Last updated on October 21, 2020
Lately there’s been a lot of debate online regarding the MTGA ranking system, and it doesn’t help that there’s lots of old, outdated info that manages to stay on top of the Google search results. When it comes to the ranking system, you might be wondering what it’s used for, how it’s calculated, when it resets, and more.
We’re going to try to separate fact from fiction here while also giving you an easy, one-stop-shop to get all the info you need on the MTG Arena ranking system. The goal is to give you (and us, too!) a better understanding of how WotC created the system and what it’s used for. Let’s get to it and crank it up!
What is the MTG Arena Ranking System Used For?
The first obvious question when it comes to the ranking system is why it exists. At its core, it’s used to assess your skills and strengths as an MTGA player and give you a rating (or, in this case, a rank) based on that. This is determined using a Glicko rating system, which we’ll talk more about later. By gathering this information as you play events, the rating system figures out where you fall and gives you an MMR (match making rank).
WotC uses three different types of MMRs in MTG Arena. They’ve designed one for Open Play, one for Constructed, and one for Limited. The ranking system creates a list that determines the rank for each player by applying this type of data collection to everyone that plays MTGA or who participates in events.
In other words, the system can tell who’s the best and who’s the worst for each of the three MMRs (Open Play, Constructed, and Limited) using the gathered data. This is done is to make sure you’re paired with opponents that have a similar MMR and that you and your opponent are balanced to each other’s skill-level. The ranking system is also used to determine who’s eligible to participate in MTG’s championship event, the Mythic Invitational.
MTG Arena Ranked Play
To help you visualize your progress, MTGA has created Ranked play. After every match you win or lose in this mode, you’ll either move up or down in Rank based on whether you won or lost, respectively. What type of games are ranked, you ask? That’s easy to spot as they’ve got “Ranked” in the match title:
This means that there are:
- Ranked BO1 matches for standard constructed format decks
- Ranked BO3 matches for standard constructed format decks
- Ranked BO1 matches for historic constructed format decks
- Ranked BO3 matches for historic constructed format decks
- Ranked BO1 matches for drafts in the limited format (format varies, calendar here)
In these formats, your Rank (not your MMR) determines who your opponents are by matching you with other players that have the same Rank as you. Even though MMR isn’t used in these formats, it does give you a good idea what your performance and skill-level are outside Ranked play. Wizard’s Chris Clay has stated on twitter that “The top player in the Mythic Rankings has the highest MMR in the game.” So it’s safe to assume that if you’re doing well in Ranked play, you’re stomping it in other areas of MTG Arena as well even though your matches aren’t determined by your MMR here.
Ranked Limited on MTG Arena
To provide more detail about limited specifically, ranked limited in MTGA comes in two forms — Premier Draft and Quick Draft. Both of these are BO1 formats (vs Traditional draft, which is BO3).
Premier Draft features “Player Draft” — draft with 7 other humans at the same table, and is most often with the most current set in Standard. Quick Draft is draft with “bots” (similar to Draftsim’s AI), and is most frequently some kind of “flashback” format to help you acquire more cards for Standard.
You play each of these until you either reach 7 wins or 3 losses.
How Do MTG Arena Ranks Work?
Now that you’ve seen where you can acquire your rank, let’s see what it looks like and how it works. There are two “ladders” for you to climb, so to speak. One for Constructed Ranked (which encompasses BO1 and BO3 play) and one for Limited Ranked.
Each ladder has six ranks: Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, and Mythic, and each rank is broken down into four tiers. You either move up or move down according to your wins or losses respectively. In first rank (Bronze), losses don’t lose you any tiers but once you get to the next rank (Silver) you will start to lose tiers if you lose a match. Once you’ve climbed to a new rank (e.g., from Bronze to Silver) you won’t get knocked back down to a lower rank.
So once you’ve made Mythic in MTG Arena, you won’t drop out until the end of the season.
Take a look at the table below to see how all of this breaks down for Constructed BO1, Constructed BO3, and Limited play:
Here’s a quick visual to show you the ranks and tiers the way they’re shown in MTG Arena:
Once you’ve moved all the way up to Mythic, you won’t get any more ranks or tiers. At this point, WotC starts using your MMR again to calculate where you fall amongst all the other players that have also attained Mythic rank. This means that we’ve come full circle with what Chris Clay stated: that the top player has the highest MMR in the game.
How Are MTG Arena Rankings Calculated?
Let’s go back to how your MMR is calculated, where we mentioned that WotC uses a Glicko rating system. This system was invented as an improvement of the Elo rating system and was originally meant to be used as a rating system for competitive chess. An exchange between Chris Clay and Sam Black on twitter shed some light on how MMR is calculated and is the only indication on the exact system used in MTG Arena at this time:
Glicko is a rather complex system, so we’ll try to keep it as simple as possible. If you’d like a more in-depth read on Glicko you can either check out this pdf (original Glicko system) or this one (Glicko-2 system with slight improvements for more accuracy).
The Glicko rating system uses three factors for its calculations: rating, deviation, and volatility. These factors can be used to calculate your ratings deviation (RD), which measures the accuracy of your rating, with one RD being the same as one standard deviation. They use some pretty complex algebra to get to the correct RD, so won’t bore you with the details here. You can check out the previously mentioned PDFs if you want to take a crack at it yourself.
To put it in very simple terms, the formulas show how to determine your rating at the end of a “previous period of play” (i.e., the end of a match on MTGA). This can then be used to determine where you should be at the beginning of a new period (i.e., your next match on MTGA).
Obviously this is an extremely simple way to boil down complicated calculations, but what it means for MTG Arena is what we explained earlier: it’s there to make sure that you are being paired with the best possible opponent, and to determine who are the best players on the platform.
When and How Does Your MTG Arena Rank Reset?
Now that we’ve shed some light on how ranking ratings (try saying that 10 times fast) are calculated and on how getting data on all players over time is an important consideration for MTGA, let’s jump in to ranking resets.
Since the beginning of this year, we’ve been working with what WotC has dubbed “seasons”. Each season is about a month long and rankings reset for everyone after each season. Your rank and tier in the new season are determined by how far you’ve climbed up the ranking ladder in the previous season. This means that if you play regularly and you play well, you’ll have the advantage in the new season of starting out in a higher ranking and tier.
However, your rank does decay at the end of the season. Here’s a breakdown of where you’ll start at the beginning of a new season based on your rank in the previous season:
|Previous Rank||New Rank||Previous Rank||New Rank||Previous Rank||New Rank|
|Bronze tier 4||Bronze tier 4||Silver tier 1||Bronze tier 2||Platinum tier 2||Gold tier 4|
|Bronze tier 3||Bronze tier 4||Gold tier 4||Bronze tier 1||Platinum tier 1||Gold tier 3|
|Bronze tier 2||Bronze tier 4||Gold tier 3||Silver tier 4||Diamond tier 4||Gold tier 3|
|Bronze tier 1||Bronze tier 3||Gold tier 2||Silver tier 3||Diamond tier 3||Gold tier 2|
|Silver tier 4||Bronze tier 3||Gold tier 1||Silver tier 2||Diamond tier 2||Gold tier 2|
|Silver tier 3||Bronze tier 3||Platinum tier 4||Silver tier 1||Diamond tier 1||Gold tier 1|
|Silver tier 2||Bronze tier 2||Platinum tier 3||Gold tier 4||Mythic||Gold tier 1|
It’s easy to see that the higher you’re ranked in a previous season the easier it’ll be to reach that same ranking much faster in the new season. All you need to do is to play and play well.
MTG Arena Ranked Season Rewards
What we can tell so far—and will likely come as no surprise to any competitive players—is that it pays to be the best. As with any competition, being in the upper echelons on MTGA comes with its rewards. The rewards for each level in both Constructed and Limited rankings are exactly the same and are as follows:
You get more rewards, though admittedly nothing amazing, as you work your way up the ranking system
Another advantage is (as we mentioned) the higher you finish by the end of a season, the higher up you’ll start on the next. Not a bad thing when you remember how much time it took to reach that rank in the first place.
Being highly ranked can also earn you an invitation to the Mythic Qualifier Weekend, which in turn can land you in the Mythic Championship (keep an eye on our blog for an article all about that very soon). For competitive MTGA players, this can lead to a lot of exposure, more recognition, the chance to play the best in the game, and huge cash prizes. For some of you, this particular reward may be what it’s all about.
Basically, being highly ranked can definitely pay off. But how much time do you actually need to spend on the grind to Mythic for a shot at all of this?
MTG Arena’s Path to Mythic Rank
How Many Hours to MTGA Mythic?
We’ve scoured the internet to tackle the question of how much you need to invest to move from Bronze to Mythic in both Constructed and Limited. This handy article by Frank Karsten (who even wrote the code so you can try your own hand at these calculations) breaks down how many hours you need to spend playing MTGA to make it from the start of the ladder all the way up to Mythic for both Constructed and Limited. We’ve summed up his conclusions in a handy table for your viewing pleasure, comparing the hours needed for the average player with a 40% to 45% win rate versus an above-average player with a 70% win rate.
Quick note: we’ve combined Constructed BO1 and BO3 as it’s best to switch from BO1 to BO3 at Gold rank tier 4 for the last little bit to Mythic.
|Win Percentage||Hours Needed for Constructed||Hours Needed for Limited|
|40% to 45%||Infeasible||2114|
As you can see, if your win rate percentage is 70% then you can attain Mythic rank in Constructed within 50 hours and in Limited 45 hours. Keep in mind, though, that this is an approximation. With seasons lasting about 30 days, you’d need to play Constructed about two hours a day and Limited about an hour and a half a day to get to Mythic.
With a win rate percentage of 40% to 45%, though, reaching Mythic in both Constructed and Limited isn’t feasible as there literally aren’t enough hours in a day for you to reach your goal. The alternative is to shoot for Gold rank instead, which should be reasonable to attain with an average win rate.
How to Play Your Way to Mythic in MTGA
Now that we covered the numbers for how many hours you need to play MTGA to reach Mythic, it’s time to get to the best way to climb the ranking ladder. The first thing is pretty clear: you need an above average win percentage to climb successfully. You’ll also need to play in ranked sanctioned events to move up as we mentioned at the beginning of this article.
Because Limited has only one ranked event, this is the obvious choice and thus the best way to go about it. With Constructed there are two options: BO1 and BO3. Based on Frank Karsten’s previously linked article, we can say that you need a mix of both for the most effective route up the ladder. From Bronze to Gold it’s more effective to play BO1, and from Gold to Mythic it’s more effective to play BO3.
What is the Mythic Percentage in MGTA?
So you’ve played your way to Mythic and have that beautiful logo beside your name, but instead of a numerical rank, you have what looks like a percentage next to the mythic icon.
That percentage is your percentile as a player in Mythic. So if you are Mythic 90%, that means you are better than 90% of other Mythic players who are also not on the leaderboard. The intent is to show you your distance from the leaderboard in terms of a percent.
In that example, you would need to climb through another 10% of mythic players until you crack the “leaderboard” — which would then give you a ranking from 1 to 1,200.
MTG Arena Ranking System Sources and Changes
We’ve finally come to the end of the line. As of writing this article, this is all the information out there concerning Ranked play in MTGA. There’s lots of articles and lots of speculation on how WotC to acquires its data, but they haven’t offered a full answer to that question yet. Maybe in the future they’ll lift the veil on what system they’re using and how exactly they’re implementing it, but for now this is all we have.
There are a few interesting articles that we came across while doing research on the topic that we feel are a nice bonus to share with you as further reading material:
- Our own guide on how to become a better drafter on Arena (start there and then move on to Ben Stark’s class if you really want to get to Mythic)
- Fact checking article for ranked ladder on the Hipsters of the Coast website
- Article on going optimal on MTGA on ChannelFireball.com
We know that in the past WotC have made some drastic changes to MTGA, and more changes could be on the horizon as the game progresses into its first months after its official release. Maybe it’s closer to the physical game than we thought in that it’s an ever-evolving mechanism that spawns new stories as time progresses. Some may be amazing while some may turn into learning curves. One thing is for certain: MTG Arena is more popular than ever and will be growing for a long time to come, just like the card game we all love to play.
One last thing – if you want to get some practice in before you jump into live drafts in MTGA, did you know you can practice drafting on our free draft simulator? We’ve got every set on Arena there.