The original concept for a competitive, small team mode for World of Warships was good – certainly not great, but not terrible. Seven players per team allowed for easier communication among individuals in a random setting and helped to create a more dynamic match. However, it also made it so a single player, for good or bad, could have a far larger impact on a match than in the regular 12 player random battles. As the game progressed, player progression increased and player skills and knowledge improved, the current configuration of Ranked no longer “works as intended” in my opinion. A few seasons back, shortly after the Belfast was introduce, ranked was exclusive to tier 7 ships. This led to very static games that were more plays of attrition than that of attack and defense. This was largely due to the Smoke and Radar/Hydro meta that was encouraged with the Belfast. On to the present though, I do like that they increased the expected skill cap this season by introducing Tier X ships. However, the issues that exist with that revolve around wanting to preserve your own ship but most importantly, that Star – an issue that was very noticeable last season. So, after that brief run though and analysis, let’s jump into some changes that I think will make for a better Ranked season come season 10 (or 11).
From the few games I’ve played this season of ranked, I found that my predictions for how games were going to go were accurate – players were more likely to play for their Star than for the betterment of the team. This is what truly needs to stop. This is what promotes selfish play and not team play – completely contradictory to one of the original concepts of Ranked play. Zoup said it first, but we should definitely remove the preservation of a star feature from Ranked. Instead, I would rather have the whole of the losing lose a star (as frustrating as that might become) than know that there are one or two players that are just playing for themselves. If you must reward the best player on the losing team, reward them with a supply crate that can grant Free XP, credits, flags, camo, premium consumables or even small amounts doubloons. This in turn, in my eyes, will promote players wanting to do well, but instead of focusing on just trying to be the best on their team in order to NOT loss Ranked progress, perform well to increase the chances of the entire team being able to progress. I would often see players just giving up on objectives or ignore killing low health ships, just to farm damage, particularly if the enemy gets ahead by a decent margin. They just give up, thinking there is no possibility for their team to win instead of fighting the enemy to increase their chances. Yes, there will always be winners and losers but there needs to be a solution for this continuous ranked meta of playing to keep a star and not earn a star. Play as a team so you can win as a team or lose as a team. That way, under normal circumstances, the player that just farmed damage from the edges of engagement has just as much to lose as the player who does their best to take a cap but just gets outplayed by the better enemy.
Moving on from the Stars dilemma, I agree that competitive play should be left to the top tiers – 8+. My reasoning for this is simple, you want players that understand the game and how to play to be on your team. Players can advance to tiers 5 or 6 in a short amount of time, not getting enough time to learn the finer points of the game. Though tier 7 becomes a bit harder to obtain through grinding, it shares certain features with both tier 6 and tier 8 (both used as focuses for previous ranked seasons) that does not offer the exclusivity of higher skill that I would like to see – lots of purchasable premiums ships. If you just downloaded the game and have the money and want to buy an Atago you certainly can. Sure, you need to achieve account level 14 in order to participate in Ranked Battles, but if you can average 400 XP per game in Coop, you just need to play 250 battles to do so.1 With that in perspective, there is little chance those players have the skill and knowledge to be an asset to a team in competitive play. To refine my recommendation even further as to which tier or tiers I would recommend for ranked I would say 9 and 10, with a clear preference for tier 9 and here is why. First, it takes that much less to obtain than tier 10, so you’re not completely exclusive to those players with thousands of games, and further, there are no truly purchasable premium ships. Sure there’s the Missouri (no longer available) and the Musashi, but you had to have played enough to earn 750,000 free or exchangeable XP in order to “buy” those two ships. At which point, I would hope, that you already have at least one legitimate tier 9 and have a better grasp on the game than you did when you made it to account level 14. I also feel that the ships at this tier are fairly well balanced among themselves with no true outliers or unanimously agreed upon OP ships. With tier 9 as the primary tier for ranked, I would say once a player reaches rank 5 (a historically non irrevocable rank), tier 10 ships will now be the only playable tier. Unless of course you get bumped back to rank 6.
Outside of completely getting rid of Ranked, these few suggestions are what I feel are necessary to making the competitive game mode both fun and skill dependent again, and not to mention team orientated. With all that said, I hope subsequent seasons improve on the past and current one, if not using the suggestions here directly, using them as a direction to find better solutions to the existing issues.