One of the reasons why, despite my aversion for “never-ending” games like Fortnite and DotA, I’ve been spending the majority of my video game time on Paladins is that I wanted to get into Ranked matches. I’ve never tried being competitive in video games but I seemed to be good enough at Paladins so I figured that this is a good opportunity to try my hand at it.
But Ranked isn’t just a game mode that you walk into. Currently, there is a barrier to entry: you need to own at least 12 Champions (an additional 7 from your starting set of 5) before you can enter into Ranked, and you need to play 10 Qualifier matches before you are placed in a tier. And playing a Ranked match is quite different from a regular match, with various rewards up for grabs based on how well you do. So let me talk about my experience before, during, and after playing my 10 Qualifier matches.
Preparing for the Qualifiers
There’s a reason for that “own 12 Champions” requirement before you are able to participate in Ranked matches – its to keep newbies out of the competitive scene. I read some good advice somewhere instructing Paladins players to learn and master not just a main and a secondary Champion, but a main and secondary for EACH Champion class and for the most part, I did just that.
But it took me quite a long time, and to be honest I don’t think I’ve gotten there yet. At the start you only have access to two Damage Champions and just one each of the other classes, so I had to buy more Champions and practice with them until I got them to at least Level 12, which is when you gain access to all four of each Champion’s talents. I also refrained from “buying” levels (spending Gold to gain experience) to make sure that I really put in the needed practice time. As of this writing, I only have 14 Champions at or over level 12, and unfortunately I didn’t become good at all of them. Now that I think about it, I’d say I’m only good at one Champion for each class and I’m not even satisfied with two of those (Viktor and Khan).
Still I went through with getting into Ranked and while I think I got saved by what I’m going to get into later on, I think it was a bad idea doing Ranked as soon as I did. You see, in a Ranked match, players choose Champions in order that’s based on their standing and before anyone is even able to make their choice, the first player to pick for each team gets to “ban” two Champions each from the match. And a Champion can’t be chosen twice, either. Since I was just starting out, I was usually at the bottom of the picking order.
Koga, my main Flank, is often banned from Ranked matches or chosen very early. Khan, my main Frontline, is also a popular early pick. So for six out of my ten Qualifiers, I settled on my main Support Champion, Jenos, and picked Viktor, my main Damage Champ, in three of them. There was one match wherein both Jenos and Viktor had already been chosen, forcing me to pick Zhin – a Flank which I have not had enough practice with. My win/loss record could’ve been much better if I had practiced more, and could have been much worse than it is if not for being lucky enough to be paired with awesome teammates.
Siege the Day
Aside from practicing with Champions, I didn’t realize until much later that Ranked Matches all involved Siege – the game mode that I liked the least and was the worst at. When I found out, I practiced Siege matches almost exclusively, only playing Deathmatch or Onslaught to break the monotony of playing the same mode over and over. Each Champion in Paladins require different playstyles, so not all of them work well with Siege.
And it’s not just the mode itself that requires mastery – all the different maps used in Siege mode also need to be learned. A lack of awareness of the surroundings may result in openings to Flank attacks, or delays in getting to the point and helping out the rest of your team. So before even thinking about getting into Ranked, learn how to love the game’s Siege Mode because that’s all that you’ll be playing.
Much Needed Support
As early as I started playing Paladins, I noticed that most players prefer choosing Damage or Flank Champions and I can understand why – the playstyles of those classes are very close to how traditional FPS games are played, where getting frags are the main priority. Frontlines and Support Champions don’t get as much love, because they have to do the dirty work.
Somehow, I gravitated towards the Support class because in my opinion, they are very important in a Paladins team. Sure, you can simply stay away from battle and have your health regenerate naturally or just respawn and ride your mount back into the heat of battle, but being healed right on the spot means you’re saving yourself time. And time is very important in Paladins, especially in Siege/Ranked matches wherein leaving your team in a 4v5 situation for just a few moments can spell the difference between a win and a loss.
And this helped me a lot in Ranked. Because I’m still playing my qualifying matches, I’m usually the last or next to last to pick and by the time it’s my turn, all that’s left for me to choose is a Support Champion – all the other roles have already been filled out by then. It also helped that Jenos, the Support Champion that you get for free when you start playing Paladins, isn’t a top tier Support Champion so opponents seldom picked him.
I spent a lot of time playing as Jenos so I think I’ve gotten pretty good with him already, winning five out of the six qualifying matches that I played with him. So even though I said earlier that you’d need to master at least two Champions for each of the four classes if you want to succeed in Ranked, I didn’t necessarily have to do that because I ended up practicing a lot as a Support Champion.
So I played my ten qualifying matches and ended up winning seven of them which was good enough to get me to the Gold 2 tier, skipping the entire Bronze and Silver tier! To be honest, I only wanted to get the special Full Throttle skin for Vivian (one of the Damage champions) and I was worried that I’d still need to play more games before I can get that reward. But my 70% win percentage was enough.
I’m still interested in the other rewards (a special loading frame, a different announcer) but despite what I think is a great starting effort, I don’t think I’m good enough to make it to the Platinum tier so I’m going to get back to practicing and mastering more Champions before I start really playing Ranked matches again.
And there you have it, my initial experience playing Ranked matches in Paladins. It’s very different from casual play – I can feel that most of the players, both teammates and opponents, were really playing to win. I’m going to keep on working at improving my skill in this game, maybe I can break into Platinum tier soon.