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Who's actually good?

One interesting thing about Netrunner is that there’s no real ranking or ladder, so it gets a little hard to tell who is actually good at the game. Right now I and most people I know basically go by the “if people who are obviously good say you’re good, you’re good” standard, and give credit to people who have won major events.

But I still feel a sense that more is possible, and that there should be better means of evaluating player skill. After all, the best player is probably some guy playing in his local area that we’ve never even heard of. It would be cool to be able to identify people like that without having to wait for them to win events. Any thoughts/tips/suggestions on that?

Look for consistently strong finishes. That @Chill84 is a solid player, and a good guy to boot. Jens, the World Champ, not only won the whole shebang last year, but took top 4 in two Regionals (he doesn’t play on OCTGN, either, FWIW). There’s a Chris character from Chicago who is quite strong; won at least 3 or 4 SCs, and Top 4’d the WI Regional, AFAIK. Oh, and there’s my sparring partner, Aaron Andries, who did remarkably well at Gencon and Worlds last year. A fantastic F2F player who can read people well, loves traps/bluffing, and doesn’t follow the online trends per se. Don’t forget @Nordrunner, an OCTGN monster. (I’m biased to my Middle West folk, I guess)

Also, there are those folk like @dashakan and Wooley, who won multiple Regionals this year, and, therefore, are entitled to a lapdance from a FFG LCG game designer.

I guess all I know are people in tourneys I’ve been to. Just because people are vocal here/online (see: me) doesn’t mean they’re that great (see: me). However, then the argument of OCTGN v. IRL will come up, I’m sure. A tracking/ELO system would be nice, but, the OP dept. at FFG is so lax, the prizes aren’t worth fighting hard for, and the player base is pretty friendly/casual. Not sure if they’d even care about such a system. Would be cool on OCTGN, but prob. isn’t worth their time to code in.


I agree with you in principle. But I’ve seen people with very strong records make claims that seem basically incompetent to me and the other good players around here. I remember when Nationals/Worlds happened there were lots of people watching the livestream and complaining that the level of play was unexpectedly low. It’d be great to have a better means of evaluating who is actually good and who’s a big fish in a small pond.

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Sounds like we need a stimhack league :stuck_out_tongue:


I talk a lot, but I know I’m not that great of a player, especially as a Runner. (Corp I think I’m perhaps above average, but not necessarily strong.)

There’re some folks from Portland that did well there and up in Seattle that I consider to be excellent players, and I know two of them have posted here. (@bluebird503 and @JohnnyCreations unless I am being spectacularly forgetful.) My roommate (who I frequently refer to as a source but who doesn’t post here) came 5th/6th at both those regionals and I consider him to be pretty strong, though our local scene is pretty small and it’s hard to tell for sure now, we’re going to be trying to prep for next year’s tournament scene as best we can.

I think part of the… problem’s the wrong word, maybe difficulty? Part of the difficulty in telling is also that there’re differences in being a strong player and a strong deckbuilder. It’s one thing to take a strong deck, make it better/more suited to you, and do well with it – and it is not a small thing, either. It is, however, different from winning with something entirely new – which isn’t easy either, but widens the field some.

For instance, my roommate falls within the former category – he’ll see something he likes, like Scorched Imaging, or Supermodernism, or Red Coats, and then tweak it to be better and do very well with it. Undeniably, to me, a strong player. But he’s not great at building a deck from the ground up, he’s unlikely to try out a new ID or archetype until it’s fairly clear that it’s strong.

There are others, here and elsewhere, that come up with these decks that end up being archetypes. Many of them are also good players, but I think it’s a different sort of skill than just being a strong player – they influence each other but don’t necessarily come in equal measure, if that makes sense? There are also, after all, a number of players that win entirely on strength of play, and don’t actually build decks that work well for anyone else, so it’s worth looking at their lists with a grain of salt.

At least, this is what I’ve theorized, based on how, as Kingsley beat me to saying, there are excellent players out there that make entirely wrongheaded claims here and there that I can’t see any actual basis behind but manage to win anyway, and there are people that seem to be relatively on-the-ball but, to the best of my knowledge, haven’t won much of anything big.


Always easy to talk shit about ‘low level of play’ when observing from afar.


I would love an official ELO-type system and world rankings, but I think the game is too small at the moment. I’d guess it would have to get twice the size, at least, to justify that type of support. Will that ever happen? (probably not) I hope so!


This is unlikely, unless that area is already full of other competent players piloting good decks at least semi-sensibly - all of whom we also somehow haven’t heard of. The thing with the elite level of any game or sport is that you need elite level competition to keep you on your toes. This is especially true in LCGs where metagame is a thing. If your local scene is full of chumps with no clue, you don’t exactly have to raise your game much or make tight metacalls to stay on top and making those calls and adjusting to the local landscape are very important skills you need to have at the top of the game.

I’m not saying a local player couldn’t possess those abilities, but if your local area isn’t of a high enough standard to at least be net-decking good ideas and playing them well then you can’t hope to hone those skills.

^ This. Actually it’s not that unexpected in a large field with a proportionally small cut. In a field of 128 there could still be two players undefeated after six rounds of swiss, so if the very top players haven’t necessarily all played each other then it stands to reason that the top-16 cut will have played a fair few scrubbers along the way. It doesn’t take much for a couple of anomalies to creep in.

That being said, fatigue is also a thing and could easily explain some of the misplays we saw. It’s certainly a factor in the new double elimination knockout format.

As much as I believe in statistics and large datasets, not all OCTGN games are created equal. How do you tell a game where someone is experimenting with a new build vs. a mate, from a serious game?

^ Solid brag :stuck_out_tongue:

It’s a bit tricky to see where Europe fits into the picture as well. Undoubtedly there’s some talent over here too, but very few of us can make it to the big US events and our scene is much smaller. Regionals in the UK seem to be about 40-50 and largely comprise the same core of regulars who will travel, plus local talent. Our Store Champs are variable too - some were nearly as big as Regionals, but others were 4 players and it seems wrong to treat them in equal esteem.

A mate of mine, who doesn’t post on here, won 3 Store Champs, runner-up at another, won a Regional and placed top 10 at Nationals - but all with the same two decks. I’d say he’s a good T1 player who I would expect to be there or there abouts in most “normal” fields, but is he outstanding or did he just find a good deck for state of the meta and milk it?

I would class myself as a decent theorist, but I don’t play enough to really to class myself as genuinely T1. I won a Regional last year and made top-8 in London this year, but I only play the big OP events becaue my time is too stretched to fit in local events and all the testing that’s necessary. Being good at this game isn’t just about knowing what you can do, it’s about knowing what your opponent might be trying to do and how to adjust accordingly - you can only get that through playing and reading a lot which is why you need a strong local community and/or a way to access opposition from elsewhere, such as OCTGN.


Perhaps we could add another icon to the response bar under Stimhack posts next to the heart. If you like a post because it’s clever or funny or interesting or kind, you click the heart. If you like a post because it reflects godlike playing or deckbuilding strength, you click this other icon, which would, of course, be a penis. :wink:


One of the difficulties is that a mid-skill player in a weak meta might rack up multiple wins at local events, while a strong local group may split the wins between them making them look individually weaker. This makes it hard to evaluate skill based on number of wins at local events- without a sense of the skill of the local player base, its hard to evaluate how much those wins count for.

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Thanks again for the props @Spags; I think you and the others in your playgroup fulfill all of the criteria that I have imagined for what makes an “actually good” player, which is as follows:

  1. Consistency, as spags says in his post, consistently putting up good finishes in events gives you a good sense of who might be on a different level than you. The three events that I attended this year featured a lot of familiar faces seated at the high tables, many of whom spags mentioned already.

  2. Diversity, I think the big secret to being a ninja-master at netrunner is playing against a diverse field. Traveling to other events, other game stores, even other regions to play makes you a better player. I wish I could include octgn on here, but the fact is, octgn is just a cesspit of jinteki decks that may or may not be good - playing randoms in octgn games will not help your game as much as making friends from out of town to play with.

  3. Competition, you can only be as good as the people around you. High-levels of competition will elevate you as a player. People who game with Jens, Wooley, and other great netrunner minds will be, on average, just better than other players.

  4. Open-mindedness, don’t write off a terrible decklist before testing it, especially if it performed well at an event. As easy as it may be to look at a list in a vacuum and say “beanstalk royalties is terrible in this HB deck” - it is just as difficult to accept the fact that there may be players out there who are just better than you and know something that you don’t or use cards in a way that you never considered.

So thats it I think, take what you read online with a grain of salt, because a lot of people (myself included) post a lot of bullshit that doesn’t make sense, so all you can really do is seek out players who you think are good, and try to play with them to elevate your game.

by the way @spags: All of the guys in my group are chomping at the bit to play with your crew again, we should arrange something.

I don’t think ELO is the right answer either, because you’d just end up with year one of ANR all over again, with “regional championships” being attended by 4 guys playing out of the same core set.

edit: Obviously @SneakySly, @mediohxcore, @Orange_Devil, and even @Genestealers are excellent players to look up to.


back-handed compliment? :stuck_out_tongue:


Enjoyed playing against your crue, @Chill84. Aaron and I will be at Gencon, playing on Thursday, for sure. Otherwise, a FLGS in SW MKE wants to hold a larger tourney late September/early October. I’ll keep you in the loop.

Some great points. Getting out of one’s meta is good. Trying a deck out a bit before giving up on it is good. Also, just some socialization at tourneys is good. When I played a lot of L5R, I ended up enjoying the socialization/hanging out afterwards as much if not more so than the actual card flopping. Feel free to chat at tourneys, meet new people, throw down some side games, compare notes, etc.


I have the good fortune to have Stimhack’s own @mediohxcore in my local Philly meta–he’s definitely the strongest player I’ve faced (by far, actually). I’d say I have a good shot at beating most other people I play besides him. Excited to see if he can win Philly Regionals (if I can’t of course). GO MEDIO

I think Netrunner is early enough that it isn’t clear whether a truly elite level of competition even exists-- and therefore I suspect the base rates win out on this one and the best player is some guy in a basement who just happens to have lucked into all the right concepts.

and all we’re saying is, we think that guy in his moms basement is @mediohxcore


Someone recently approached @SneakySly with the idea of creating a cross-platform program for the use of reporting and managing tournaments. I think that it would be really awesome for the community if we had a tool like this, backed by FFG, to be used for ALL official tournaments, so that we could have ELO ratings, personal ID numbers, and automatic deck registration via meteor/netrunnerdb that would easily be transferred to a database so that we could see who won tournaments and with what decks without having to scour forums and upload to stimhack without much information beyond the decklists. It could also be used to bridge the gap between real-life tournaments and OCTGN tournaments, potentially, though I suspect FFG wouldn’t want anything to do with that.

Right now, it really is hard to know who is the best without an ELO system of any kind, but I think a lot of the best players are pretty well-known. There are, however, people I know, just in my local area, who could compete with the best who aren’t as well known. I would suspect that for every Orange Devil/Vandover/Wooley there are one or two randoms noone has heard of (in a basement?) that aren’t as active but are, if not every bit as skilled, pretty close. The closest thing we have ever had to a ranking, I think, was the work Hollis and Bryan Goodwin did working the OCTGN data for rankings, but random games on OCTGN are not a tournament, and there are certainly a good chunk of good players who simply don’t OCTGN. BUT SINCE IT’S THE BEST WE’VE GOT, I AM #1!

In all seriousness, though, there is a super secret skype chat with all the best players in the world in it. And @Genestealers.


Let me be the first to say it: I’m average at best, but I like this game and this site :smile:


We have an ELO system implemented in Poland. You can view the website here: http://netrunner.galakta.pl - unfortunately no English version. It’s still in the beginning and there are some problems to be worked out.

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Off topic, but whenever I see the polish language I can’t help but think someone is just mashing keyboard or ragequit scrabble all over the computer screen. Zs and Ws for days.

Good for you guys for putting in that work, but I think unless we had something that was used for all tournaments, worldwide, it’s going to fall short. Slops on FFG for not getting their organized play shit together. I really would love it if they just hired someone to do OP for all of the games, so we wouldn’t have these sorts of problems, (or not enough spots in tournaments problems, or shit organizer problems, or rules problems…). I feel like unless organized play is improved, they’re going to have serious problems with player retention, as the living game model generally means that games get stale at about the same rate that they get more expensive.

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