LADDER and LEAGUE: Everything you need to know

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There are always a lot of questions about Ladder, League system, Division and how they all work. Some months ago I did a first version of this FAQ, but since I need a lot more space I've made a whole new version. :D

Every answer is verified.

If you have other questions, just add them with a replay and they will be added. ;)

INDEX

LEAGUE AND DIVISION

Q: What's a League?
Leagues are the way players are divided and organized when they decided to start playing into the competitive multiplayer Ladder of Starcraft II. We have 7 different rank for now: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Master and GrandMaster. Each game mode (1v1, 2v2, 3v3, 4v4) has separate and different Leagues (only GrandMaster is exclusively for 1v1). Initially you need to make 5 qualifying matches before being assigned to a league. Leagues are only linked to game mode and not to the race you play.

Examples.
1v1: after five qualifying matches we are assigned to Platinum. We have played always using Zerg, now we want to try Protoss. We'll not have to do again qualification for 1v1, we'll stay where we are. We can play every race we want.

2v2 (it also applies to 3v3 and 4v4): we do the qualification with a friend and we qualify in Gold League. The day after, I want to do another 2v2, but my friend is not online, so I select 2v2 mode. I'll play that game with one random ally, selected by matchmaking system, but I'll have to do again 5 qualifying matches. I can play inside the first Gold League only when I'm in group with that specific friend. Different friends, different Leagues, different MMR.

Q: What's a Division?
Once we are assigned to a league we'll not have a general global ranking, we'll be put inside a Division with other 99 players. There are a lot of Divisions inside each Leagues, and they are here to give a more close and realistic objective for every player: reach the top of that not so big group. Winning matches will let you gain points (depending on the strength of your opponent) that will allow you to advance inside your division.

Q: Are names of Divisions unique? How are they generated?
They are generated in a random way, not totally random, but at least a part of it and they are unique within a league, but not otherwise.
-Suggested by Antoxa and Mendelfist-

Q: Inside Leagues, is it random to be in one division or in another?
The system try to put players with similar skill inside same divisions, of course this is not always possible for logistic reasons.
-Suggested by Woland-

Q: Is it possible to play two ladder games in a row against the same opponent?
Yes. The ladder system doesn't eliminate any player who was assigned to clash with you even if he has just played a match with you.
-Suggested by Hyouma-

Q: Why am I matched up against arranged teams when I sign up as random (in 2v2, 3v3 and 4v4)? It's unfair.
You are matched against teams based on their previous performance. If you are matched against an arranged team it's because they have, on average, been performing as good or bad as your team has. Remember that good communication can be compensated by lesser individual skills. Letting arranged and random teams play against each other decreases search times. While they are matched against each other they compete on separate ladders.
-Suggested by Mendelfist-

Q: Will be there new Leagues?
With patch 1.2 we have seen the Master League and with 1.3 the Grand Master (only for 1v1). Grand Master is the top 200 of our region and all players can see it in-game. It seems that there is not so much space for other leagues.

Q: Is Grand Master League only available for 1v1?
Yea, Grand Master League is only available for 1v1.
PROMOTION AND DEMOTION

Q: When will I be promoted to an upper league?
Only one factor count: your victories, it's not important how you win. No matter what's your position inside your Division (you don't need to be first). Periodically, the matchmaking system will let you fight versus "Favored" opponents. Winning this, and other match, will help. If your performance is very good you could also be promoted directly from Bronze to Gold (for example), jumping over Silver.

Q: Can I also be demoted?
Yes, as you can go up, you can also go down. Active Players population in SC2 is divided equally in each Leagues, 20% for each rank (only Master is 2%, Diamond 18% and GrandMaster is the top200 of an entire region). We cannot be all in Diamond or Master, otherwise the entire game would lose its meaning. ;)

Q: Will my league change if I'm away from SC2 for a while?
No, your league will never change if you don't play. It is possible that when you finish your first match (after your return) you could be put into a new league, but this is something rare.
-Suggested by Raiju-

Q: I've seen profiles of some of my opponents (in 2v2, 3v3, 4v4 mode) and I noticed that they were much stronger than me. I'm bronze and I'm getting diamonds as opponents. Is this normal?
When you look a player's profile you see his best leagues, because that is showed. He might have been in a bronze league team when he was playing with you.

If you are consistently playing against opponents a league above yours is because you have been performing well and you skill level is increased. When you are playing against an opponent that is really stronger than you, then you will probably gain a lot if you win. Remember that every match is a test match, and you won't get harder opponents just because you are close to promotion. The system always tries to match you against opponents of your own skill level.
-Suggested by Zee and Mendelfist-

Q: Why sometimes do you see your opponent "Favored" when match start and when it finishes it said that he was only "Slightly Favored"?
This inconsistency is a bug. Source: http://eu.battle.net/sc2/en/forum/topic/1917973669
-Suggested by Rael and Mendelfist-

Q: Is the number of games played by someone a relevant factor for the matchmaking system?
The number of games played by someone it's not relevant in this case. You're matched with your opponent based on your personal rating. If someone has 1000 games it doesn't necessarily mean that he won't be matched against someone with 20 games. It all comes down to the personal matchmaking rating and players with a similar rating will be matched together. Being matched against the same person is uncommon, but it might happen from time to time.

Skill is not determined by the number of games played. Yeah, it surely helps, but that's not a relevant factor for the matchmaking system :)
- Zhydaris --> http://eu.battle.net/sc2/en/forum/topic/1679478393#4 -

Q: I got promoted, does this means that someone got demoted?
The divisions are set up to be 2% - 18% - 20% - 20% - 20% - 20% of the active player base. This means, if more players join the ranks of the ladders then you will see more divisions being created. This means that you can in fact be promoted and the total ratio of players in all divisions stay the same though no other player was demoted. Would the number of active players always be the same, then at some point if you get better than other players you most likely would switch leagues. But as this system is constantly evolving and more players are joining - you don't need to worry (or be happy), that you kicked some poor soul out of their league. ;)
- Xordiah --> http://eu.battle.net/sc2/en/forum/topic/1710236950#14 -
WIN/LOSS RATIO

Q: Is it normal that some player's brackets show victories and games totals, while others only show victories?
The total number of games played and the number of victories achieved is showed only if you are in Master League (or in Grand Master for 1v1). If you are Diamond, or below, only your number of victories will be displayed. You will not be able to view your Win/Loss ratio for these brackets.

Win/loss ratios start to matter at the Master's League level because the matchmaking system no longer plays as much of a role, and very good players can rack up many more wins than losses by consistently defeating opponents. Since the matchmaker is no longer as much of a factor, those stats become a more accurate measure of relative success.
-Suggested by ForTLichKing-

Q. Why has Blizzard removed win/loss ratios?
Let's say that you're new to StarCraft II and you play (and lose) a ton of games. You've racked up dozens of losses and a handful of wins, and things look grim. Instead of giving up, you get better, learn effective strategies, and you start playing much more skillfully. Pretty rapidly, the matchmaking system starts pitting you against tougher opponents - but because of the very nature of the matchmaking system, and even though you're making progress and facing tougher opponents, your win/loss rate stays at around 50%. In a scenario like this, it means that your wins will probably never surpass your losses, even though you've become a better player and your wins have become more meaningful than those early losses. Even for someone who starts pretty strong, win/loss numbers should still settle around 50/50 anyway. That doesn't feel good, but worse, those numbers also don't accurately reflect your current level of skill or progress anyway.

So, what's the problem with displaying win/loss anyway? It was not an accurate method of tracking skill, improvement or progress. Really, it wasn't. It was ultimately just misleading players, and causing them to judge themselves and others against what amounts to useless information.
- Daxxarri --> http://us.battle.net/sc2/en/forum/topic/2267580240?page=3#57 -
BONUS POOL

Q. What is the Bonus Pool and how are bonus points acquired?
The Bonus Pool is an accumulation of points that every player receives whether they're online and playing or not. They're essentially used as a means to help give a player a catch-up boost if they haven't played in a while. The pool does have a cap, but it increases slowly until the end of a season.
- Taken from --> http://eu.blizzard.com/support/article.xml?locale=en_GB&articleId=46710 -

Q. How is the Bonus Pool used in competitive play?
When you achieve victory against another player, you are awarded a certain number of points. The Bonus Pool points will match the number of points you received for winning.

For example: If you were to have a Bonus Pool of 30 and you win a match that would normally give you 10 points, points will then be pulled from your Bonus Pool to match those 10 points and you'll be awarded 20 points for winning that game. Your bonus pool will then sit at 20.
- Taken from --> http://eu.blizzard.com/support/article.xml?locale=en_GB&articleId=46710 -

Q. Is it possible to earn more bonus points than other players by either playing more or less than usual?
All players have access to the same amount of Bonus Pool, regardless of when they are assigned a division.
- Taken from --> http://eu.blizzard.com/support/article.xml?locale=en_GB&articleId=46710 -

NEW SEASON

Q: What's going to happen when a new season starts?
Each Season should last for about 3 months. When this will happen, we'll see a reset of the various leagues, of course nobody will lose any achievement. After that you will need to do only 1 qualifying match, because matchmaking system will not have any reset and will continue to have a complete history of our match in order to offer always better opponents, with an appropriate skill level.
USEFUL LINKS

*reserved*
Well, this topic is an evolution of my previous
LADDER and LEAGUE: Frequently Asked Questions ( http://eu.battle.net/sc2/en/forum/topic/859358086 ). Now I've a lot more space and we can add more questions, useful links or everything you think is good to know about Ladder and League.

If you have any suggestion or feedback feel free to add a comment, this is a work in progress! :D
Why are you put into a certain league?

E.g. season 1 I did a 4v4 qualifier with friends (5 placement matches) we lost all 5 and were put into bronze.

One guy dropped out so we did 3v3 qualifier. We won 3 and lost 2 and were still put inot bronze.

This confused us. How does the system decide what league you will initally belong to?

My friends had played since release but I had only just started after several months. Because I had a bad MMR in 1v1 did I drag down all my experienced friends to my level?

Did the system add up our MMRs divide it by the number on our team and find teams of similar skill for the first match and based off that 1 game give us all easy opponents so that beating them meant nothing.

How does the initial placement work?

Thanks
Great work making a new version dude :) I'm sure this will be helpful for a lot of players :D

@Fastlane:

It is suggested that the MMR across Match types(1v1, 2v2 etc) is somehow linked. Meaning that, for example, you are bronze in 1v1, when you are playing your placement matches for a 2v2 league you will be matched against a bronze team first.

I don't know if this is true, although I wouldn't be suprised. When I played my placement matches for a 2v2 team when I was still gold, we won 4 and lost 1, and got placed in platinum, This season I did play with another guy, and we won all 5 placement matches, and all were vs diamond teams(My partner is plat and I am plat) and got placed in Masters. So it seems that somehow, MMR across leagues is linked, be it either only all 2v2 leagues, or across all for match types.
I have some comments.

"Are names of Divisions unique"
They are unique within a league, but not otherwise. Proof:
http://eu.battle.net/sc2/en/profile/254922/1/zerg/ladder/40244
http://eu.battle.net/sc2/en/profile/421255/1/CptPipo/ladder/29196

"If your performance is very good you could also be promoted directly from Bronze to Gold"
This has apparently been changed. It's no longer possible. Source:
http://us.battle.net/sc2/en/forum/topic/628075820#2

"The other explanation for this is that you have been very successful in your last games, and the system decided to test your strength versus tougher opponents. You'll lose very little points if you play versus much higher level players, but you'll gain a lot if you win."
If you are consistently playing against opponents a league above yours because you have been performing well, you will not gain a lot and lose little, because these opponents are at the same skill level as you. Points awarded are not determinied by your opponents league. If you are playing against an opponent that really are stronger than you, then you will probably gain a lot if you win. Also don't say that "the system decided to test you". There are no special test matches. It's a widespread myth that the system goes into "test mode" when you get close to promotion and that you are given "test matches" against stronger opponents that you have to win. That is not true. Every match is a test match, and you won't get harder opponents just because you are close to promotion. The system always tries to match you against opponents of your own skill level.

"Why sometimes do you see your opponent Favored when match start and when it finishes it said that he was only Slightly Favored"?
This is a bug. Source:
http://eu.battle.net/sc2/en/forum/topic/1917973669
The favored status (when it isn't bugged.) is determined by comparing your points (bonus points not included) against your opponents hidden match making rating.

"The Bonus Pool is an accumulation of points that every player receives whether they're online and playing or not. They're essentially used as a means to help give a player a catch-up boost if they haven't played in a while."
This is often quoted, and very misleading. The reason you need a catch-up boost if in the first place if you don't play is because of the bonus pool. It will cause you to fall behind active players. While it will help you get back if you start playing again, that's not the reason for the existence of the bonus pool. It's used as an incentive for players to stay active.
I would also like to add this often recurring and hotly debated topic:
Q. Why am I matched up against arranged teams when I sign up as random? It's unfair.
You are matched against teams based on their previous performance. If you are matched against an arranged team it's because they have, on average, been performing as good or bad as your team has. Remember that good communication can be compensated by lesser individual skills. Letting arranged and random teams play against each other decreases search times. While they are matched against each other they compete on separate ladders.
Hi Mendelfist!

Great feedback, thanks. :D

"Are names of Divisions unique"
They are unique within a league, but not otherwise. Proof:
http://eu.battle.net/sc2/en/profile/254922/1/zerg/ladder/40244
http://eu.battle.net/sc2/en/profile/421255/1/CptPipo/ladder/29196


Great!

"If your performance is very good you could also be promoted directly from Bronze to Gold"
This has apparently been changed. It's no longer possible. Source:
http://us.battle.net/sc2/en/forum/topic/628075820#2


It is possible, I've verified this information right now.

20/07/2011 12:21Posted by Mendelfist
If you are consistently playing against opponents a league above yours because you have been performing well, you will not gain a lot and lose little, because these opponents are at the same skill level as you. Points awarded are not determinied by your opponents league. If you are playing against an opponent that really are stronger than you, then you will probably gain a lot if you win. Also don't say that "the system decided to test you". There are no special test matches. It's a widespread myth that the system goes into "test mode" when you get close to promotion and that you are given "test matches" against stronger opponents that you have to win. That is not true. Every match is a test match, and you won't get harder opponents just because you are close to promotion. The system always tries to match you against opponents of your own skill level.


This is correct, and it is what I wanted to say, that answer/question need an upgrade and I'll do it right now.

This is a bug. Source:
http://eu.battle.net/sc2/en/forum/topic/1917973669


I'll add this source.

I'll also add your question :D
"If your performance is very good you could also be promoted directly from Bronze to Gold"
This has apparently been changed. It's no longer possible. Source:
http://us.battle.net/sc2/en/forum/topic/628075820#2

It is possible, I've verified this information right now.

That is interesting. What's your source? Excalibur_Z is probably interested in correcting his faq.
20/07/2011 13:09Posted by Mendelfist
That is interesting. What's your source? Excalibur_Z is probably interested in correcting his faq.


It is Zhydaris, Blizzard CM. :D
20/07/2011 13:18Posted by Ligario
That is interesting. What's your source? Excalibur_Z is probably interested in correcting his faq.


It is Zhydaris, Blizzard CM. :D

Thanks. I'll forward that to Excalibur_Z.
Cool. Learnt some stuff i didnt know :D

Requested Sticky
Damn...

Couldnt be here in time to break the combo

Great thread as always!

Requested stickeh!
Does my bonus pool get removed with the start of a new season. Don't seem to get rid of the pool :(
What's the total number of divisions in a non-master, say, 1v1, league? (Estimated) Does anyone know? I'm just curious.

Bare maths tells me it's

(Number of players) / (5 * 100)

("5 leagues" holding roughly 20% players each, 100 players per league). Number of players would then be number of active players who passed the placement.

Does anyone know a rough estimate?

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