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Apewell Year in Review: 2021

I started this blog in February to document my own personal DeFi research and since then it's flourished into a community of crypto enthusiasts and people learning about the space for the first time. The rise of NFTs took the crypto market by storm and ended up completely shifting the focus of Apewell.

I cannot thank you all enough for your support and thoughtful discussions in Discord and on Twitter. It has motivated me to grow this thing into a resource that we'll all be able to lean on throughout the coming years.

As any good investor knows, it's important to look back on your trades to see what went right and what went wrong so that we can avoid making the same mistakes again. With all 2021's ups, it certainly has had its downs too.

I'm making this post to:

  • Review my biggest wins/losses from the year (and lessons learned)

  • Share my personal tier list of NFT projects I wrote about

  • Hopefully help you learn from my mistakes


Paper Ape's 2021 Predictions

When I created Apewell my very first post was about crypto trends in 2021. I mentioned these 3 areas to watch:

  1. DeFi

  2. Privacy

  3. NFTs

Admittedly, privacy coins never hit like I expected. I thought they'd have a run independently of the other sectors but their rise was in conjunction with the greater bull market that was going on.

The good news for me is that DeFi and NFTs hit BIG this year. I was fortunate enough to roll my DeFi profits into NFTs near the inception of Bored Ape Yacht Club which proved to be the perfect time to rotate. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than skillful.


Paper Ape's Biggest L's of 2021

  1. The Wonderquest

  2. Etherfishing

  3. Zed Run

The Wonderquest

I thought I knew something the market didn't and I found out the hard way that I was dead wrong. I ended up spending nearly 8 ETH on rare Wonderquest dragons which basically all went to zero.

The biggest issue here was that there was no market for the area this project fills, thus no buyers. The Wonderquest has been hosting virtual escape rooms on their Decentraland plot once a month but does that warrant purchasing an NFT to participate in? Clearly not.

Thankfully the project isn't completely dead which gives me hope that there's a non-zero chance of breaking even. They've been building in the Sandbox so my only hope is that some type of game can be put together to save this project.

This was my biggest L because:

  • Terrible risk management. Overinvested by A LOT. Can devs do something?

  • No market for product, no buyers. Do people care about metaverse escape rooms? No. Big fat L to Paper Ape on this one.

Lessons learned:

  • Investing in a project because of someone's name being associated with it is NOT a good strategy

  • Exercise caution with ambiguous roadmaps


As I look back, there was a lot wrong on this. All I saw was dollar signs from "play to earn" and let it blindly influence the rest of this investment. Again, I thought I knew something the market didn't.

Shortly after buying my first few Etherfish, I realized the team didn't seem ready to handle the task they willingly created for themselves. Against my better judgment I stayed the course and waited until the game was released in hopes that I'd be able to exit at profit. After a slew of missed deadlines by the team (red flag), their game was a complete flop.

Lessons learned:

  • Stick to Ethereum-based NFTs. Alt platforms (Enjin in this case) cannot be trusted... yet

  • Team was way in over their heads; delivered poor quality product and struggled to even hit deadlines when creating it. Examine teams harder next time.

  • Just because something is P2E doesn't mean people want to play the game

Zed Run

Speaking of team's that can't handle the their workload, Zed Run was another one of my biggest L's this year. The Zed Run team dropped the ball on multiple occasions but I can't blame them for my mistake on this trade.

I aped into ONE horse without doing research and immediately realized I overpaid by like 10x because I didn't do the proper research first. The horse still haunts my wallet to this day. Don't be like me.

Lessons learned:

  • Again - make sure the team is competent

  • Don't rush into an investment without making sure you're not overpaying


Paper Ape's Biggest W's of 2021

  1. Bored Ape Yacht Club

  2. Virtual Real Estate

  3. ENS domains

Bored Ape Yacht Club

Easily the most profitable trade of my life, I have to admit I got lucky on this one. Most people who joined in May would be lying if they didn't say the same, but in a way we created our own luck.

The luckiest part was getting in at the right time. From day 1, the magnitude of this project was apparent if you were involved and paying attention which led to me buying a few more apes while the floor was still around 0.3 ETH.

This trade will undoubtedly be one of the hardest to replicate so the only takeaway I really have from it is to not be afraid to trust your gut. Hell, I quit my job a month after joining the Bored Apes just off gut feel alone and haven't looked back since.

Virtual Real Estate

2021 really opened my eyes to the potential of leveraging NFTs in user-owned virtual worlds.

My big hitters in virtual real estate this year were The Sandbox and Cryptovoxels. I had some Decentraland plots too but ended up selling them early because I found building on their platform to be a nightmare.

As for The Sandbox and Cryptovoxels:

  • Sandbox has an amazing game-creator experience and will eventually have it's own economy as people start building games in their ecosystem.

  • Cryptovoxels is my personal top choice when it comes to VR-compatible metaverse worlds.

These investments taught me to buy things I like using. If you find enjoyment in something, the chances are someone else does too.

I remain extremely bullish on open platforms that give users a great communication/collaboration experience.

ENS Domains

The utility of ENS Domains drew me in because I was tired of copy/pasting my address every time I wanted to send ETH to myself. I got my first domain early in 2020 and started to figure these NFTs would never pay off as an investment, but the ENS airdrop saved that dream. Thankfully, being a long term user rewarded me with one of the largest airdrop allocations of anybody I talked to.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Sometimes it's better to be lucky than skillful. Betting on strong teams and useful products will help you be lucky more often than not in crypto. NFT Tier List 2021

All these are my opinions after researching, using, writing about, and more often than not, being invested in the project for some amount of time. I'm very critical of projects so keep in mind that I personally view anything C and above as a passing score.


  • S = Elite, top tier, blue chip

  • A = Strong future outlook, useful NFTs

  • B = Strong community/project, too early to list higher

  • C = Good potential but needs more time to mature

  • D = These could be considered good projects with a pivot to their approach

  • E = Struggled to gain traction, needs to work on community/product

  • F = Dead/dying projects

If you're involved in one of the projects I listed towards the bottom, please don't take it personally. I would love to see others succeed rather than myself be proven right. Keep on grinding.


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