What a year 2021 has been — and it is only September.
The 2021 bull run started the year strong in January, following the launch of Ethereum 2.0
, the new institutional interest in Bitcoin
, and the propagation of decentralized finance (DeFi)
and non-fungible token
(NFT) projects. The market had to suffer a short-term slump in May before resuming its uptrend trajectory in July. Today, non-fungible tokens (NFTs)
are in the spotlight,with over $3 billion in trades on OpenSea
in August 2021.
Let’s take a step back and look at this bull cycle’s biggest winners
. As an investor, it’s essential to do your own research (DYOR
) and analyze trends to see what type of projects have dominated this year, and why they have grown so much more than the rest of the market.
And if you got lucky by investing early in some of the coins below, you could possibly be retired by now! Please note that these gems’ prices change constantly and should be used for broad reference only at the time of writing (end of September 2021). The projects featured below should not be taken as investment advice, and as always, conduct your own due diligence before apeing
your life savings into the next “big” coin you “discovered” on crypto Twitter.
Cryptocurrencies With the Biggest Gains in 2021
1. Ecomi (OMI) +15,034.09%
Ecomi is a marketplace
for licensed premium digital collectibles built on the GoChain blockchain that enables users to buy, sell, or trade virtual goods or NFTs through its VeVe app. The protocol has a utility token called OMI, which is used as a medium of exchange in purchasing and trading digital collectibles. Ecomi
has secured partnerships with some of the most iconic brands in gaming and pop culture including Star Trek, Marvel, DC, GhostBusters, Adventure Time, etc.
app also boasts amazing features such as customizable virtual showrooms that allow users to showcase their digital collectibles, and an Augmented Reality (AR) component that enables users to take pictures with their life-sized digital collectibles.
If you invested $1,000 worth of OMI at the start of 2021, you would have gained $150,340 by now.
2. Gala (GALA) +10891.26%
aims to give players back control over their games and make “blockchain games you’ll actually want to play.” It plans to reintroduce creative thinking into games by giving players control of the games and in-game assets with the help of blockchain
Founder’s Nodes voting mechanism allows players to influence what games Gala should develop and what games should get funding, using Gala Game’s own utility token — GALA.
So far, Gala Games has released one playable game – Town Star
and a popular NFT collectible series – VOX
. It plans to release more games in the future, such as a fantasy RPG game, a sci-fi strategy game and a tower defense game. The platform also claims to have 1.3 million monthly active users, and 26,000 NFTs sold, with the most expensive piece valued at $3 million.
On Sept. 13, 2021, Binance announced the listing of GALA on their exchange, causing the token to rally by 256%
and reach a new all-time high.
If you invested $1,000 worth of GALA at the start of 2021, you would have gained $108,912.6 by now.
3. Axie Infinity (AXS) +10598.52%
is a Pokemon-inspired NFT gaming ecosystem built
where players can battle and interact with each other, manage their own in-game characters and assets, and earn rewards for their participation in in-game activities. It’s the most high-profile example of the Play-to-Earn (P2E)
crypto trend that’s been creating tremendous buzz in 2021, as NFTs and gaming begin to intertwine, and some even credit it for resurrecting the bull market after a few months of downward action.
Axie is modelled as an open-ended, digital pet universe where the in-game assets and the lives of Axies (pets) depend on the steps taken by players, who also have the option to perform community-based tasks that contribute to the ecosystem and gain rewards in return.
Axie Infinity Shards (AXS) is the platform’s governance and utility token, which can be used to buy in-game items, as well as staking and voting on system upgrade proposals. AXS surged in value following the wild success and adoption rate of Axie Infinity in the Philippines, especially among ex-workers laid off due to the pandemic.
If you had invested $1,000 worth of AXS at the beginning of 2021, you would have $105,985.2 by now.
4. Telcoin (TEL) +9597.44%
is an Ethereum-based
platform designed to support cross-border remittances and spur the utilization of telecommunications infrastructure and blockchain to disrupt the international remittance industry.
The project partners with telecommunication service providers to help their clients perform money transfer activities, especially in areas without accessible banking options. Established in July 2017, Telcoin is the brainchild of Paul Neuner and Claude Eguienta.
Since then, it has made its way to the Philippines and partnered
with local digital wallet and payment application GCash, which has 33 million users. On top of that, it has extended its coverage to over 15 digital remittance markets in various locations including Indonesia, El Salvador, Uganda, Samoa and Kenya, among others.
If you bought $1,000 worth of TEL at the beginning of 2021, it would be worth $95,974.4 by now.
5. Solana (SOL) +7998.67%
is one of the latest
Ethereum-alternative blockchain networks known for its fast transaction throughput, capable of processing 50,000 transactions per second. It has seen a massive influx of support as Ethereum’s gas prices continue to surge despite the rollout of EIP-1559
. SOL climbed from a measly $1.84 on January 1st to a staggering $191 by the beginning of September 2021.
Solana employs a novel form of delegated proof-of-stake (dPOS)
that relies on Byzantine Fault Tolerance (BFT)
and proof-of-history (PoH), which enables the platform to confirm transactions much faster and support greater scalability.
Through smart contracts, the protocol allows developers to build effective applications that scale.
SOL, the network’s native token, can be used as a store of value and medium of payment. Users can also stake their tokens to earn more SOL.
If you bought $1,000 worth of SOL at the beginning of 2021, you would have gained $79,986.7 by now.
6. Fantom (FTM) +7155.14%
is a decentralized
protocol designed to run dapps
and host digital assets in its high-performance network, blending blockchain and direct acyclic graph (DAG) technologies to solve the blockchain scaling problem without sacrificing security and decentralization. Its Opera mainnet boasts having full range
smart contract capability, superior speed, and quick finality that has enabled it to rise through the ranks and become one of the fastest-growing Layer 1 smart contract platforms to date.
The Fantom ecosystem is fueled by its native asset called FTM, which can be used for staking, governance, payment for network fees, and as a medium of exchange.
If you invested $1,000 worth of FTM at the start of 2021, you would have gained $71,551.4 by now.
7. Polygon (MATIC) +6805.13%
Self-described as Ethereum’s “Internet of Blockchains”, Polygon
is a layer-2
scaling protocol that connects Ethereum to multiple compatible blockchain networks to allow for interoperability and optimum scalability.
Polygon aims to address Ethereum’s current biggest problems such as gas costs and slow transaction confirmation, and offers instantaneous cryptocurrency
transfers at negligible costs. In the future, the team intends to add more scaling solutions to allow its deployment on non-Ethereum networks.
If you had put in $1,000 worth of MATIC at the start of 2021, you would have $68,051.3 by now.
8. Rari Governance Token (RGT) +5491.43%
Rari Governance Token
(RGT) is the native token behind Rari Capital. Rari Capital is a non-custodial DeFi robo-advisor that “empowers individuals to break free by creating new opportunities, communities and financial products.”
Rari Capital allow users to deposit their crypto assets to earn yield, hold RGT tokens to participate in the governance of the protocol, and build and develop applications by leveraging on Rari Capital’s lending, borrowing and yield products.
If you had put in $1,000 worth of RGT at the start of 2021, you would have $54,914.3 by now.
9. BAO Token (BAO) +5279.38%
is a second-layer protocol
for synthetic assets built on top of UniSwap, SushiSwap and Balancer, making it a cross-chain platform. BAO prides itself in providing a fair token distribution, making its utility token, BAO, available only through farming with a three-year lockup period and eliminating VC funding and allocation.
The project is community-run, with BAO being used as a governance token.
If you had put in $1,000 worth of BAO at the start of 2021, you would have $52,793.8 by now.
10. Verasity (VRA) +5200.33%
is a blockchain-based video sharing platform
that focuses on bringing decentralization to the entertainment space, allowing content creators and viewers to take advantage of advertisements, on-demand video subscriptions, and crowdfunding initiatives, without the need for any intermediary facilitator.
The platform has its own video player application that can support a database of 8 petabytes of video per month. It also has an integrated digital wallet that creators and viewers can tap into to make network transactions.
Veracity will help content creators monetize their work while addressing issues surrounding fake views and ad fraud, with the goal of creating a more transparent brand pricing, content monetization, and viewer recommendation engine for both creators and consumers. Even viewers get rewarded for watching and resharing content.
If you bought $1,000 worth of VRA at the beginning of 2021, you would be holding $52,003.3 by now.
Other Notable Gainers in 2021
Terra (LUNA) +5071.23%
is a blockchain network
with its own algorithmic stablecoins
and payment processing system that allows users to make instant transfers, earn interest from their deposited digital assets, and even trade synthesized stocks.
The Terra network has issued multiple stablecoins pegged to fiat currencies like the USD, KRW, EUR, etc, which are governed by a price-stability algorithm that automatically shifts their monetary supply to maintain their respective pegs. Luna was designed to stabilize
these cryptocurrencies by acting as collateral and a foundational asset for the Terra ecosystem.
Holding LUNA also enables users to participate in voting functions that concern the parameters of the protocol.
If you bought $1,000 worth of LUNA at the beginning of 2021, you would have $50,712.3 by now.
Rubic (RBC) +4098.03%
Rubic is a multi-blockchain
DeFi ecosystem that aims to provide a single platform for DEX trading thanks to its cross-swap feature and DEX aggregator, which enable users to get the best rates from leading swap platforms. As of September 2021, Rubic has enabled trades on Ethereum, Polygon, Binance Smart Chain networks and cross-chain trades on xDAI and Tron blockchains.
Rubic has a native ERC-20 token called RBC, which powers the platform as a means of paying fees for operations like swaps, bridge creations, order book creations, etc.
If you invested $1,000 worth of RBC at the start of 2021, you would have gained $40,980 by now.
Dogecoin (DOGE) +3855.02%
is a community-driven meme cryptocurrency used
as a medium of exchange. It has an unlimited supply and yearly inflation of 5 billion DOGE, which is about 13% of its circulating supply
. Nasdaq estimates that its inflation will drop to 2.4% by 2040, which is similar to the dollar’s current inflation rate, and will continue to drop over time.
Dogecoin was created out of a Luckycoin fork, which supports the Scrypt
algorithm like Litecoin, allowing LTC
and DOGE to be merge-mined. Doge has seen an increase in popularity and adoption in the last several months due to its irreverent and fun-loving community, which has caught the attention of various prominent figures like Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Snoop Dogg, Mark Cuban, and Gene Simmons. This has caused the memecoin to undergo sudden spikes following tweets of praise from these celebrities, especially Musk.
What started out as a joke became a relatively successful cryptocurrency that is now accepted by over 1600 merchants
globally, including the NBA team Dallas Mavericks
If you bought $1,000 worth of DOGE at the beginning of 2021, you’d be enjoying $38,550 today.
PancakeSwap (CAKE) +2963.16%
is a decentralized exchange (DEX)
platform on the Binance Smart Chain (BSC)
that enables users to swap BEP-20
tokens or provide liquidity to earn more CAKE.
The DEX relies on an automated market maker (AMM)
model where buy and sell orders are facilitated based on existing liquidity supported by pools that allow users to deposit their assets and earn rewards based on the amount of their deposits.
The success of PancakeSwap, among other BSC-based DEXs, was brought about by the exorbitant gas
fees on the Ethereum network, which has encouraged developers to look for alternative blockchains to run their DeFi applications.
If you bought $1,000 worth of CAKE at the beginning of 2021, you would have $29,631.6 by now.
The Sandbox (SAND) +1896.16%
The Sandbox (SAND)
is a metaverse
and gaming platform
on Ethereum where participants can share and monetize their in-game assets and experiences, empowering original user-generated content through absolute ownership and control over their creation.
There are three main products on Sandbox: VoxEdit, Marketplace and Sandbox Game Maker.
VoxEdit lets users create 3D objects in the network’s metaverse. They can also animate their creations, which can be in-world people, tools, or animals, etc. These creations are represented as assets under the ERC-1155 standard.
The Marketplace allows users to list and sell their assets on the platform while the Game Maker enables users to make 3D games for free.
If you bought $1,000 worth of SAND at the beginning of 2021, you would own $18,961.6 right now.
NKN (NKN) +1717.02%
is a peer-to-peer network connectivity platform
where users can share their idle bandwidth and network connections with other participants for economic rewards. Part of their initiative is to also improve the development of decentralized applications (dapps)
that build on peer-to-peer
data transmission and connectivity.
NKN already has 100,000 nodes
participating in the network, 99.9% of which are community members who are rewarded with mining incentives. The platform also offers several applications like nMobile, a secure private chat network, nConnect, a secure remote access application, and Surge, a peer-to-peer file-sharing system.
If you invested $1,000 worth of NKN at the start of 2021, you would have gained $17,170 by now.
How to Catch a Project For Crazy Gains
During a bull market, cryptocurrency projects can grow between 1,000%-10,000% in value within a few months if they have either a strong community or real utility, if not both. The former explains why even meme projects like Shiba Inu (SHIB)
and Baby Doge Coin (BabyDoge
) have experienced meteoric surges. But as illustrated in this list, gains from projects with real utility still far outweigh those from meme-based cryptocurrencies and projects that do not bring anything new to the industry.
Unfortunately, most of the newest projects fly so low under the radar that you need a good amount of luck to catch them. Well, as the saying goes, the more you practice, the luckier you get.
Do Your Own Research (DYOR)
That means doing your research and identifying trends by any means possible. With so much data and analytics available freely on the internet and of course CoinMarketCap
(have you signed up for our amazing newsletter
?), there’s a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips, if you care to learn. And fastest fingers matter in the game of crypto.
Apart from reading up about projects, a vital way of staying abreast of and anticipating market trends is to get really active on social media platforms like Twitter and engage with new projects on their Discord and Telegram channels.
Find influencers or analysts that you trust, diligently cross-reference the tips they give with other sources and make informed decisions. Check for active communities and which pain points a project solves, if any, and whether it’s getting any network effect.
Just looking at the aims of projects like Solana and Matic make their recent success much less surprising.
Invest Smartly, Participate in Projects
With all said, it is imperative to invest wisely and think of the long-term. With so many projects out there at the moment, many are just iterating or downright copying popular projects (Punks anyone?).
It would be wise to try and get airdrops and community rewards first, before you put your money into an unproven project. For early projects, community matters nearly as much as funding. By lending support or becoming involved in community volunteering, you could possibly earn yourself a life-changing freeroll.