash Camp with Spark being welcome additions to his annual resume. 
Wins over Chango, 404cray, shabo, danstheman, Ringler, and CPU0 this year also don’t hurt. His game 5 heartbreakers with aMSa at Double Down and Faceroll at Smash Camp this year are a testament to his ability to take some of the game’s best to their limit, and it’s only a matter of time before he breaks through and makes that big run to top eight in singles.
By Anokh "EdwinBudding" Palakurthi
In an age of so many new Fox players with boisterous social media presences and technical playstyles, the king of jab-upsmash, Steven "FatGoku" Callopy, is a refreshing change of pace. Although he had a bit of an unfortunate bracket at Genesis - how's Suf and Mango for 49th? - his Emerald City came with wins over Nickemwit and Aura, the latter of whom had just thrashed Soonsay. 
On that note, it's true that Aura is the current No. 1 ranked Oregon player. It's also true that, per PGStats, FatGoku finished this PGR season with a 10-3 lead in head-to-head sets.
By Darren “Krakhead” Lynch
Matt “Mot$” Gaydos is one of the Northeast’s most prominent rising stars. While the current No. 2 in New Jersey just barely missed the Top 50 cut this season, he earned quality wins over SluG, Far!, Kevin Maples, and Khalid
He’s further proving himself outside of the ranking period as well, making top eight at the Trail Invitational 2 with an upset over Mekk. Mot$ has definitely been putting the work in, as it is no longer an ‘if’ on when he makes a bracket run, but ‘when.’
By Anokh “EdwinBudding” Palakurthi
Back in 2019, you could usually find Nick "Nickemwit" Whittier doing one of two things at tournaments: playing on a setup or asking for money matches. After not seeing much of him in the last two years, we finally saw Nickemwit have a strong return to national prominence, and on a new controller too. 
Following a rough outing at Genesis, Nickemwit responded with a great run at Emerald City, where he beat Aura and broke the hearts of British Columbia by taking down Amrak and Polo. Later on, he went to Double Down, where he added TheSWOOPER's name to his KO list of floaty players.
By Jack "Kezzup" McDonald
Duncan “SDJ” Meara - not S2J, as he, himself, will tell you - is one of the best players in a Texas scene that has been gaining more attention and credibility in recent years. 
With his patient play, SDJ has been a consistently high placer at majors and regionals, garnering wins over his fellow high level Texas players such as Salt and Palpa. This is SDJ’s first time making an MPGR, and only time will tell how he improves from here.
And now, without further ado, the players ranked 50 through 31:
By Danny “S-F” Levy
Few players in the history of Melee can boast a reign over their region for as long and as dominant as Aaron “Professor Pro” Thomas, who has added yet another year to his streak as the number one player in the United Kingdom. Other than two sets dropped to second best in the UK, Frenzy – part of a commanding 7-2 record – and a single stray loss to Europe’s best Sheik max in an otherwise lopsided 10-1 record, Professor Pro hasn’t dropped a single set to anyone in the UK, one of Europe’s strongest countries. 
With respectable 17th place showings at Get On My Level 2022 and Double Down 2022, as well as wins over top 100 talents like Jamrun, Eggy, and Preeminent, Professor Pro has once again cemented his place in Melee’s top 50.
By Jack “Kezzup” McDonald
While travel restrictions have left the Melee scene as USA-focused as it’s ever been, there are still those out there putting international scenes on the map. Eduardo “Eddy Mexico” Lucatero Rincón, Mexico’s top representative, has not only represented his country well, but wowed spectators with his creative Luigi play. 
Through the first half of the year, Eddy Mexico has already taken set wins over Soonsay and 2saint, and continues to be one of the few Luigi players making deep backet runs at major tournaments. Eddy Mexico also has a Twitch stream and YouTube channel, allowing fans to learn more about Luigi and watch the highlights of his stellar gameplay.
By Jack “Kezzup” McDonald
The faces at the top of the Florida Melee scene have changed drastically over the past few years, and yet the region has stayed as dominant as ever thanks to its constant waves of rising talent. One of its brightest stars is Brandon “Panda” Orooji, a Fox main who’s about as exciting as they come. 
His best performance of 2022 so far came at CEO 2022, where he beat KJH and Skerzo on the way to 4th place. Panda is the kind of player that can make the best players in the world sweat in any given set, and it’s only a matter of time until his results improve even further.
By Jacob “Chroma” Robins
So the legend goes - before the pandemic, Billy "Bbatts" Batista had entered a grand total of two LAN tournaments, and did not take a set at either. 
Fast forward to May 2022, and the young Jersey Peach main has beaten the reigning number one of New Jersey, JFlex, as a warm-up to handing 2saint an unbelievable 6-0 to win Creed. With wins over KJH, Pipsqueak, and Null, Bbatts's blinding speed coupled with a game sense and patience beyond his years has cemented him as a bonafide top 50 player.
By Darren “Krakhead” Lynch
Despite a transition to a more content and writing focused career, “Logan” Dunn has managed to sneak a few tournament runs to remind the community that they’re still good at the game. 
So far, they’ve taken wins over Duck, Dimension, SDJ, Panda, and Pipsqueak. Without more data points, it’ll be hard to fairly assess where their true skill lies, but rest assured, all it takes is one good run to remind us all how Logan can beat the fractals out of any top player.
By Jack “Kezzup” McDonald
The modern Melee scene is filled to the brim with powerful personalities, so it says a lot that Yasin “Mekk” Mekki has been able to stand out from the crowd. The Captain Falcon main’s constant positivity, enthusiasm, and advocating for healthy living has made him a fan favorite. 
But along with a boisterous disposition, Mekk has shown that he has the Melee skill to solidify himself as a top player. Most notably, he defeated Axe and BBB to secure 2nd place at Low Tide City 2022, a standout run that has only further pushed Mekk’s notability into the stratosphere
By Danny “S-F” Levy
He’s big. He’s red. His feet stick out the bed. For Elliot “Frenzy” Grossman, the journey is seemingly never ending. He’s probably come closer than any player in UK history to dislodging Professor Pro from his throne, but is still just shy. 
He’s been a menace for some of Melee’s rising stars, with solid wins on Justus, Chape, Salt, Mekk, and Zuppy, last of which he defeated as part of an impressive five set losers run to make top 16 at Get On My Level 2022, but he’s still missing that one big win to put him on the map. However, with how much work he puts in, it’s only a matter of time before he cracks that ceiling to the cheers of “Melee’s coming home.”
By Danny “S-F” Levy
For some, Sufyan “Suf” Hassan is one of the most electrifying Captain Falcon players in the world. For others, he’s the best player in the world, whether or not the results speak to that. 
What his results do speak to is a terrifying opponent for the average spacie player, with wins on Fiction, null, FatGoku, and Zealot. Any stray hit Suf gets has a very good chance of making you combo video fodder. While a bout of COVID and real life obligations have prevented him from traveling to more events, you can still find him at locals taking SoCal’s best down to the wire.
By Glenn “KayB” Kim
There are few regions in the world that can claim to be the “Mecca” of Melee, and New York City is one of those regions. Host of the now famous Nightclub tournament series that attracts world class players from across all of Tristate, the scene has been responsible for producing world class talent. 
Yet, despite the overflowing strength of the region, there has actually been one player who has been dominating it since the start of 2022: Toussaint “2saint” Turnier. Despite juggling Melee with the tumultuous stress of job searching with their newly earned Computer Science degree, 2saint has managed to obtain first place in five separate Nightclubs of the six that they entered within the ranking season, amongst the swath of other Tristate locals and Northeast regionals they’ve been conquering. 
2saint at this point is a well-established veteran, boasting winning records against Aklo, TheSWOOPER, Zuppy, Jflex, and Skerzo, and is now only missing a modern breakout national performance to graduate into the next tier of Melee’s elite.
By Eryk “Ambisinister” Banatt
Blake "Zuppy" Burnham could be called the BBB of Canada - an intense tourney grinder who has entered a mind-numbing amount of tournaments since the start of the year, often entering multiple within a single day. With a notably strong punish game and an intense, TAS-inspired playstyle, it's a wonder how he seems to find the stamina for so much competing.
When he's not full comboing "Through the Fire and Flames", he's picking up wins on players like Krudo and Aklo in excursions to their home turf. If Zuppy can match some of his smaller-tournament performances at a major, he would certainly be a force to be reckoned with.
By Jack “Kezzup” McDonald
There’s something to be said for consistency, and Derek “Aura” Olsen is nothing, if not consistent. Oregon’s No. 1 Melee player made sure to not only meet, but outperform expectations every time he showed up, consistently placing beyond his seed. 
This typically goes hand in hand with upsets, and through these tournament runs, Aura racked up wins over the likes of moky, Soonsay, and many more, as well as a Top 4 finish at Emerald City X.
By Melissa Blight
When it comes to regional dominance, Benjamin "Ben" Strandmark has got to be near the top of the list. Ruling his state of Minnesota with an iron fist, Ben has hardly lost in-region all year, even when out of state players have come to town. While it was just outside the ranking period, Ben's double elimination of Ginger at the first MMM set a tone for the months to come, and he has mostly been able to keep that up. 
The most impressive of these Midwest beatdowns would have to be his win at Hold That L 7, where he vanquished Eggy, Free Palestine, Skerzo, Zamu and Jflex to proclaim himself as arguably the Midwest's best. If he can overcome his struggles against Captain Falcon (and Mario), there's nothing that can stop Ben's path of destruction.
By Anokh “EdwinBudding” Palakurthi
In 2022, Andrew "Chem" Khalili bounced back and forth from Long Island to Philadelphia, not traveling to majors but casually beating top players at some of the world's hardest locals. However, with a stellar third place showing at CEO 2022, Chem could be motivated to attend more nationals and majors outside of his region. 
If recent wins over Krudo and KJH have proven anything, it's that Chem's name absolutely warrants mention within discussions of the most promising Fox players in the scene. That is, at least, if he can get by his hardest opponent: buying an airplane ticket.
By Jacob “Chroma” Robins
Like the dedicated lifter he is, Jacob "Jflex" Pinto puts in the work year after year and only grows stronger with time. Give him enough time, and he'll break through any perceived plateau - even as New Jersey, Philly, and New York newcomers flood this summer's rankings, Jflex is right there to show these kids why he's still the king of the Garden State (at least while Swedish remains in absentia). 
Wins over Moky, Ben, Pipsqueak, and 2saint demonstrate that whether it's the big stage or a strip mall local, this talented Sheik is ready to give all comers the hands.
By Eryk “Ambisinister” Banatt
Daniel "Zamu" Bernstein has had a quietly impressive year, placing 17th at Genesis 8 alongside top 8 finishes at The Function 2 and Smash Camp 2022. But perhaps his most terrifying performance came at Hold that L 7, where after falling into the losers bracket early, he clawed his way through Larfen, Ober, Eggy, Slowking, Prince Abu, Drephen, Skerzo, and Smashdaddy to eventually finish in third place.
It speaks to Zamu's incredible degree of consistency against strong players: very few players have the rock solid structure necessary for winning so many difficult sets in a row. All that seems to be left is that big, memorable victory: if he can find one or two, then who knows what the future holds for him?
By Darren “Krakhead” Lynch
As one of the most creative Falco players to ever lay hands on the sticks and undoubtedly the hardest grinder of the last few years, “BBB” has collected an impressive resume of results for himself this year. His most impressive performance came at DreamHack Dallas 2022, where he secured a fat $1000 while defeating Magi twice to claim victory through winners. 
At the majors this year, he also placed very respectably, while earning wins over Eddy Mexico, Umarth, and Mekk. While you may not see his infamous Pikachu in bracket for Marths anytime soon, for this year, he’s ranked...THIRTY....FIVE!
By Jacob “Chroma” Robins
In an era of hidden bosses and rapid improvers, Christian "Salt" Rennie might be the most astonishing rising star in Melee. Salt's absurd speed, creativity in neutral, and absolutely disgusting punishes makes any tournament they're at a live taping of a combo video that could give Silence or the I Killed Mufasa series a run for their money. 
Even with a stunning set of placements and wins, some tough bracket luck and the troublesome Puff matchup may have kept Salt from rising even higher this season - what would've happened if Salt took that game five vs the falcon-slayer Plup in their Genesis 8 faceoff for 17th, or made it to battle Moky for 25th at The Function 2? Is Salt...underrated?
By Anokh “EdwinBudding” Palakurthi
Every week you can find Adrian "Skerzo" Chavez playing Melee somewhere. Locals in Chicago, regionals in New England, big events in Tristate - he's spent a lot of the last few months at tournaments. What Skerzo has to show for it is pretty good too, as he's taken sets over Ginger, Professor Pro, Frenzy, Jflex, and Zuppy, among many others. 
It took Kels, the former longtime king of Chicago, several years before he finally had his national breakout at The Big House 4. Could Skerzo get his big moment at The Big House 10?
By Darren “Krakhead” Lynch
Joey “Lucky” Aldama. Does the man need an introduction? This year roughly marks his 15th year of competing. While others from his era have moved on to content creation, Lucky continues to bring SoCal’s fiery, explosive, and ingenious combos to the big stage. 
After a rough Genesis, he began to turn it around, recently nabbing wins over Zuppy, Ben, Frenzy, and Professor Pro. Though it came outside the ranking period, he also double eliminated Polish at Phantom 2022, showing that his previous performances weren’t a fluke. As he continues to work on his consistency issues, I have zero doubt in my heart that when Lucky is playing hot, he’s simply one of the greatest to ever do it.
By Danny “S-F” Levy
No, this is not Matt Damon. This is Miles “Soonsay” Foster, one of the best that Canada has to offer. One of Melee’s quickest rising stars before quarantine, he once had the unfortunate moniker of a ‘Game 5 master’ - someone who could take the likes of Mew2King, Axe, and Fiction to the absolute brink, yet fail to close it out. 
However, Soonsay was still an absolute menace of a player, and it shows today with set wins over Ryan Ford, Nickemwit, and Lucky. Furthermore, Soonsay did have one Game 5 set this year, and it was against S2J at Battle of BC 4. The result showed that 2022 Soonsay was no longer a Game 5 master - he had become a Game 5 winner, as he beat S2J and made his first major top 8. It’s only up from here.
The MPGR rollout continues tomorrow with the release of players 30-11, and Thursday with the full video and release of the Top 10. Follow @PGstats on Twitter to keep up with the full PGRU and MPGR release.
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