Explaining League of Legends’ ranked system

Before you start your ranked adventure, make sure you understand the system.

Image via Riot Games

You’ve just gained a bunch of experience and levels in League of Legends, unlocked all the Summoner Spells, and used your Blue Essence to get a few champions. You have some time to kill before going to bed. What are you going to do?

Load up League’s ranked mode and start climbing, of course.

If you’re new to ranked, it can be somewhat confusing at first. With so many different tiers and divisions to climb, it can be hard for new players to understand how everything works.

Here’s what you need to know about League’s ranked system.

What is ranked and how do you access it?

Ranked is League’s competitive game mode that pits teams of five players against each other. It’s the competitive equivalent of the Summoner’s Rift normal draft mode.

Ranked is only available to players who have reached level 30 and own at least 20 different champions. You can keep leveling after 30 to get more rewards, however.

When a player first plays ranked, they’ll be put into one of 10 placement games to determine their initial rank, just like at the beginning of every new ranked season. The more games you win during your placements, the better chances you have of starting in a rank like Silver or Gold.

You’ll start your placement games with a rank and will be able to see your provisional rank go up as you win your placement matches, which will give you an idea of where you’ll end once you finish all 10 games. You’ll also be able to see your LP gains during placements.

By continuously winning games, you can keep advancing up the ranked ladder and increase your hidden MMR to ensure you get the maximum amount of LP for each win.

Solo/duo queue vs. flex queue

Before you head into the game, you have to choose whether you want to play solo, with one friend, or with two or more friends. When queueing up for solo/duo, as the name suggests, a maximum of two premade players can play together.

Flex queue allows parties of any size with the exception of four since that wouldn’t be fair to that one player who gets matched with four premades. Your rank is different for each of the two options and ranked rewards get distributed based on the higher one.

What are the ranks?

Image via Riot Games

The ranks in League from lowest to highest are as follows:

  • Iron
  • Bronze
  • Silver
  • Gold
  • Platinum
  • Diamond
  • Master
  • Grandmaster
  • Challenger

What are divisions?

Each rank has four divisions, except for the highest three ranks, which have just one tier each. The divisions start from four and end at one. Four is the lowest division in a rank and one is the highest.

How do you climb divisions and ranks?

As players win games in ranked, they gain League Points, also more commonly known as LP. They also lose LP when they’re defeated. Upon reaching 100 total LP in a given division, players enter a promotion series to try and get to the next available division.

Players must win a majority of their games to advance to the next division. Promotion series within certain ranks, like Bronze III to II, are a best-of-three series. From one rank to the next, such as Silver I to Gold IV, promotion series are a best-of-five instead. If you have a good win rate, the system will allow you to skip promotions or divisions to ensure that you reach your real rank as fast as possible.

If a player doesn’t win the required number of games to get promoted, then they’ll need to get back to 100 LP to try again.

If a player continuously loses games, they also run the risk of eventually dropping back down to zero LP. In this case, a player could be demoted to the division below them, unless they can win some matches again.

How is LP determined?

LP is determined based on your Matchmaking Rating, or MMR for short. It’s a hidden number that represents a player’s skill, to some more familiar as Elo. This number is different from your actual ranking. Riot uses it as a way to determine how much LP you should gain or lose.

The bigger the MMR, the more LP points you gain for wins and the less LP you lose during defeats. Winning game after game can cause your MMR to rise while losing several games in a row can cause your MMR to decrease rapidly, affecting the amount of LP you can get per match. Increases and decreases in MMR also depend on the average MMR of your teammates, as well as the enemies. The higher your MMR is in comparison to your rank’s average, the more LP you’ll gain, and vice versa.

You can also lose LP by being inactive for a long period of time. This only happens to players in Platinum rank and above, however. You’ll start to decay LP if you don’t play a ranked game after 28 days. Master and Challenger tiers will see a reduction in LP if they don’t play a game after 10 days. They’re able to bank those games in advance, however.

The longer you’re inactive, the more LP you’ll lose.

What happens if you rage quit or dodge?

If you’re in a promotion match and leave the lobby before the game begins, the system will automatically place a loss into your tally regardless of the reason.

If you leave games continuously, you could be banned from future games for a certain period of time or indefinitely depending on how often you dodge or quit a game before its resolution.

What are the rewards for playing ranked?

Ranked rewards are distributed based on your rank when a season ends. Each season offers different rewards, but these are usually icons, emotes, and Victorious skin. The Victorious skin is reserved only for those who have placed in Gold or higher, though. This year’s Victorious skin was given to Lucian due to his impact in both solo queue and competitive play.

All ranked players who are at least honor level two are eligible for other rewards, but they visually vary depending on your division.