Two weeks into 2022 and cryptocurrencies as a whole have had a stuttering start.

The year opened with a total market cap of $2.2 trillion. Still, talk of inflationary pressures and interest rate rises hit hard, sparking a sell-off which bottomed at $1.9 trillion on Saturday.

While we see signs of recovery, the looming threat of tightening monetary policy is ever-present. With that, crypto sentiment is caught in a precarious state, with investors waiting to see what happens next.

This contrasts with the start of 2021. Back then, Bitcoin was riding a wave of momentum after breaking a three-year resistance level in December 2020. It went on to hit $65,000 in April 2021 and posted a new all-time high of $69,200 in November 2021.

Nonetheless, Bitcoin’s overall 2021 performance was somewhat pedestrian (by crypto standards), up +60% over the year.

Over the same period, Bitcoin managed to outperform the S&P500, which gained 27%, the Dow, up 19%, and the Nasdaq’s 21% rise.

All the same, these performances pale in comparison to the biggest cryptocurrency gainers of 2021.

Which cryptocurrencies performed best in 2021?

According to, these were the best performing cryptocurrencies of last year.

Decentraland (MANA) – this virtual world platform comes in tenth place, posting +3,900%.

Harmony (ONE) – designed as a dApp platform with random state sharding, Harmony grew +5,500% in 2021.

Kadena (KDA) – describes itself as the only scalable layer 1 Proof-of-Work blockchain. Kadena experienced +8,900% gains.

Solana (SOL) – focuses on DeFi solutions using the novel Proof-of-History consensus mechanism. SOL grew +9,400% last year.

Fantom (FTM) – provides DeFi services via its acyclic graph-based platform. FTM enjoyed +13,100% gains.

“[With acyclic graph] There are no blocks, unlike in a blockchain. Instead, transactions are recorded as vertices, and these are recorded on top of one another.”

Terra (LUNA) – uses pegged stablecoins to operate a global payment network. It posted +13,700% gains.

Polygon (MATIC) – is a layer 2 scaling solution with the goal of making Ethereum a multi-chain network. MATIC grew by +14,600% in 2021.

Axie Infinity (AXS) – driving the Play-2-Earn genre, AXS experienced +16,200% growth last year.

The Sandbox (SAND) – ties blockchain and gaming with the ability to create and trade digital assets. The value of SAND increased by +16,300% in 2021.

Gala (GALA) – Gala’s mission is to make blockchain games that people want to play. It tops the list with an incredible +45,000% growth last year.

Can 2022 replicate last year’s success?

Although 2022 is off to a faltering start, the hope is “hot tokens” can replicate the success seen above.

Which the “hot tokens” will be is anyone’s guess, but 2021’s top performers do have a strong Metaverse and gaming theme.

Having said that, the macroeconomic picture cannot be ignored, add to that increasing regulatory scrutiny, and the outlook is cautious, to say the least.

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