When you queue up for Ranked, it's important to know what's at stake. Sure, every win and loss will affect your MMR, but climbing—or even falling!—between tiers might also be on the line. As might be your starting position on the ladder!
Placement matches are how we determine your starting position on the current season or split's Ranked ladder. You'll only play them if you're unranked, which happens if you've never played Ranked before or if it's the start of a new season/split.
You'll have to play five placement matches in each Ranked queue to lock in your starting tier/division, which will depend on the outcome of these matches, the difficulty of the opponents you faced, and your rank from the previous season and preseason. If you participated in Ranked last season/split, know that all players undergo a 'soft reset' at the beginning of each season/split, so your new rank will likely be about a tier lower than it was at the end of the previous season/split. If you've never played Ranked before, your normal MMR will be taken into account for your placement matches. You also cannot place any higher than Emerald I, even if you were previously in one of the top tiers.
You cannot lose League Points (LP) in placement matches! Instead, you'll simply gain 0 LP upon defeat. But be sure to play with a good connection, as going AFK will also count as a loss in your placements.
Once you're placed in a division, you'll earn LP for each match you win and lose LP for each match you lose. Breaking 100 LP within a division will promote you to the next division of your current tier. You'll even hang on to any leftover LP!
If you accrue 100 LP in division I of any tier (like Iron I, Emerald I, etc), you'll automatically move into the next tier. It's as simple as that!
Of course, what can be won can also be lost...
Demotions and Decay
Winning is the only path to promotion, but there are two ways to drop below your current division and tier: demotions and decay.
If you lose more LP than you currently have, you'll be reduced to 0 LP and may be at risk of demotion.
Demoting between divisions within a tier (ie. Silver III to Silver IV) takes just one loss at 0 LP, though you'll still have enough LP remaining to be just a win or two away from reclaiming your position.
If you're in division IV, however, you'll generally be able to lose several matches before being demoted to the next tier down. Just how many losses it'll take depends on your MMR, so the best way to tell whether you're in danger of demotion is by checking your Ranked emblem under the Ranked tab. A yellow warning icon indicates that you're approaching demotion, while a red icon means demotion is imminent. If you still lose at this point, you'll fall to the top division of the tier below (ie. Silver IV to Bronze I), and your LP will be set to 75.
Just get promoted to a new tier and now you’re worried about dropping right back down with a loss or two? Don’t be! Up through Diamond, you’ll be protected from demotion for your first 10 games.
For information on how demotion shields work at Master and higher, read our article on the apex tiers.
Apex Tier Demotions
Just like promotions, demotions for players Master and higher are a little different. Check out our article on the apex tiers to learn everything you need to know!
Decay only occurs for players in Diamond and up, so if you're in Iron, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, or Emerald, feel free to skip this section!
Reaching the top tiers of League is just the first step. If you want to keep your position, you'll have to fight for it. Let too many days go by without a match in that queue, and decay will set in, causing you to automatically lose a set amount of LP each day.
But that doesn't mean you have to play every day. When you enter a division with decay (ie. Diamond+), you’ll be given a number of banked days. At the end of each day, your number of banked days will decrease by one. Once you run out of banked days, you’ll lose LP instead.
You can earn more banked days by playing matches, but how many days you earn per match (and how much LP you lose if you decay) differs by rank:
- Banked Days per Match: 7
- Maximum Banked Days: 28
- Initial Days Before Decay: 28
- LP Lost on Decay: 50
- Banked Days per Match: 1
- Maximum Banked Days: 14
- Initial Days Before Decay: 14
- LP Lost on Decay: 75
If you fall to or below 0 LP as a result of decay, you'll be placed in the next-lowest division. If you're already in division IV of your tier, you'll fall into the next tier down (ie. Diamond IV to Emerald I). However, Apex Tier players who decay due to inactivity will descend into Diamond II and will restart their climb from there.
Also note that decay will still activate even when you're banned, so protect your hard-earned spot on the ladder by playing with apex-tier sportsmanship!
Other Ranked Resources
Have questions about other aspects of Ranked? Find the answers in our Ranked FAQ!