So I got Diamond, which is a lot better than what I've been getting on the previous tournaments. Been doing a lot of thinking about it and wondering how come I always got stuck at a particular percentage, when I saw people around my level and with the same bonuses go further up, and so here are my thoughts.
Toward the end of the tourney I constantly met people who had bonuses twice the values as me. This kinda weirded me out. I did a few screenshots to log and discovered a few things.
Despite my level, I haven't actually been getting a lot of heroes. I started farming CP late, and so lost out. I'm also aware that one point of time there was a hack that allowed you to force drop stuff (and has since been patched, so don't bother), including CP. This results in a weak armoury, weak hero bonuses, and generally a weak team with not many options for flexibility.
I have since improved on that, and gained a few more heroes, so I hope that will play a part in the upcoming tourney, despite hero bonuses being dropped a little.
Another thing that was interesting (that you all should have also noticed) is the way alt uniforms change the class of the hero, enabling to you gain/lose bonuses at your whim. This not only changes your bonuses but your gameplay as well (which I'll talk about in a while).
I seem to have very bad luck with roulettes, so I don't have a lot of the weapons that people socket that are obtained from bosses and deploys, which have a high PVP bonus. Also, I realize that quite a few are avid gold spenders, and they buy multiple Premium weapons just to socket - I met a guy with 4 Coulson's Revenges socketed in his armoury. If that's not hardcore, it's definitely on the road to getting there.
I've had to dig through my equipment and see what I can socket, but I don't seem to have much. My advice is, if you have anything that you have duplicates and offers a good PVP bonus, socket it. Or if you're sure you're not going to use it anymore - remember that once you socket something you CANNOT take it out, so gear socketing is a tricky thing if you only have one of that gear.
As mentioned, I'm not an avid gold spending - I've bought gold before but I use it VERY sparingly, and usually only for CP. As a result, I tend to be a little defenseless when people show up with an army of premium weapons and I'm stuck with a Signpost and a couple of weaker weapons. The obvious solution is "buy the premium weapons", but unfortunately I don't quite have the moolah nor the gold to spare.
To combat this, I've had to take a very very close look at what I have, what my meta seems to be playing most commonly, and try to find a way to defend most of them, taking into account that the AI often plays things wrongly. I've lost my AFK battles more than I win my initiated battles, and so I've had to spend time making up for that loss, while also having to work on the climb.
Heroes in Alternate Costumes can mess up your gameplay. Sudden protections that you weren't expecting, an overpowered Summon Thunder, changes in turn orders, etc. I've had a team get knocked out on the first round with a Blaster Thor that Summoned Thunder on me and did an Epic Overkill on ALL the members of my team, THROUGH a shield. Even with powered up tacticians there wasn't any way I could take him down before he blasted me.
Which brings me to mention socketing ISO8 - I do it fairly well, but it's not a difficult thing to do. I decide what I want this hero to be (attacker, defender, evader, sneaky, etc) and then socket appropriately. If I want White Crown Phoenix to die fast so I can activate her Phoenix Fire and make it cause a lot of damage, then I do the appropriate socketing. But socketing can also help you survive - I've met Bruisers that somehow manage to evade Quicksilver's attacks, or even Psychic attacks, which aren't supposed to happen. I can only assume that their EVA stat was incredulously high.
The purpose of this wasn't to get everyone to follow me or to read a given formula that would work. It was to get you thinking about your own game and see if you need to make any modifications. Everyone's meta is different so you really do have to see what's coming up for you, what you're facing and adapt.
Good luck all!