Looking at Statistics on Path of Exile Ascendancy
Once the new expansion Ascendancy came out—and once the server issues during launch got ironed out—the floodgates were opened to new players who wanted to experience Path of Exile has to offer and returning players who wanted to see what's new. This includes new gaming experience, new Path of Exile items and new skills to try. There are also those who never left the game, and they would have the best feel for the game upon launch of the new expansion, and they make up a significant portion of the statistics accumulated thus far.
Do note these are mostly projected statistics taken within a week. They were recorded for the purposes of understanding what players enjoy and end up deciding to do with every new expansion. This data helps Grinding Gear Games on what to improve in future expansions and other content updates. It tells them what players tend to go for, letting them hone in on what kind of content and PoE items they add to spruce the game up even further.
From the looks of things during the first week or so, it does seem that a great majority of the players are playing in Normal difficulty for obvious reasons. Cruel and Merciless difficulties each have around 20.4%, and Maps have 12.7% grinding it out. It's especially worth noting that just over 6% of players went through the now-infamous Lord's Labyrinth, which has claimed the lives of 269,621 characters within those seven days. Izaro, the boss of the Labyrinth, constitutes for 121,595 of those deaths, making him incredibly scary indeed.
It's a given that only the most hardcore among Path of Exile players would ever take on that challenge, but it also shows just how many of such players who are farming in Merciless and Maps are willing to take that challenge. There's also much to be said about high-end farming areas in the game. A vast majority of players who seriously farm do so in Maps, constituting for over 3.9 million plays, followed by Merciless Dried Lake with almost 1.2 million. Merciless Docks, Solaris 1, and Labyrinth follow suit with vastly diminished, although still impressive numbers.
Among the 19 Ascendancy classes being played so far, it seems that the Ascendant—which transitions from the Scion—has the most players trying it out with 10.4%. Not far behind is the Champion with 9.9%, then everything else has less people playing them by a margin of at least 3%. It seems that players were excited for the titular class due to its nigh infinite character build possibilities. Perhaps the same can be said of the Champion, or perhaps it’s because of its abilities that make it a very good tank.
But once you take a look at Hardcore level 80+, you then find a whole lot more Champions there at 20.2%, and Ascendants trailing at 9.2%. It seems that the Champion's tanking capabilities help it survive and become even better in later levels, thus making it a great Ascendancy class for Hardcore play.
These are interesting statistics, yet Grinding Gear Games hasn't released everything they have thus far. As we wait for more in the near future, we can be comforted with the thought that there are people in Grinding Gear Games who make good use of such insightful information.