I Reached Pro Rank! Now What?
In June 2018, Team Aretuza's Apero published her guide for newcomers to what then was called Pro Ladder. Today it's called Pro Rank and the rules have changed, so it's time to revisit the topic. Not quite to Pro Rank yet? Lothari covers the rest of Ranked Play in her article "Ranked Progression: The Ladder and Leaderboards".
How the Game Changes in Pro Rank
While competing in Pro Rank has some differences from the highest tiers of Ranked Play, the game-to-game experience is an evolution rather than a clean break. Here are the biggest changes:
- The metagame is more diverse. Because players must unlock fMMR from multiple factions, you can expect to see a greater variety of decks than in top-tier Ranked Play, where players often concentrate on two or three elite decks at the expense of others.
- The competition is tougher, though not as tough as you think. If you are good enough to get into Pro Rank, you deserve to compete there for the rest of that month, full stop. Sure, you may face off against players with big skill and even bigger reputations, yet the majority of competitors are strong but not outstanding. And even if you think you are outmatched, for one game, you can defeat anyone, so never count yourself out.
- Get ready to grind even harder. Most players new to Pro Rank will not reach it until late in the season, whereupon they end up in a race to avoid falling right back out of Pro Rank. Expect to play a lot of games in the little time you have left if you want to stay in Pro Rank, though there are some strategies to ease this grind, as explained below.
Entering Pro Rank: The fMMR Factor
After you win your last game at Rank 1 to reach Rank 0, as Pro Rank appears in-game, progress is no longer measured in ranks or mosaic pieces but faction Matchmaking Rating (fMMR). Here is what happens on reaching Pro Rank:
- Your fMMR resets to 2400 for all factions.
- You unlock fMMR for each faction according to the number of Ranked games you've already played in the season, with 25 games unlocking full fMMR.
- The fMMR you unlock is based on your peak fMMR at any point in your climb, and the minimum fMMR for any fully unlocked faction is 2400.
- You have until the end of the season to unlock your fMMR in Pro Rank and push your top four factions as high as possible.
This pattern creates challenges for new Pro Rank players who want to compete against those who started the season in Pro Rank. Someone who plays a single deck all the way from Rank 5 to Pro Rank will have only the fMMR for that deck's faction unlocked and must play 25 games with at least three other factions to unlock full fMMR.
For example, in Season 8 of Gwent Masters, Team Aretuza streamer Ryan Godric entered Pro Rank after strong results with the Skellige faction, rising from Rank 5 to Pro Rank in 117 games with Skellige. He entered Pro Rank with 2400 fMMR unlocked from those Skellige games. He then unlocked his Nilfgaard fMMR in Pro Rank, reaching a peak of 2463, and then started playing Monsters, but the season ended with him unlocking only 30% of his potential fMMR with Monsters. This left him a few positions short of staying in Pro Rank for Season 9 of Gwent Masters.
Playing one faction can get you into Pro Rank. Playing four factions can keep you there. Consider playing decks from different factions as you rise in Ranked Play. That way, you can get practice for what Pro Rank will demand of you and enter Pro Rank with much of your fMMR unlocked already.
The Top 500: Staying in Pro Rank Between Seasons
Pro Rank resets every month, putting all faction ratings back to 2400 and unlocked fMMR back to zero. At season's end, the Top 500 finishers remain in Pro Rank, while all other players are demoted to Rank 5 and must climb again to reach Pro Rank.
Simply completing all of one's placement games is not enough to stay in Pro Rank. For example, in Season 9 of Gwent Masters, I completed all the necessary placement games to unlock full fMMR, but my final MMR of 9705 was only good for 640th place (out of 1172 players who unlocked full fMMR), putting me outside the Top 500. At the start of Season 10, I found myself back in Rank 5 like everyone else who missed the mark and faced a climb to reach Pro Rank again.
The Top 200: Crown Points and What They Earn
The Top 200 Pro Rank players at the end of each season earn Crown Points. These points determine who gets invited to Opens, Challengers, and World Masters, plus qualifiers for the first two.
The World Masters rankings after Season 8, featuring Team Aretuza competitor Adzikov.
Over a predetermined number of seasons (two unless otherwise stated), CD Projekt Red will add up the Crown Points each player has earned during those seasons and distribute invitations to Gwent Masters events.
For Open events:
- The Top 6 receive direct invitations to the Open.
- All others in the Top 100 receive entry into an Open Qualifier.
For Challenger events:
- Between one and three players not previously qualified receive direct invitations to the Challenger, based on Crown Points earned over the past four seasons.
- All others in the Top 50 receive entry into a Challenger Qualifier.
For World Masters:
- Between three and seven players not previously qualified receive direct invitations to World Masters, based on Crown Points earned over all seasons that year.
Early in your Pro Rank career, live event qualifications likely will be out of reach. Competition for Top 100 slots is fierce, and your lack of experience will put you at a disadvantage. If you keep growing in skill and have the time to dedicate to grinding the Pro Rank ladder, however, you just might find yourself earning Crown Points and getting your chance to play in an Open or Challenger.
Gwent is what you make of it, and Pro Rank Gwent is no exception. If staying in Pro Rank is not of interest to you, that is a perfectly valid choice! Keep playing your favorite decks and just have fun with the higher level of competition. If you want to stay in Pro Rank but lack the time to grind, make a plan for when you will play your games to unlock your full fMMR value.
And if you have the time to grind and the ambition to play on Gwent's biggest stages, apply yourself and keep improving! You just might find yourself traveling to Poland and learning what it is like to compete while tens of thousands watch from home, wishing they could be in your chair.
Whatever you make of your time in Pro Rank, whether many months or mere days, I wish you the best. Good luck and have fun!
"Professional hobbyist" lordgort makes his money helping others enjoy their leisure, whether as an auction catalog writer, copy editor for a Magic: The Gathering strategy site, or game show contestant (lifetime winnings: $5000). A Magic columnist for seven years, in 2018 he turned to Gwent, swiftly reaching the Pro ranks. Off the clock, he relaxes by writing and editing Gwent articles and contributing to Aretuza Academy. A longtime game show fanatic, he appeared on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire in 2018.