One of Hearthstone’s greatest strengths is its support for both casual and competitive playstyles. While many are happy to build around their favorite cards in a low-stakes setting, tournaments worldwide also offer a chance to make a living as a professional player! For those who aspire to greatness, high finishes on the Hearthstone ladder are among the easiest ways to qualify for tournament invitations and get noticed.
It’s an unfortunate fact that the current ladder system is far from ideal, and has some issues which mostly affect competitive players. Nevertheless there are many things that can maximize your chances of a high finishing rank. As a pro with a fair amount of experience to my name, I’m going to present 10 tips that help me achieve consistent ladder success each month. Let’s get started!
#1: Choose a Deck
Decide beforehand which deck(s) you will use to climb! Usually a single deck is more than enough, but you should be ready to switch if changes in the metagame mean that your choice performs poorly. Don’t constantly change decks – this is a recipe for self-destruction! Frequently switching your decks will make it harder to identify your strengths and weaknesses, as well as slowing the natural process of learning. Remember, just because you didn’t draw well in a few games doesn’t mean the deck is bad.
#2: Choose a (Consistent Ladder) Deck
It’s impossible to eliminate the effects of RNG from card games. Nonetheless variance can work to your advantage, as in the end it’s the consistent decks which are truly rewarded. Play consistent decks. For example, in a weapon-dominated meta, Harrison Jones is more than acceptable. However, using niche tech cards in a well-balanced metagame or playing too many specialized cards overall can make a deck extremely inconsistent. If you’re trying to go pro, be mindful that the ladder meta is very different than that in tournaments, so tech cards aren’t as powerful! For more on the nuances of tournament gameplay, check out my LHS and Conquest articles here.
#3: Play Your Best
This is easier said than done, of course, but people often forget how important it is. Play as optimally as possible and give yourself the best chances of winning every game. This is too broad a subject to comprehensively address here, but try to give equal importance to each game. Don’t focus on win or loss streaks, as what ultimately matters is the overall ratio you’re able to maintain. Take time to make decisions if you need to. One tiny misplay can snowball into a loss and deny you the desired rank up or ladder finish! If you struggle with disadvantageous matchups, take a look at my guide here for advice on overcoming this.
#4: Preparation, Preparation
Another one that seems obvious but is easily forgotten in the moment. You might be amazed by how much better you play when you spend time preparing for your session! Eat a healthy meal, have a snack for energy, and drink plenty of water or tea during. Competitive Hearthstone relies on the ability to out-analyze and out-think your opponent over the long run, so don’t neglect your mental well-being! If you’re going for a high ladder finish, put yourself in the best possible position before starting the final day climb. Top 10 is obviously ideal, but anything between Top 80 to 200 will make things much less painful.
#5: Battle ‘Round the World!
This may seem counterintuitive, but play on multiple servers if possible. This is great even for casual players seeking to improve, since the different regions often have interesting variations in their metagames. In addition, if you’re going pro then you will have more chances to attain your goal… Plus you can take advantage of the differing reset times on each server!
#6: Check Your Tech
No one likes to lose due to dropped internet or a blue screen of death. When playing for a high ladder finish and every game matters, make sure your PC, hardware, and connection are as stable as possible for the final games. Install any scheduled updates beforehand and avoid overloading lower-end computers. Unless it’s your only option, playing over unstable WiFi from your phone is a big no-no!
#7: Don’t Be Discouraged
Do not tilt! This is tough – controlling emotions can be difficult for anyone, especially when a run of bad luck makes us feel frustrated and powerless to reach our goals. Still, don’t let the randomness of the game affect you! If it does then you need to get rid of those feelings of negativity before continuing. This is something I learned from my time playing poker – if you have a bad streak, it’s time for a quick break. Take a bath, go for a walk, make some food, or do something that will similarly relax you and clear your mind. For more on how to acquire the mindset of a master, check out my recent article here.
#8: Stay On Target…
Don’t stop until you’re there! This doesn’t mean to play constantly, but rather to be conscious of what your actual goal is and how close you are to achieving it. For a semi-pro seeking a high ladder finish, being ranked #92 with three hours remaining until server reset isn’t enough to guarantee Top 100. If you just want to improve, keep pushing yourself to learn and grow… but also recognize and be proud when you do make the correct play!
#9: Don’t Overdo It!
Be wary of pushing yourself too hard. Hearthstone is fundamentally a mental game and relies on your ability to make correct choices, time after time. If you reach rank #65 with one hour before server reset, it’s probably enough for a Top 100 finish. In this situation it makes sense to accept the result and not push further, as there’s no reason to risk losing a game unless you need more than 5 World Champs points!
And, last but not least:
#10: Be Lucky
Don’t be unlucky!
It might be overwhelming to try and recall all ten of these tips when you’re in-game. Heed the ones that speak most to your strengths and weaknesses as a player! Based on my experience, the single best piece of advice that I can give is #1. Find a strong deck that you feel comfortable with and stick with it through the majority of the season. Constantly changing decks between games is one of the easiest ways to drop ranks. Implement all these suggestions and you’re sure to rank up faster and more consistently than you ever have before!
Thanks for reading! As we approach the release of Knights of the Frozen Throne, there will be lots to discuss in the world of Hearthstone! Check back next week for more to learn!