A billionaire hosts a league of legends party in his giant treehouse. Despite inviting everyone, no bronze players show up. When he asks where they are, someone responds, “They couldn’t climb the ladder.”
If you liked that joke, you probably aren’t hard stuck in bronze. Congratulations. Don’t get all gloaty about it. If you didn’t like it, keep reading. I promise I won’t tell it again. If you didn’t understand it, then you’ve found your way to the right article because we are explaining the League of Legends ranked system. From the top players down to the bottom, the ranked system in League is the easiest way to determine the age-old question: Who is better? Though the system is far from perfect at answering this, it does a decent job, and it is worth understanding. It is after all the only system we have. So...
How does ranked work in League?
I’m so glad you asked. The ranked system in League is split into nine tiers from Iron (the lowest) to Challenger (the highest). These tiers together are commonly known as “the ladder”, and ranking up is “climbing the ladder.”
Additionally, the bottom six tiers (iron through diamond) are split into four divisions. Division 1 is the highest in each tier and division 4 is the lowest. New players undergo a few placement games and generally start in a division in the Iron, Bronze, or Silver tiers depending on how well they do. Then they will play games against people of a similar Matchmaking Rank (MMR). Because division 1 is the highest and 4 is the lowest in each tier, players proceed through divisions like a countdown (4, 3, 2, 1).
So how do you get from division four to division one? It’s all about LP. Once you are placed, you start with 0 LP. If you win a game, you gain LP. If you lose a game, you lose it. How much LP you win and lose depends on the enemy team’s combined MMR compared to your own team’s. Beating a team with a higher MMR than yours nets a bigger LP gain. Losing to a team with a lower MMR than your team’s results in a bigger LP loss. To move to the next division, you have to hit 100 LP in the division you are in. Once you hit 100 LP, you will be moved into the division above the one you are in and start with 0 LP again. If you reach 100 LP in division 1, you will take part in a FIVE GAME? promotion series. Winning a majority of the games in your promotion series will allow you to move into the next tier. As an example of this process, say you started in Bronze 2. You win a lot of games, gain 100 LP, and are moved into Bronze 1. Starting over at 0 LP, you gain 100 LP again in Bronze 1 and take part in a promotion series. You win 3 of the 5 games and are moved into Silver 4. Congratulations, you are climbing the ladder.
Now, of course, you can also fall back down the ladder. A few losses at 0 LP will bump you back down to a lower division. Losing a few games at 0 LP in division 4 will get you bumped back to the tier below your current one. This is how players get “stuck” in a certain tier. They climb for a time but then fall back down. Because of this, the distribution of players is quite varied among the nine tiers.
Ranked distribution isn’t something you have to think about too hard. The term refers to the percentage of all players that are in each tier and division. As of 2022, this is the current rank distribution.
Source: Esports Tales
As you can see, the number of players who reach the Challenger tier is a very small percentage. A few thousand players at the most. The Silver tier has the highest percentage of players. Silver 4 is the division with the highest number of players.
Now just like any numbers that represent competition they can be inspiring or discouraging depending on your viewpoint. But if you choose to look at these numbers in a positive light, and you should, understanding the ranked distribution can help you climb through the ranks. One way it helps is by providing a reward for minor goals. Taking care of your mental in this game is vital. Climbing the ranked ladder of League can be quite a grind. When you rise and fall multiple divisions in a certain tier, you start to feel stuck. Going up in a division can start to feel meaningless. The only thing that feels like progress anymore becomes ranking up to the next tier. This can be a depressing headspace and easily affect the way you play your games. This is where the distribution numbers, especially live ones, can help.
In the results above from April of this year, if you are consistently getting to Silver 2 for example, you are over the 50% mark for players. That is a much more encouraging thought than, “great I’m Silver 2 again”. This concept might not work for everyone, and if the numbers discourage you, don’t look at them. Maintaining a positive outlook and celebrating minor goals being reached is extremely important for learning any skill. Whether it’s doing a good job at a specific task in the game or simply hitting a certain division, minor goals can be a great way to keep yourself encouraged after you lose a game. Staying encouraged about the process of learning League is important as you progress through the ranked system because there is a plethora of toxic beliefs and misconceptions that can slow or even halt a player’s learning journey. For example...
Ranked Toxic Beliefs and Misconceptions
Source: Riot Games
Toxic Beliefs in League of Legends
Loser’s Queue League of Legends –
The belief that the matchmaking system lumps players that are on a losing streak together and puts them up against a team that has a 51% win rate or higher. I’m stuck in Loser’s Queue is a common complaint among League players. Though some arguments for its existence are fairly logical and well-reasoned, there is no evidence it exists. Besides, win rate and MMR are not the same thing. MMR is the most important thing when matching up a team’s skills, and in any given match, the MMR of the teams will be more or less equal.
Trolls and AFK players are ruining my games
I am not saying that no one has ever lost a game due to someone intentionally losing or being AFK. That certainly does happen though likely not as often as most players feel it does. Our brains tend to remember negative experiences and compile them much better than it does positive ones. When we accumulate negative experiences, we then think we see a trend. In short, the toxicity of this belief comes from the mindset behind it. In part, this mindset is defeatist, which is crippling in any competitive sport. It says, “I can’t do anything.” As soon as you embrace that thought, you stop focusing on what you can improve on and stop getting better. If you are focusing any brainpower toward debating whose fault losing the game was, you are coming at things from the wrong perspective. Take a break and refocus on what you can learn to be better at.
Misconceptions in League of Legends
Counter picking in League of Legends
Counter picking is an important part of League. The misconception here is that counter picking is important at low levels (Iron through Silver). To a large majority, coaches tell low-level players to focus on playing 1 or 2 champions to gain champion mastery and learn the basics of micro and macro play. So, players picking champions they aren’t familiar with or have rarely played just to counter an opponent’s pick is quite damaging to their gameplay. It often results in a loss, and even if it does work, it takes enough of the player’s focus to pilot the unfamiliar champion. This results in most of the basic lessons they need to learn remaining unlearned or ignored.
The Meta is important and Runes need to be optimized
This is largely the same as counter picking. Both of these things are good to know and do in League, but it's not the reason people lose games at low levels. Or rather it’s not the main reason losses happen at low levels. Understanding the Meta and which runes are the absolute best for your champion might help a low-level player somewhat in their games. But understanding and playing the micro and macro basics of League better will result in many more wins at the early levels than the Meta or runes will. Besides, mastering the basics sets up a great foundation for focusing on the more advanced concepts and fitting them into play. Think about it like driving a car, you need to figure out turning the car on and staying inside the lanes before you tackle parallel parking. If you can park in a tight spot but swerve all over the highway, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. That’s why most coaches focus lower-level players on the basics because playing the basics poorly is the biggest detriment to their game.
Ultimately, traversing through the ranked system is largely a solo experience. It is there to present a challenge, and it is hard. If you are motivated, hardworking, and dedicated to learning the game, you will climb. Ignore the toxic mindsets and easy excuses. Everybody has bad games and plays poorly. League is a hard game to get amazing at, but you can do it. Stay positive, focus on your learning objectives, and keep playing!
If you are looking for more information about League of Legends, head over to our League of Legends webpage where we dive into more specifics.
Garrett White lives in Houston Texas with the most amazing woman in the world, his wife. Any time he isn’t running D&D, playing video games, or reading a book, he is writing short stories and articles about one of those things.