Quote from Mephs: Go
Unranked is the "main" pub mode. You don't have to play ranked (you haven't for a while).
2.0 fixed a lot of "noob unfriendliness".
Not sure when the last time you played was but the game has evolved quite a bit.
Also the community is far from "dead" ;P, it's picked up significantly since 2.0. Cheers
Smashcraft was a 1st page staple when it was released, even after the map popularity system was changed. It's stuck on the third page now. It doesn't have the player base that it used to, maybe because it's no longer a new commodity that everyone wants to try out, but I still think the main reason for that is the map changed a lot for the worse when it's popularity was at its peak.
I'm glad it's recovering now though as I really loved the map, but I stopped playing because I didn't like the direction it was going. I hope it continues to get better :)