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Piecetinkering: The ESL Ladder

As you may or may not have heard, I failed at explaining the ladder during the recent 2 Turns Ahead podcast. I must redeem my honor by writing this article for you today on what the ladder is, how you can get into it, and what are the opportunities in playing in it.

What is a Ladder?

“Something you climb” – A Wise Man

A ladder is basically a league-style format where players can play against each other to potentially gain or lose points. When a player wins, they will gain points and can rank up on the ladder. If a player loses, they will lose points and can lose their rank on the ladder. Simple enough, right? The ladder uses an ELO-like point system. Meaning, that the further apart two people are from each other, the more points the lower ranked person can win. The opposite is in effect for the higher ranked person. So there is potentially lower value if you are higher up on the ladder and facing off versus a very lowly ranked player.

Usually in a ladder there is a time limit where players can compete to get the highest score, but as of yet I have not seen anything of the sort.

How Do I Join the Ladder?

First, let’s learn on how to access the ESL Ladder. Head to (North America) or (Europe) and sign up to the ladder on the right hand side.

You must have an ESL account before you can enter the ladder.

Ready, Set, Challenge!

After you have both registered and joined the ladder you can then challenge someone or pair yourself against an unknown opponent. To challenge someone, simply click on the “Challenge” button next to the player’s name on the rankings tab.

If the person that you challenge is close to your rank, they can lose points if they decline your challenge.

If you do not care who you play against, you can click on the “Matchmaker” on the right side of the website and set a time for when you wish to play. Or you can choose to play against a player if there already exists a challenge for a time you are available. The players will be shown as a silhouette and you will not be able to see who you might be playing against.

You may be able to take an educated guess on who you may be playing against by seeing who is online. There is a green box next to the player’s name if they are online. If this is filled you know they are lurking around.

Do take note that there are specific times where you can challenge and matchmake with players in the ladder.

What’s the Point?

So what’s the point of a ladder when there currently is no incentive of playing in it? Seems like a waste of time. Wrong! Players should be utilizing the website’s ladder in preparation for tournaments, scouting for popular decks, learning matchups, and to simply practice. Although the ladder is not the best representation of player skill, it still provides a decent estimate of how a player can adapt and improve. You do not have to record your wins and losses since all of that is done for you in the ESL system. Meaning you can take that data and use it to your advantage.

The more interest there is in the ladder, the more we can make Hex grow. So let’s support our favorite game that we all love! Maybe…just maybe…there will be rewards for the ladder if there ends up being much interest.

We Want Rankings!

The game client for Hex: Shards of Fate currently has no ranking system. There has been an outcry both on the Hex forums and the Hex subreddit for there to be some form of ranking. The ladder system that ESL provides may not be exactly in the game client, but this is the next best thing. Now that there is an opportunity for constructed players to play competitively, players can now stream, test, and hone their TCG skills in the ladder.

What Do I Play?

So, you are now in the ladder, interested in climbing the ranks, but what do you play? Experimentation is the key! This is your chance to play competitively against great players and learn a thing or two. As you may or may not know (leaning most likely towards to former), the Majesty ramp decks have been popular since the launch of Armies of Myth. Or you could try the REDACTED deck brews mentioned elsewhere on FiveShards. Experiment, learn, test, and grow! Try different builds to either beat the deck or improve on it. You honestly have nothing to lose and all it takes is a little effort!

A Conclusive Conclusion

As of the end of August, there are only 12 active players in NA and 14 in EU. Let’s try to make the best we can out of this ladder since there doesn’t exist one in the client. We can grow the competitive community and make a name for ourselves. You might even see a more in depth meta than you thought *wink*.

Hope to see you on the battlefield! Thanks again!


Piecetinker is new to the competitive scene of TCGs. Despite this, he placed Top 8 in both the HexTCGPro July and Invitational tournaments. Primarily focusing in Constructed play, Piecetinker will continue to learn and improve his skills. You can find his Twitter here.

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