League of Legends has a strong competitive scene with a ranking system and also a professional eSports scene. Professional players all need to start somewhere and the in-game ranking system is the perfect place. Those looking to learn how to play League of Legends will also find that the ranking system is a great learning tool.
The League of Legends ranking system encourages players to keep learning about the game and to keep working to improve. Having an active ranking system also lets players see how they compare to others in the game. The top tiers are very difficult and only for the small group of elite players in League of Legends.
Getting started with the ranking system can seem a little confusing at first. For the most part, it’s not that different from other MOBAs and online multiplayer games in general. Ranked is a separate mode to the casual side to League of Legends and players are not forced to take part.
What are the ranks in League of Legends?
League of Legends has 9 ranking tiers for the competitive mode in the game. Players will start at the Iron tier and can climb up to Challenger tier. Most players will remain somewhere between the Iron to Gold tiers due to the difficulty that comes with progressing into Platinum and above. Players also become more competitive as the tiers increase which might result in meeting players who are more emotional about winning or losing a game.
These are the League of Legends ranking tiers:
While there are 9 tiers to the League of Legends ranking system, each one has four divisions. These divisions are numbered from one to four using roman numerals meaning the divisions are I, II, III, IV. However, the final three tiers do not have divisions. This means the Master, Grandmaster and Challenger tiers do not have divisions.
Rank reset each season: how to get your first rank?
Each season of ranked is a fresh start so that the rank of all players is reset. If you’ve never played ranked before then you’ll need to complete 10 placement games but if you’ve played this before then you’ll be given a provisional rank. The provisional rank is only visible to you but it’s the lowest rank that will be handed to you after the placement games are complete.
Players need to win games to rise through the rank tiers and divisions. The amount of wins depends on the division and what tier a player is in. Climbing through the League of Legends Ranking Ladder is something that takes time.
Master, Grandmaster and Challenger tiers
Reaching these tiers is a great achievement for any League of Legend player. These tiers lack divisions and every 24 hours, players have the chance to move up to the new tier. Moving up means bumping another player down if they have less LP than them. LP are League Points which are earned by winning ranked games and having more LP than another player in a higher bracket will move you up to take their place.
Challenger tier is the list of the top 200 players in each region which means it’s full of pros and aspiring pro players as well. Most professional teams looking for a replacement or substitute for their existing team will be looking at this list of players. Climbing into the Grandmaster tier requires a lot of dedication and needs enough LP to reach the top several hundred players left.
The League of Legends competitive season takes place once per year where Riot Games releases a ranking distribution for each ranking tier. The rank distribution is updated every season for the Solo Queue and Draft Ranked Flex Queue as well.
Riot Games announces the new distribution every season. However, the League of Graphs website (https://www.leagueofgraphs.com/rankings/rank-distribution) has a current list of the rank and tier percentages. It’s a good idea to check that website to see what the current rank distribution is like for League of Legends Ranked.
Here is a rough rank distribution breakdown to give you an idea of what the League of Legends rank system looks like on the backend.
- Iron – 5%
- Bronze – 20%
- Silver – 34%
- Gold – 26%
- Platinum – 10%
- Diamond – 2%
- Master – Less than 1%
- Grandmaster – less than 1%
- Challenger – Less than 1%
While the above breakdown will not be accurate, it is close to what the League of Legends rank distribution looks like. Since this changes for every season, the best thing you can do is confirm it yourself due to the frequent changes.
The majority of players will be ranked between the Bronze and Gold tiers. This is the average placing for most League of Legends players meaning only a smaller group can reach the Diamond bracket or higher. Irons is a small bracket since players can advance quickly from here and don’t spend much time here unless they don’t intend to play the game very often.
Solo vs Duo Queue vs Flex Queue
League of Legends ranked doesn’t only need to be played solo. Playing with another person in duo queue is a great way to get an advantage in ranked plus playing with friends is fun! The Flex Queue allows groups of up to three for those competitive matches in League of Legends.
The Solo/Duo queue allows for both solo and teams of two who are then ranked together. Three player teams need to go through the Flex queue which has a separate ranking list as these teams have an obvious advantage over single players or duos. The rank for both of these queues is different, meaning you can have one rank for solo play and a different one for the flex queue. When the season is over and rewards are being distributed, you will be rewarded based on whichever queue is highest.
How does the League of Legends ranking system work?
The League of Legends ranking system uses various other systems to assist it with placing players into divisions, organising teams and dealing with the matchmaking. It sounds like there’s a lot to the ranking system but there’s not much that players need to know much about. Only a few pieces of information are important to keep in mind when trying to improve your League of Legends rank. For the most part, understanding the LP system is enough but knowing about MMR can be very beneficial and ELO can be good to keep in mind.
The League of Legends ranking system is based on wins or losses for each player. The points earned from winning is called League Points or LP and the amount a player earns for winning is based on other factors. Things such as the ranking of teammates and difficulty level of opponents also play a role in determining how much LP a player wins or loses from a game. Progressing through the tiers and divisions in the LoL ranking system is also based on the LP.
Each division has a certain number of LP required before someone can advance to the next division or tier. For tiers, most of them require 100 LP to advance and once a player has enough points, they enter a placement period where they need to win three games in a “best of five” style to enter the next tier. Winning this promotion series will allow that player to move up into the lowest division of the new tier. However, losing this tier will cause the player to lose their LP and need to start again at zero.
This principle changes slightly for Master tier and above. Riot Games has included a game banking system for League of Legends players ranked at Master or above. Not playing games will cause Master ranked player to decay LP daily but the game banking system means that players can skip days of playing. Players can have a total of 10 banked games maximum and 1 game is removed from the back per day the player hasn’t played ranked. Once it reaches 0 in the bank, the player will lose 250 LP per day until they’ve banked more games. Reaching 0 LP will then cause demotion as well. So not playing the game is a very bad thing for Master rank players in League of Legends.
The Elo rating system is the method for calculating the relative skill levels of players. This is the system that estimates the skill of a player based on previous matches they’ve played. Before 2013, Elo was very important in League of Legends since it determined how players were placed into games and assigned players to games according to their skill level.
Today, however, the Elo system is still used in a more limited way. League of Legends Elo still causes players to increase in points according to winning and losing against players of a certain skill. Generally, when players talk about their Elo what they mean is their displayed rank which is visible to all players.
Elo is still used in the LoL MMR system. You don’t need to know this but Elo wasn’t originally made for League of Legends, this system was designed for chess but it also works well for multiplayer games. It’s used to estimate how good a player is so they can be organised into teams to ensure the MMR is mostly equal for both teams.
While Elo might sound strange, it’s not something you need to be that concerned about. For the most part, Elo has been absorbed into MMR.
The matchmaking rank or MMR is the number assigned to all players based on their skill level which also changes how much LP a player gains or loses from each game. It also changes if a player is on a winning or losing streak, the average MMR of their team and the other team as well. It can also determine the people you play against too, having a very high MMR at Silver rank could mean that you can balance players at a Platinum rank.
Elo and MMR work together to keep the ranking system balanced in the game. They aim to be balanced which is why they are often more hand-in-hand. For example, having high Elo but a low MMR will cause you to gain a lot of LP from losing but gain very little so that the MMR catches up with the Elo. This also works when MMR is very high but the Elo rating is much lower.
MMR is something that’s hidden to players though the players you play against can give you a good idea of where it must be. Especially if you see players from higher-ranked tiers in your match. A high MMR also provides more LP per win and causes you to lose less LP per loss. While we can’t see what the MMR is, the amount of LP gained and lost does depend on your hidden MMR compared to the average MMR for the division. For example, if your MMR is lower than average for your division then you’ll lose more LP and gain less from matches. The same is also true if you have a high MMR compared to the others in your division.
How to check your MMR
There is no way to see what your exact MMR is and while there are websites that can give you a decent estimate, these are not exact. Since the MMR numbers are no public, it’s difficult to know the current number for any player. Some online checkers exist which use some limited information to provide an MMR number within a small range. While the estimated MMR might be 1200, this would mean that it would be between 1100 and 1300.
So while giving a precise MMR is difficult, there are websites which give accurate numbers. For example, WhatIsMyMMR gives a 95% confidence interval shown with a + as a reflection of the possible values. The more someone plays League of Legends, the better historical trend for MMR which also results in more accurate estimated MMR numbers.
How to improve your League of Legends MMR
The only way to improve your League of Legends MMR is to win more matches. Losing will cause the MMR to decrease meaning the only way to keep increasing your MMR is to win as much as often. Winning more games than you lose is the best way to keep increasing the MMR associated with your account.
Teaming up in a duo with another player who is higher ranked or has higher MMR allows you to be placed in higher-level games. Winning those will result in more points and the system will also start to boost your MMR and Elo levels accordingly.
While not a good thing to do, queue dodging can allow you to skip games you might lose and search for a new game instead. Leaving during the Champion select screen disrupts the connection to the server. There is a penalty for doing this though this is often less of a penalty than losing a game.
The full queue dodging penalties list can be found here on the unofficial League of Legends Fandom page (https://leagueoflegends.fandom.com/wiki/Queue_dodging). This includes full details on the time penalties for ranked solo and duos along with ranked flex.
Dodging the game is not appreciated by players and results in penalties since this is included within the bad behaviour category. We also do not advise anyone does this to try to advance their MMR.
How to Access Ranked
If you’re new to League of Legends and are looking to play competitively then you need to be aware that only experienced players have access to it. Ranked is only available to players who meet these two requirements:
- Are Level 30 or above
- Own at least 20 different champions
Once you’ve met these two requirements for League of Legend ranked, you’re able to take part in the ranked mode. It’s possible to join both types of ranked queues including the flex queue once the base requirements have been met.
How to get your first rank
When the season first begins or when you first start playing League of Legend ranked, there’s an initial placement period that all players need to go through. Players need to complete 10 placement games before they’re given their first rank for the season. Everyone needs to go through this each season but if you’ve only just started to play ranked in the middle of the season then you just need to do this a bit later than everyone else.
After the 10 placement games have been completed, you’ll be placed into a rank. Winning more matches during this period gives you a better chance of starting in the Silver or Gold tiers. However, playing more games and winning more games during the early stages of the season can also mean you quickly advance through the divisions. Not playing for a time after the early stages of the season will make it take longer to progress.
While in the placement period though, you can see a provisional rank. This isn’t the confirmed one but it does give you an idea of where you’ll be placed in the ranking system if the current trend continues. The LP gains and losses are also visible during this period. If you’ve played previous rank seasons then you’ll be given a provisional rank based on your previous ranks which is the lowest rank you’ll receive once the placement matches have been completed.
The League of Legends ranking system is a great place for competitive players and for those looking to improve their skills. It forces players to become more skilled to win as many matches as possible to reach the higher rank tiers. Playing the game as frequently as possible also gives you the best chance to keep climbing the ladder for rank divisions and tiers.
Being split into different divisions and tiers means that players end up in ranks based on their skill level. To reflect this, the ranking is split into two groups so that players are placed into different rankings if they play with a group of three. Playing with a group provides an advantage over solo players and even duos. It’s only right then that Riot Games has moved groups of three into a separate ranking list to keep it fair. Players can take part in ranked through both types of the queues and will be rewarded for whichever ranking is higher.
Taking part in the League of Legends rank scene is not a necessity but something that many players enjoy doing. It’s something that requires dedication and not playing for some time will result in other players advancing over you making it harder to progress. For Master tier and above, not playing will result in LP decay which can result in rank decay if you don’t play often enough.