Hello everyone, Tchamber5 here! Today, I wanted to talk about something that I think is an important skill to have when advancing your skill as an Eternal player, especially when you start to become interested in competing in Events successfully. I am, of course, talking about attacking a meta game.
There are a few points that come to mind when pondering this topic, that range from deck selection to card choices.
Know what decks are popular
There are a couple of effective methods for educating yourself about what decks are popular on the ladder, the first of which is utilizing your own experience. This might seem obvious, but it’s taken for granted far too often. Ask yourself: what is the deck I have played most in the last 40 matches on ladder? What about the second and third most played deck? If the answer doesn’t spring to along with a good degree of certainty, I would recommend keeping track of all of your matches in a spreadsheet (that’s what we have been doing on Team Rankstar), so that you can look back at any time and figure out which decks you need to account for. You don’t have to do it after every game either, just check the profile section of the eternal client to see a ton of detailed info about what you have played in the last 20 matches. Even if you end up never looking at the spreadsheet again, its a fantastic exercise for remembering what to account for when we enter into the next step of our process.
Know what cards are popular and powerful.
Again, maybe this is obvious, but I think this is a useful thought exercise. EternalWarcry.com is a fantastic resource for this. You can take a look in the tournament tab to look at specific tournaments or just scroll to the bottom of the page and see the top ten most played, spells, units, etcetera. The reason that this is important is because the cards that are common in the meta game will inform your decisions on what spells and units to play. For example, If Annihilate is showing up in 80% of decks this week, it might be time to break out some cards like Rizhan, Rindra, or Siraf. On the flip side of things, if you notice that there is a high amount of Teacher of Humility decks on ladder, it might be a good idea to play a Torch deck. You get the idea: Adapt your deck choice to the ladder. Having this knowledge can also help you make better choices in game…for example, the opponent keeps holding up three power and is playing a Stonescar midrange deck. Maybe it’s not the best time to play out your threat unprotected lest it get Desecrated.
You don’t have to bring a brand new deck or spicy tech cards.
This is something that I struggled with for a long time in Eternal. I was so focused on trying to outsmart the competition, and tune my deck perfectly to beat the top two decks, that I would make bad deck choices or play some narrow tech cards. It’s okay to bring a deck that is a known quantity as long as your logic is sound and you know that it won’t just lose to all of the random decks that tend to pop up in the ECQs. that being said, there is a time and place for tech cards. For example, at Worlds last year, Popotito brought a Jennev Deck that was packing three copies of swift refusal in the main deck. He realized that almost all the cards that he cared about negating weren’t fast spells, and for the lowly cost of one Power, he made some incredibly big tempo swings (as an aside, if you have time, you should go back and watch the matches that he played – it was an incredible performance to say the least).
Know Common play patterns
This one is a little more tricky, but it comes with practice and lots of time on the ladder. It’s really important to know not only common decks and cards, but also the play patterns that accompany them, and all three go hand in hand. For example, lets say that you are playing against Rakano Aggro and they play a Red Canyon smuggler on turn four on an otherwise empty board. There are obviously going to be lots of variables, but in a vacuum, I would bet that they go into the market to get a Deepforge Plate eighty percent of the time, and then slam into your face for fourteen damage next turn. If you are familiar with Rakano aggro, this will probably be obvious to you, and you can plan accordingly. Maybe you are able to hold up an Ice Bolt, or can Torch it before they are able to play equipment. Maybe you can leave back enough blockers to mitigate the damage a little bit and make a favorable trade, but knowing is half the battle.
It’s ok to bring play the known “best” deck
This is another one that I had a hard time with for a long time, but can be a useful tool to have in your box. If you are familiar with the meta, are reasonably knowledgeable about how common play patterns take place, and know what decks and cards are popular, then I would wager that you have a solid chance at playing the best deck pretty well. Some decks are, of course, much harder than others to play (I’m looking at you Feln Mid-range), but this goes back to getting reps on ladder, which you should try to do with any deck before entering into something like an ECQ. You can play a deck into the ground and still be bad at it, but if you stop and think about it just a little, considering your decisions and all of the other information available to you, you can find your win rate improving greatly.
At the end of the day, It’s never as simple as taking a few simple steps and crushing a meta game. Sometimes, variance can get the better of us, or maybe you just aren’t performing at your peak that day. Luck is where preparation and opportunity cross paths, and you can completely control one of those things. Why not get out there and take advantage of it?