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Dec 03
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Dota 2 Ranks, Medals, and MMR Explained

Patrick Bonifacio

In Dota 2, ranks are an integral part of the competitive multiplayer system. This system, known simply as Ranked Matchmaking, is similar to those of other multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games in the space. However, its system does have some quirks and details that set it apart from those of its contemporaries. Some of these details are innocuous at best, but a few make for large differences in between. Dota 2 shows matchmaking rating (MMR) in an official capacity, for example, whereas games like League of Legends do not.

Dota 2 Ranks

Image Credit: Valve

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Though relatively simple, all the terms and jargon associated with Dota 2 ranks can be confusing to new players. We’re here to help you make heads or tails of the system. Read on for the rest of our Dota 2 ranks guide!

What is Dota 2 Ranked Matchmaking?

Ranked Matchmaking is a distinct mode of the Dota 2 matchmaking system. In contrast to unranked matchmaking, ranked seeks to foster a more serious and competitive environment. To this end, the system quantifies each player’s overall skill through the use of MMR and ranking tiers called leagues. The community may colloquially refer to these tiers simply as Dota ranks.

The tiers in question are as follows, in ascending order:

Each league has a corresponding medal and division associated with it. For example, a player may be placed in Legend IV, with Legend being the league’s name and IV being the division. There are five divisions in each league, with I being the lowest and V being the highest. Winning enough games allows a player to move up in divisions within their league, while getting past the fifth division in a league promotes them to the next medal.

Dota 2 Ranks badges

Image Credit: Valve

In order to progress in this manner, players simply have to win ranked games to increase their MMR. The higher a player’s MMR, the higher their rank will be in Dota 2.

Role queue does not apply after a certain MMR threshold in Immortal league. This reduces the overall queue time for players at the top of the ladder. MMR ranking in Dota 2 does not take individual performances into account, however, and only considers a player’s win-loss ratio.

The system demotes players as well. Going on losing streaks can cause players to fall in both divisions and leagues, which corresponds to the loss in MMR that goes along with game losses.

How to Unlock Dota Ranks

In order to keep the ranked player pool consistently competitive, Valve locks the ability to queue for ranked matchmaking behind a few conditions. First and foremost, any account looking to get into ranked matchmaking must have at least 100 hours in unranked matches in order to be eligible. This, of course, is to prevent total newbies from getting into serious matches without knowing how to play the game at the basic level first.

Second, players must link their accounts to a valid mobile phone number via Steam. This is part of Valve’s smurfing prevention methods, as it makes it harder for potential smurfs to make accounts that can play ranked games below their actual skill level. Players can remove or change their associated phone numbers, but this is subject to a cooldown of three months per change/removal.

To fulfill these requirements, simply complete the requisite number of hours in unranked queue, then link a phone number via the Ranked tab in the matchmaking menu.

What to Expect from Each Dota 2 Rank

Disclaimer: The MMR values stated in this section are rough estimates based on what the community at large has observed, as well as stats aggregators like OpenDota. They should not be considered 100 percent accurate. Furthermore, as there is no official method to accurately account for the distribution of all players across all ranking leagues, any references to the spread thereof are also merely estimates.

Herald (0 to 600 MMR)

As players at the absolute bottom of the ladder, those in Herald typically have little to no knowledge of the game just yet. In other words, this tier is home to absolute beginners, or those that might not have the time to invest in such a complex game.

Dota 2 Ranks herald

Image Credit: Valve

Herald players tend to lack a basic understanding of Dota 2, and thus may take unnecessary risks in the laning phase, fail to recognize when to fight or retreat, and may even auto-attack creeps without knowing the importance of last hitting. Many of them likewise forget what certain abilities or items even do, which can lead to incorrect responses or a lack thereof.

It takes plenty of dedication and patience (emphasis on the latter) to get out of Herald status, but even those in the highest tiers started somewhere. Perseverance and an eagerness to learn the game are essential for climbing out of this rank.

Summary of Herald Rank:

  • Complete novices
  • Arguably the steepest part of the learning curve in Dota 2
  • Passive play, no understanding of when to engage/disengage
  • Players know very little about what each ability does, and how to deal with cheesy heroes, like those with invisibility mechanics

Guardian (750 to 1,400 MMR)

The jump between Herald and Guardian really isn’t that large, and are much the same in terms of relative skill level. Players in Guardian, however, tend to have a bit more experience than those in Herald, and can be seen as taking their first steps into understanding the game better.

Players in this skill bracket might also be aware that last hitting rewards gold, which is of course an extremely important aspect of Dota 2 and its economy game. Those who played Warcraft III back in the day may already be in possession of this knowledge, though.

Dota 2 Ranks guardian

Image Credit: Valve

What they do lack is the mechanical skill to apply their newfound knowledge, which holds them back accordingly. After all, all the game sense in the world means nothing if it doesn’t translate into game-winning maneuvers and decisions. To compare this to traditional real-time strategy games like StarCraft, knowing many openings and build orders does not automatically mean that you will win every game; executing the builds themselves is another thing altogether.

Summary of Guardian Rank:

  • Baby steps towards a better understanding of the game
  • Players learn how to last hit creeps for gold, albeit at very low efficiency
  • Slow but steady improvements to mechanical skill, but not quite at the level considered “decent”
  • Though Guardians still have small hero pools, they may begin to explore other picks

Crusader (1,500 to 2,150 MMR)

This tier is when things start to come together for total newbies. Crusader players tend to have a sizable bank of in-game knowledge, which they can regularly pull from while playing. This is typically a result of reading up on heroes, items, abilities, and intermediate concepts online, while also practicing and applying the information to actual games.

Against other Crusader players, expect them to know about the existence of Observer and Sentry Wards, which form the core of the vision game in Dota 2. Knowing this, you should pick your spots more carefully and assume that you won’t always have the element of surprise on your side when ganking or initiating.

Dota 2 Ranks crusader

Image Credit: Valve

Expect them to also know about the jungle as an alternative source of gold, as well as how to itemize on specific heroes.

Summary of Crusader Rank:

  • Crusaders start to display a keen interest in the game, following it up with research and study (i.e. hero guides, general strategies, etc)
  • Players in this bracket know what wards are and why vision is important
  • Crusaders may also discover neutral creeps and which heroes are good at killing them for extra income
  • Item builds may start to vary depending on the situation here

Archon (2,300 to 3,000 MMR)

Archon tier represents the global average, according to tools like OpenDota and statisticians like Vincenzo “Skullz” Micella of Esports Tales. Players in this bracket will likely have a few hundred hours of gameplay under their belts, with the game sense and mechanical skill to match. The use of non-basic consumables such as Infused Raindrops and Smoke of Deceit becomes more common as well, though infrequent.

Dota 2 ranks archon

Image Credit: Valve

Archon players exhibit an observable improvement in mechanical skill as well. Contesting creep kills in the lane is a bit more intense here compared to the lower tiers, which separates the dedicated from those that are just here to have fun. Intermediate concepts such as orbwalking, animation canceling, aggro pulling, and even neutral creep stacking likewise show up in this tier.

This is also when the importance of balanced drafting starts to become apparent. Picking heroes that synergize well with each other and cover each other’s weaknesses is an easy way to improve your win rate in this tier, so make sure to communicate with your teammates at the draft screen.

Summary of Archon Rank:

  • Archons display vastly improved mechanical and in-game knowledge
  • Team consumables become more commonplace compared to lower ranks
  • Players in this bracket start to learn the importance of mechanics that improve overall efficiency
  • Drafting a synergistic lineup becomes more important
  • Communication is key; use voice chat to coordinate with your teammates

Legend (3,100 to 3,700 MMR)

Legend tier is well above average, with Legend I players already being around the 70th percentile. Players in this bracket tend to have years of experience, possibly dating back to before Patch 7.00 or even DotA Allstars.

You can expect players in Legend to have a lot of in-game knowledge, plus the skill to apply it accordingly. Counterwarding, clever use of fog of war and treelines, and proper adjustment of item and skill builds to suit specific situations become common at this level, which can catch some people off guard.

Dota 2 ranks legend

Image Credit: Valve

Unfortunately, Legend players are still held back by occasional poor decision-making, or by their own mechanical skill ceilings. Players in this bracket may have bad habits that they are unable to get rid of, or simply do not have the advanced mechanics of those in the upper tiers. Their potential certainly makes it very possible to climb out of the bracket, though — so there is hope still.

Summary of Legend Rank:

  • Likely made up of DotA Allstars veterans, with previous knowledge helping them stand above most other players
  • Unorthodox itemization and skill builds in response to unique in-game situations
  • Counterwarding and other semi-advanced mechanics start to show up
  • Despite their potential, Legends tend to have their growth stunted by their skill ceilings

Ancient (3,850 to 4,500 MMR)

This tier is a nice step up from Legend, with those who are gifted with great game sense and good mechanical skill being the stars of the show. Ancient players frequently display advanced tactics and finger dexterity, being able to apply their knowledge at a decent level.

Dota 2 Ranks ancient

Image Credit: Valve

Role versatility comes into play at this bracket, with some players able to switch freely from positions 1 to 5. There isn’t much else to say about this tier, except that you might find a lot of pretty good Invoker and Meepo players lurking around.

Summary of Ancient Rank:

  • Ancient players are a real cut above the rest, able to display small amounts of brilliance and serious skill
  • Mechanics start to reach a more refined level
  • Role versatility allows Ancients to fulfill multiple roles without crippling themselves
  • Cheesy and/or mechanically-demanding heroes like Invoker and Meepo in this bracket might stomp lower-skilled players

Divine (4,600 to 5,420 MMR)

Here’s where things start to get really serious. The Divine bracket is where some really scary pub players reside, and a lot of them are able to carry their teams almost singlehandedly at times. For the old folks, Divine is basically the old 5,000+ MMR threshold, which marks a player’s first step into the big leagues in terms of ranked matchmaking.

Dota 2 Ranks divine

Image Credit: Valve

If you ever land here, pat yourself on the back. You’re good at this game for sure. You likely already display a keen understanding of Dota 2, and possess the mechanical skill to back it up.

Summary of Divine Rank:

  • Divine players are just right below what is considered top tier
  • These guys are able to put their teams on their backs and carry them to victory, by virtue of their sheer skill
  • Mechanically demanding heroes become extremely powerful for the same reason

Immortal (6000+ MMR)

Immortal tier represents the absolute pinnacle of Dota 2 skill, with semi-professional and full-time professional players calling this bracket home. Expect nothing but the best from this league, where highlight reel-worthy plays are a dime a dozen. Players in this bracket are frequently part of dazzling displays of sheer mechanical prowess or genius-level game sense.

 

Dota 2 Ranks immortal

Image Credit: Valve

These guys live and breathe the game, and sometimes even make a living out of it.

Summary of Immortal Rank:

  • Immortals understand Dota 2 through and through, and know the game like the backs of their hands
  • Cutthroat competition, very high mechanical skill, and clairvoyant game sense
  • Semi-pros, pros, and popular streamers clash regularly in this bracket

What Are the Unique Mechanics in the Dota 2 Ranks?

As mentioned in the introduction to this guide, Dota 2’s ranked matchmaking system has a few things that distinguish it from other MOBAs and multiplayer games. While it is by and large what veterans of competitive games would expect, Dota 2 developer and publisher Valve Corporation made sure to put a few twists in the system tailored to the game’s overall design.

Ranked Roles

The first and most important of these mechanics is Ranked Roles. Contrary to unranked matches, ranked games strictly enforce positions on each of the five players within a given team — like Safe Lane or Support, for example.

Dota 2 Ranks role queue

To this end, players are required to queue with their desired roles selected, done through a checkbox-style selection list in the matchmaking screen. The system considers a player’s selected roles when matching them with other players, assigning them one of these at the start of a match. All assigned roles appear below each player’s portrait in the hero selection screen, visible only to their teammates. The other team’s role assignments are not visible to their opponents.

Deviating from one’s assigned role is a reportable offense. Repeat offenders may find themselves banished to the low priority queue, or outright banned from queueing.

Players are free to select from the five available roles as follows:

  • Safe Lane
  • Mid Lane
  • Offlane
  • Support
  • Hard Support

Role Queue Games

Players can choose to uncheck specific roles to narrow down their possible assignments, but the system itself limits doing this by incorporating what it calls “Role Queue games”. Role Queue games are essentially tickets that allow players to refuse playing certain roles like Support, with each such game consuming one ticket.

To earn Role Queue tickets, players must select all five roles when queuing for ranked games. Successfully completing a ranked game this way earns a player four tickets, regardless of the outcome of the game. Each player can carry a maximum of 60 Role Queue tickets at a time.

Ranked Roles, therefore, essentially forces players to play support once every five games. This is to balance out the previously extremely skewed tendency of players to only play core roles, making it difficult for teams to draft well-balanced compositions. The ticket system also helps improve matchmaking times, as opposed to how it was previously, when core-only players would experience queue times of 10 minutes or greater.

All of these combined make for the most stable form of ranked matchmaking. Players have to adjust their playstyles and mentality to suit the team’s needs, rather than stepping on their teammates’ toes in order to play a single role over and over again. Drafts are more cohesive and harmonious as a result, which makes for better quality matches.

Note: Role Queue does not apply after a certain MMR threshold in Immortal league, presumably due to the much higher skill level and overall versatility of Immortal ranked players. This likewise reduces the overall queue time for players at the top of the ladder.

Ranked Roles Performance Matchmaking

Of course, not everyone is going to be good at every role when climbing the Dota 2 ranks. Some players do better playing high-pressure roles like mid lane or offlane, while others thrive being the backbone of their team as supports.

Valve themselves recognize this, creating the performance-based aspect of the matchmaking system to compensate accordingly. The system takes into account a player’s win rate in specific roles, and adjusts the skill level of their opponents to match. This ensures that games are as fair as possible relative to a player’s skill in the role they’re assigned to.

Dota 2 Ranks role performance

A player’s performance is shown via the built-in radar chart, which is found by hovering one’s cursor over the Role Queue information icon in the queue window.

Classic Ranked

Classic Ranked exists alongside Ranked Roles as an alternate ranked matchmaking mode. As opposed to Ranked Roles, Classic Ranked does not enforce role assignments at all.

This leaves teams to figure out how they want to balance their hero composition, which, needless to say, is a complete crapshoot. Your matchmaking ranking may as well be forfeit given how disorganized Classic Ranked can be.

We therefore recommend avoiding Classic Ranked altogether and sticking with Ranked Roles instead. Games in Classic Ranked are just far too unpredictable to ever be a good gauge of one’s skill level, and the overall quality of matches is just unspeakably bad.

What is the Dota 2 MMR Ranking?

As stated before, the ranked system in Dota 2 revolves around MMR. It is the beating heart of the system, and the principal factor that drives ranked games.

MMR is a numerical value that quantifies a player’s overall skill level, as well as their placement on the ladder. This number can range from zero to five-digit figures, with some of the best players in the world having upwards of 10,000 MMR total.

Unlike ranking medals, though, MMR is hidden from the public. Players can view their own Dota 2 MMR rank, but not those of others. A player’s MMR is located in the Stats tab of their Profile page, on the upper right corner of the table that appears on the screen. To this day, no one but Valve’s developers know the inner workings of the MMR algorithm. This is purposefully obfuscated from the playerbase at large, and it’s unlikely we’ll ever see exactly how MMR is calculated by the system

MMR

What we do know is that MMR moves in a set fashion: each solo queue win gives an additional 30 MMR, while each loss docks the same amount. Party queue matches on the other hand give and take 20 MMR for each win and loss, respectively. Solo and party queue both share the same MMR, which is quite different from other multiplayer games that separate the two.

With regards to Ranked Roles performance matchmaking, core roles (safe lane, mid lane, and offlane) maintain separate MMR values from support roles (support, hard support) — but the two still influence each other to a limited degree.

Calibration Games

Player accounts that have not played ranked matchmaking before, or have been out of the leagues for quite some time, are subject to calibration games in order to set their initial Dota 2 matchmaking rating. Typically called placement matches in other titles, calibration games are a string of 10 matches that adjust a player’s MMR according to their wins and losses.

Players will only be able to see their MMR, league medal, and division upon completion of their calibration games. Contrary to what might be common sense, though, calibration games do not necessarily start at zero MMR. This is due to the fact that unlocking ranked matchmaking requires 100 hours of unranked play in a given account first, which already determines a player’s “hidden” MMR. The matchmaking system then uses this hidden MMR as a reference point during calibration games.

Tips and Tricks to Boost Your MMR in Dota 2

There’s no tiptoeing around the fact that ranked Dota 2 games are much more difficult and cutthroat compared to unranked matches. These games will put your skills and game knowledge to the ultimate test, along with four other people who are hungry for victory and additional MMR just like you.

Ranked isn’t really for the faint of heart, but there are things you can practice in order to make the experience go more smoothly.

Review Your Replays

Bar none, watching your replays is the best thing you can do for your own progression as a Dota 2 player. As Dota 2 itself is a fast-paced strategy game, sometimes you will commit mistakes that aren’t obvious in the heat of battle. These mistakes eventually add up to a disadvantage in game, which then leads to a loss.

Dota 2 Ranks score screen

If you find yourself wondering what went wrong during a loss, go into your player profile and expand the “previous matches performance” screen. This gives you a complete table of all of your previously played games. Clicking on a game takes you to that game’s score screen, where you can download and watch the corresponding replay.

Since you can pause and slow down replays, it becomes much easier for you to spot minor mistakes and make mental notes for your next ranked games. Trust us: swallowing your pride and watching yourself get your butt kicked is the best way to improve.

Limit Your Hero Pool

As of the time of writing, there are 122 heroes in Dota 2. That is a massive number of distinct characters that all have their own strengths, weaknesses, mechanics, strategies, and more.

Trying to learn every single one is borderline impossible unless you’re a professional player, so we recommend limiting your hero pool in ranked games in order to maintain consistency. This way, you can focus on your fundamentals rather than figuring out how to optimize several heroes at the same time.

Dota 2 Ranks new player mode

Having five heroes in each role from safe lane to hard support is more than enough to get you through most matches. Of course, due to hero bans in All Pick (the most commonly played game mode), sometimes you won’t get to choose within your hero pool. Picking outside of your comfort zone will be necessary every now and then, but if possible, you should stick to what you know if you want to climb the ladder.

To this end, we recommend playing the New Player Mode first, especially if you’re actually a new Dota 2 player. The New Player Mode has a vastly limited hero pool, and more forgiving gameplay mechanics as well.

Practice Mechanics

If you’ve ever undertaken classical piano training in your life, you’ll know just how utterly boring it is to do scales over and over again to build muscle strength, memory, and speed. It’s overly repetitive, and isn’t really “music” the way most people would expect.

Unfortunately, Dota 2 is a mechanically demanding game in the same sense. Last hitting, optimal movement, and proper positioning are all just things you have to practice repeatedly in order to improve. Last hitting is especially vital, as you can pretty much just destroy lower ranked players if you can farm gold and experience at a significantly faster rate than them.

Fortunately, you don’t have to go into a real game each time you want to take on mechanics drills. Simply open the Heroes tab in the main menu, select any hero, then click Demo Hero to go into a solo practice mode with a single lane of creeps. Generally speaking, a good benchmark for most players is to last hit 50 creeps before the 10 minute mark in each game.

Keep a Cool Head

Okay, we recognize that this is way easier said than done, especially considering that the Dota 2 community isn’t exactly the most forgiving out there. You will have bad games. We all do. But it’s important to keep the tilt at a minimum, because your teammates’ individual performances are literally out of your control.

The only thing you can control is your own play, and how you behave towards your own team. While it’s tempting to get on voice chat and berate your teammates for their mistakes, oftentimes it is much better to just keep morale up by keeping a positive attitude going.

If you see that your team is tilting, try to take some control by calling ganks, pushes, or teamfights in a calm manner. Getting angry doesn’t accomplish anything other than get other people angry as well, which lowers their overall performance and focus. Of course, sometimes you will just get a bad actor in your game that feeds intentionally or griefs the team somehow, but in such cases, the best thing you can do is just to mute them and report them for abuse.

Patrick Bonifacio

Patrick Bonifacio

Patrick has been playing Dota since the dawn of time, having started with the original custom game for WarCraft III. He primarily plays safe lane and solo mid, preferring to leave the glorious task of playing support to others.

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