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Beginner's Guide to Ranked Games

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Beginner's Guide to Ranked Games

NOTE: I have begun Part 2! Check it out here: http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?p=28408491#post28408491

Part 2 contains gameplay tips on how to actually prepare for ranked games. Includes info on the meta, runes, masteries, etc.

Pre-season 4 has arrived so these guides (part 1 and 2) will be updated accordingly.

Patch notes January 2014:

Ranked solo, duo, and ranked team stats have been reset for the start of the 2014 season

Play 10 games in ranked solo or duo queue, or 5 games in ranked teams to be seeded into a league!

Ranked inactivity will be reset and re-enabled for the start of the season

Changed LP calculations so players will no longer see a sudden decrease in gains when hitting division I in all tiers (except Diamond)
Tier demotions and shielding have been added

Once you enter a new tier, you’ll have a set number of games where you are invulnerable to dropping out

After you play these games, if you fall a full tier below your placement in terms of MMR, a demotion warning will appear in your profile (IE: A Gold V player playing at a Silver V skill level would see this warning)

Continuing to lose games at 0 LP will result in a demotion to division I of the next lower tier

Challenger pool in solo and duo ranked queues have been increased to 200 players (from 50)


Greetings. I've noticed League of Legends is rather lacking on information when it comes to their game modes. There is simply a lack of explanation about ranked games, both in the game and online, and up until the introduction of normal draft mode, it was possible to play for a long time without even knowing it existed.

This guide will explain what this game type is, along with various other important information such as requirements and useful tips for players just starting ranked games.


December 2013:
-Updating guide for pre-season 4.

What is a Ranked Game?

Ranked games are essentially the competitive alternative to normal games. As the title implies, players compete for better ranks, as defined by the Elo rating (More on this below).


-Level 30 Summoner level

-Must own a minimum of 16 Champions available to choose from. The reason for this is due to the picks and bans, which could possibly exclude you from choosing up to 15 champions (6 bans + 9 picks). Another reason is to ensure you have a variety of choices to best accommodate your team.

Difference over Normal

-Ladder ranking
-Visible division ranking
-More competitive
-Draft Mode only

The Ladder System (Types of Ranked Games)

There are three ladder systems for ranked games, which means there are 3 types of ranked games.These are: Solo/Duo Queue (5v5), Arranged Team (5v5), and Arranged Team (3v3).The 5v5 games are played on Summoner's Rift, while the 3v3 ladder is played on Twisted Treeline.

Solo/Duo Queue

As the title implies, solo queue can be played by matchmaking alone. However, you can also play ranked games with another player, which is often called duo queue. Either method of playing (alone or with a partner) contributes to the same Solo/Duo queue ladder.

Unlike other modes, Ranked Solo/Duo Queue only allows owned champions to be used, meaning free to play champions are unavailable unless you already own them.


Ranked Games are about trying hard and competing to the best of your ability. Meanwhile, Free-to-Play champions let you try out a new champion and see if you like it. These are really conflicting goals, so we wanted to investigate disabling the Free-to-Play rotation for Ranked Solo/Duo Queue.

We found some interesting statistics:

  • If a player on your team is fielding a champion he doesn’t own, you’re 8% more likely to lose the game.
  • A teammate fielding a champion he doesn’t own is 62% more likely to leave the game.
  • If a player in your game is fielding a champion he doesn’t own, the game is 34% more likely to result in a player being reported.

That’s a big deal in such a competitive environment, so we’re making a change to keep the Ranked Solo/Duo Queue as competitive as possible. We’re removing the option to select champions you haven’t unlocked in the Ranked Solo/Duo Queue as of May 22nd. If you have a champion unlocked and it’s on the Free-to-Play rotation, you can still play that champion.

We’re leaving the Free-to-Play rotation intact for Normal Games because they fit with the spirit of Free-to-Play champions. In Ranked Teams, your teammates should already be aware of your intentions to play a champion you don’t own, so we want to leave you that option.

Arranged Team

Riot has a small guide on getting started with Ranked Teams here: http://na.leagueoflegends.com/news/getting-started-ranked-teams

Arranged ranked games require a full team in order to play. This means a full 5 player team or a full 3 player team for each respective arranged team ladder. Unlike Season One, ranked teams have been updated to permanent groups.

Ranked teams have identity under a single name, tag, and rating (Separate ratings for 5v5 and 3v3 ladders). A ranked team may have up to 9 members, and as long as enough team members are available to play with, you are able to play ranked team matches with any team members you invite. No specific team members are ever required at all times.

The person responsible for managing the roster is called the team's Captain. He/she gets access to the "Manage" tab which allows him/her to invite or remove players to or from the team. The Captain role may be voluntarily given away to other team members as needed.

Ranked team profiles can be seen in a summoner's profile as a separate tab. Note you can also search for other team profiles here.

You can create a maximum of 3 new teams per week. You may belong in up to 5 different teams at once.

The tag (not the team name) appears in-game beside the player's name during ranked team matches, as well as in other parts of the UI and PvP.net.

Initially, a team's status starts off as Provisional, meaning the rating is awaiting evaluation. A rating will be given after 5 ranked games have been played. Provisional teams will be disbanded after a certain period of time in order to prevent name squatting. Roster changes are unlimited at this time.

A Provisional team is promoted to Ranked after the team has played at least 5 games. Roster changes are limited to 1 per week at this point.

Otherwise, a provisional team team is reduced to Inactive if the team has not been promoted to ranked after about 5 months. Inactive teams will be automatically disbanded if another team is created with the same name or tag.

Teams will have room for substitutes.

1) 5 teams max.
2) stats belongs to the team, it has less to do with personal ranked stats or data.
3) Currently only team tag show up. As for in-game team name, I believe it will not be supported. Team name is a little too long to show in game.
4) I am not sure. Current priority is to fix and improve ranked teams. Then we will discuss next plan(s).

You only get 8 (Author's Note: This number is now 9) members, so the invite should not happen too often.
The captain only have invite, kick and disband power. So one is enough for this duty.

League System, Matchmaking Rating (Also known as MMR, or Elo rating) and League Points
A simple summary of the League system: http://competitive.na.leagueoflegends.com/league-system

Season 3 has introduced grand changes to how ranked games work. There is now a League system in place.

To determine matchmaking, it still uses the old MMR as it did previously. Essentially it is a system used to calculate each player's relative skill level. Previously, the MMR was a number ("Elo rating&quot that was publicly displayed for ranked games in each player profile. However this has changed to be hidden due to the new season 3 ranking systems, whereby it now shows your division ranking.

When starting out from no ranked games played, each player has a predetermined MMR by default. The first 10 ranked matches in a ladder will determine their initial ranking in a division - these are known as placement matches. Since the system is trying to find out your rating, MMR gains/losses are tremendously large for placement matches, then decreases as more games are played after the first 10. So don't be surprised if you're dropped into an unexpected division - your standings are unstable and can easily fluctuate.

Your MMR will rise as you win games, and drop as you lose games. The amount of points gained or lost depends on a variety of factors unknown to the public, but strongly depends on the rating of other players in each match (Ex. If facing against higher rated opponents, winning will grant more gains)

League Divisions, League Points (LP) and Promotion/Demotion
Divisions range from Bronze to Challenger tier. In each tier there are 5 divisions. To move up the ladder, you'll need to climb up to your current tier's division 1, and then be promoted to the next tier's division 5 (Ex. from Silver 1 to Gold 5).

Each player's ranking can be seen on their profile. The title of their division does not matter, as they are randomly generated. As such, divisions are not unique - there are countless numbers of each division except maybe the very top ones as few players reach there. Also, the game will attempt to put friends (on friends list) together in the same division if their MMR are similar, to promote friendly competition and comparisons with friends.

Once you're placed in a division, winning and losing games also increases or decreases your League Points (LP). The amount of LP also varies, depending on your opponents and how many ranked games you've played (Similar skill level and many games played will generally reduce variation in points lost or gained, similar to MMR).

Once you acquire 100 LP, you're entered into a Promotion series. This gives you the opportunity to move up another division, or even another ranking tier entirely. Promo series require you to win the next 2 out of 3 games to move up a division (Ex. from division 5 to division 4), or if 3 out of 5 games if moving up to the next tier (Ex. from Silver 1 to Gold 5). It is possible to move up by more than one division in a single promotion.

Failure to achieve this goal reduces your LP back below 100, and you'll have to play some more to try again.

Note that queue dodging/leaving a game counts as a loss if you're in a promotion series.

Demotions can also occur. A player can be demoted down a division if he/she reaches 0 LP and then several more games in a row. There is an immunity grace period to this when freshly promoted however. A player can never be demoted below division 5 of any tier, unless it is through inactivity.

LP is an indicator of a player's MMR. As mentioned before, the amount of LP gained/loss will decrease over time as a player's rating is stabilized, a phenomenon known as clamping. This can lead to the understandably frustrating situation of gaining/losing very little LP per game. However, if you continue to win more games than lose, the clamping will ease off as your MMR goes higher. This system is meant for the long term so it can take a while for this to occur.

Source: RiotDamiya (http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?p=37430867#37430867)

League Point (LP) and MMR decay
League Points decay if you're inactive. Inactivity for 28 days in a ranked queue will start LP decay, where it will reduce over time. It starts at this 28 day mark, and every 7 days of inactivity afterward another set amount of LP is lost. The amount lost depends on the player's ranking:

Bronze - 0
Silver - 10
Gold - 25
Platinum - 35
Diamond - 50

When inactive, the player's ladder position is hidden to all except him/her self.

Unlike previous seasons, MMR does not decay with inactivity. A player can be eventually demoted down a tier of ranking (that is, past division 5) through inactivity.

Source: Yegg (http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?p=34311835#post34311835).

Draft Mode: How it Works

Draft Mode is the only game mode used for ranked games. This is a very different experience compared to Blind Pick and there is a lack of any instructions or explanations when playing ranked for the first time.

Normal draft mode is currently in the game and allows players to play with draft mode in normal (non-ranked) games. Previously this was not an option and thus ranked games used to be the only way to play with draft mode.

Draft mode works by having both teams choose which champions to ban, and afterwards, which champions to select. Unlike Blind Pick, there can only be one of each champion in-game at a time, meaning it impossible to have duplicates of champions in ranked games. In addition everyone sees each champion selected before the game starts.

Team Order
Normal Draft:
Normal Draft was changed to no longer prioritize pre-made teams substantially. Solo players have a 20% chance of taking any slot, including the top Captain slot. For pre-made teams, the host of the team accumulates their player's chances, so a 4 player team has a host with 80% chance of being captain, a 3 player team has a player with 60% chance of being captain, etc.

Ranked Draft:
In Solo/Duo queue, each player is listed from top to bottom in order of highest Elo rating. In a ranked team game, the team captain is always first, followed by generally the team order in the arranged team lobby.

In either case, the top players of each team are appointed as Team Captains, who are the first to ban and select champions.

Banning Phase

In the beginning of the drafting process, each team captain will first select which champions to ban. Banned champions cannot be used by any players for that match. Note that if a champion isn't available to at least one player, it won't be available to ban (Ex. No one owns the champion in a ranked draft process).

Ban process goes in order of A:B:A:B:A:B, meaning teams ban one after another.

A total of 6 champions may be banned in ranked games.

Bans may be skipped by waiting for the timer to run out.

Champion Select

The team that gets first ban receives first pick. Draft process for picks go 1:2:2:2:2:1, meaning after one team picks, the opposing team picks 2, then the first team picks 2, etc.

As mentioned before, each champion can only be used by one player so duplicates are impossible. Thus, there is increased importance in selecting which champions to use.

It is a good idea to aim for a balanced team composition. Since champions can be traded later (see below), there is some strategic aspects to the draft process. You may want to pick a certain champion first (even if you do not plan on using him/her) to deny the other team said champion, and trade with a teammate later. This is great for getting champions to counter or prevent counter picks, as well as ensuring teammates get their best champions to play as.

As mentioned, it's a good idea to 'counter pick' by choosing champions suited to counter certain enemy champions that have been revealed during the selection.

During the drafting process the opposing team's Summoner spells cannot be seen until the loading screen before game start. This generally keeps teams guessing as to who is jungling on one side and what spells certain champions are using.

Trade ("Free&quot

After all players have selected their champions, a period of time occurs where they can trade their champions with teammates. This period is labeled as 'Free' in-game.

Players may only trade champions with a teammate if either player owns the champions involved. Champions on free rotation will also count towards this.

To trade, an icon will appear next to a player's champion icon if a trade is available. A player may initiate the trade, and it will process if the other player accepts it.

Note that multiple trades are allowed.

As mentioned before, trading brings in a strategic element to the draft process. Players can pick popular (or useful in the situation) champions first and later trade with teammates who want to play as them. Due to this, it is also very advantageous to own many champions, as it gives you many more options in draft mode.


Penalties for leaving or "queue dodging" ranked games are more severe.

Leaving a game after it has started still results in a recorded leave (Applies to Leaver Buster), and queue dodging still results in a time penalty before using matchmaking again.

However, queue dodging incurs additional penalties of small LP losses (which get substantially larger the more subsequent dodges there are). Dodging while in a Promotion series will also count as a loss in that series.

"Elo Hell"

The term "Elo Hell" is used to describe a theoretical Elo range below a certain rating (previously "1200" in the old system). Players have commonly described this 'hell' as a range populated with griefers/trolls and 'bad' players that prevent them from moving up the ranks.

A large misconception is that it is always teammates that is bringing you down. An attitude like this is likely the reason why players feel they never progress, as it is very contradictory/enhances failure.

Ratings become more accurate the more games are played. Think 'big picture'. It can take hundreds or thousands of games to be consistently matched with similarly skilled players.

If you are struggling to rise in the ranks, keep in mind that this so-called hell does not really exist. You simply need many more games, and players who 'deserve' a rating will rise or drop to it in time.

Another problem is that Elo was designed for 1v1 Chess games (MMR likely still uses the same Elo system as before).. It may have been adapted for team games over time, but to actually have an extremely accurate matchmaking system for team games is just impossible due to the huge amount of dynamics/variations teams bring. As such, Elo ratings are pretty "volatile" in that they'll change rapidly. This means, instead of staying near your "true" rating, you're very likely to fluctuate rapidly above or below this rating multiple times. As of result this can make it feel like you're not in the "correct" Elo range.

Lastly, ratings have a tremendous psychological effect. Basically, say you legitimately do have griefers or "bad" players on your team, which can result in losses. The important thing to note is that you feel like you've already lost, and thus lose interest and concentration in that game, and subsequent games beyond. Then you look at your progress and feel even worse.
Quite simply, when you're feeling down, this contributes to you performing worse, resulting in a cycle similar to depression cycles.
As such, I highly recommend limiting the number of ranked games played per day, especially if you get into a losing streak. Do not underestimate the power of psychology - even if you believe you can ignore losses, in reality such a thing has a tremendous effect on everyone no matter how unconscious it is in our minds.

A few tips for those looking to increase their rating:

-Focus on what you have control over, not what you don't have. This means remaining calm in the face bad situations and short term losses. Don't blame others and instead focus on getting the most out of the situation, and figuring out your next moves to make a comeback.

-Improve your positive influence. Remember to stay polite and positive. Don't be a jerk! A negative attitude not only reduces morale, but distracts teammates and provokes retaliation. In short, negativity makes people feel bad, play worse, potentially leads to suspensions/bans, and does not improve your team's chances of winning.

-Again, ratings become more accurate the more games are played. Don't let losing streaks get you down.

-Eat healthy, sleep well, exercise, and keep your mind sharp. Basically, doing things that improve your mind and body will improve your performance on tasks. It's not a bright idea to play when sleepy, caffeinated, etc.

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Senior Member


Updated guide.

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Junior Member


Wow, this is a pretty cool guide, I'm level 29 and very excited to start ranked games

Thank you very much for taking the time to put down all this info.

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Thank you very much for taking the time to write this up! You are correct in saying that there is not much information concerning ranked game and draft mode structure especially for those still not lvl30 so this has been very informative.

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Junior Member


Really cool for people about to start, there is a lot of info here thats is hard to come until you have been around ranked games for some time.

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Railgun Mikoto

Junior Member


Help me out here. I've been playing ranked for about a month starting out pretty well going like 1250 ELO, then started dropping to 1000 ELO. Now I'm 1100 ELO, and it pisses me off to see my teammates choosing ******ed champions respecting the team composition...

Things like lane Nocturne, and a first pick Katarina, and a first pick Dr. Mundo...

Any suggestions regarding this? (I dodged these ******s).

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Senior Member


Help me out here. I've been playing ranked for about a month starting out pretty well going like 1250 ELO, then started dropping to 1000 ELO. Now I'm 1100 ELO, and it pisses me off to see my teammates choosing ******ed champions respecting the team composition...

Things like lane Nocturne, and a first pick Katarina, and a first pick Dr. Mundo...

Any suggestions regarding this? (I dodged these ******s).

Hey, I know exactly what you're going through. And no, other than playing the best you can and trying to get your team to stay calm, I can't really suggest anything to resolve the issue.

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Railgun Mikoto

Junior Member


Hey, I know exactly what you're going through. And no, other than playing the best you can and trying to get your team to stay calm, I can't really suggest anything to resolve the issue.

Then I have a question for anyone to answer. Is it best to play a strong laner in solo queue or a strong jungler? I've been thinking about it and I'm not really sure. Imo for duo queue a strong laner and strong jungler is the best but just if you're by yourself what would you choose?

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Senior Member


Then I have a question for anyone to answer. Is it best to play a strong laner in solo queue or a strong jungler? I've been thinking about it and I'm not really sure. Imo for duo queue a strong laner and strong jungler is the best but just if you're by yourself what would you choose?

I've been playing mainly junglers lately, and to be honest, I'm thinking of switching to a strong laner. Simply for the fact that it's difficult for Junglers to feed. If someone is even a weak jungler they can avoid dying at Low ELO assuming they don't initiate poorly. Problem with bad junglers is that they do not ward, do not gank, or do not get enough CS. A bad jungler will go jungle invade without informing his team or without proper warding/CVing... So I guess it's possible for a REAL bad jungler to screw things up as well.. But normally in the games I've been in it's always a lane feeding early game... and if a lane feeds early game it makes the junglers time much harder because then he CAN'T gank and if he tries to, he dies to a fed carry.

Thinking about switching over to a Tanky DPS Solo-top or possibly a Mid AP Carry, seeing as that's where you can get the most farm with the least complications. As long as you take it upon yourself to ward the river and watch for ganks (you can't depend upon your team), then it's fairly easy to get farmed solo-ing top lane...Then you walk into mid game with a huge gold advantage and wreck people.

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Senior Member



Well, as mentioned in the guide, you lose a lot of rating for queue dodging. So stop queue dodging even if the picks don't look good. By quitting you have 0% chance of winning, but by not quitting you certainly have >0% chance.

I've already mentioned some tips as well as linked my other guide (http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=1168954) for additional tips. Check them out. In my other guide a lot of the reasons I listed for losing matches are related to players, so it's up to you to try to mitigate these problems by being someone who never freaks out. In addition I have some gameplay reasons there that few think about but can be extremely important.

As for your second question, I think it's best to know how to play as both. Adaptability is more important. But otherwise, I'd prefer a strong laner over a jungler because it's necessary for your towers to live and their towers to go down.

@Etherimp: Not a bad tip, but the problem with that is a lot of people are also doing the same thing. I'd rather adapt to the situation than try to forcefully play a carry just because you do not trust your teammates.