I'm writing this post as a review of the T9 ships. This post reflects my observations and opinion of ships in the hands of a competent player and against other competent players (hard to find in ranked, I know). Some people can make bad ships work really well. I cannot account for those outliers. And awaaaaaay we go:
This season's meta is very destroyer heavy. This caters to my top picks more than those on the bottom.
Top Picks: Black, Kitakaze, Jutland
Black takes the cake as the best DD in my opinion. It's radar and smoke combo is deadly. This ship contests middle caps like no other. It has decent, albeit slow, torpedoes and American guns. The only downside is it's survivability. With the overwhelming number of Kitakazes, a Black can compete when it's hiding in smoke with it's radar up. This thing gets shredded when focused.
Kitakaze is the work-horse of this season. The kita wins any 1v1 gun fight. Sometimes 2v1 if both ships are on my Worst Picks list. This ship performs best as the "bodyguard" for Blacks. This is because the Kita lacks radar/hydro and has high detection for a DD. Kita can't shoot what it can't see. The Kita also handles like a manatee. If someone launches torps and you aren't already moving, GG. Fortunately, the Kita has the health to withstand long-term engagements. This applies if it gets radared in the middle of the map. It doesn't dodge well, but it should survive to fight another day.
Jutland is the dark-horse. I had no idea I would see these in ranked, but they're more common than the Black at this point in the season. Jutlands are strange because they can dodge shells and torpedoes with no problem, they have a decent health pool, single-fire torps to punish stationary BBs, 3km hydro and British smoke. It's also pretty stealthy. The Jutland has almost no downside until you look at it's guns. Jutland HE is laughable, especially compared to the Kita. With the exception of a fire, there's little chance of doing meaningful damage to any ship.* The AP, however, is a force to be reckoned with. I've watched my CAs melt while parked broadside in front of a Jutland. Jutland is the most well-rounded DD for ranked, IMHO. *EDIT: This sentence is catching a lot of attention. I must clarify that the only DD I play is the Kita, so my frame of reference is skewed. The Jutland's HE is laughable WITHOUT IFHE.
Mid Tier: Z-46, Fletcher
The Z-46 had a lot of potential. Its long-range hydro is comparable to the Black's radar. It has short range, quick reload torps. Unfortunately, it has German smoke and German guns. Unless you're brawling DDs at very close range, the Z-46 comes up short. It gets out DPMed by the aforementioned DDs. It's a jack of all trades, but a master of none.
Fletcher is the poor man's Black. It can hold its own, but struggles to make an impact. The lack of radar and hydro gives the advantage to every other ship in this current meta.
Worst Picks: Yugumo, Udaloi, Tashkent, Chung-Mu
If you take a Yugumo to ranked, stop playing the game. It's a bad choice in this meta. With all the DDs around, your life will be short-lived and your damage will be almost 0.
Chung-Mu's are like the opposite of the Yugumo. It can't torp it's biggest threat, other DDs. Pan-Asian DDs have gone from the "terror of the sea" to shells of their former selves.
Udaloi is a better choice than the rest of these DDs. I almost put it up on the Mid Tier category, but I've yet to see many of them out there to judge their worthiness.
Tashkent is good for farming BBs. However, BBs tend to stick close to the team with the DD meta, so good luck finding the distance to farm (without circling around the map, which I see far too often). At best, your'e a nuisance. At worst, you aren't spotting or doing anything conducive. Please don't bring a tashkent.
This ranked season has little to no room for cruisers. BBs farm you for cits at every angle and DDs keep you permaspotted. Cruisers can make or break the match, but not because of their damage numbers. If you take a CA, prepare to be irrelevant during radar cool downs.
Top Picks: Kronshtadt, Buffalo, Seattle
Kron is the best CA, hand down. Long range radar, tanky, and can hit like a truck. I've been punished by this boat so many times in a BB that I've stopped taking one. It's also the most popular CA. Of course, like most VMF CAs, it lacks DPM. Krons perform well at range, but are easily taken in short-range 1v1s. I've rushed them in a DM just to torp them. I've seen Krons chase DDs to the edge of the map and die. It isn't a destroyer killer in this meta, but it can certainly kill CAs and BBs better than other cruisers.
The Buffalo and Seattle are similar. I can hardly differentiate the two. The Buffalo isn't as fragile as the Seattle, but has less guns. These are the tech-tree work horses for this category. They can do some damage on DDs and CAs but suffer to BBs. Long-lasting radar is a plus too. These ships are consistent and can impact the early stages of the game.
Mid Tier: DM Donskoi, Neptune, Roon
The DM Donskoi suffers from an identity crisis. It lacks the DPM to compete with the Buffalo and Seattle. It lacks the tankiness to survive like a Kron. The DM excels when kiting at long range, but it can't use it's radar effectively from behind spawn. There are other ships that kite better. Don't expect to bow tank in a DM. Don't expect to blow DDs out of the water during your radar period. The DM's torps can get it out of some sticky situations late in the game, but, unless it hides the whole game, it isn't likely to survive that long. Bonus: It's also spotted from space.
Neptune depends a lot on the captain. Some people can make the Neptune float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. Others get Dev Struck before they've loaded in. It has nice torps, good concealment and the flexibility of taking smoke or radar. It also excels at shredding DDs. However, that's it. Unless you find a broadside cruiser, you're just an oversized DD in the late game (except more prone to Dev Strikes from any angle at any time).
Roon is the outlier in this group. It is the jack-of-all trades for the CA category. It can kite, brawl, torp, shoot, survive, hydro, etc. The german hydro makes it formidable if it has pushed a DD. It might lack the DPM of an American CA, but it can hold it's own. The biggest issue is the low HE alpha and bad detection. It's a monster if it gets close, but good luck doing that against 3 musashis. The lack of radar goes against the meta and already sets your team at a disadvantage.
Worst Picks: St. Louis, Ibuki
Fuck me, have I seen too many Ibukis and St. Louises. These ships are great for randoms, but not this season of ranked. The Arms Race style mean's the fight is closer, faster, and more brutal. The Ibuki can do meaningful damage, but is squishy. The choice comes down to: "am I going to help this game and die early? Or let my team die around me while I farm 1 Musashi? " The St. Louis is similar, but less stealthy. The Ibuki at least has the option of getting closer. The St. Louis goes fast…congrats. I MUST MENTION THAT NEITHER OF THESE SHIPS HAVE RADAR (Roon included). PLEASE DON'T TAKE THEM. Your DDs will hate you if each side has one cruiser and they have a Kron.
Top Picks: Musashi, Jean Bart
Nobody should be surprised by this. The Musashi is a T10 BB in T9 ranked. It's the most popular BB and the highest performing. It's a monster that tends to be the last ship left standing. Even then, it takes 3 ships five minutes to kill. The Achilles heel of the Sashi is its cheek. Any Sashi player with a brain knows this, and the only way to capitalize is to flank it. With the torpedo soup meta of this season, other ships are going to struggle to close the distance in one piece. 10/10 best BB for ranked.
Second comes the Jean Bart. The JB is basically a Richelieu with a reload booster consumable. That may sound minor, but it makes a huge difference. The first team to make a mistake in Ranked almost always loses. The JB's reload booster makes sure to capitalize on those mistakes. If you find yourself broadside to one, odds are you'll be back in port very soon. The secondaries are also decent. Couple this with the reload booster, and this ship can do a lot of damage at close range. That said, it's turrets have the survivability of a DDs engine. If you can permanently knock out the two front turrets (something I've done 3 different times), you've neutered the ship. Of course, you could always rush by it and eat its defenseless ass. That's dangerous because the drive-by portion of this maneuver could get you blapped.
Mid Tier: Alsace, Freddy D. Grosse, Missouri
The Freddy has been surprisingly successful this season. The highest performing FDGs, in my opinion, are the ones that are full-secondary specced (including IFHE). The ship is tanky and has hydro. It's got the secondary DPM of two Nurnbergs. If a FDG can close the gap, it can win the game. However, it will eat more torps than a Kitakaze parked broadside in smoke. Unfortunately, its main guns are almost useless. They're less accurate than every other ship and only has 8 of them. You need to be close to do meaningful damage, but that suits the ship's play-style.
The Alsace has its moments. It is also a good brawler with 12 guns and spaced armor. Unfortunately, the accuracy of the Alsace is like a shotgun. We all know that shotguns lack the range. The Alsace has the high speed to charge in and punish ships like the Musashi and JB. Yet, it's 32mm armor makes it extremely susceptible to Kitakaze shells. The Alsace is situational at best. I played mine solely to punish DDs pressing mid. The HE alpha is nice when you can hit.
Speaking of situational, here's the Missouri. It has the ability to radar, which is great when you don't have CAs on your team. Sadly, it lacks the tankiness of the FDG and overmatch of the Sashi. Radar is its only redeeming quality. The accuracy of the main guns can be great for hitting DDs at range, but that requires your team to spot them. People tend to play the MO further in the back like a Sashi. Due to its "all-or-nothing" armor scheme, Alsaces, FDGs and JBs can punish it heavily. Without the overmatch, a MO can do little to stop another ship from rushing it. The MO has a large impact early game, but really suffers in the second half.
Worst Picks: Lion, Iowa, Izumo
These three boats are the worst performing by a wide margin. I don't think it's hard to see why.
The Iowa is a poor man's Missouri. It's literally the same ship without the benefit of radar.
People that take the Lion are there to save a star. They believe the Conqueror was the best choice for last season, so they took its little brother this season. Unfortunately, the Lion doesn't lend itself to the DD heavy meta, as it lacks the accuracy . That said, it can burn down other BBs at a decent rate. Good luck finding enough BBs to burn before your'e torped to death.
If you take an Izumo, you're either a troll or stupid. I don't mean to attack anyone, but come on. This is the lowest performing ship in Ranked at the moment, and for obvious reasons. You would be better off taking an Amagi, Nagato, Fuso…hell, even a Kongo..Yes the Izumo has been buffed. However, it can't brawl, overmatch, or contribute in any way shape or form. Just don't use it. For the love of god, don't.
This was my personal look at the meta for this season. It took a whole 2 hours to write (I'm at work, so don't tell my boss). I would love to hear how everyone else feels. If you think that I have attacked you in any way, please don't take it personally. I'll make sure to insult you in game. Stay Salty, WoWS.
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