Right here Are the Prime 10 Cryptocurrencies of 2021

The past year’s crypto market might be summed up in three phrases: to the moon.

Bitcoin and Ethereum, which entered the yr’s bull run following massive positive factors in 2020, each reached new all-time highs. The market capitalization of the sector swelled from below $800 billion in January to $2.2 trillion in December, in response to knowledge from Coinmarketcap.

Most main digital property notched triple-digit proportion returns – simply outdistancing bitcoin (BTC), the biggest cryptocurrency, which was up 66% year-to-date as of Dec. 31.

However it was a slew of tokens that few traders had heard of previous to 2021 that dominated the yr’s rating.

A have a look at these prime performers reveals three distinct themes: metaverse, “Ethereum-killers” and meme coins.

Right here’s a roundup of the highest 10 performers amongst digital property with a (year-end) market capitalization of a minimum of $5 billion, primarily based on knowledge from the crypto-analytics agency Messari.

The metaverse

  • #1 The Sandbox, $SAND +16,265%
  • #2 Axie Infinity, $AXS +16,160%
  • #7 Decentraland, $MANA +3,943%

The metaverse turned the most popular section of the cryptocurrency market, buoyed by Fb’s rebranding as Meta. Though the section has offered off since its all-time highs, metaverse- and gaming-related tokens took the highest two slots on this yr’s Prime 10.

Metaverse challenge The Sandbox narrowly edged out play-to-earn gaming large Axie Infinity for this yr’s prime slot after its SAND token notched an eye-popping 162-fold improve. Traders guess on a imaginative and prescient the place individuals would more and more spend their leisure time in digital worlds – though it’s nonetheless too early to say which digital world it might be.

Competing metaverse Decentraland was this yr’s quantity seven performer, after its MANA token soared almost 40-fold. The entry of institutional gamers was a big contributor to positive factors for each SAND and MANA. This previous quarter, retail giants corresponding to Adidas and Beneath Armour introduced partnerships with The Sandbox and Decentraland, respectively.

Rounding out the metaverse winners is Sky Mavis’s crypto journey recreation, Axie Infinity. The AXS token was 2021′s second highest gainer, hovering 16,160%. (That’s 162 instances, for individuals who may get misplaced within the five-digit proportion determine.) Axie Infinity swept by means of nations such because the Philippines and Venezuela because the coronavirus pandemic left a lot of its residents unemployed – and playing Axie to earn income. Axie’s development fueled the emergence of extra “play-to-earn” crypto projects. Some business pundits say these crypto-powered video games might speed up crypto adoption for the plenty.


  • #3 Polygon, $MATIC +14,496%
  • #4 Terra, $LUNA +13,808%
  • #5 Fantom, $FTM +13,007%
  • #6 Solana, $SOL +9,374%
  • #9 Avalanche, $AVAX +2,787%

Complaining about Ethereum’s high transaction costs – often called gas fees – was one other acquainted a part of 2021′s crypto zeitgeist.

Congestion on the biggest good contract-enabled blockchain despatched customers in the hunt for extra scalable blockchains, spurring the expansion of other layer 1′s and scaling options. The yr introduced astronomical positive factors for the likes of Solana, Polygon, Terra, Fantom and Avalanche, which ate up half the slots within the prime 10.

These up-and-coming blockchains are generally often called “Ethereum killers,” since they characterize competitors for the market chief.

Polygon, an Ethereum sidechain, notched third place, with positive factors of roughly 14,500%. The Polygon ecosystem noticed a stellar yr because it guess on a number of Ethereum scaling tasks and its DeFi, NFT and dApp customers picked up.

Terra’s LUNA token additionally hit new all-time highs because the layer 1 blockchain surpassed Binance Good Chain to change into the second-largest DeFi ecosystem. The value of LUNA elevated almost 140 instances, spurred by demand for the challenge’s TerraUSD stablecoin, which reached a landmark market capitalization of $10 billion this week.

Fantom, Solana and Avalanche – different layer one blockchains – additionally cracked the highest 10. The race for a extra scalable various to Ethereum despatched Fantom’s FTM token up 13,808%, SOL up 9,374%, and AVAX up 2,787%.

That’s to not say Ethereum didn’t even have yr. Its native cryptocurrency, ether (ETH) gained a decent 418% – six instances the returns for bitcoin.


  • #8 Dogecoin, $DOGE +2,943%
  • #10 Shiba Inu, $SHIB +1,608%

Whereas the remainder of the crypto neighborhood sparred over optimistic vs. zk-rollups or Punks vs. Apes, others contemplated extra critical questions – which cute canine coin will pump subsequent?

Retail hypothesis flooded each conventional fairness and crypto markets this yr, spurring a complete new class of “memecoins,” together with prime performers dogecoin and DOGE-derivative Shiba Inu (SHIB).

Dogecoin’s surge started within the first half of the yr, reaching an all-time excessive of $0.74 (with a lot assist from the Twitter account of self-proclaimed DogeFather, Elon Musk). Yr-to-date, the token remains to be up almost 3,000%.

As DOGE mania waned within the latter half of the yr, by-product challenge Shiba Inu’s SHIB token took the spotlight, gaining 1,608% and taking the final slot on this yr’s prime 10. The success of DOGE and SHIB launched a number of different tokens centered across the Japanese canine breed, together with $FLOKI, $ELON, $HOGE and $DOGGY.

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