Hello everyone, Atrsharpe here with the follow-up on the previous article. This will be a more advanced piece, made for those of you who are trying to climb to Pro Rank. When you get to Rank 10 and higher, Pro Rank is on the horizon and is very much reachable. I will use my recent experience of climbing there myself and give you helpful tips and tricks.
Step 1 - Taking advantage of our Meta Report
Once you reach Rank 10 or so, your opponent's decks will begin to look similar and will be more consistent. This is because they are probably using decks that have proven to be great in the current meta. Each month, TLG releases a Meta Report which outlines the top decks in the current season, decks that you will be seeing most often on the ladder. The closer you get to Rank 0 (Pro Rank), the tougher will the opponents become, partially due to them having more experience, but also due to them utilizing the best decks available in the current meta.
Now if you aren't using a deck from our Meta Report yet, it's worth taking a look and going through the different options. Although you may have been performing well with a deck not featured on there, reading through all the lists will help you familiarize yourself with what your opponents are likely playing. For example, when you get into a game and see that your opponent is playing Blood Scent, you can take a peak at the report and see what list they could be playing.
There will, more often than not, be differences with their list, since the other teams also release their meta reports with slight changes. Your opponent might have also taken the initiative to make some changes they deem to be appropriate, so keep your guard up and expect the unexpected, such as a random Geralt: Igni.
On the other hand, you may have reached the current rank with a deck that used to perform well for you, but is suddenly starting to feel weaker or even underwhelming as the competition becomes more fierce. If that's the case, don't despair! We create our Meta Report to show the best and most common decks and so there is absolutely nothing wrong with you importing a deck and playing it yourself - also known as netdecking.
Not every deck will fit your playstyle, but having the stockpile list to build on is a good starting place. We always include some considerations, including a list of cards that could be swapped out, so you can make any changes that you see fit.
There are still some cons to netdecking however, the big one being that people are going to recognize the list that you're playing and so they can play around your cards to an extent. You will lose out on the benefit of surprise factor if you don't make any changes to a popular deck, but that doesn't mean that playing such decks is a bad idea. You have to make sure you're familiar with how to play the list to its full potential, which comes with practice and watching others play it.
Step 2 - How to learn decks
Unfortunately, in order to do well with a deck from our Meta Report, you will have to practice it first. You won't always be able to just pick up a deck and start winning every match with it. The reason why most of meta decks take some practice is because there is always some nuance to them, which is what makes them so good to begin with.
Learning the best combos, what your win conditions are and when to commit certain cards or the leader ability is crucial. This can take a lot of time to learn, but there are ways you can optimize the time you spend with a list in order to become more familiar with it faster.
First of all, make sure to learn from your mistakes. In competitive games, learning from your mistakes is necessary if you want to avoid making them again. Some players like to record their games so they can review them afterwards and work out where they went wrong, but this isn't always necessary. If you stay focused and try to pay attention to what you could have done differently in a given situation, you will get the hang of it in no time.
Secondly, you can watch Youtube. Gwent players on Youtube will often give you an overview of the list they're using and then show a couple of games. Our team has a great selection of Youtubers, with the most active one being DevilDriven. He usually uses our Meta Report decks, so he is the ideal Youtuber to watch during your climb to Pro Rank.
It is worth noting that Youtubers generally don't include the games that they lose and only show the victorious matches. This can be a little deceiving at times, so always keep that in mind and don't get too frustrated if you find yourself losing.
The third and the most effective method is to watch streamers on Twitch. Streamers are playing and broadcasting live, meaning you can see all of their wins and losses, including their mistakes.
This is obviously more time-consuming than watching Youtube videos, but if you can spare the time, definitely go for it. We have SpyroZA and BushR who stream daily, but also Pajabol who streams irregularly.
If you incorporate all three methods, you will be able to understand a deck quickly, but it will still take some commitment and effort. Additionally, even if you see some videos or streams with a deck that you aren't trying to learn at the moment, there is no harm in watching. It can give you a solid idea of how your opponent might be playing the specific deck.
Step 3 - Identifying your strengths
We have already established the fact that not every single deck on our Meta Report is going to suit you, which is natural. When you are on the regular ladder and can't derank, it's a great time to practice with the different decks on the report. You will see which deck feels and performs the best for you.
Furthermore, while it is worth to try and get better with as many decks as possible, the optimal way to climb to Pro Rank is focusing on just one or two decks. Stick to what works for you, some decks will always perform significantly better for you than the other decks.
In Pro Rank, the whole MMR system is very impactful, but in the numbered ranks it doesn't matter how many losses you get with a faction. Again, there is absolutely no harm in testing and playing around with multiple decks in the report until you find that one deck which suits you. In fact, it is often encouraged. You never know, you might convert from a die-hard Nilfgaardian player to a Northern Realms supporter!
The best way to figure out which decks you will be the strongest with is to see which deck feels just right to play for you. Certain control-heavy lists like Enslave Nilfgaard might not be your cup of tea, but something aggressive like Blood Scent Monsters could be more enjoyable. Take each deck for a few spins and see for yourself.
For those of you who aren't familiar with my Gwent history, I haven't been playing that long! I first started playing Gwent in July 2019 and I got to Pro Rank in my first month. Then during my second season, I managed to make it to the Top 500. This was partially due to my experience in other card games, but mostly due to quickly learning how to capitalize on the Ranked system and how to get familiar with the decks I was playing.
I started with the usual Pointslam Monsters list, which of course didn't get me very far. It wasn't until I started using my first meta report deck (Skellige Greatswords, at the time rated 3.75 out of 5 stars, but the deck was a perfect fit for me) that I really started to climb. I made it all the way to Pro Rank thanks to sticking with one deck until I could pilot it well.
I also spent a lot of time watching DevilDriven's Youtube channel, which seriously helped me with knowing what I was up against in most of my matches. Having a rough idea of what your opponent is trying to do is half the battle and can sometimes help you choose your own line of play.
Other than that, it takes a lot of practice. If you want to reach Pro Rank in just one season, you will need to spend a good amount of time devoted to the game. For any specific advice, or if you want to contact me directly with some questions, please feel free to join TLG's Discord server and shoot me a message. I will be happy to answer.
Alex, aka atrsharpe is a 17-year-old student who'd much rather be enjoying Gwent than writing his psychology essay. After replaying the Witcher franchise one too many times, he was absorbed into the world of Gwent. He started when Syndicate was released and climbed all the way up to pro rank, followed by reaching the top 400 in the next season. Alex hopes to find a girlfriend or eventually become a Gwent pro. Whatever comes first.