Battle.net Leagues

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Note: Much of this article is based on empirical research and scattered Blue posts, so there might be errors and inaccuracies.

The Battle.net Leagues are SC2's replacement to SC1's ladders and are Blizzard's official player ranking system. There are currently seven Leagues, each divided into numerous divisions as well as a Practice League for rookies.

League Descriptions[edit]

Overview[edit]

Current size data from October 2014, total of US, EU, KR and SEA servers.
Icon Name WoL Target[1] HotS Target[2] Current Size (not necessarily active players)[3]
Grandmaster 800 players 800 players 779 players
Master 2% 2% 1.56%
Diamond 18% 18% 10%
Platinum 20% 20% 15%
Gold 20% 32% 36%
Silver 20% 20% 28%
Bronze 20% 8% 8%

Ranked from the lowest to the highest, the Leagues are: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Master and Grandmaster. The Copper league, which was formerly below Bronze, was removed in favor of Diamond in beta patch 13. The Master League was added with patch 1.2, and the Grandmaster League was added in 1.3.

Players are placed in a league after having completed 5 placement matches. After that, a player may get moved to another league, depending on performance. Though the time and frequency of these movements are kept explicitly hidden. Regardless of a player's performance, however, placement matches currently do not place players in the highest league, Grandmaster. With even a perfect placement record, a player must work their way through the initial placement division(s) before being placed in Grandmaster.


Divisions[edit]

There are numerous divisions within each League, with each division being composed of up to 100 players. The name of each division is made up of a word from Starcraft terminology, and a letter from the ICAO phonetic alphabet, such as Gold League/ Division Zeratul Juliet.[4] The process of matchmaking is based solely on MMR and not on a player's division or league. This means players will often face opponents from other divisions, and may face opponents from different leagues. Players do not usually move from one division to another within the same league, though it is technically possible for a player to manually leave their division, and happen to be placed back into the same division.

Prior to Season 9, leagues below Master were subdivided into narrow skill ranges called division tiers.[5] The purpose of these tiers was to normalize displayed point ranges across a league via modifying point totals with fixed offsets. The lower the skill level of a tier, the larger the hidden point offset. Season 9 removed[6] division tiers, thereby widening the player pool for any given division in a league. As a result, points after Season 9 can be compared across divisions (but still not across leagues). Aggregators such as SC2Ranks.com can be used to compare points within a league over an entire region.

Players are rated based on their standing within their individual division.
Top 100


Top 50


Top 25


Top 8

Player's portraits are bordered by a frame which has a color that corresponds to their league.

Grandmaster League[edit]

As Grandmaster League is twice the size of all other divisions, its tiers are double size as well.

Grandmaster league was added in patch 1.3 for 1v1 only.[7] This league represents the Top 200 players in each region. Players are automatically drafted into the Grandmaster League shortly after a new season starts, and will remain in the Grandmaster League (unless removed for inactivity) until the end of the season. To enter the Grandmaster League:

  • There needs to be an open slot within the ladder.
  • A player need to be in the top 200 players according to a rolling average of their skill rating.
  • A player's unused bonus pool must be less than 90.

If a Grandmaster player’s available bonus points gets higher than 180 due to inactivity, they will be automatically removed from the league and a replacement player will be drafted in. This means Grandmaster players can't get more than one weeks behind which is equivalent to roughly 30 games.[8] (At an average of 12 bonus pool spent per game, 180 bonus pool would be spent after 15 games.)

Practice League[edit]

A Novice version of "Blistering Sands" is used in the Practice League.

The Practice League is separate from the rest of the ladder, which allows new players to practice multiplayer matches prior to their placement matches. Practice league is completely optional. Players may conduct up to 50 matches in Practice league, which uses a special "novice version" of the ladder maps. The novice versions differ from the standard version as they include additional destructible rocks in rushing paths to slow the game down. This provides early game protection for newer players, which affords them time to explore and learn both the interface and game. Additionally, the game speed in Practice League is "Normal" instead of "Faster". After 50 matches, regardless of whether a player wins or loses, all players will progress to their placement matches for the competitive leagues.

You cannot initiate 3v3 or 4v4 if you are in the Practice League. But you can play 2v2 with a friend, even if they are in a higher league. Moreover, you can join friends in 3v3 or 4v4 if one of those friends are not in Practice League and if he or she is the group leader. When you play with your out-of-Practice League friends, those games will count towards your limit towards 50 games in Practice League. Consequently, you can play all of your Practice League games with non-Practice League settings if you play them with a group leader who is out of Practice League.

"The other thing we're introducing is a casual league. It will work just like the regular league, except it doesn't do a bunch of ladder stats, so you don't have to worry about your rank and where you are. It'll be at a slower game speed setting, so it will be what you're used to from the campaign, and it will be on a bunch of maps that are anti-rush -- that are designed specifically to prevent rushing. Now, I can't promise you that you won't die at minute six -- you could be minding your own business and here comes a fleet of Banshees and, "Aaauugh! I'm dead!" -- but you won't die in minute two. I can promise you that. You'll at least have a chance to get your feet wet and experience some of the tech tree before you get rolled." (Quote by Dustin Browder - lead game designer)

Using the Practice League as a rookie is discussed controversial, regarding forum posts and other people's opinion. It is often suggested (in forums) to skip the Practice League, because rush and All-In strategies are part of the game. On the other hand getting better mechanics is a fundamental part of improving your skills. Solid mechanics and good macro will help you to climb the Ladder. As a rookie, you can concentrate on your mechanics more easily, if you play more slowly. And to develop solid mechanics is important to improve in SC2.

Ladder Points[edit]

Players are ranked within their division based on their Points. The function of points is to determine a player's rank within their division. After having completed their placement matches, players start out with 0 points. The number of ladder points is only weakly correlated to skill. Especially if players have unspent bonus pool, ladder points tend to measure activity level much more strongly than performance.

Promotion Levels from Season 4[edit]

On November 15, 2011, Blizzard released a chart for season 4 explaining the point cutoffs required to almost be guaranteed a promotion.[9] This chart is a rough estimation of the number of points necessary to go from the bottom end of one league to the bottom of the next-highest league. The charts also contain information for team formats and for all regions. Note that this chart reflects the Wings of Liberty ladder, and no such chart has been published for Heart of the Swarm, where the league populations, bonus pool accrual rate, and season length are different.

2011 Blizzard Wings of Liberty Chart (Points including Bonus Pool, assumes an 8-week season)
North America 1v1 2v2 Random 2v2 Arranged 3v3 Random 3v3 Arranged 4v4 Random 4v4 Arranged
Bronze to Silver 1200 1100 1000 1000 900 1000 900
Silver to Gold 800 800 700 700 700 700 700
Gold to Platinum 800 700 700 700 700 700 600
Platinum to Diamond 800 800 700 700 700 700 700
Diamond to Master 900 900 800 800 800 800 700
Master to near Grandmaster 1400

Earning and Losing Points[edit]

You earn or lose points by winning or losing matches, respectively. To simplify how it works in practice[10]:

y = (+/-)12 + x + z

where

  • "y" : the total number of points
  • "x" : the relative expected skill level between one player's points and the other's MMR (can be negative, calculated independently per player)
  • "z" : the points you get from your bonus pool

=> "x" is a value in the interval of [-12,12], positive numbers are when your opponent is favored

  • if the game says you are even, "x" is part of {-2,-1,0,1,2}
  • if it says your opponent is slightly favored, then "x" is part of {3,4,5,6,7}
  • if it says your opponent is favored, then "x" is part of {8,9,10,11,12}

(of course, if you are the slightly/favored player, then "x" is negative, which means you will lose more or win less than 12 points)

"z" will be greater than zero when your bonus pool is > 0. In which case z = 12 + x, permitted you have enough points in your bonus pool.

As of Patch 2.0.4, Players no longer lose points immediately. When a game is lost, points are subtracted from the bonus pool of the player.

After a player is promoted or demoted into a different league, points are always reset to 73 + spent bonus pool.[11] Because of this, bonus points earned are never lost when changing leagues.

Bonus Pool[edit]

The Bonus Pool is the sum of all "bonus points" a player can get, which are added to the rating points a player earns after a victory or, in the case of a defeat, points are deducted from the bonus pool rather than the player's ladder points. The Bonus Pool serves two purposes: to encourage players to play games so their points are always trending upward, and as a global decay mechanism since all players have equal access to the same amount of Bonus Pool.

Players receive Bonus Pool points at a set rate per league. Before Season 3, all players received points at the Master league (original) rate. Season 3 introduced a separate accrual rate for leagues below Master. A player joining StarCraft freshly after the start of a season instantly receives the Bonus Pool as if he started at day 1 of the Season. (Example: Master League Player 1 joins on week 3 after the beginning of the Season he will receive a Bonus Pool of (90*3) 270 Points instantly after finishing his Placement Match.)

Bonus Pool Accrual Rate
League Time per 1 Bonus Pool Bonus Pool per Week
Grandmaster 56 minutes 180
Master 56 minutes 180
Diamond 96 minutes, 3 seconds 104.4
Platinum 96 minutes, 3 seconds 104.4
Gold 96 minutes, 3 seconds 104.4
Silver 96 minutes, 3 seconds 104.4
Bronze 96 minutes, 3 seconds 104.4

Arranged 2v2 teams receive Bonus Pool at 66% the rate of 1v1. Arranged 3v3 and 4v4 teams receive Bonus Pool at 33% the 1v1 rate. This change was made in Patch 1.3 to make it easier to spend Bonus Pool on arranged teams, because of the logistics of having to play with the same teammates every time. Random 2v2/3v3/4v4 uses the standard 1v1 Bonus Pool accrual rate because those game modes can be played whenever the individual player decides to queue.[12]

Matchmaking Rating[edit]

Performance is measured via hidden MMR rating, very much like the WoW Arena Matchmaking System. This rating decides which opponents a player will meet, and tries to quantify their skill level. The aim of the MMR is to rank players in such a way that they have a roughly 50% win ratio when paired against those of similar MMR. When a player's MMR remains above or below a certain value over a number of recent games, they will be promoted or demoted, respectively.

Each play-season the visible rating will be reset, while the MMR rating stays intact.[13] Accurately measuring the hidden MMR of a player is difficult. One useful approximation is adjusted points, or points without factoring in Bonus Pool. Subtract half of a players current Bonus Pool from their displayed points to find their adjusted points. The fewer the Bonus Pool remaining for a player, the more accurate their adjusted points are, and effectively the more accurate their skill level. A player with high points but negative adjusted points, for example, should not be surprised if he is demoted because a majority of his points originated from spent Bonus Pool.

There also is a value "sigma" that measures how uncertain the system is of a player's MMR. This is usually high if a player has not played many games recently, or if they are on a winning or losing streak. The system does not seem to use sigma for purposes other than to calculate how much it should adjust a player's MMR after a win or loss (i.e. for Bayesian inference). For example, it uses a moving average of MMR to promote and demote between leagues, instead of MMR and sigma to calculate the probabilities that some league is most appropriate.[14][15]

For more information on Blizzard's MMR system, see:

Decay and Persistence[edit]

If a player does not play any matches for an extended period of time, their MMR will decay, or automatically decrease. The details of the system are unknown, but it appears to be a linear decay,[16] and Blizzard has confirmed that decay begins after 2 weeks of inactivity, and decay stops after 4 weeks of inactivity.[17] MMR persists from one season to the next for each game type, as long as a Seasonal Placement Match was played for that season. If a Seasonal Placement Match was not played last season, then MMR and uncertainty are both reset to their default values and the system effectively "forgets" about that player. A special note about this, though: Random Team MMR is linked with 1v1 MMR, which means that if no 1v1 games were played last season, but Random Team games were played, a player's 1v1 MMR would not be reset at the start of the next season.

2v2 Mechanics[edit]

Every arranged pair of 2v2 players is given a single rating. So players A+B's team will have a ranking completely unrelated to players A+C's team. In 2v2 random match-ups, an average rating of the two players will be compared to their opponents rating. This rule presumably applies for 3v3 and 4v4 as well.

Seasons[edit]

Starcraft II ladder is divided into several seasons per year, and the final results are generally recorded at the end of a season.

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]


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