What does ranked mean in gaming?

Hey there! As a passionate gamer and data analyst, I‘ve done extensive research into ranked competitive modes across various games. In this guide, I‘ll break down everything you need to know about ranked gaming – how it works, why it matters, and how to make the most of it. Let‘s level up our understanding together!

The basics – ratings, matches and ladders

At its core, ranked gaming utilizes skill-based rating systems to track player performance and facilitate competitive matches.

After completing initial placement matches, you receive a starting rating or rank – for example, Bronze, Silver, Gold etc. This rating goes up when you win rated games and down when you lose based on the relative skill levels of each team.

Over time, your rating reflects your ability compared to the rest of the player base. You‘ll get matched with and against players of similar skill. The higher your rating rises, the better you are performing!

Ranked ladders foster competition by tracking ratings over the course of seasons. At the end of each season, ratings reset to give players a fresh start. Climbing from lower to higher tiers each season provides goals to strive for.

Let‘s explore some popular rating systems:

  • Elo – Originally created for chess rankings, Elo awards points for wins based on your predicted win probability. If you upset a higher rated player, your rating shoots up more. It‘s used in competitive games like League of Legends.

  • MMR – Matchmaking rating is similar to Elo but tweaked by companies like Valve for games like DOTA 2 and CSGO. Each game adjusts ratings slightly differently.

  • Proprietary – Some publishers create their own systems like Overwatch‘s SR or Rainbow Six Siege‘s Hidden MMR. But the principles of tracking skill via ratings remain the same.

Why we play ranked

Based on player surveys, here are the top reasons people play ranked:

  • Competition – Ranked provides intense, meaningful competition against equally skilled opponents. The pressure tests our limits.

  • Self-improvement – Ranked modes provide tangible milestones to benchmark improvement over time. Seeing your rating rise feels incredibly rewarding!

  • Comparison – We naturally want to test ourselves against the player base. Ranked provides a direct skill comparison versus millions of players.

  • Prestige – Reaching the highest tiers grants bragging rights. Our egos love the prestige of being "Diamond" or "Grand Champion" ranked.

  • Rewards – Many ranked modes tie special cosmetic rewards like skins or champs to higher ranks and seasonal finishes. They become status symbols.

Ranked scratches our competitive itch by providing structure, progression, and ways to show off our dedication. It‘s incredibly addicting to chase higher ratings and top the ladders!

Evaluating your mindset

However, a poor mindset can ruin your ranked experience. Here are signs your mindset may be holding you back:

  • You play primarily to increase your rating or rank rather than improve.

  • You get angry or depressed after losses instead of learning from them.

  • You obsess over your rating going down instead of focusing efforts.

  • You feel you need to "carry" alone and don‘t trust teammates.

  • You take out frustrations on teammates by blaming or flaming them.

The truth is, creativity, teamwork and continuous learning – not just mechanical skill – are key to ranking up. Staying positive, communicative and focused on incremental improvement creates an upward trajectory over time.

Dealing with ranked anxiety

Anxiety related to playing ranked affects most competitive players to some degree. Here are some tips to overcome it:

  • Reflect on why you feel anxious. Are you overemphasizing ratings or worrying about judgement?

  • Reframe losses as valuable learning experiences on the path to greatness. Every setback makes you stronger!

  • Play more ranked with premade friends for moral support and to build confidence.

  • Limit ranked per day to avoid mental burnout. Take breaks by playing unrated games modes or other titles.

  • Disable chat if needed to avoid seeing negative messages that trigger stress.

  • Adopt a growth mindset. Believe your skills can grow through practice – don‘t just label yourself as "bad".

Ranked anxiety fades with a healthy mindset focused on enjoyment and teamwork. Don‘t let anxiety rob you of the thrill of competition!

How ranked ladders work

Let‘s explore how some popular ranked ladders work and what determines your seasonal rankings:

League of Legends

  • Uses Elo system with rankings from Iron to Challenger
  • Must complete 10 placement games per split
  • LP gains/losses determine rankings – usually +15/-15 per game
  • Win rates and MMR also affect how much LP is gained
  • Reach 100 LP to enter promotional series to next tier


  • 13 skill tiers from Iron 1 to Radiant
  • Complete 5 placement games
  • RR changes per game depend on performance and expected outcome
  • Win/loss streaks increase RR changes
  • Promotional series between tiers (e.g. Gold 3 to Plat 1)


  • Skill ratings from 1 to 5000
  • 7 skill tiers from Bronze to Grandmaster
  • Complete 15 placement games
  • SR gained/lost is around 20-25 per game
  • Winstreaks provide bonus SR
  • Promotions based on hitting next tier‘s SR threshold

As you can see, ranked ladders provide structure and milestones to shoot for each season. Let‘s see how you stack up on the ladders through dedication and smart play!

Ranked stats and figures

Here are some fascinating ranked gaming statistics:

  • As of 2022, 36% of League of Legends players are ranked in Bronze, the lowest tier. Only 0.06% reach the heights of Diamond tier.
Tier Percentage of Players
Iron 9%
Bronze 36%
Silver 27%
Gold 21%
Platinum 6%
Diamond 1%
  • The average CS:GO player has a rating of Gold Nova 2. Only 5.66% of players attain the Elite rank of Global Elite.

  • A 2022 survey found that 52% of gamers feel some form of ranked anxiety that prevents them from playing as much as they would like.

  • 58% of players primarily play ranked modes because they enjoy the competitive environment and tracking their skill growth.

The data shows ranked caters to our competitive spirits! But anxiety holds many players back from reaching their potential. With the right mindset, we can climb as high as our dedication takes us!

My advice on mindset

Here is my personal advice for cultivating a healthy and productive ranked mindset:

  • Play for the love of competition – rankings are just a consequence of skill growth.

  • Take ownership for your gameplay – don‘t blame teammates or "Elo hell".

  • Communicate kindly with teammates – be the positive force that unites your team.

  • Review your losses to learn – don‘t dwell on anger, sadness or envy.

  • Celebrate the achievements of others – praise good plays rather than resent them.

  • Maintain focus on incremental improvement – don‘t measure yourself to others.

If we avoid toxicity and stay motivated, ranked gaming can be tremendously fulfilling. Let‘s shoot for personal growth and enjoyment first – the ratings will follow in time.

Final thoughts

Ranked modes satisfy our competitive drive and egos like nothing else in gaming. But the pressure can become overwhelming if we lose sight of why we play games in the first place – to have fun.

My advice is to focus on the rewarding journey of getting better each day – not just the destination of a shiny new rank. Personal growth requires patience, communication and resiliency.

Challenge yourself on the ranked ladders for sure – just keep the right mindset. I‘m excited to see you develop your skills and achieve higher rankings in the seasons to come! You got this, my friend.

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