I'm back again to do the next in my series where I rank all things related to The Genius! If you've somehow stumbled across this post without knowing what The Genius is or without seeing every episode of the show through the end of Season 3, don't read the rest of this post, as I will be spoiling a bunch of stuff from the season, as well as from the two previous seasons. If you've never seen the show, or haven't even heard of it, do yourself a huge favor and watch the first episode, which I've embedded below. You won't regret it.
I've already done rankings of the players and Main Matches for Season 1: Rules of the Game, Season 2: Rule Breaker, and Season 3: Black Garnet, so if you want to check that out, you can go to the top of the page and click on "The Genius" tab, where you'll find all of my Genius-related content.
Now, time for the same disclaimer as usual. My rankings will be explained for each, but the list is a mixture of how good of a player I think they are (in this season) and how much I personally like them. So just to reiterate: This list is based on Season 4 only. I won't be considering their previous performances except in the case of something like personal preference, which can't really be helped. I'll probably discuss their previous performances, but mostly as context-- it won't actually factor into the placements. Given that this is the last season, spoilers for the entire run of the show are fair game, and I will probably be spoiling a bunch of stuff from all 4 seasons. OK, no more rambling. Let's just jump into the list!
I already didn't like Jungmoon very much in Rules of the Game, but Grand Final really just solidified her as my least favorite Genius player. In season 1, she made so many dumb moves that eventually led to her closest ally's elimination (completely avoidable-- she picked him for the death match), and then her own elimination in the following episode. And in Grand Final, I feel like some of those annoying/weak points in her game were just amplified. The way that she acted in Loyalists and Rebels, begging Dongmin to keep to his word was one of my least favorite moves in The Genius. Sure, it did what she hoped it would, but stooping to the level of begging in the Genius is just pathetic. On top of that, she was once again obvious with her "rebel" card, getting called out by Dongmin. I mean, it is Dongmin and his amazing intuition, but still.
And apart from that singular, cringe-inducing moment, she spent the majority of the season essentially begging to be included. Following groups of people and banging on doors for people to let her in, trying to be included by being a sloppy spy, etc. She basically just spent most of her energy on riding the coattails of people who were actually strategizing and coming up with ways to win the game. Not cool, Jungmoon. Not cool.
I'm a big fan of Junghyun in general. I loved him on his original season. He was such a hilarious character, and I thought that he was definitely underrated and undervalued by the people in his season. He might not have been amazing (especially in MMs), but he actually destroyed people in several DMs in a row before being taken out by Yohwan. That being said, I think that Grand Final was a really great example of why season 2 was the weakest season. The players from Season 2 dropped like flies in Season 4, and Jyunghyun was the first victim. He trusted Sangmin a bit too much, and just wasn't a strong enough player to hang with the contestants from other seasons. We barely got to see anything from him in Grand Final, which is a shame, but I can't think of many people who should've lost before him.
It pains me to put Yohwan this low. I love Yohwan. Upon a re-watch of season 2, Yohwan was a major stand-out for me personality-wise. He's the best Starcraft player in the world, but in person he's just this precious human who jumps up and down when nervous and can't quite seem to get anything right in the MMs. He just came across as inherently likable, and I loved watching him play. That's why Grand Final was such a disappointment. He was there for 2 episodes, and he was pretty much completely screwed over by the fact that having garnets was an essential part of the game. As he says in the picture, garnets are most definitely not his friend. He spent the vast majority of season 2 with literally zero garnets. Once again, I think that his placement shows the weakness of season 2's players overall. He's got some really great strengths, but enough weaknesses that he just couldn't stand up against this really elite group of players.
I initially had Yoonsun lower on this list, because Yoonsun was almost a non-entity for me in Grand Final, and although I liked her in season 2, she's never really made an extremely strong impression on me. Broken record here, but there's a reason that all of the people from season 2 (except our beloved Kong, who swears he's from season 1) were the first ones to drop. All of them except SangminGod just couldn't stack up to the other seasons' players. She did alright in season 2, but I feel like she was basically a non-entity on Grand Final until she was in a DM and got eliminated. In fact, I typically forget that she was on Grand Final even though she made it further than some other people that stand out much more.
As I've said in other posts about The Genius, I love Kyungran. I'm absolutely a KyungFan. But on this season, she just simply wasn't impressive. Season 1, she immediately put herself right out in front, being rather cut-throat and manipulative the first episode. While she spent the rest of the season being a well-intentioned team player, she was clearly one of the stronger players. She got herself in with the right people, she was entertaining, and she was one of the better strategic forces. And that's why her Grand Final performance is so disappointing for me. I think that this season made it clear that although she enjoyed herself, The Genius was just another show to her. For many of the people on this season, this was basically their life. And even if it wasn't, they put in the effort as if it was. Kyungran was kinda just there. She played the game, but she didn't seem that emotionally attached to being there. She was almost a non-entity throughout the season. Sure, she was still a good team player, but she was obviously content with wherever she placed and it showed not only in her DM performances, but in her general gameplay. I love her, but I want to see her at her best, not at her... mediocre-est.
I'm going to sound like a broken record from this point forward, because I just really love Dr. Yeonseung. Apart from his famed steely mentality, I think that he's seriously just one of the most genuinely nice people ever. He's super likable, and definitely a really great player. Unfortunately, he was definitely in over his head when it came to some of the players this season. Yeonseung is made from the same mold as Kyungran-- generally likable, generally good at the games, and generally unassuming despite being rather capable. He gets along well with pretty much everyone and he plays well without making too many waves. And the one wave he did make this season was so great. It definitely stressed me out quite a bit because it got Hyunmin into some hot water, but Yeonseung and Junseok's strategy within Fish Shop was really great, sneaky, and well-executed. Unfortunately, that was his only real shining moment before he got eliminated. That being said, his death match against Yohwan is phenomenal... but that's mostly because of Dongmin and his flawless intuition.
I'll admit, my bias is showing. Youhyun should probably be a bit lower on this list. But Youhyun is my people. And what I mean by this is that his personality is the type that I immediately gravitate toward and latch onto. He's witty, sarcastic, and often a bit snarky, with a great sense of humor on top of that. So that moves him up a bit in my rankings solely because I personally like him. That being said, I do think that he's overall a strong strategist and a great player who once again got outshined by Dongmin and Hyunmin. I think if he was on a season without them, he would absolutely be the standout strategist and player. But unfortunately, this is the hand that he was dealt.
Youhyun has rather strong instincts when it comes to the game. He was the only person to catch on to Sangmin in episode 1, and when he was a rebel in episode 5, he was the strategic one who tried to hold everything together. I hate that he got eliminated the way that he did because these stupid poker DM rules with draws have led to the eliminations of some of the strongest players in the game, and this was one of those times. Overall, he didn't have an amazing season, but I'll always enjoy seeing him on a season because he's a strong strategist and usually a bit of a contrarian, leading to a lot of intrigue.
Being perfectly honest, I'm not a huge fan of Junseok. He's alright. (But Kristen, then why is he so high on your list?!) Well, he made the game more interesting. We all know how absolutely dominant Dongmin is as a player, and as much as I root for him to win, it's so much better when he has actual opposition. Junseok was not going to be pulled in by Dongmin's charisma, which is more than can be said about a lot of the people this season. I'm not always a fan of his overly brazen, aggressive play-style but it added a lot of interest to the season. Plus, we got to see barely anything from him season 1, but even in that little bit of time he proved to be able to think outside of the box and come up with unique strategies, so it was great to see him actually get to play through almost an entire season.
I've already mentioned that some of the stuff he's done in his personal life is deeply disturbing (allegedly drunkenly sexually assaulting a woman, among some other slightly less egregious things), but I do want to just briefly note it again so it doesn't appear that I'm ignoring that. However, I am focusing on his gameplay here, not his activity outside of The Genius.
I'm so torn with Kyunghoon, but I think that almost everyone is really torn about him. First of all, he's THE reason Sangmin was eliminated. I mean, sure, Sangmin tried to make him his new hoobae and that was his own fault but we'll get into that later. Kyunghoon was just such an agent of chaos this season. There were moments of absolute brilliance, and moments of absolute stupidity. He's unquestionably the most unique player in the history of the show-- the true troll king. You have no idea what he's going to do, because he acts completely independently of any and all logic. It makes his gameplay extremely interesting and entertaining, but simultaneously incredibly frustrating because he consistently does incredibly stupid things that could potentially screw over someone who's actually playing well.
In the end, I placed him here because I refuse to place him any higher than my golden, perfect four, but recognize that despite all of his eccentricities, he's an entertaining player who managed to play a pretty great (though highly flawed) game.
Before I jump into the next four, I think it's important to note that these four are my favorite players in the history of the game. So yes, I'm a bit biased, but I do think that most of my entertainment this season came from watching these four play the game.
Anyway, we got Sangmin for three glorious, perfect episodes before Kyunghoon completely screwed him over. And he was fantastic. I mean, who else in the history of the show has come up with the idea to literally hide under a table and eavesdrop on conversations?! He was constantly in the thick of the action, constantly doing his always-perfect Sangmin thing. Betraying people, looking out for his own good, manipulating people, etc. I'm so glad that someone made the Harry Potter comparison gifs, because Sangmin is the epitome of a Slytherin. He's always absolutely fantastic and it's a shame that we only got him for 3 episodes. Honestly, even if he stuck around for around half the season, he might be up at the very top of this list. He was that good. Kyunghoon robbed us of a season full of fun off-the-wall gameplay in favor of frustrating off-the-wall gameplay.
Was Jinho in prime form this season? No. But even just having him around for almost the entirety of the season was so much fun. I know that we all really wanted him to have a Open, Pass moment again and were disappointed when we didn't. But despite that, I think that we got a fairly strong showing from him throughout the season. I find myself constantly rooting for Jinho and enjoying watching him, whether he's tripping over his words, strategizing, or just being his usual silly self. Although he didn't have any moments of absolute brilliance, he continued to show that he was an overall strong player and strategist who didn't have to go to a DM until forced to at the final 4. I'll never be upset to see him on my screen, especially on The Genius.
Unfortunately, I couldn't bring myself to put Hyunmin at number 1 again. As I've said multiple times before, he's my favorite Genius player ever. I think that he's a brilliant strategist, is able to get himself into favorable positions, and is just overall extremely well-rounded. I have no qualms about naming him the best strategist in the history of the show. Plus, he's funny and sassy and like with Youhyun, he just has a personality that I gravitate toward and enjoy watching. I've said it time and time again-- big personalities like Dongmin & Sangmin are fantastic and I love watching them, but my favorites will always be the strong strategists with the slightly more understated personalities. AKA Hyunmin. And Jinho.
Hyunmin didn't quite live up to his season 3 performance, but he was clearly consistently head and shoulders ahead of most (if not all) of his competitors in the strategic department. Fish Shop was definitely his weak point, but even then, the problem wasn't that he wasn't strategically sound, but rather that pretty much everyone was lying to him and the vast majority of the information he was working off of was inaccurate. I know that he comes off to a lot of people as cocky and over-confident, but I only saw brief flashes of that. Overall, I thought that he was someone who generally worked well with others, but who could easily play an incredibly strong solo game. Many people in this cast aren't so great switching between solo and team play, but I think Hyunmin does it rather well. Overall, while his performance wasn't the best of the season, I think that he's consistently a stand-out, fantastic player.
On top of all of that, he's fantastic in DMs. The only one he's ever lost was Twelve Janggi against Hyunmin in the S3 finale, and then he came back in Grand Final and played the same DM against Hyunmin and came out victorious. The fact that they were up against each other nearly broke my heart, but watching Hyunmin lose shattered it into a million tiny pieces. Either way, Dongmin was just absolutely dominant the entire season, and on top of that was constantly an absolute delight to watch. He's just so fantastic and so much fun and certainly deserving of his King of Kings title.
So, those are my rankings of the players on The Genius, Season 4! Next up will be my ranking of the Main Matches of Season 4, so stay tuned for that one. I'm absolutely loving doing these rankings, so expect to see them for quite a while until I eventually run out of Genius-related rankings to do. But that's going to take a little while. Once again, if you haven't checked out my other Genius-related rankings, you can do so by going up to the tab that says "The Genius" where you'll find all current Genius-specific content. All Genius posts will be linked on there as soon as they go live, so check back frequently for more content!
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