Warning, wall of text ahead with no TL;DR.
First, some personal stuff
- It took me 138 battles in total, with a winrate of 58%. 60 battles in the Amagi (56.7% WR) followed by 36 Mogami battles (61.1% WR), 20 in the Hipper (55% WR), 13 in the Yorck (38.5% WR, lul) and 9 Kiev (88.9% WR).
- It was pretty easy to shoot up to rank 10 and then it slowly gets harder and harder as your opponents also get better. From rank 5 on expect lots of loss streaks and that's where the real grind starts.
- I used the Mogami predominantly in the beginning until rank 4 or so, then I switched to the Amagi.
- Competent DDs rule the matches in ranked and they're the class that has the most impact on the match. Bensons are the king because they can both stealth-torp with great spreads, have less detectable torps than Fubukis and they can outgun any other DD at close range. Fubukis are also seem to be good with harder hitting torps and decent HE shells. Russian DDs struggle a lot due to their bad concealment. They end up keep getting spotted by other DDs and engaged by CAs and BBs. At close range (=detection range) the Benson outguns the Russian DDs.
- I think the impact of DDs is greatly influenced by the general lack of CVs in ranked. Without someone to spot and harass them, CAs can't do their job as DD hunters. Therefore the DDs are free to roam around, cap and torp at will. They're the predators of the ranked.
- Cruisers struggle a lot. They get spotted by DDs early on in the matches and BBs simply delete them. They either hang back and try to set fires from extreme range, or get close and risk being citadelled/torped by DDs. Of course you can do fine to some extend in some of them (Atago, Mogami) but you'll have a very tough time especially at higher ranks with these.
- Atago and the Mogami are the best choices. Atago as an all-rounder with good torp angles and decent armor (when angled) and Mogami as a mid-range firethrower/DD deterrent. USN CAs are absolutely rubbish as they can't take hits and lack torps. Myoko can work if you don't have both. German CAs only work when there are lots of CAs on the other side so you can citadel them. Yes, they can do AP damage to BBs but most of them will be angled most of the time and you won't be able to do much. Not to mention the absolutely horrible detection range on them, which leads to them being focused down very quick. Also, no armor and they take ridiculous damage from HE shells.
- BBs are the class to go if you don't have a Benson or a Fubuki. Your main job is to tank damage and just generally be something a distraction to the enemy team while your DDs do their business. I personally prioritize enemy CAs in the beginning (15-18km citadels are common) and then deal with the enemy BBs. Your main concern should be staying alive, while tanking damage (=don't snipe from the corner of the map, get in the thick of things). This also includes dodging torps (you must anticipate).
- I'd put the Amagi and the Tirpitz at the top of the food chain with the slight edge of the Amagi. The Amagi is amazing because it's pretty much a cruiser on steroids (it's a BC, duh!). It has great speed and rudder shift time for juking enemy BBs and torps. Also 10 amazing 16" guns in 5 individual turrets give you a beastly broadside. 5 turrets also mean you have greater control over your shells. By staggering yours hots, you can lay an unavoidable carpet of shells in front of my enemies. Did I mention the secondaries? Those secondaries absolutely melt anything in range, especially enemy CAs and BBs. The Tirpitz is also nice since it's pretty much uncitadel-able and is a great brawler due to torps. It works great as a punching-bag for the enemy BBs which means less shells shot on your teammates. The NC is good when it's tanking head-on, but I feel like it suffers from horrible dispersion and weak armor in overall. Its secondaries are very meh so it's not a great brawler and its AA is useless due to lack of CVs.
- I have no idea how the CVs work in the ranked queue. I think I only had one match with CVs out of 135.
- To recap, the top dogs are Amagi, Tirpitz, NC (with reluctance) Benson and Fubuki. Atago and Mogami if you don't have them and you don't mind getting citadelled by enemy BBs halfway across the map.
- For the love of god, avoid Tier 7 ships. The Colorado is simply horrible in ranked. Not enough speed, not enough guns and it takes ridiculous damage from HE for some reason. The Nagato simply doesn't have enough firepower and its secondaries are too inaccurate unless you're point-blank. Not even mentioning the others (Mahan, Hatsu . . . the horror).
- At higher ranks, people make tactics all the time which is where the attraction of ranked comes from besides the rewards. DO make tactics and remember a plan is better than no plan at all.
- It's better to stay focused on one cap rather than splitting up. Though a team should send at least a DD to the other cap in case both teams pick the same objective. Sometimes you end up with both objectives at the beginning and it gives you an incredible advantage.
- On the Shatter map, I found it the best to stay on the side you spawned rather than linking up. The team that holds their ground usually end up with the cap advantage.
- Use the in-game comms and use the chat when they're not enough. Get your team to communicate as well. Call targets for the team to focus and let your team know of important events (a DD sneaking up, CA hiding behind an island, the cap is empty and cappable). It makes a lot of difference.
- DDs should stay ahead of BBs and CAs as much as they can to deter enemy DDs from torping and spotting other ships. They should also stay and fight in the caps as much as they can.
- CAs are very tricky to play. You can't simply follow the DDs to the caps as this means you'll get too close to the enemy team and once you're spotted, it's usually certain death or crippling damage. Therefore you should lay low during the initial stages of the match, ideally find an island to shoot behind from and try to set as many BBs on fire. At later stages when BBs are focused on killing each other and losses from each team, you can be more mobile and mop up. If you have torps spam them as much as you can.
- BBs focus on keeping other BBs busy and deleting CAs whenever they're spotted. Stay alive, do and tank damage. You can't simply push into caps without team support, but I personally try to flank as much as I can. If you can get a flank on the enemy BBs (especially NCs who try to stay bow-on to the threats) you can wreak some havoc. This is especially easy to do with the Amagi since it's pretty fast and hard-hitting.
- This is unfortunately the worst part of ranked. Some people just don't cooperate and don't have a tactical mind. Even at higher ranks, some just run straight at the enemy despite warnings and die. Some just don't know how to use their ships (CAs/BBs giving broadsides and getting deleted early on, people running into obvious torp traps, DDs revealing themselves unnecessarily and such). In these situations you either lose outright or somehow carry harder.
- The MM is simply ridiculous. Most matches are lost right on the loading screen, when you see your team is filled by two Tashkents, a Yorck and a New Orleans while the enemy is sporting triple Amagis, an Atago and three Bensons. Therefore MM was the most frustrating part of the grind for me, it's just not fair most of the time and you have to make the difference yourself.
That's it. I hope you enjoyed this wall of text and I wish you good luck if you're going for rank 1 yourselves!