LoL Ranking System Explained: How Does it Work

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30 June 2020

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What do League of Legends and football have in common? It turns out, a lot of things. One of those things are high player earnings, and another important one is the ranking system. Football players have clubs competing in a league system, separating the best ones from amateurs or young players. 

As for every sport, the same goes for League of Legends. LoL players are divided into ranks, separating the pros from amateur players and newbies. The LoL ranking system divides players into division and tiers, depending on their skill level. 

What Is Ranked?

In League of Legends, ranked is also known as the League system. Once you start playing, you don’t immediately become a part of the ranking system. First, you have to play for a while to reach level 30 and own 16 champions. 

At this point, you are able to play the 10 ranked placement games that will determine your initial rank. The same happens every time a new season starts.

The LoL ranking system consists of nine tiers and four divisions that represent a player’s skill level. Players progress through divisions and tiers by earning League Points (LP)

You get LPs by winning ranked games and lose them by, well, losing ranked games. Of course, the only way to earn points and climb the ladder is to win more games than you lose. 

The amount of LP you earn is determined by your Matchmaking Rating or MMR, also known as ELO.  It is a hidden number that represents a player’s skill. Based on this stat, the game chooses the players for each team. 

To put it another way, when you’re winning over a team with a higher MMR than yours, you’re going to earn more LPs than you would from a team with a lower MMR.

League of Legends Tiers/Ranks and Divisions

The terms Tiers and Ranks are used interchangeably in the LoL community, so don’t get confused by this. 

Anyway, there are the nine competitive ranks in League of Legends, from lowest to highest.

Iron
Bronze
Silver
Gold
Platinum
Diamond
Master
Grandmaster
Challenger

Now that you’re familiar with the ranks, you should also know that some of these ranks are divided into four divisions. These are ranked from four to one, with four being the highest, and one the lowest rank division. All except the Master, GrandMaster, and Challenger ranks are divided into divisions. 

At the point when you earn 100 LPs in the first division, you are given a chance to climb to a division above. To do so, you have to play a promotion series and win the majority of the games in the promo. 

You will need to win at least two out of three games to climb between divisions, and at least three out of five to move between ranks. Of course, if a player loses a game after game, he or she can get to the point of 0 LP. This can lead to them being demoted to a lower division. This whole system is often called the LoL Ranking Ladder.

Player Ranking Distribution: Where Do Most LOL Players Stand?

If you are wondering how difficult it is to progress in ranks, you should know that most of the players are placed in the Bronze, Silver, or Gold ranks. Before the beginning of a new season, League of Legends releases a ranking distribution.

To put it in numbers, this is how the current global solo queue player distribution looks like, according to League of Graphs.

  • Iron: 5.8%
  • Bronze: 22%
  • Silver: 34%
  • Gold: 25%
  • Platinum: 9.2%
  • Diamond: 2.4%
  • Master: 0.037%
  • GrandMaster: 0.032%
  • Challenger: 0.013%

To demonstrate, let’s do some math. League of Legends’ player base consists of approximately 100 million yearly players, only 13,000 of which hit Challenger, while the pool of Silver-ranked players is as big as 34 million. 

Based on these numbers, it is safe to say that going above Silver and Gold ranks is a benchmark for anyone looking to play competitively. If you are feeling ambitious and are looking to hit Platinum or higher, prepare to dedicate your time to the game. 

This includes: 

  • Continuously improving your skills
  • Specializing in certain champion
  • Regularly checking patch notes

What Happens at the End of the Season? 

A LoL season lasts for approximately a year, and at the end of that period, your tier and division get locked as your official season rank. 

As we previously mentioned, a new season also means a fresh start in the form of 10 provisional games at its start, called placement games. During this period, you can’t lose promotional series or LPs, and the player’s rank stays private.

Another thing you receive at the end of a season are ranked rewards. The amount and types of ranked rewards you will receive depend on what tier you ranked in at the end of the season. What you can potentially earn are emotes, icons, special skins, or armor upgrades. For example, only players in Gold or above can get a victorious skin. 

Furthermore, a season consists of multiple seasonal splits that can give players smaller rewards. These are then added up to bigger, ranked rewards.

League System Wrap Up

The LoL ranking system might be a little confusing for a beginner, so having these facts covered is a good place to start. If there is still a long way ahead of you towards competitive play, make sure to also check our LoL terminology guide. 

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