Are the hours spent in the deckbuilder in attempts to make your Magnum Opus with Vivienne, Tesham Mutna Sword and Allgod doomed to fail, as the efforts to beg Slama and Burza for at least a couple of games to pass without opponents abusing shields? Time after time you come across glorious decks from meta reports and can’t progress past Rank 3 with your pathetic attempts to make Royal Inspiration playable?
Well, I can only sympathize with your plight.
If you were hoping to get an answer to the question of how you can get through the mass of netdecks without having your hair turn gray, unfortunately, I will have to apologize for the flashy headline, because getting into Pro Rank without at least partially losing your sanity seems like an almost impossible deed to accomplish.
It is especially difficult to wade through the ranked swamp of despair when a new patch is saddled on your fragile shoulders, nevermind removing Monsters’ Carapace ability, giving it to the Northern Realms and multiplying its strength. It’s hard to stay calm when your opponent plays three duels in one turn and gains a 65-point advantage, isn’t it?
But anyway, let’s get on with the article.
WHAT IS THE ARTICLE ABOUT?
For those who are unfamiliar with Gwent’s competitive ranked system, I will lay out the conditions of getting into Pro Rank; I will explain what kinds of players you are likely to meet during your play sessions and; I will share some impressions of other players and Gwent streamers on how their journey to Pro Rank has influenced their play style, deckbuilding skills, impressions of matches and their overall attitude to the rating system.
In addition, I will tell you about my final steps on the path of getting to the coveted Pro Rank for the first time. Thus, those of you who have not yet experienced the sensation of getting to Rank 0 on their own skin can imagine the thorny path to the “peak”, and regulars of the Gwent “zero club” can match their feelings with mine and other players’.
HOW DO YOU GET TO THE PRO RANK?
First, let’s discuss what Pro Rank is in general and how it differs from the usual Gwent ranked system. In regular ranked, you need to win five matches on each rank in order to progress further, starting from the twenty-fifth one and aiming for the highest first one, furthermore, each defeat sends the player one step backwards and further away from reaching the new rank.
At the same time, Pro Rank is the end goal of climbing through the initial stages of this ranked system, which represents the maximum achievable rank in Gwent. To join the rows of the Pro Rank players, you need to make five victories one more time after reaching the Rank 1, so the player will get an access to a new system for calculating your worth: faction-based MMR (or Match-Making Rating).
It is worth mentioning that once you reach Pro Rank, there will be no such a thing as an everlasting foothold in your long-desired position: each season, which lasts approximately one calendar month, you will need to prove your competitive abilities. What does that mean? In short, the top 500 Pro Rank players will retain their leading positions, while the rest will need to re-make their way to the top of the Gwent rating system from Rank 3 at the beginning of the new season.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF SUCCESS IN PRO RANK?
For those players looking to conquer Gwent’s competitive scene and compete in larger events, Pro Rank is an important stepping stone for them and a chance to prove their mettle. At the end of each Ranked Season, the top 200 Pro Rank players are rewarded with Crown Points that are necessary to qualify for the main official tournament of the year, the Gwent Masters. Also, the top 64 players from each competitive season have the opportunity to participate in the qualifiers and possibly get to the Gwent OPEN tournament, while the top 16 participate in the qualifiers twice as the most experienced and active players of the previous season.
HOW DOES THE PRO RANK SYSTEM WORK?
Now, let’s talk about how Pro Rank works in practice. Each match played for a specific faction alters that player’s fMMR (standing for “faction match making ratio”) depending on whether they win or lose. To unlock 100% of faction MMR, you must complete at least 25 “placement” games with this faction, whereupon you will calibrate the faction to ~2400 MMR.
The result displayed on the Pro Rank leaderboard is the sum of the player’s highest scores of the season for their best four factions (of six). So, after playing 100 games in a season (25 for 4 factions) in Pro Rank, you will unlock the starting MMR of ~9600. And, although your current value for both total and faction MMR is directly related to the number of matches played and your latest results, your position in the ranking table depends on the so-called “peak MMR”, or the sum of the highest amount of MMR for the four factions.
The Pro Rank player pool contains all Gwent players playing in all regions (US, EU, Asia, etc.). You can find out your current position in the rating table at any time on the Rankings page on the Gwent website or in a special tab of the game. All information about the MMR parameters can be found in your personal in-game profile.
WHO WILL WE MEET ON THE WAY TO THE PRO RANK?
The more matches you play, the more similarities you’ll see between your opponents, noticing common features in their playstyle, attitudes towards opponents (yes, we all hate BM, but people who spam emotions in matches do not get fewer over the years), win rate and deckbuilding.
In this section of the article, we will discuss the psychology of Gwent players and the peculiarities of their mindset and attitudes towards the game as well as other players. This is to give an opportunity to take a fresh look at their playing style and an idea of what can be found in common between those who play Double Ball and those who forget that playing Witcher trio decks is a flagellant’s dream since they were “fixed” to the ground shortly after the release of Homecoming.
Wizards of the Coast, an American game publisher, has proposed a certain system of psychological and aesthetic profiles for their own card game, Magic: The Gathering. for dividing players. Because of the common mindset shared by competitive card game players, there are many crossover points worth noting.
We will briefly look at three of these psychological profiles, describing why certain players enjoy the game, these being: Johnny, Timmy and Spike. These profiles will allow you to divide players into categories depending on their motivation to play, card preferences and their overall emotional state. The point of this analysis is, as Mark Rowewater, the MTG columnist and Head Designer, explains: to help us understand “the psychological motivation behind why a person enjoys what they enjoy. It’s not about the “what”, but the “why”. Below is a summary of the three profiles:
Timmy represents the category of people who prioritize the enjoyment of the game: this person does not care much whether they won or lost, because the main goal for him is to use the most spectacular elements in the game such as fantastic creatures, impressive spells and interesting combinations. Timmy enjoys the process of the game directly, its mechanics and capabilities, as well as interactions with other players.
Johnny is the most creative type of player. He aims to find new solutions in the abundance of meta decks and overpowered cards based on less optimal or niche cards and trying to make less popular archetypes, cards and combinations more playable. Such people enjoy victories based on their own rules. They can spend a lot of time in the deck builder, perfecting and upgrading decks, trying to get the square wheel bike to work. For Johnny, the opportunity for self-expression and participation in a creative process is important: you will hardly find such a player using other people’s decks and popular archetypes.
Spikes are the embodiment of the desire to win no matter what. This is a competitive type of player. They don’t care if they play with their own decks, or if they copy other people’s work; it is common practice for them to play the same ideal deck setup for an entire season. Spikes take defeat extremely hard, especially if they realize they lost because of their own mistake or an unsuccessful outcome of the RNG (randomization). This type of player needs to constantly show themselves and people around them how good they are and to regularly feed on that victory high.
These three types of “psychological profiles” represent the main types of players’ personalities, based on their priorities in the game: the desire to win at any cost, getting the most out of the game or surprising the community with an extraordinary deck.
It is interesting to note that the closer the player gets to Pro Rank, the less s/he meets Johnny building unique decks and training various setups, and the more he sees Spikes willing to climb the ranked ladder using the most effective meta decks (but not necessarily being able to play them well 😉). And when you reach Pro Rank, you will meet Spikes in almost every game, and every meeting with Johnny will seem like a rare blessing.
PREPARE TO REMOVE THE EVIL EYE
No, I’m not joking.
Until this summer, I didn’t even think about the difference between playing in Pro Rank and other stages of the system, and did not care about my win rate in the season at all. Instead, I preferred to test and build as many new decks as possible, so more often than not I hung on the first rank. It happened more than once that I had 5/5 pieces of the first rank mosaic, but until recently I could not reach zero. However, there was no particular desire to do so in the first place.
Before the start of the last season, I set myself a goal of getting into Pro Rank so that I could experience what it would be like to play among the best players of the Gwent society and to be shaped by the MMR system. From the very first days of the season, I started to play actively (I will say in advance that this season, as a result, I played more games than in the entire previous year: Pro Rank dragged me headlong) and within the first two or three days I got from 5 rank to 1. In the season before that, I almost never played Gwent, so I did not have the luxury of starting from rank 3.
At ranks 2-5, I played with my own decks and collected 4/5 mosaics of the first rank, but problems arose with obtaining the remaining pieces. After a solid win streak of about seven to nine games, I decided to share my progress proudly on the stream of one of the BG team members, who was kind enough to wish me not to win any more games as a joke. Believe it or not, I then had a losing streak of 10+ games and fell into the wildest tilt, after which it was extremely difficult to return to the game, and I had to take a day off from Gwent. This is why my advice is to find a way to remove an evil eye in advance in case some kind friend of yours decides to interfere with your passionate desire to get into the Pro Rank!
The first days in ranked ladder feel like complete chaos, when players desperately try to get into Pro Rank as early as possible and to find the most effective, dangerous and vile deck that could annihilate opponents efficiently before the new patch.
On the other hand, the race to get into the Pro ladder becomes an additional opportunity for numerous discussions with friends about tactics, decks and patch changes, as well as for a small competition over who will be the first to reach rank 0 and with which setup.
Another interesting point about laddering in the early days of the season is the increased chance to meet your favorite streamers, competitive players or other Gwent personalities. Most often, I played in the middle to the end of the season and for all the time that I am familiar with the game, I have never met a famous streamer among my opponents. And in the first two days of the new season, I met at least two regulars on Twitch in the ladder (one of whom was a member of BG!). It was an additional burst of positive emotions on the way to Pro Rank for me, because it felt good to know that at the moment you are on the same level as some very good players – and it was especially pleasant to beat them.
So, if you want to try your hand against strong Gwent players, but for some reason don’t get to Pro Rank, you can start a new season with games in the first few days, before people have time to calibrate their rank. And if you get to rank zero in a short time, you can almost surely test your skills against various streamers time and again.
After a tiring series of defeats, I stumbled upon an interesting Overwhelming Hunger deck, which contained some elements of the Devotion meta variant with Auberon (then we had no idea how this deck would negatively affect our nerves for two seasons…). With this deck, I finally got to the mythical land of Pro Rank!
The feelings that arise inside from the understanding that you have reached a new level for the first time – moreover, the final one – for me were surprisingly bright and warm, and I was filled with sincere joy, mixed with the anticipation of testing the new system. I will say without embellishment: it was a feeling of euphoria. And the beginning of a new phase in my Gwent life.
HOW DO PEOPLE CHANGE AFTER THE PRO RANK?
As mentioned in the section about the player types, the closer you get to Pro Rank, the fewer unique play combinations you encounter and the more often you come across the same types of decks from meta reports or top players, especially streamers. From this fact, it is pretty clear that the attitude of players to the game, their opponents and how they treat victories/ defeats partially depends on the rank at which the person plays.
In order to find out how people change (if at all) after they reach the Pro Rank, two categories of players were interviewed: streamers who have spent if not thousands then hundreds of hours playing our favorite game; and benevolent Twitch users, who most often prefer watching the misplays of other, more experienced players on their own.
After talking to the regular inhabitants of the Gwent streams chat rooms, it was clear that a significant portion of these people had never reached Pro Rank. Some of the main reasons they mentioned include the following:
- lack of interest in reaching the highest rank;
- an insufficient amount of time / attempts while maintaining the desire to get into the Pro Rank;
- unwillingness to try-hard every season to achieve / maintain Pro Rank, a lack of patience;
- a lack of desire to play meta decks, which allow you to more effectively wade along the ladder;
- unwillingness to play against the same types of popular decks from meta reports, leading to boredom;
- unwillingness / inability to play decks from several factions in parallel (yes, it is not necessary to do this after reaching the rank 0, however, the introduction of MMR incentivizes you to play with at least four factions)
- belief that getting into Pro Rank will change the attitude towards the game and make defeats more palpable and painful.
As can be judged from the highlighted reasons collected from the surveyed players, the reasons why people cannot / do not want / do not try to get into the Pro Rank are extremely varied: someone simply does not have enough time or patience to overcome the path from the third rank to zero every season; some are characterized by the rejection of the meta and a refusal to play in conditions of a ladder filled with identical decks, as well as the reluctance to succumb to tilt from defeat even more or play a larger number of factions.
Despite the significant number of drawbacks coming from merely thinking about the thorny path that leads to Pro Rank, an impressive chunk of the Gwent playerbase can still reach it at least once.
But is it worth it? Are the torn nerves and time spent overcoming obstacles on the way to the top something you would be willing to endure? To provide some clarity on this, we asked regular players the experience of getting into Pro Rank and the change thereafter in their attitudes towards deck building, opponents and wins and losses to gain an idea of how the ranking system affects the way players think and act.
Three dominant patterns emerged regarding the impressions of achieving Pro Rank among the questioned chat users.
The attitude towards the game has not changed fundamentally
Those who claimed that reaching Pro Rank did not bring them any emotion and did not particularly affect their playstyle were in the minority. It is worth adding, however, that some of those who chose this option noted among the advantages of getting into rank 0 the opportunity to meet a great variability of decks within it, since at ranks 1-3 – especially at the beginning of the season – people desperately spam the most effective decks in order to break into Pro Rank as soon as possible.
Getting into Pro Rank gave them positive emotions, however they disappeared under the influence of various negative factors
What do we mean by negative factors? They vary from person to person.
For example, for some the motivation to play Gwent deteriorated greatly, since “the main goal” had already been achieved and, consequently, the competitive spirit was gone. Gaming sessions began to be more static, with no sense of progression, and the desire to reach Pro Rank every month if possible became reinforced for some only by obtaining additional keys for unlocking reward trees.
Some players noted that the unpleasant side effect of getting into Pro Rank was the inability to see the opponent’s name during the match, this causing a notion of depersonalization and the subsequent feeling of playing against an inanimate opponent.
Another negative factor the respondents found that has already been briefly mentioned is the fact that to move up the ladder you need to competently play with at least four factions, otherwise your MMR will grow extremely slowly, which already at the mental level demotivates you to dive into the competitive niche of Gwent.
Reaching Pro Rank allows players to breathe out with relief and play more casually.
For some players, getting into Pro Rank does not stimulate them to join the rat race for MMR but, on the contrary, allows them to untie their hands in relation to building decks and perceive defeats less painfully since, after reaching the maximum rank, there is no need to fight the malicious mosaic puzzle pieces anymore.
I also invited a few members of the Bandit Gang to recall their stories of getting into the Pro Rank and describe their observations on the issues we’ve discussed above: how reaching Pro Rank affected their attitudes towards the game, opponents, deck building, wins and losses and more. There are definitely some commonalities with the positions and opinions of ordinary players, but in addition to that we can explore the opinions of those who play Gwent on a regular basis and/ or at a competitive level.
We will consider the responses of streamers from a slightly different angle: if we split the opinions of people from chats according to how players feel after reaching Pro Rank, we will distribute the streamers’ positions depending on their attitude to different aspects of the game. This is due to the fact that people who know Gwent like the back of their hand will be able to judge the changes on a more complex level by leaving the general system of mosaic ranks.
So, what are the experiences that Bandit Gang members have with reaching Pro Rank?
- Getting into the Pro Rank for the first time
- Reaching the Pro Rank was a pleasant achievement, which gave them a charge of positive emotions – a feeling of joy or accomplishment was felt if this was done with the help of non-standard decks.
- Getting into Pro Rank was a pleasant moment, but players couldn’t fully enjoy this experience, since not all of the decks which were used during the climb were made on their own.
- Getting into Pro Rank allowed them to get a charge of positive emotions and at the same time breathe a sigh of relief, since there was no longer any need to worry about reaching a new rank.
- Achievement of the zero rank was easy and natural, without significant efforts and sometimes even without setting a specific goal of getting there.
- On the way to the Pro Rank, for some people, there were tragicomic obstacles that made the first hit in Pro even more memorable.
2. Deck building
- To succeed in the Pro Ladder and to not catch long lose streaks, people have to play decks that match the meta and are ready to resist it.
At the same time, most of the players note that such a system with a limited number of viable decks not only often forces the majority of players to start using meta combinations, but, sadly, also kills the desire to be creative among players. Players feel that no matter how good their creation is, it will still be weaker than most netdecks.
- The attitude towards deck building has not changed fundamentally: the person continues to play on what he likes or what he finds interesting or fun.
The position in the leaderboard can also be less disturbing than the desire to enjoy the game in the first place.
3. Game in general
- Being in Pro Rank encourages players to learn to adapt to opponents and resist the strongest decks.
- For some, getting into Pro Rank allowed a fresh look at the ladder system.
- Impressions from the game parties are overshadowed by the fact that in Pro Rank you have to face the same decks over and over again and all intrigue is lost: the games become more automatic and of the same type (this opinion was shared by the overwhelming majority of the team members!). At the same time, the players themselves often have to build their decks around or against meta structures.
Streamers also report that Pro Rank games are becoming more stressful and less enjoyable.
- At the same time, some of the players lose interest in further climbing, as it becomes less exciting and less interesting.
And, in the end, for some, the game does not change radically after getting into the Pro Rank, and it is not so important where you play, the main thing is what emotions you experience during games.
Speaking about the impressions of getting into the Pro Rank and changes in attitudes towards various aspects of the game, we can safely say that the situation differs for everyone, and the general pattern is quite difficult to identify. For some, the ranking system means absolutely nothing, but for others, the monthly Pro Rank MMR competition is a must-have ritual and opportunity to practice playing, deck-building and cultivating the imagination.
But it doesn’t matter if you are fighting to get into the top 500 Pro ladders, surprise your opponent with incredible decks at rank 10, play decks of pro players or prefer to watch tactical misplays from the side – the main thing is to get the most out of the game, maintain a friendly attitude towards other people and to ourselves and remember that tilt is never an option.
All the best!