How to Adapt and Play to Win – PvP Guide

GW2. How to Adapt and Play to Win in Conquest PvP. How to Win in PvP. How to Get Good. Guild Wars 2. 2023.

The most common issue I see that prevents players from getting better at Guild Wars 2 PvP is not the access to information or their willingness to practice, but rather their mentality and self-control. When put in difficult situations they struggle to adapt or they let entirely winnable games slip away from them. This is because playing well and playing to win are completely different. Guild Wars 2 PvP is such a complex system with different classes, motivations, and matchmaking – that it isn’t always clear what the consequences of your actions will be.

If you wish to win as many matches as possible, there are improvements you can make by either practicing mechanics, understanding roles and rotations, and learning matchups. While these will get you very far, there is still a large gap between players who play well in situations that favor them, and those who play well in any situation.

This is determined by that player’s ability to adapt to the situation and play to win. This guide will cover many advanced level thought processes and winner’s mentality that can help you to be victorious even when in unideal situations to maximize your win ratios. This all takes practice, but those who practice with these things in mind will improve significantly faster.

If you are new, the tips in this guide may not be the best place to start as they are more theoretical. Getting better keybinds, learning the mechanics of your class and other classes, and understanding rotations will provide you much better results at first. Check out all the other PvP guides here first:

After you have learned the basics of your class and the game mode, understanding how to adapt to strategy and competitive behaviors will help you transcend your gameplay to another level.

Interpret the Situation

If you imagine the best matches in Guild Wars 2 PvP, they are always a back and forth of winning and losing fights and objectives. This is because one team wins a fight, the other adapts and wins the next, or both teams decide to give up an objective to gain another. Players that know when to fight for an objective, when to get kills, and when to disengage fights will win when they are advantaged, and minimize their losses when they are disadvantaged. A match is not 100% an advantage or disadvantage, so being able to discern and play to the situation will get your team to 500 points sooner.

Credit to Vallun for the video.

For you to be able to adapt to a losing situation, you need to discern what the problem is. It can be any of the following but not limited to:

  • The enemy team has a better team fight than yours – lack of Support
  • Your team does not have a good matchup to 1v1 the enemy duelist – weak Duelist
  • Your team takes too long to acquire each objective – low DPS

If these are in fact the issue your team is having that loses them the fights or objectives, then you need to think of what the counter to that problem is with the resources you have available to you. Often you can only control yourself and not your teammates, and you need to take into account the issues your teammates may be having personally that can affect your team. Here are some solutions to the above problems:

  • If you lack Support – Split up to avoid team fights and disengage from fights that grow too large to prevent dying
  • If you have a weak Duelist – Play only on two nodes to avoid forcing someone to 1v1 the enemy duelist
  • If you have low DPS – Call targets and play with your team to secure coordinated kills

By adapting like this you may or may not be able to change the momentum of the match. But if you do then here is what the enemy could do in response to those solutions:

  • Enemy avoids team fights – Call targets and chase kills together to prevent enemies from disengaging from fights
  • Enemy rotates away from losing matchups – Disengage from team fights that the enemy forces on your duelist to allow them to stall the enemy outnumbered
  • Enemy invests a lot of time chasing kills – Prioritize survival when outnumbered even to the point of forfeiting the objective if it means stalling multiple enemies to do so

As you can see, there are many repeated answers to these situations which can resemble Rock, Paper, Scissors when matchups and rotations become favorable or unfavorable. In more competitive situations where both teams are constantly adapting like this, the winner is not decided by who has the correct answers to each situation, but which team finds their answers and performs them faster. Working towards your Win Condition involves playing to your strengths and role. Playing around the enemy’s Win Condition means making it awkward for them to play to their strengths or diminishing the value they get when they do win an objective. This requires you to make decisions and tradeoffs that aren’t always the ideal result, but will get you the most amount of value so that the sum of all your interactions is greater. If you are unsure what the best choice is, it is better to act than to waste too much time deciding where to go, but don’t be reckless.

End Game Stats

The statistics given to you at the end of the match can tell you your performance in several different areas:

  • Damage Dealt
  • Healing
  • Kills
  • Deaths
  • Revives
  • Time Spent Assaulting Nodes
  • Time Spent Defending Nodes

People often make the mistake of misinterpreting the “top stats” awarded at the end of the match. While these statistics can be helpful to understanding your performance, they are lacking in some areas and should not be simplified to whether you were successful or failed, but used as data to make other conclusions.

For example, if you get the top damage stat but distribute your damage inefficiently which results in delaying the fights instead of winning them faster, then doing a lot of damage isn’t necessarily playing well. A well timed burst along with a key interrupt of a heal skill can efficiently get a kill and help you win but not contribute much damage to your stats.

Likewise, if you are healing yourself quite a bit over time but doing so in a 1v1 on a node the enemy team is generating points from, you aren’t sustaining fights that you should be in. You would make much more impact by luring enemies away from the nodes they own and then decapturing them or even fully capturing them so you can defend them.

Of course having presence and pressuring the enemy can allow your teammates to capitalize on that opening, but that requires coordination and awareness. The same actions that may be creating an opportunity in one situation can be wasting time in another. What ends up winning matches is momentum: clutch plays, and other actions that might happen within a small window of time but affect many actions in the future but aren’t categorized or detected by the end-game stats. Use the stats to understand roles and who did what, but avoid assigning values to players based on statistics. Don’t focus on the numbers, but on the actions that those numbers represent.

Manage Your Ego

Being able to control your ego has many benefits outside of gaming, but that kind of self-awareness is a major factor in competition. Everyone would rather be better at something than worse at it, but there are tradeoffs to everything. Understanding that you can’t be the best at everything is just healthy for you, but it is also important to helping you to potentially become the best.

Someone who thinks they are the best will more likely blame others, luck, or the balance of the game for their mistakes. If they could have played better, then they can’t be the best in their mind, so there has to be another explanation to avoid that dissonance. Rather than fixing their mistake, they shift the blame to maintain their confidence. The truth is that many people will never overcome this, and it will take them longer to learn their lesson. It’s like going to the gym and working only on your biceps because they make you look strong. Putting in more effort to get a well-balanced workout will actually make you stronger.

It is certainly fair to blame others to some extent, but what is the actual benefit of doing so? Here are three reasons you should avoid making excuses for your mistakes:

  • Avoiding bias can take a lot of effort
  • Focusing on yourself will be more beneficial to you
  • Accepting criticism promotes improvement


There are many psychological fallacies that you can mistakenly perform when in the heat of competition. Because our brains are designed to take shortcuts to conserve on time and effort, they are great for reacting to conflicts immediately. However, when trying to analyze something as complex as a PvP match and trying to conclude the value of each action you make in the context of every other player and action they make, these shortcuts aren’t accurate. To you it may seem clear as day what the underlying cause of a loss might be, but that’s from your perspective. People are more likely to identify and remember the mistakes of others than they are to remember their own. In the heat of battle you need to make these quick decisions to be able to react to the situation, so you don’t have time to think much more beyond those instincts. Rather than exercising full awareness, we look for convenient truths.

The solution to this is to remain calm and focus on what you can do to win, not on what mistakes may be preventing you from winning. If you rush to a conclusion, you may wrongly accuse someone in the heat of the moment. You may cause even more distress and mistakes for your team which would hurt your chance of winning. It is better to withhold any judgment and play out the match, stick to simple commands like “focus the ele” or “help far” then once it is over you can analyze what went wrong while trying to take account of all the potential factors. If it’s out of your control to win the match, then there’s nothing you can do and there’s no reason to get mad over something you can’t control. Think inwardly and find your own mistakes, so you can keep them to yourself and work on them for next time.

Focus on Self-Improvement

On top of the extreme care you need to take when putting blame on others, blaming others doesn’t really get you anywhere. If you die in a 2v2 where your teammate is playing too passively, should you blame them for not being aggressive enough? It certainly might be their fault, but blaming them doesn’t fix the situation. Is your goal to look good or to be good? If it is to be good, then you will focus on how you could have played better, because you can only control your actions, not those of others. If you think of a way you could have improved by either disengaging if your teammate isn’t playing as aggressively as you, or staying closer to your ally so that they can participate in the fight more actively; then next time that situation arises you will be more willing to react to it, as opposed to stubbornly sticking to one behavior.

Criticism Can Help or Be Ignored

Not all criticism you receive will be self-criticism. Being able to take criticism from others is key to improving. Some criticism is not warranted and may often be players exercising their own egos, but not all criticism is toxic venting. Be able to draw the line between toxicity and criticism, because being unable to take criticism can be as harmful to yourself as toxicity is harmful to others. Also you need to be able to discern what criticism is relevant based on the source:

  • If you’re in a match with a player who constantly blames their team for their death, their criticism may just be frustrations
  • If you ask in map chat for advice on how to handle a specific class, there is an unreliably wide range of skill levels in map chat that could respond.
  • Criticizing yourself can be biased and uninformed if you are trying to understand something new
  • Veteran players may be more experienced, but they may also have their own agendas for how they want you to play

While none of these sources of criticism are perfect, understanding where they can be wrong and where they can be right can help you to take in all of the best parts of each criticism to get a fuller, more accurate picture.

Never Give Up

This works together with not overestimating yourself. Players who give up too easily usually do so because they think the match isn’t worth their time. There are many underlying reasons for this such as:

  • They think that winning is the only valuable outcome
  • They think their teammates aren’t worthy of their effort
  • They aren’t having fun anymore
  • They feel shame for losing fights that they think they deserve to win

There are many flaws in this type of logic. If you think it’s not worth your time to play if you don’t get rewarded for it, then you don’t really care that much to win because you don’t want to put in the effort required to improve and then win. And if you don’t care that much to put effort in to win, then you should readjust your priorities to be less competitive. Prioritize fun, play builds that don’t get countered as easily so you never have matches with extreme low points in them, or simply empathize with others who have their own motivations. However, if you truly want to become an efficient killing machine, then you’ll endure the hardships to get better.

Surely there are points where it is fine to give up. If your team has a disconnected player and you are 300 points behind, it’s safe to say that there is no chance of winning. However, most players draw the line for giving up way too early. If they lose the first team fight and are down 100 points, they get demoralized and play even worse. Even if someone disconnects at the start of a match, you can play to stall and survive so that if they do reconnect, the match will still be in a winnable state. Comebacks can be made and are often made from large point deficits (especially because Guild Wars 2 PvP does not create inequalities unlike other PvP games that create stat or gear disparities as the match progresses).

The reality is that the more you give up, the more likely you are to be put in situations where you feel like giving up. This is because players who never give up are more likely to adapt to losing situations and to be able to overcome them. Even though you may think it is wasted time to keep playing a match that is already determined as a loss (which is yet to be decided), it’s still practice. Often the best lessons are learned from losing situations. If you only practice when the match favors you and you are winning, then you don’t learn to adapt. It can be compared to fish that swim against the current versus fish who only swim in calm waters or in the direction of the current. You need resistance training to surpass your previous limits.

So the mentality of never giving up not only will increase your win ratio because you won’t throw matches that are potentially winnable, but it will also prepare you for handling those tougher situations because you have struggled through worse before. If you are the first person to give up, that’s a sign that you give up too easily. Always try to keep playing especially if no one else on your team has given up yet, because they have to put up with you as much as you have to put up with them. Even if you have someone on your team give up, encourage them to get back into the game through example. Sometimes people with little willpower will play again after they’ve taken a quick break to cool off. If they’re adamant about having a childish fit for longer than a few minutes, then you’ve done your best and should probably rest as well.


This guide was written by Vallun as exclusive content for GuildJen. For more guides, builds, and GW2 PvP topics by Vallun, visit his YouTube channel or ask questions when he is live streaming at twitch.tv/vallun

Leave a Reply