Ranked Play  Tagged Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Ranked Play  RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network PUGs and Ladders: Why the competitive grind is killing your game https://www.gameskinny.com/fpnpx/pugs-and-ladders-why-the-competitive-grind-is-killing-your-game https://www.gameskinny.com/fpnpx/pugs-and-ladders-why-the-competitive-grind-is-killing-your-game Sat, 24 Sep 2016 06:03:29 -0400 Seth Zulinski

If you've played any games competitively (or even noncompetitively), you've probably heard one phrase a lot since you started. You've heard it whenever you started learning an instrument, lifting weights, trying sports, learning a new skill, or generally doing a thing or being around anyone who does. It's almost impossible to avoid having heard it at least once in your life. 

"Practice makes perfect". 

And, for a large part - that's true. Sure, sometimes you're just sort of naturally gifted at something. Sometimes you're a prodigy, and have a massive head start right out of the gates. In order to get better, though, you still have to practice. In order to improve, you train. Every person, every place, every time. In fact, a large part of PowerUP, my series right here on GameSkinny is almost entirely dedicated to helping you practice new and good habits for your climb to the top of the ranked ladder in whichever game you decide to dominate. 

That's the key though, isn't it? It's not practice itself that makes you better, it's practicing good habits and skills. Practicing bad habits is going to make you worse at whatever it is you're doing (or make you better at being bad, however you want to look at it) - and habits don't get much worse than grinding the Ranked/Competitive Ladder. 

I know, I know. The Ranked climb is how you know you're getting better, right? Learn things, practice, skill up, ranked up, shiny new metal for your Rank. The Ranked climb is your single ticket to the top. 

Except it isn't - it's usually a one way trip to the bottom, and here's why: 

They're usually team games - without a team

The end goal of practice is to be better at any given thing - and it's hard to find a more solid image of "better" at a pursuit than the professional scene. For many players, the end goal of practice is the professional scene. So when talking about the merits (or lack thereof) of the Ranked grind, it serves us well to compare it to the professional gaming scene equivalent. 

Take one of the major stars of the eSports world currently - MOBAs. Ranked ladders across most Battle Arenas are solo, duo, or sometimes triple queue - meaning you often can only queue competitively with one, two, or three people in your party. The rest are "pick ups" or "Pugs" (technically PUGs are pick up games, but the term has broadened to the randomly assigned players you find in said games as well). Half of any given game of 5v5 is just praying to whatever will listen, "Please, please let them have any idea what they're doing". 

Often, they do not. Just as often, they do - but even if they do, what they're doing might be on a totally different wavelength than what you're doing. Their skillsets, plans, and style of play are not only totally able to be completely out of sync with yours, but possibly out of sync with the game as a whole.

You know what many successfully professional teams don't have to do every game in their matches on the tournament stage? Deal with any of that. Adapting to the enemy, sure - but not your own team. At least, not after the first few games played together, after which the team will (usually) have gelled. Certainly not every game. 

Is learning how to work together on the fly a valuable skillset to have? Sure, in Ranked matches. Is it an applicable skill to the top tier of competitive play? Not in the slightest. It's like being able to deal with trolls in competitive games - useful skill, but one totally alien to the professional scene. 

The single most obvious and heavily practiced aspect of any current MOBA - quick team building - is nearly never utilized in the professional scene. It doesn't matter how good your Thor is, or if your Mid game might as well be Faker's, because we're given a few minutes to succeed at what professional teams allow themselves weeks or months to achieve. Every. Game.

We are spending hours, and entire games suffering through the learning process and consequences of a skillset that, if we're successful in our dreams of professional play, we will not use. You don't practice drums to get better at guitar - and you shouldn't practice with PUGs for competitive team games. 

Evidently, the professional scene at least somewhat agrees - which is why the professional/semi-pro "in house" community tends to be alive and well across most major competitive games, and team vs. team "scrims" are common to keep skills sharp.

Even single player titles are rarely the same game

This veers dangerously close to "meta" territory, but as team-based competitive ladders force prospective professionals into strange situations not found in the upper tiers, so too do many single player titles. The broken, dangerous "bait and switch" of Hearthstone's competitive ladder vs its professional tournament scene is a prime example of specifically this. 

In the simplest possible terms - Hearthstone's Ranked ladder, the cornerstone of competitive Hearthstone play worldwide and the main avenue of entry into premiere Blizzard tournaments, is not the same game as said tournaments. The "Conquest" style of play, wherein multiple decks are selected for each player, who then bans one of the opponent's decks before shuffling up until one player wins with all of their selections, is not found anywhere in the actual Ranked ladder. It is not available. Players cannot practice Conquest, the default mode of premiere Hearthstone tournaments, at all in their grind to Legend. 

As the ladder itself is best of one (and mostly grinding odds), certain decks are massively over-represented when compared to their tournament appearance - because they suit the ladder, the much different game of the ladder, far better than their Conquest counterparts. 

So, as possible Hearthstone professionals, we have to ask ourselves as we work towards that Rank 1 Legend - what exactly are we practicing? The answer, after you've achieved relative competence at basic game mechanics (which doesn't take long if you're actively attempting to learn), is "not much that's relevant". 

So what's the winning play?

The winning play in games with broken ladder systems (read: nearly all current offerings) is the same as any broken contest - don't play. Now, I don't mean don't play the game, mind you. If your goal is to become a top tier professional team or player in League of LegendsSMITE, CS:GO, Duelyst....anything, really, then by all means practice that game. Practice it until your hands go numb and eyes bleed from the glare of your computer monitor (note: please do not actually play until body parts go numb or bleed). Practice it so much you can play it blindfolded and drunk. 

Mostly importantly, make sure what you're studying is what's actually going to be on the test. If you're practicing in a 5v5 MOBA, get a team of 5 together and play against other teams as often as possible. Work on eliminating as much of the "out of game" elements as possible, letting you (and your teammates) focus on improving your mechanics and teamwork much more effectively. 

If you're playing a single player game, make sure that your practice experience matches that of the tournaments you'll be attending. If you're going to try to grind Conquest tournaments of Hearthstone, make sure to actually practice Conquest

In general, improving your odds at tournament performance and success can be achieved by following these three rules - 

1. If at all possible, practice with those who are better (preferably much better) than you are as often as you can. 

2. Recreate tournament conditions of play as accurate as possible. 

3. Isolate variables that need improvement as much as possible - practicing six things at once is going to leave your mental gains lacking compared to only practicing a thing or two consistently until you have it down. 

Now, ask yourself - 

Does your competitive ladder follow these rules? Does MMR calibrated to find players of around your skill level meet rule one? Do the constant format changes and PUG games meet rule two? Does the mad mess of ranked trolls, "testing" players, bought accounts, and complete lack of communication and teamwork meet rule three?

I'm willing to wager not. 

There's no bright light at the top of the Ranked climb - just an endless abyss of wasted time and salt at the bottom. We're going to need to practice smarter, not harder. We're going to have to think laterally if we want to bring our game to new heights. 

We're going to have to get off the ladder, and go play games that matter. 

 

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League of Legends: The Most-Played APs in Ranked 2016 https://www.gameskinny.com/rbu94/league-of-legends-the-most-played-aps-in-ranked-2016 https://www.gameskinny.com/rbu94/league-of-legends-the-most-played-aps-in-ranked-2016 Mon, 27 Jun 2016 06:30:01 -0400 minnie89

Ability power carries in League of Legends (usually midlaners) are powerful, burst-oriented damage dealers that scale hard from leveling. They usually take mid lane because it's the shortest, the XP is fast, and they usually are a higher level than everyone else on their team. They are the players that can delete a squishy ADC or enemy carry in seconds and get back out again, or completely CC and control the enemy in order to lock down targets and let the entire team take them out. If a fed AP mid unloads all of their abilities on you, you're likely dead unless you've built some defenses. 

These are the most-played AP mids in platinum and higher ranked League of Legends play:

1. Viktor

Viktor is a control mage that excels at clearing waves quickly when sieging, controlling his enemy's positioning with his abilities, and doing devastating amounts of damage. He is relatively immobile, so is usually not one to roam around the map during laning phase, but is integral to turning the tide of teamfights and skirmishes throughout the game. While a difficult champion to learn and master, when played well he is a significant boon to your team in damage and utility. 

2. LeBlanc

LeBlanc functions as a mage assassin, deceiving those around her when played well with quick, lightning fast engages and burst damage and then instantly disappearing again before you can react. She provides some CC with her E to lock down and assassinate priority targets, usually the ADC or maybe a fed carry top laner or jungler. She can be difficult to gank and difficult to catch due to her high mobility and elusiveness. 

3. Azir

Azir's mechanics provide him a ton of safety in lane and in teamfights, sending his soldiers to do damage for him and staying far back away from the fray, waiting for the right moment to charge in, ult and knock up the enemy team, and control their escape paths. Azir has the ablility to take down turrets better than most AP characters and can put his own in its place, functionally trapping enemies in the small space between enemy turrets or pushing them back into their own turret, depending on his placement. He can use his ultimate to push enemies away or into his team to pull off fantastic engages or disengages in a team fight. 

4. Ahri

Ahri is a highly mobile mage assassin. She can move quickly around the outskirts of a teamfight, dodging skillshots and CC and dealing damage to her enemy in the meantime. If an Ahri can land her charm, the charmed person will usually experience a sense of dread, knowing that they're likely dead and there's nothing they can do about it. She has a decent amount of sustain in lane, an ult that can help her escape ganks or chase down an enemy, and enough damage to decimate an entire team when positioned correctly. 

5. Twisted Fate

Twisted Fate has the unique advantage of having a teleport built in to his kit. Although he is fairly immobile and a mediocre laner, his ability to provide vision of the entire enemy team and then teleport into the right places to turn the tide of a fight or secure an objective make him a great pick for your team. His point-and-click stun can also help create good ganks or catch a fleeing low-health enemy. 

What are your favorite League of Legends AP mids to play, or to have on your team? Why do you think these characters are played so much? Who do you think should be played more? Let me know in the comments! And for more League goodness, be sure to check out our list of the most played ADCs in 2016.

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Best Practices for League of Legends Ranked Play https://www.gameskinny.com/v7hlp/best-practices-for-league-of-legends-ranked-play https://www.gameskinny.com/v7hlp/best-practices-for-league-of-legends-ranked-play Tue, 14 Jun 2016 08:35:24 -0400 MobalyticsMark

League of Legends is hard. And considering around 70% of the player base is in Bronze and Silver ELOs, most people who play ranked have a lot to learn; myself included. I'm fortunate because I work at Mobalytics, which is a performance data tool for LoL. We have a team of people including ex-professional gamers, professional League of Legends coaches, and people from all ELOs right up to Challenger.

Although I'm a new player, I get direct access to great hints and tips that help me suck less at ranked -- and I wanted to share them with my fellow League players. Some practices you may have heard before, but many you won't know yet.

1. Before the game

In League of Legends, the game starts before you even open the client. Setting yourself up for a competitive mindset and finding that groove is essential for good results.

Play a warm-up game

Jumping straight into ranked before you've had a warm-up game is not such a good idea. Play at least one normal game, depending on your how much time you have, and you'll see better results when you move to ranked.

Specialize

Just in case you missed this memo, climbing ranked solo queue effectively means specializing in a single champion -- or at most a small selection of 2-3 as a max. Choose mechanically accessible champions and avoid technical champs such as Lee Sin or Bard. Flashy plays are fun, but they take up mental space that should be focused on LoL fundamentals such as positioning, farming, and decision making.

Work out, eat properly, meditate

Sounds kind of like something your grandma would say. But want to know another demographic that says the same? Challenger-tier coaches. Sitting down to play on an empty stomach, with your body half asleep and a mind scattered with daily tasks and other distractions just doesn't help your game.

Never meditated before? Just sit, close your eyes, empty your mind, focus on your breath, when you catch yourself thinking about stuff, stop thinking and focus again on your breath. Repeat for 5-10 minutes. It's surprisingly difficult.

Ignore your LP, focus on best-of matches

The more you focus on your LP and your rank, the less likely you are to play to the best of your ability. Your tier is not a direct indication of how good you are at the game. Detach yourself from these metrics and focus on best-of-3 or best-of-5 games with yourself. That way, it's easier to ignore LP gains and you'll avoid "ladder anxiety”. 

Set up a League of Legends journal

Whether you use a notepad, Google Sheets, or something else, create a journal for your League games to record your performance when watching your replays later on. Replay watching is a post-game exercise, so set up the journal now and we'll look at how to effectively analyze replays later. Have one tab or section for skill usage, then one for early, mid and late game.

Hit the wiki and learn something new

Game knowledge is the most beneficial aspect to focus on for Bronze and Silver players. And a primary step is understanding each champion and what they do. Before each game, fire up the LoL wiki and select the champion from the home page that you understand the least. Look at their skills, then make mental notes on whether they have crowd control or other key mechanics so you know how to play next time you face them.

Check builds

Spend a little time on ProBuilds or check out some League builds here on GameSkinny and seek item inspiration for your champion. It’s especially worth visiting the site a few days after new patches are released. It’s easy to pick items out of habit, but it’s effective to keep up-to-date and check in on the meta.

Practice your CS’ing

Load up custom games and practice your last hitting. As a bare minimum, you should be able to hit 70 CS in the first 10 minutes. That may sound like a lot, and it may even feel a lot when you start practicing. But considering there are 107 minions to kill in the first 10 minutes, that means you get to miss 37 CS during each drill. If you can’t do it alone in lane in a custom game without opponents pressuring you, you definitely won’t hit this minimum benchmark in a real game.

All of this contributes to a good attitude

By taking the time to get focused, to learn some new things about the game, working on best-of matches with yourself, practicing your CS and other tips above, you’re cultivating a good attitude before you go into game. Flaming and blaming is one of the worst things you can do if you actually want to improve your win-loss. The game is hard enough already, don’t make it harder by being that guy. Focus on improving yourself; it's the only thing you really control in solo queue.

2. Early game

League of Legends is a game of momentum. The advantages secured in the early game have the potential to lead into the kind of snowballing that's tough for an enemy to come back from, so here are some best practices to make that happen.

Communicate relevant info with your team

If you play a champion with a level 2 power spike such as Leona, Thresh or Blitzcrank, or if you want to try an early invade or gank, let your team know. By getting people on the same page and pulling off a successful early tactic like this, you can build team synergy and improve your chances of a successful game.

Look at the map every 3-5 seconds

Some players set up timers (such as this one, but there are many others) to remind them to look at the mini map every 3 to 5 seconds. This is a great habit to develop -- especially in the laning phase, which is notoriously difficult with so much to focus on. 

Learn lane control

The amount of games I play where ADCs and other roles just sit there pushing lane with auto attacks from minute 1 truly boggles my mind. Controlling the lane is a mission-critical skill in this game. Take time to watch videos (such as this one or this one) that show what wave control is and make sure you practice it. You'll make your life much easier.

Effective positioning & waiting for mistakes

Get into the habit of visualizing a circle around each champion representing their effective zones. The coaching tool Map Rift is a good example of what I mean here. If you’re standing alone inside the effective zones of two enemies and one of them has a stun, you’re about to get rekt. If you're in bot lane, standing miles away from each other can lead to this situation. By thinking about champion's effective zones, you’re more likely to be positioned correctly.

3. Mid game

Early game is considered the part that the individual player has the most control over. With better knowledge on mid-game decision-making, you're more likely to pull through as a team.

Completing the wave

“Completing the wave” is another great technique shown to me by a Challenger member of the Mobalytics team. If you take the first turret in your lane, ensure you clear the next minion wave, pushing the line into your enemy's next turret. By doing that, you force them to defend it and try to get what CS they can, leaving you free reign of the map to go Dragon, raid their jungle, gank, or do something else productive.

Watch and communicate Dragon timings

It’s really not difficult to hit tab for a quick second and check when the Dragon's spawning. Take the initiative and type “drag 1” or the time in chat so your team knows it's spawning soon and can make decisions accordingly. Ensure it’s warded around 2 minutes in advance, giving you a little time left on the ward's lifespan to see if the enemy is making moves.

Don’t go for ePeen kills

Remember that League of Legends is a game of objectives and not of how many kills you get. If your team is ahead, it’s common for carries to get all excited and start going around for more and more ganks, ignoring towers and Dragons. When this happens, you can lose a game with twice as many kills as the enemy team if they go for objectives and you don’t. Don’t make this mistake. 

Understand objective priorities

Take a little time to learn what objectives are priorities so you can improve your macro decision-making. Here's a great video on objective priorities in League of Legends by an excellent educational YouTuber, Pants are Dragon.

4. Late game

Whether you're ahead or playing from the back foot in the late game, making the right decisions here means the difference between winning and losing. Here are some common mistakes to avoid. 

Don’t wander off alone if you’re behind

If you're behind or the enemy has some OP burst-heavy carry stomping around like Katarina or Akali, don’t wander around by yourself trying to farm "so you can catch up". You're just leaving yourself open to easy kills, especially if there are not so many wards up. Stick together a bit, stay on top of warding, look for ganks and defend towers.

Learn that there's a time for split pushing

Don't stand alone split pushing in lane unless you have a specific escape plan. You’re just asking to get ganked. We've all seen players stay in the top lane trying to backdoor the enemy while leaving the rest of their team 4v5 the enemy, getting further and further behind. If you don’t have a stealth mechanic or the very least have Flash up and a pre-planned place to escape to, don’t farm alone in line trying to split push. There's a time for this tactic, and it's not always a good idea. Here's a great how-to video.

Close the game if you can

Lower ELO players are often bad at closing the game. If you have an opportunity to destroy the base, take it. Don't give your enemy a chance to come back thanks to a well-timed Baron, which can easily destroy the lead you held on to throughout the game.

5. After the game

Just like League of Legends starts before you open the client, the session should continue after you close it down. Here are some best practices to learn the most from the time you spent in-game.

Don’t spam games if you lost

If you lose two games in a row and you’re playing the best-of-5, take a break. Especially if you’re a little tilted because you had someone go AFK or was feeding or whatever it may be. Take a rest, meditate a little, go for a walk, have a snack, make a coffee; whatever. Just don’t queue another game before you wind down a bit.

Check out your stats quickly

Take a moment to check the stats at the end of each game. It can be good to keep an eye on how you're doing, even if they're not overly insightful metrics. See how you did and how stats like CS and GPM progress over time.

Think about what you learned

Whether you won or lost, take a moment to think about what you learned that game. Are there any champions that did something to you that you didn’t understand? Did you notice bad habit with positioning or perhaps a questionable skill usage? It’s good to reflect a little on the game.

Watch the laning phase replay

Once you’ve done that, watch your replay, starting with the laning phase. My two favorite tools for this are Replay.GG and LoL Summoner Info. Fire up the replay and skip to around the 1:40 time stamp, which is when laning typically begins. Watch the next 10 minutes of play and, in the journal you created earlier, make a note of each bad or good skill use. This way, you discover your habits and where they need to improve. It's an amazing learning tool.

Watch your kills, deaths and assists (KDAs)

The easiest way to watch these is to download Plays.TV and have it running in the background during League games. It records and time stamps KDAs, and although it doesn't give as much freedom as the native client replay tools listed above, it's excellent for saving time and watching your camera control during play. Journal your KDAs and what was good or bad. If you start noticing patterns such as “was not watching the minimap during a gank” or "was way out of position too far forward” you know what you need to focus on to improve. And these are things too easy to miss in the heat of the moment.

Journaling general notes

Finally, have a spreadsheet or section in your journal for taking notes of any other observations about your play. Maybe you noticed something about your warding patterns, a realization about how to play against Yasuo or other tough-to-handle champion, whatever may be. The process of analyzing a best-of-3 or a best-of-5 this way should only take around an hour, give or take. Yes, it’s not as fun as playing another game of League of Legends. But by focusing this kind of intention on improving your game, you’re much more likely to get better at the game.

GLHF!

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League of Legends: The Most-Played Supports in Ranked in 2016 https://www.gameskinny.com/2a7in/league-of-legends-the-most-played-supports-in-ranked-in-2016 https://www.gameskinny.com/2a7in/league-of-legends-the-most-played-supports-in-ranked-in-2016 Wed, 08 Jun 2016 05:27:12 -0400 minnie89

In League of Legends, support is the most underrated role on a team. Without a good, team-oriented support, it's difficult to make plays and keep your damage dealers alive long enough to make an impact. Each season and patch changes what supports are best (and most likely to be played). In Season 6, the supports that are most likely to be played are game-changers -- champions that easily impact their lane and the game when their kit is played well.

These are the top 5 played supports in platinum and higher ranked play:

1. Thresh

It's not surprising that Thresh is the most-played support in ranked. Thresh's kit brings a ton of utility to the table: peel, CC, control, escapes, and major setup for his teammates. He can also be built as an off-tank if the team needs it or as a squishier damage contributor. A well-thrown hook into flay can control and lock down the enemy team long enough to let his team control and win a teamfight or escape unscathed. 

2. Blitzcrank

 Blitzcrank inspires fear in the hearts of any marksman in bottom lane -- the threat of a player who really knows how to land the hook that will bring you hurtling into the enemy turret and deleted before you can do anything to escape is part of the reason why he's banned constantly in lower elos. Although Blitzcrank's greatest strength is his hook engage (when consistently landed), he also brings the potential to be an off-tank and damage soaker, and can do decent enough damage to supplement his team in teamfights with his ult and knockup. 

3. Braum

Braum is one of the best supports to use when you need to provide good peel for your carries in a game. He has a ton of utility -- a slow on melee hit that turns into a stun with help from teammates, a projectile-blocking shield, knockup ult that can set up kills or zone the enemy team from a portion of the battlefield, and a leap that can help save low-health teammates while escaping. Braum is the epitome of defense and also builds extremely tanky, soaking damage for enough time to let you destroy their entire team before he even worries about dying. 

4. Alistar

Alistar makes an oppressive laning support and super-tank late game that is made even tankier with his ult. A good surprise dash-knockup in early game can be enough to scare an enemy marksman into farming safely or lead to an early kill. A good Alistar can turn the tide of a fight by forcibly repositioning your enemy -- whether that's removing them from the fight entirely or sending them crashing into your team with no escape in sight. Alistar's minor heal helps sustain while taking objectives and can be the deciding factor in whether a tower goes down by tanking the tower with his ult up. 

5. Janna

Janna is the antagonist to every engage-heavy team composition. She will use her tornadoes, ult, and shield to stop an all-in every time -- and leave her, her ADC, and her entire team unscathed and possibly healed to full. Her shield brings a modicum of protection for her team and a buff to their attack damage, which can be the deciding factor whether you win a trade in lane. Her kit is intended to stop engages and make your enemies waste their cooldowns so your team can turn it around on them and win the fights that will snowball the game. 

Who are your favorite supports to play, or to play alongside? Why do you think these supports are played most? Let me know in the comments! 

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SMITE: Tips for Getting Started in Ranked Play https://www.gameskinny.com/00g40/smite-tips-for-getting-started-in-ranked-play https://www.gameskinny.com/00g40/smite-tips-for-getting-started-in-ranked-play Wed, 09 Mar 2016 03:30:34 -0500 Taranis8

Many level 30 players in SMITE see the ranked tab open up for them. Often times, as long as they have 16 gods mastered, they hop right in -- not realizing that the level and god requirement is just the bare minimum to play. They also don't realize that their first 50 or so games play the biggest role in where they will rank.

But don't worry. You don't have to be one of those players. This guide to getting started in ranked can't guarantee wins, but it should get you off to a stronger start.

These are not tips for brand new SMITE and Conquest players.  I assume you know the basics of warding, what each role is, etc., if you're looking to enter ranked play.

 The pre-league checklist

1.  At least 2/3 of the gods you have mastered should include the top picked and banned gods. 

In ranked, only gods that you have mastered can be picked and traded. This plays a major role in ranked.  If your team wants a specific god that is of high priority and you are picking, they may ask you to pick that god for them.  Without having it mastered, you force yourself to pick a different god and possibly give that highly coveted god to the other team on their turn.  Coming into ranked with the bare minimum of 16 gods is going to leave you with few options.

2. Learn at least 3 different roles.

In ranked, you want to learn a few different roles so you have something to fall back on if your preferred role is taken. You don't want to hop into a game and have 3 teammates who want to play the same role and can't do anything else. That is a setup for failure before the match even starts.  

You will have one role you prefer, but having some backup roles will help you and your team out greatly.  The more diverse you are, the more valuable you are to the team.

3. Use Curse voice

Curse voice is the voice program that 99% of SMITE players use.  Even if you do not have a mic and can't talk, just listening will go a long way.  In my personal experience, the teams I am on that have all 5 of us in Curse talking seem to have a higher win percentage than those teams where nobody is in voice chat.  

With this, I will also say that it's helpful to know a decent amount of the VGS commands. Knowing them to help those who can't join Curse will also help.

4. Be comfortable in casual conquest

Many people ask how many casual games they should play before getting into ranked. There's not a set number, but you should be extremely comfortable in casuals -- to the point you win most of your lanes.  There is a big difference between casual and ranked, and it is one of the first things you will notice when you make the jump.  

In casuals, people try new things and builds out of the meta, and many times they get punished for it.  It is only very rarely in ranked that you see people playing outside the meta. Everyone is playing to move up the ladder so they tend to take it seriously.

The Banning Phase

1. Calling roles

Unlike in casuals, calling a role does not make it your role.  Usually, the team banner gets his choice of a role, as he has the highest Elo (SMITE's internal rank).  After that, it usually goes in call order, but if someone is above you in picks, they may choose to take your role.  When you enter a match, usually you call your role such as "ADC pref".  This lets the team know you prefer ADC.  It does not entitle you to that role, it just states your preference.

2. Banning and picking

To the right, you see how the picks and bans work. The order side will always get first pick and first ban. This follows with Chaos side getting 2 picks. Ban phase 2 has actually been upgraded to now allow each team to ban 2 gods, not just one.  The order is still the same.

There are usually two types of banning strategies:

  1. The team bans out the top Gods and pick from there.
  2. The team will ban less powerful gods in hopes to secure a top god for themselves.  

Both strategies have their benefits.  If you happen to be the banner and are going for option 2, make sure someone can and is willing to play the top god you left open.  Sometimes you will get someone who does not favor that god like you may, and then you may end up leaving it open for the other team.

In the actual game

So you made it into the game and now it is just time to pwn some noobs and laugh your way to victory!!! Here are a few tips I have for the actual match.

1. Stay POSITIVE

Not only is this one of the hardest tips to follow, it is also one of the most beneficial. You will get people who bad-mouth and trash talk if they feel something went wrong. Don't engage back with it. Everyone thinks they are better than what they are. Truth be told, if everyone was that good, they wouldn't be in that match with you. They would be in a higher ranking match.  

With that said, be open to constructive criticism and positive help.  You will come across many people who will try to break down a bad situation so it does not happen again, which is a good thing.  Try to do this yourself as well. 

2. Watch your games later and see what you can improve

Replays in Smite now are far and few between.  If you record or stream yourself gaming though, you can do this.  Go back and see what YOU could have done different or better.  Don't worry about the others in the match. Worry about what you can control and that is your gameplay.

 

3. Know the builds

Know a build that works for every role/god you may play in a match.  Ranked is not the time to test something out.  Testing and trying new things should be saved for casuals.  I am not telling you to go with a cookie cutter build you see some pro running. If you want to that is great, but find something that is effective and works for you.  As you get more comfortable you will find yourself counter building your enemy, and it will be natural.  

Have fun and enjoy the game!  Good luck in your matches!

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Blizzard @ Gamescom 2015: new mechanic, new rewards for Hearthstone https://www.gameskinny.com/y279p/blizzard-gamescom-2015-new-mechanic-new-rewards-for-hearthstone https://www.gameskinny.com/y279p/blizzard-gamescom-2015-new-mechanic-new-rewards-for-hearthstone Wed, 05 Aug 2015 06:44:49 -0400 Ainyan

Although the Grand Tournament is scheduled to release later this month, Blizzard didn’t neglect Hearthstone in its volley of announcements this morning at Gamescom.

In addition to a slew of new cards, executive producer Hamilton Chu and senior game designer Mike Donais announced a second new mechanic for Hearthstone and a new reward system for Ranked Play.

Joust!

A familiar mode of battle in any Grand Tournament, the Joust mechanic adds some gaming to your game. Minions and spells with the Joust mechanic get a little meta in your meta, creating a small contest of wills within the larger battle.

When a Joust is triggered - usually via a battlecry mechanic, but occasionally through deathrattle -  one random minion from each deck is revealed. If the Jouster’s revealed minion has the higher mana cost, then the Joust is successful and the stated effect is applied.

Highest Rank Bonus to Address Ladder Concerns

Currently, Ranked Play only offers two rewards - a card back at level 20, and a card back for reaching Legendary. A longstanding complaint among the Hearthstone community is that the reward is not equal to the risk, meaning many players only play long enough to get their level 20 card back or until they’ve reached the edge of their comfort zone, then refuse to take another step.

Blizzard is addressing that by adding the Highest Rank Bonus to Hearthstone’s ladder play.

 

Beginning this month, the highest rank attained by a player will be saved and displayed in the player’s Quest Log, recognizing their accomplishment, even if they happen to lose that rank. In addition to this acknowledgement, the end of season rewards will now include golden cards and dust, as well as the card back, appropriate to the highest rank earned. The higher the rank, the better quality - and quantity - of the golden cards.

Reward for Rank 17                                                           Reward for Rank 5
 

It seems the Joust mechanic will encourage the use of higher cost minions to offset the chance of one’s opponent winning the Joust. And the Highest Rank Bonus may well encourage more and more players to continue working their way up the ladder, allowing in turn for a greater pool of players to compete against. These are just two more examples of how The Grand Tournament is poised to take the current state of the game and flip-turn it upside down.

The Grand Tournament is Hearthstone’s second major expansion. It’s due out later this month.

Do you think Joust will provide an answer to low-cost minion decks like Face Hunter and Zoolock? Will the Highest Rank Bonus encourage you to play the ladder beyond your comfort zone? Tell us what you think of these latest announcements in the comments below!

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