How I've played ranked for the first time in Apex Legends

  • This was the first season I've played ranked mode in Apex Legends. Before I've started, I've set myself a goal to reach the Diamond rank, because I wanted the Dive Trail (cosmetic reward for reaching this rank). Little did I know about the journey ahead.

    For those who don’t know, here’s how ranking system in Apex Legends currently works. There are seven tiers: Rookie, Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, and Master. Top 750 players in the world from the Master rank are recognized as the Apex Predator. Rookie, Bronze, and Silver players usually play together, Gold players usually play against Gold, Platinum – against Platinum, and Diamond and Master players seem to be playing together (but I’m not sure about that). Players are assigned to a rank based on the number of Ranking Points they have. Playing a match in each rank (except the Rookie) costs a certain amount of points, the higher the rank, the higher the entry cost is. You get points for high placement and for killing (or assisting in killing) other players. What’s interesting is that the number of points you get for killing a player depends on your placement, so you have double incentive to finish as high as you can (for example, killing 4 players and finishing 9th is less profitable than killing one and finishing 6th). At the same time, to cover your entry cost in the Platinum rank by placement only you need to finish higher than 5th, which is very tough. So, you need to be both aggressive and aim for survival, which creates very interesting match dynamic.

    Right at the Rookie level I’ve realized that ranked is a serious business and that I need to work to advance. It was like learning a new game, but thanks to a free entry cost in the Rookie rank I was learning comfortably. Progress through Bronze and Silver ranks went slower due to an entry cost, but I was applying the skills I’ve learned in the Rookie and it worked.

    Then I’ve reached the Gold rank and immediately saw other player’s skill increase. I wasn’t up for the challenge, so quickly got demoted back to the Silver. But I didn’t give up and after thinking how I could increase my chances next time I’ve decided to switch to another Legend (Valkyrie) and double down on surviving. That worked – I’ve managed to stabilize in the Gold and even started to climb towards the Platinum.

    Eventually I’ve got to the Platinum and the story has repeated itself – I’ve met much more skilled opponents and quickly got demoted. And I rose back up, and I’ve got demoted, and I’ve rose back up, won a match, but still got demoted, and I rose back only to get demoted again. It seemed like I’ve reached my limit: I’m good enough to rise from the Gold, but not good enough to play in the Platinum. It was right at the end of the first split of the season (each ranked season has two splits), so I’ve even started to question if it’s worth attempting to go for the Diamond is split 2.

    The help came from the developers themselves. Firstly, before the second split they slightly lowered entry cost and slightly increased kill/assist rewards, which meant that I would have a bit more time to try to stabilize in the Platinum rank once I’ll get there. Secondly, they fixed a bug that prevented me from talking to other players. For a long time, I didn’t even know about this bug, because I was assuming that other players simply don’t listen to a random teammate. I mean, I knew that Apex Legends community is amazing from playing non-ranked, but I still felt like an imposter in ranked mode (I was regularly making mistakes that cost ranked points to my teammates), so it felt natural for me that my suggestions are ignored (of course, I was wrong, and ranked Apex Legends community is just as amazing as non-ranked).

    I finally managed to get a couple of good games right after getting to the Platinum once more, which gave me some ranking points to work with. And the knowledge that I can have ten bad games before I get demoted, gave me confidence to be braver and not run away from every encounter that can go either way. Obviously, I wasn’t winning every time, but it did happen, and this allowed me to not fall from the Platinum rank for a day, for another day, and for another day. And then I was convinced that I am a good enough player to play at this rank.

    I’ve began to build a list of friends – players who wanted to keep playing with me after a good match, who didn’t leave the party after the next few mediocre matches and who liked me enough to send a friend request. I’ve started to do the same, and eventually it got to the point when I had to decline a party invitation because I was already playing with two other friends. Together we were progressing through the Platinum rank, and we were wining more often than I was expecting. I’m not trying to say, that random matchmaking sucks – this is how I’ve met all those people after all, but when you play and communicate with an established team, it’s easier to apply lessons from the previous game and it’s easier to suggest team actions when you feel like you have the best plan.

    3 days before the end of the season, I did get into the Diamond rank. I’m very happy with this achievement (less than 10% of active ranked players have reached Diamond rank this season), but what I truly cherish is the journey, the things I’ve learned and the friends I’ve made along the way. I will keep playing ranked in the upcoming season, and I’m sure it will be great, but this first experience will always be special.

    P.S. Of 5 Diamond rank matches I could play without being demoted I’ve played 4 and of course I’ve got destroyed. In one of the matches, I was killed by the Apex Predator #51, which is nice in its own way.

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  • Nice story!

  • Dude @ffff0 that is unreal!

    How long was the season itself across both splits?

    It's interesting because I feel like multiplayer PvP gaming is in this awkward position right now where it is struggling to balance the sweaty matches against the casual ones.

    I'm a big Halo 3 fan and I think the lead multiplayer designer from Bungie recently discussed the issue of game balance between casual mixed rank playlists or skill based match making.

    From his POV, a skill based ranking system is great, but skill based matchmaking (balanced ranks playing one another) doesn't necessarily make for better or more fun matches.


    I bring it up because I'm 90% sure Apex Legends puts mixed ranks into the regular matchmaking and reserves skill based matchmaking for Ranked only. Which is how I think it should be done. Did playing in ranked for so long kinda ware you down or make you want to jump back into casual/social matchmaking?

  • @dipset The season in Apex Legends is 3 months. I’m not sure how exactly matchmaking works in ranked or unranked, but I have no issues with it. Sure, your match experience may be different, but there are so many other natural factors (you weren’t lucky with the loot, with the ring, two other teams dropped on your favorite landing spot, third party came at the worst possible moment, you made a mistake, etc.) that it’s not very reasonable to blame poor matchmaking if you died early.

    I think, Apex Legends’ casual and ranked are practically two different modes. In casual, half of the teams drop immediately and die in first few minutes of the match. If you want to experience chaotic battlefield where everyone shoots everyone, this is your place. The remaining half of the teams have entire map at their disposal, so they can comfortably loot and then engage in team-versus-team fights.

    In ranked, placement is extremely important, and one of the easiest ways to die is to being third-partied. Because of that it’s pretty common for two teams co-existing in the same building on different floors, exchange shots, but do not commit to a fight (if you win this duel with little health remaining, then another team from neighbor building will come and wipe you). Also, teams occupy most of the map and live long enough to make your rotations tricky. So, you look at the map very differently, and some small rock you wouldn’t ever noticed in casual may be successfully played in ranked.

    Currently, I’m mostly playing ranked, but I put significant amount of time in casual too, especially when I play for capture to make my next Community Showcase submission. So far, I’m not tired in both of those experiences.

  • I know the higher ups at Respawn Entertainment have decades of experience in shooters and multiplayer between the Medal of Honor and COD series, then later Titanfall. But it is still downright impressive how a studio a little more than a decade old is so dialed into making a damn near perfect machine in Apex Legends. I've never heard of fans being outright aggravated by the experience to the same extent that Infinite or Warzone or Overwatch fans can be with their respective studios.

    On top of it, you're describing a pretty ideal PvP experience. Casual modes still have RnG and chaos. Ranked modes have a ton of skill involved, but there is that chaos factor of RnG and random teams out to ruin your day. There is that unspoken and underappreciated element that comes up in good MP games where every match has it's own unique tale (like how you describe some teams being non-confrontational in the same building).

    If I'm not mistaken, this week, Apex hit it's all time peak on Steam with 500k concurrent players around 4 years into it's life.

    I've dabbled a few times but haven't had the desire to commit but it really seems like an awesome game from an awesome studio. The Respawn Entertainment mantra of "find the fun" should be the golden rule for creating new games. If it isn't immediately fun, then worry about making it fun before all else.