An in depth look at ladder climbing in Hearthstone

Perhaps the biggest goal for Hearthstone players is to reach the elusive Legendary rank during each month’s season play.  According to Hearthstone’s official statistics, only about 0.5% of all players are able to reach Legendary rank each season.  However, this figure only scratches the surface of what professional/competitive Hearthstone players take into consideration when approaching ranked play each season.

Polygon’s recent article on this subject gives us a glimpse of what it takes to be a professional player in Hearthstone. As summed up by the author Richard Proctor:
“…becoming a professional Hearthstone player requires far more than just skill. It requires stamina, concentration, the ability to read people, adapting strategies on the fly, patience”.

Time is the biggest investment into the game, but the diversity of players who play the game also means that everyone spends their time differently.  For example, Hearthstone prodigy Amnesiac is still in high school, and thus his time spent on the game will be limited to weekends and evenings.  This is in contrast to someone like Brian Kibler, who essentially treats Hearthstone as a full time job, and spends about 8 hours a day playing/streaming the game.  Because streamers like Kibler like to experiment with different decks (and keep their streamers entertained!), they would more often be experiment with different decks, unlike ladder climbers who are only focused on getting the highest win percentage.

On the note of winning percentages, a player will need to win at least 2/3 of his/her matches in order to keep climbing the ladder.  It is no surprise then that most decks currently seen used by top players are those with 70%+ winning rates from sites like Hearthpwn.  Players like Tempo Storm owner Reynad has a team of ladder climbers to collect data and try to figure out what decks/strategies are optimal for ladder climbing.  Currently, decks like Secret Paladin and Savage Roar/Force of Nature Druid dominate ladder play, but once the new expansion, introduction of Standard Mode, and expected nerfs to current cards come into play (presumably later this month), all of this information will have to recollected and re-analyzed.

While maintaining a high win rate, players are also expected to play about 50 games a day.  Professional player Trump averages about five hours of playing per day, which will roughly give you 30 to 50 games depending on the speed of each game.

MoEsport’s very own itzBolt, who has reached Legendary rank in each of the past 25 seasons, shares similar experiences during his ladder climbs.  “Climbing ranks requires a players investment of time and effort; however, to improve as a player may only require what’s known as dedicated practice – a common term in traditional sport. Dedicated practice includes actually playing the game, but may also include watching others stream their game play and you learning along with them as long as you are watching high game play and are actively taking the time to think through each move along with the streamer.”


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