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The Platform Fighter Beast You've Never Heard of: ThundeRzReiGN

The release of Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 shines a light on one of the best players in platform fighters.

We are on the verge of a platform fighting renaissance with today’s launch of Nickelodeon All Star Brawl 2, the return of Multiversus in early 2024, and Rivals 2 releasing late next year. For a genre in which games are often defined by their comparison to Super Smash Bros, there exists a growing community of players who thrive outside of Nintendo’s influence.

Because of this newly found abundance of options, these players have been able to showcase talent that transcends any individual title. Where traditional fighting games have legends like Tokido, SonicFox, and Justin Wong, platform fighters have legends like ThundeRz.

ThundeRz ranked #1 on the 2017 PM Rankings

ThundeRz ranked #1 on the 2017 PM Rankings

Xayya “ThundeRzReiGN” Thammavongsa is considered to be the best Project M player of all time and a top player in Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl. In an interview with Esports Illustrated, ThundeRz spoke on the beginning of his esports career. “I never played anything competitively until PM, I was a pretty casual gamer.”

What leads your average gamer to become one of the greatest?

“I just wanted to humble someone real quick. He was part of the Japanese club in high school, and brought his setup over and I was like 'I played Brawl before' but he said 'no this is Project M, it makes the game play more like Melee.' He was really cocky and said things like “I can beat anyone here, I’m the king of smash in this high school.” Ever since then I was figuring out what Project M is and learned about all the smash scenes from watching people like Mew2King and Hungrybox play PM. It spiraled from there.”

ThundeRz quickly established himself as a top player in the PM scene, winning 33 of 48 tournaments entered between 2016 and 2017, securing rank 1 in the world both years.

“It was never my plan to be the best at a game. I just played because I like to get that feeling of getting better at something and enjoying the competition. So when I eventually became number 1 I was baffled because I didn’t think I would ever get this far.”

Photo of ThundeRz at Mainstage 2021

ThundeRz competing in Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl at Mainstage 2021

Despite many top PM players having a prior Melee background, ThundeRz found little interest in playing PM’s spiritual predecessor. “I’ve tried Melee but I feel like the transition between the games is very difficult considering how they’re very similar but they’re not exactly the same. The melee engine definitely feels a lot clunkier to transition to from PM because there’s less leniency.”

This made the transition from PM to Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl a move that surprised even ThundeRz himself.


“I actually never wanted to try NASB. My homies ended up playing it and said I might like the game but I said [it looked weird]. I tried the game and I was pretty surprised at how much I liked playing. When a game first drops and you’re figuring out all the combos and how the mechanics work, it’s a really good feeling.”

Branching away from Smash also allowed ThundeRz to experience something he never had before — active support from a professional development team.

“The developer support in these games definitely helps a lot. Having all of these tournaments with big pots because the developers are willing enough to help the community out. It’s a good feeling and I wish that more developers would want to support their community. Maybe it’s not what the creators envisioned, but people are always going to be competitive and it’s a natural part of these games. I guess some developers just don’t see it that way.”

Nintendo Logo

As highlighted by their recent community tournament guidelines, Nintendo has been a long-standing antagonist for Smash Bros. esports. Smash majors are expressly forbidden from including PM as an event, and many prominent PM commentators are reportedly blacklisted from appearing on camera.

“Nintendo has always been on people about playing their games and using their IP’s for tournaments. PM always had that risk to it, and that’s why they stopped production of PM because they were scared of a C&D.”

In spite of this, the PM community has persevered. While development has splintered off to individual community members, the competitive scene has found a clever workaround to maintain its presence by hosting “shadow majors” at the same venues as Smash tournaments.

“Honestly there’s not really much to worry about. There are already side events at big tournaments that are counted separately to avoid causing problems for the actual tournament. It’s like being the stepchild where we don’t get as much love, but we still get a little bit from people.

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 Splash Art

Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl 2 Splash Art

Looking to the future, ThundeRz shared his thoughts on what he’s expecting from NASB2

“The game has definitely slowed down a bit, but it still seems fast considering they introduced all these new mechanics. Things like supers and slime cancels just seem wild to me because now there’s a whole new type of thinking. They also added more defensive options like an airdodge and they got rid of the RPS system. I think the new mechanics open up a lot of opportunities for combos, so while it’s going to be difficult for people to pick up and learn, it allows for creativity and I can’t wait to try the game out.”

NASB 2 marks the beginning of a new era in which platform fighters can establish an identity beyond the moniker of smash clones. As developers embrace creative new mechanics along with supporting the growth of their competitive communities, you can expect to see players like ThundeRz make a name for themselves in a way they never could before.