Tournaments in Clash Royale are easily my favorite way to play the game, assuming of course I can bother to actually get in a tournament (more on that later). But they also highlight a flaw in the core game, and why its mechanics lead to the game being less fun than it should be.
The level cap in tournaments for cards (9/7/4/1) is low enough that mixing your deck up and trying new things isn’t a months-long grind, which is a big plus. In comparison, getting even a single common card from level 10 to 11 not only takes 800 copies of that card, but the upgrade itself costs 20k gold. That’s half a legendary in the shop, and if you are long-term planning, you know that you will max your commons and rares long before you even have a legendary halfway to the cap, so NOT buying a legendary in favor of upgrading a card is, technically speaking, a bad move.
Except if you don’t upgrade the cards you use, you’ll have a tougher time climbing up the ranks. Yes, over time your player skill will improve, so that will help, but card levels are also a factor, and at a certain rank you will simply play too many people with cards that outclass yours to progress. Even if you are 10% better than the other player, if your cards are 20% weaker, they will likely still beat you, and that becomes more and more the case the higher you go. I’m currently around 3200 on both accounts, and while I still do occasionally play someone who is HORRIBLE at the game and is at that level due to crazy-high cards (lvl 6 epics and such), it’s very very rare.
The other bonus in tournaments is that who you play is random. That means someone at 1500 trophies can play against someone at 4000, and both players will have equal cards. Now sure, that 1500 player is going to get CRUSHED, but that can actually be really helpful. Imagine if in League of Legends you, very rarely, got matched up against a pro in a game. They would destroy you, but you would learn so much from facing them that it would be a fast-track to improvement. That’s what tourney play can be in bad matchups. I’ve had a few games where the person I’m playing against runs circles around me (and keep in mind, I’m already near the top 1% in terms of ranking), and after watching the replay, I almost always come away with something to help me improve.
The other side of that coin is that crushing people quickly in matches is also a nice change of pace compare to grinding out a crown chest in ranked play. I’ve had crown chests take 20+ matches because game after game is either a 0-0 draw, or a 1-0 loss, so being able to play a bunch of tourney matches and just coast is a refreshing change of pace. This is especially true in longer tourneys where you face the same person multiple times, because now you know right away whether you are in for a tough match or this is going to be somewhat easy.
I also really like that tourneys have some meta complexity to them. For example, in a 100 person, 2 day tourney it’s not uncommon for the top 3-5 players to be way ahead of everyone else, which creates a lot of interesting situations. For one, playing someone way below you in standing means a win won’t give you a lot of trophies (sometimes as low as 3-5), while a loss will be brutal (40-50 trophies), and because you never know who you will face (someone might be low not because they aren’t good, but simply because they don’t play enough), sometimes NOT playing at certain times is the best bet while you wait for another top player to go into a match and get an upset loss.
Other times you will know that you can beat all but one of the top players, so you wait for the one guy who can beat you to be in a match before you queue up. Dirty? Maybe, but it’s also smart, especially if you are ahead and they are the ones who HAVE to play a game in order to catch up.
As mentioned at the top, the biggest issue with tourneys is getting into one. You basically have to spam trying to join, and hopefully after 10 minutes of hitting refresh and join, you get in. It’s a painfully bad process, and that could be easily fixed with a waiting list feature. Find a tourney, hit join, and if it’s full it places you in a waiting list. While on that list, you can’t try to join another tourney, and as soon as a spot opens, the first person on the waiting list gets in.
Waiting list or not, I do hope SuperCell does something, and soon, to make joining a smoother process, because tourneys make CR a hell of a lot more fun to play, and having such a tough time to take advantage of the best feature is brutal.