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Beginner's Guide to Ranked Games

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Senior Member


I have to say man, very well written, formatted, organized, and it includes a lot! If I have people who need ranked queue questions answered, I will forward them here.

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Senior Member


I have to say man, very well written, formatted, organized, and it includes a lot! If I have people who need ranked queue questions answered, I will forward them here.

Thanks! I've always been annoyed by the lack of information on this stuff so it feels good to finally put something up.

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Wow this is perfect! thanks for taking the time to write this guide, it really explains a lot to me about ranked matches

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Senior Member


Great info. Did not know about the Elo loss for queue dodging - not that I do that anyway. Could you clarify whether the Elo decay kicks in at levels below 1400?

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Senior Member


Great info. Did not know about the Elo loss for queue dodging - not that I do that anyway. Could you clarify whether the Elo decay kicks in at levels below 1400?

As far as I know it only decays from inactivity at above 1400 rating. However I do not have personal experience with this so if this is incorrect, please inform me.

Updated the guide. Pre-Season Two has got off to an excellent start with both Dominion and normal draft mode implemented. Great stuff!

Added some new stuff to the guide and fixed up outdated info.

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Senior Member


Added relevant Dominion questions to the guide (Elo rating and ranked).

Check out my Dominion Mega FAQ and Mechanics Explanation guide:

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Senior Member


Added in info regarding the new upcoming changes to ranked teams in Season 2. This looks to be great news - it certainly will make things more fun for groups. I've always liked the idea of a group identity and rating.

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Senior Member


Beginner's Guide to Ranked Games

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.


Nov 13 2011: Added in the upcoming new ranked team features for Season 2. Check out the announcement here: http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=1458077

Moved my Dominion info into a new thread! Check it out: http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=1371786

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 have minimum 14 Champions available to choose from. However, since there are at least 10 champions free each week, this means it's possible to play ranked by only owning 4 champions. The reason for this is due to the picks and bans, which could possibly exclude you from choosing up to 13 champions (4 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 Elo rating
-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 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

Note: Solo queue will eventually be renamed to Solo/Duo Queue once the new ranked team features roll out.

As the title implies, solo queue can be played by matchmaking alone. However, you can also play Solo Queue ranked games with another player, meaning you can play Solo Queue as a team of two players. This is sometimes called duo queue and any games played like this still counts towards the Solo Queue ladder.

Arranged Team

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.

Upcoming feature:
Currently, arranged teams just requires any 3 or 5 players teaming up together - there is no permanency when it comes to groups, and everyone's arranged team Elo rating is their own. However, in Season 2, ranked teams will be receiving a revamp.

Ranked teams will have identity under a single name, tag, and Elo rating, allowing teams to finally have a permanent group. Note that teams will have room for substitutes.

Elo Rating

A detailed explanation of the math behind Elo can be found here: http://leagueoflegends.wikia.com/wiki/Elo_rating_system

Essentially it is a system used to calculate each player's relative skill level. A player's Elo rating for normal games is not visible, but is visible for ranked games, by looking at a player's profile. It is also publicly displayed in game lobbies if the player has a rating over 1250 in ranked games.

Your Elo 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 most likely depends on the Elo rating of other players in each match.

Elo ratings may also decay over time for players with a rating over 1400. From the LoL Wiki (http://leagueoflegends.wikia.com/wiki/ELO):

  • Elo is decayed after 3 weeks of inactivity.
  • For normal rating, inactivity is defined as no activity in any queue.
  • For ranked rating, inactivity is defined as no activity in the specific queue (arranged 5x5, arranged 3x3, and solo 5x5 are all tracked separately).
  • Elo decays at a rate of 25 per week for both normal and ranked ratings.
  • Elo will not decay below a rating of 1400.
  • Elo is decayed by 10 points after leaving the team selection screen by exiting the game regardless of the ranking.

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

When drafting begins, each player is listed from top to bottom in order of highest Elo rating. The top players of each team are appointed as Team Captains. The team captains 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.

One captain is randomly chosen to ban first. After banning a single champion, the opposing captain is allowed to ban the next two champions. Afterwards, it returns to the first captain to ban the 4th champion.

A total of 4 champions may be banned in ranked games. Banned champions cannot be used by any players for that match.

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

Popular choices for bans on Summoner's Rift include Alistar, Ammumu, Annie, Fiddlesticks, Gangplank, and Mordekaiser. You will occasionally see other champions banned, but these ones are by far the most popular ban choices. Notice the patterns in these champions - They either bring in a lot of useful crowd control, have notoriously powerful area abilities, and/or are notoriously difficult to kill.

Update/Note: Please note that, again, these are just a sample list of popular ban picks. Things are always subject to change with each patch - for example, I've noticed Mordekaiser has been banned less often after his recent changes.

Champion Select

The team that did not get first ban gets 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 popular 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. For example, popular ban picks that were not banned are often very high priority, and thus it can be a good idea for grab them before the opponents do.

In addition it's also 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 each player has selected their champions, a period of time occurs where they can trade their champions with teammates. It 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 similar to normal, but more severe.

Leaving a game after it has started still results in a recorded leave, and queue dodging still results in a time penalty before using matchmaking again. However, leaving a ranked game or queue dodging will also result in a drop in Elo rating, the amount equivalent to the amount you would have lost by losing the match. This is in addition to the 10 points decay for queue dodging.

"Elo Hell"

The term "Elo Hell" is used to describe a theoretical Elo range, usually said to be below 1200. Players have commonly described this 'hell' as a range populated with griefers/trolls and 'bad' players that prevent them from moving up the ranks.

It should be noted however, that ratings become more accurate the more games you have played. Thus, a player's rating will rise or drop in time, allowing them to reach their 'proper' rating eventually.

Essentially, yes, it is entirely possible to have many losses due to poor teammates, but the odds of remaining at an 'undeserved' low rating decreases over the course of many games.

In other words, ratings become more accurate the more games are played.

In addition, statistically, the odds are in favour of a so-called 'legitimate normal player'. Essentially, if you are playing properly, there can only be 4 trouble makers on your side, but possibly 5 on the other.

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.

A few tips for those looking to increase their rating:

-Check out my guide called "Reasons why matches are lost and what can be done to mitigate these factors": http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?t=1168954

Most of the reasons are related to the players rather than gameplay, and it's often something we don't think about but tends to be entirely true. The gameplay reasons listed there however are also valuable lessons.

-Focus on what you have control over, not what you don't have. This means remaining calm in the face of poor teammates or skilled opponents.

-Improve your positive influence. Every team needs a leader. I'm not saying to boss players around, but it pays to communicate with teammates and telling them things such as when to back off, when to attack, when to Baron/Dragon, etc.

-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.

End of Season One Rewards


These rewards were handed out once Pre-Season Two started (September 2011).

The rewards are based on a player's ranked rating, and are as follows:
  • Platinum (Top 0.2%) - 1900 and above (3v3: 1700+, pre-made 5v5: 1750+): a framed summoner icon in platinum, a platinum banner in summoner profile, a platinum forum badge and a special skin for Jarvan IV
In addition, players with ratings over 2200 by the end of Season One will have their name permanently placed on a special section of the LoL website, like a hall of fame.
  • Gold (Top 3%) - Between 1520 and 1899 (3v3: 1490-1699, pre-made 5v5: 1500-1749) : a framed summoner icon in gold, a gold banner in your summoner profile, a gold forum badge and a special skin for Jarvan IV
  • Silver (Top 10%) - Between 1400 and 1519 (3v3: 1410-1489, pre-made 5v5: 1410-1499) : a framed summoner icon in silver and a silver banner in your summoner profile
  • Bronze (Top 25%) - Between 1249 and 1399 (3v3: 1249-1409, pre-made 5v5: 1249-1409) : a bronze banner in your summoner profile

Also, a free Judgement Kayle skin was given out to all players who had played at least 10 games of any type during Seaon One. It did not have to be ranked games! (Source: http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/newreply.php?do=newreply&p=13906928)

When free skins are given out, the champion is also unlocked for free if you do not own the related champion. This means if you do not own Kayle but are eligible for the Judgement skin, you will also receive her for free! (Source: http://na.leagueoflegends.com/board/showthread.php?p=13907055#post13907055)

Once Season One ends, "Pre Season Two" begins. At this point a 'soft' ladder reset will occur. The majority of players (97%) will have their Elo reset between 1100-1300 rating, and the very top/bottom players can fall between 906 and 1490 rating. Ladder gains during Pre Season Two will carry over to Season Two.

and Extra Info

How will Ranked Teams work with the Season 2 changes? Are substitutes allowed for teams?
Ranked teams will now be unified under a single name, tag, and Elo rating. This means individual ratings for arranged teams will be gone. Groups will now have a sense of permanency, team identity and team scoring.
It has been stated that teams will have room for substitutes.

Does Dominion use Elo rating for matchmaking?

Yes, and it works in the same fashion as it does on classic mode. Elo rating is not affected by personal score within each match.

Will Dominion have ranked ladders?
Dominion does not have a ranked ladder system currently. It will be implemented later after some time has passed, to ensure stability in terms of balance, bugs, and player experience/discovery.

When is Normal Draft Mode coming out? Will it replace Blind Pick?

Update: Normal draft mode is currently implemented as of Pre-Season Two (September 2011). Below were some Riot posts regarding it when it was an upcoming feature. Draft pick is another option, and does not replace Blind Pick.


Good ****

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Junior Member


Thanks for the guide, interesting read.

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Senior Member


Once again updated with heaps of information on the new ranked team features.

Season 2 has officially started!