As I'm writing this, I've been grinding Eternal‘s ranked ladder, trying to beat the end-of-month ladder reset and hoping to make Master rank again. Since this morning, I've been moving up and down the threshold of the Diamond I, the rank just below Master, hence frustratingly there has been little progress, less than 24 hours before the ladder reset. I usually do manage to hit Master rank a bit earlier than this, but I've been a bit busier this month for some reason, so my daily Eternal grinding had been reduced to the token one win per day. I decided to step away from the game for a while and instead write the next day's blog post (this one, obv).
Grinding ranked ladders can be a bitch. You basically need to be able to get into a long win streak or have a burst of short win streaks, enough to push you over the next threshold. On average, even good players will win only a bit more than half the time in any decent ranked ladder (since presumably you are matched close to people of your own skill level), so such streaks can sometimes be frustratingly hard to come by. Ranked ladders do reflect one's play skill, at least as long as you are at a rank where you have a significant skill advantage. Once the skill gap narrows, there comes into play a significant element of getting lucky due to win streaks.
My earliest experience with ranked ladders was Warcraft III back in the early 2000s, but I don't remember taking the ladder there too seriously. Maybe because back then they didn't have the concept of ladder rewards - end of season rewards based on where you finished for that season. They didn't have the whole lootbox/cosmetics/collectibles economic model for online games back then, so there weren't really much rewards to be given out. These days I still have the RTS ranked ladder option via Starcraft II, but somehow online Starcraft is much more stressful for me now and I'm getting on with the years, so most likely my ranked ladder grinding will be focused on the less dexterity-reliant genres like CCGs.
Aside from Eternal, the only other game I regularly play ranked on these days is Magic Arena. Eternal is the one I'm currently grinding to Master every month though, as the Arena ladder feels a lot harder to climb. That may change in succeeding months with Wizards’ recent eSports push, as doing well on the Arena ladder may give a path towards playing in high-level tournaments. Of course, I may also consider cutting down to one regular CCG instead of two, as the ladder grinding can be time-consuming on some days. In such an event, I'm sorry Eternal, but Magic is my first love among CCGs.
Hopefully by the time this post goes up tomorrow I'll have managed to hit my Masters rank target in Eternal. I am of course aware that this grinding is totally unnecessary - there is no significant life penalty if I don't make Masters this month. At worst I miss out on a premium legendary which I don't really need. Maybe I'm really just grinding to Masters out of habit. It should be okay, as long as I don't stress out over it too much though.