In this article
“You can hit KoG with almost anything” an uncommon statement but altogether completely true, although some decks will require more grinding than others.
I am producing this Guide to help people understand how to reach King of games & to break down climbing a ranked ladder in general.
I have reached the top of the ranked ladder in plenty of games (usually within my first month of play) Including Yu-Gi-Oh Duel Links, Elder Scrolls Legends & league of legends. I’m lucky enough to be able to play video games for a living so I consider myself someone who knows very well how to climb ranked ladders. Although they are not the target audience, the guide will have a lot of information to help players already in KoG improve their play.
A lot of the ease of reaching KoG comes from decision making & that starts at where to spend your currency. As this is not a deck building guide I will not be going into detail about this although I will recommend what I think are the top decks for climbing the ladder. For a guide on how to spend your gems/cash check out the gem investment guide created by superforms.
Something that needs addressing early on is that there is a big difference in tournaments and ladder in regards to Yu-Gi-oh Duel Links. The most impactful change is the side deck, this will make/break decks in tournament play. On the ranked ladder there is no side deck or second round, this means your opponents do not get a chance to side in specific tech cards or recover from a slow hand.
These factors enforce a different meta in ranked & although the Tier List is still a good guide to use, it’s important to note the difference in format. Decks such as Red-Eyes Zombies are much weaker on the ranked ladder as they rely heavily on siding in tech cards for their matchups in the second round.
It is also important to note that this article does not relate to the KC Cup, although some of it is transferable. Reason being is that the KC Cup is 3 intense days of grinding for points and as such is not the same environment as playing ranked pvp. A guide on preparing for the KC Cup and other large scale events can be found here.
As it currently stands, Duel Links has a relatively easy ladder to climb. If it’s something you struggle with we’re going to address what you’re doing wrong and what you should be doing in this Guide.
How the Ranked Ladder Works
If you already understand how promotions and the streak system work then this section is skippable.
Bronze 1 - 5
Silver 1 - 5
Gold 1 - 5
Platinum 1 - 5
Legend 1 - 3
King of Games
These are the current ranked tiers in Duel links (Excluding Rookie). These tiers are made up of 5 sub tiers, when being promoted to a new tier you will start at the first level of the tier E.G Platinum 1.
Up until Legend 3 the game will track your wins/losses & when you reach a deficit with higher wins than losses you will be placed into a promotion game, win your promotion game to advance to the next level/tier. The deficit of wins more than losses you need to reach your promotion game increase as you get higher in rank. In Legend 1-2 you are required to have 4 more wins than losses on record to be granted a promotion match. Do not worry if you lose your promotion match as once you reach the respective deficit again you get another attempt, this can mean you only need to win 1 game after losing a promotion to be back in your promotion game. There is no limit on how many promotion matches you can fail.
Once you reach Legend 3 rank, you are required to win 5 Games in a row in order to be promoted to KoG, losing a game will reset your streak and force you to start again. It is important to know that it is possible to demote in any rank that isn’t the first level of a tier if you create a deficit in wins and losses having more losses than wins. In Legend 3 it takes 3 losses to demoted to Legend 2. These losses must be countered by wins in order to prevent demotion.
How to Approach the Ranked Ladder
Let’s start of by dispelling common misconceptions. You do not need to spend any money at all to reach KoG, multiple people have created new accounts and reached KoG on them in 24 hours without spending any IRL currency. It does not take a long time to reach KoG, it can take a long time to improve at the game but once you are good enough KoG will come very easily. You do not need to play a top tier deck in order to reach KoG although reaching KoG will be much faster using a top tier deck. The streak system will not stop you climbing if you are good enough, as winning 5 games in a row will promote you at any tier and this is very easy to accomplish once you have the skill/knowledge required.
If you are a player who is currently struggling to reach KoG then you need to focus on improving your game knowledge over winning, if you are good enough the wins come naturally and if they aren’t coming the reality is that you aren’t good enough yet, but I’m going to help with that. It’s worth noting that any ladder system will provide you with random losses that are out of your control. Learning when to identify these losses will help you evaluate when you are making a mistake and when you just lost to RNG. It is highly unlikely that you will lose 3 games in a row due to RNG.
Now that that is out of the way I’m going to address the issues people may face when climbing and help you fix these issues.
One of the biggest factors is the deck you are using if you are bricking often and unable to play anything then it is likely you have built a poor deck and need to look at online Tier List or the Top Decks section.
Getting Unlucky vs Poor Deck Building & Play
In some games you will draw a perfect hand that your opponent cannot respond to and in some games, you won’t be able to respond to your opponent. When this happens, you need to decide whether this happened because your deck doesn’t have the right answer to the deck you lost to or whether you have the answer and didn’t draw it. A good example of this is losing turn 2 to a Sylvan Komushroomo being flipped up. If you lose to this then you need to ask yourself does your deck have a counter to this card ran as a 3 of. For example, a solid counter to this card is Divine Wrath. If you are already running 3 Divine Wrath and still lost to Sylvan Komushroomo then it is likely that you were unlucky and the game can be written off. If this continues to happen then you may need to add multiple answers such as Ultimate Providence or Forbidden Chalice. You can even run the skill Restart in order to help you open with your answer to their turn 1 play.
Another similar example is Cyber Angel Dakini, you are likely to lose to this card turn two if you are not running Enemy Controller or Wall of Disruption. If you are running 3 of each and lost because you didn’t draw them, write the game off as bad luck. If you lost because you do not have these answers in your deck then add them! The point of this is trying to discern when the loss is your fault or not. If you open with an answer to your opponent and still lost then it is down to you to figure out what went wrong, always try to look back on the game from this point of view.
It’s the most obvious issue if you are regularly caught off guard by not knowing what certain cards do and how they interreact. The best way to build up this knowledge is through gameplay. Other great methods include, watching livestreams and checking out tier lists as well as top decks online.
Identifying Your Matchup
Part of game knowledge is not just knowing what cards in the game do but what skills certain characters have access to, this can help you set up the optimal turn 1 play. The best way to build this knowledge is through playing and looking at top decks & the skills they use as well as learning who can learn what. As an example, let’s say I am playing vs Mako. This signals to me that I am likely playing verses a water-based deck like Fishes or Sea Stealth Attack. Then the duel log reveals that he is running Balance. This immediately tells me that he is running either Gladiator Beasts, Aliens or Cyber Angels. Whereas if the duel log reveals him using mythic depths then that confirms he is running a water deck. With this knowledge I have gained as soon as the duel started I am able to optimise my turn 1 play. As you play and continue to pay attention to the meta this will become much easier.
Playing the Timer
The backrow meta is on its way out right now but figuring out your opponent’s facedown cards will win you games by itself as you can play around them if you know it’s there. The delays you feel whenever you play a card mean your opponent has something they can activate in that moment, this can be confirmed via the yellow hourglass ate the top of the screen. As a part of game knowledge, you need to learn when meta cards can be activated. If your opponent has a facedown that has shown no delay when summoning or setting then it is most likely something that triggers on attack or effect activation. If there is a delay as soon as you summon a monster then it is likely something that wants to target your monster. The same can be discerned by playing a spell or trap card. This is a skill that is much easier when you know what the meta cards are, keep in mind that it’s rather common to be caught off guard on the ladder since people will run cards that aren’t optimal and shouldn’t be there. You should still practice this skill though.
Also, to be noted is that toggling your own activation timer on/off can hide this information from your opponent, just be sure to make sure you turn it back on in time. People are generally lazy and won’t do this, it’s perfectly possible to get to KoG without applying this, but you will climb much faster if you toggle your timer in order to hide your cards from your opponent. If Konami ever decides to put in place a leader board style ladder, applying this skill will be something all the top players do. The top players of the KC Cup will all be doing this. They will be looking for opponent’s delays while hiding their own, while simultaneously trying to discern if their opponent is toggling their timer to hide their cards. If your opponent is unable to hide something in high levels of play it can give you a good idea of what it is, but this is some much higher-level stuff that KoG currently does not require. Should Konami ever create a legitimate ranked ladder then apply this.
Lots of new players report having anxiety about jumping into ranked. There is almost no reason to stop yourself as you gain rewards from playing ranked games and you don’t actually lose anything if you lose games. Also, the early stages are extremely easy. So, don’t sweat it. The only time to second guess if it’s a good idea to play at the time is in Legend 2-3.
Frustration & Taking Breaks
Everybody gets frustrated from time to time, and if you get worked up you will play worse and lose more. If your losing too much just take a break. Not everyone needs to do this to calm down but it can be helpful. There will always be frustrating games on the ladder it’s very normal.
Finally, Some General Tips
- If you are on a winning streak, don’t stop while your luck is good.
- Consider taking a break if you’re feeling frustrated.
- Try not to develop a prejudice towards certain decks.
- Don’t just throw your cards out, the more thinking you do the more games you will win.
- Getting KoG is easier later in the month, but don’t exploit this.
- Taking advantage of newly released cards is a great way to catch the ladder off guard.
- Net deck and make adjustments as you play.
- Reddit is not a good source of information.
What to Look for in a Deck
An optimal deck for the ladder will have Speed, Power, Consistency and Previously Proven Performance. Having an answer to everything is not an objective on the ladder in any way the above points will always be more valuable in ladder format. Trying to answer everything is going to come at the cost of these other attributes and is going to make you a weaker competitor on the ranked ladder.
While your deck doesn’t necessarily need to be a fast deck to climb the faster the game the less chance your opponent has to draw an answer to your strategy. Anything that can turn 2 OTK consistently will be a good choice for the ladder, not to mention that more games will equate to more wins in a shorter period of time. This means a ladder format heavily favors these decks.
The ranked ladder is basically as series of duel quizzes and decks that can answer those quizzes efficiently will be superior. It’s also important to think about the different kinds of decks in the meta, it can be worth opting for a slower build if in return you gain more favourable matchups across the board. While useful, tech slots aren’t priority here if the deck has consistent plays that can overwhelm the meta decks.
While decks like Red-Eyes Zombies and Aliens are strong tournament options they aren’t as strong as decks such as Sylvans, Cyber Angels or Sea Stealth Attack in a ladder format. This is because these decks can overwhelm the common decks without the need for tech cards, whereas aliens and Red-Eyes Zombies are very reliant on teching specific cards to win certain matchups.
(Expect this Section to change with the Meta)
Sylvans have surpassed expectations in Duel Links and have proven to be the probably the strongest deck in the game, they have pushed Aliens back and revived Cyber Angels as a counter to them. Divine Wrath is able to be teched without sacrificing other matchups, it’s also a win condition in the mirror. This deck is probably the most consistent here. It’s also the cheapest.
Cyber Angels have made a great comeback recently in tournament play. They have always been the top tier ladder deck, now they have Sylvans to compete with. The addition of Hey, Trunade! Has solved the deck’s issue of being slowed down by backrow. Expect this deck to be one of the best decks in ladder format indefinitely.
Archfiends have been a very strong ladder deck since release, Archfiend has recently seen some success in tournaments and even more success on the ladder due to the frequency of Sylvans. The deck has decent all-around matchups other than CA which is winnable if the game can be stalled. Lots of monster removal and swarming potential. Similar playstyle to Sylvans but with a much stronger matchup against them.
Thanks for checking out the Guide, feel free to @ me in the DLM Discord server if you are confused about something.