Apex Legends (opens in new tab) ranked play is divided into six tiers—Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Master, and Apex Predator—each (except for Apex Predator) subdivided into four divisions. Your rank is determined by Ranked Points earned through gameplay in ranked matches: The better you are, the higher you climb in the rankings, and the stiffer the competition becomes.
This is all fairly basic stuff, but it's worth a quick refresher to emphasize the gap between the Bronze tier, which is the basic entry level, and Diamond, which requires 7,200 RP to enter. The most you can earn from a single ranked match is 100 RP plus bonuses (opens in new tab) for kills and assists (I'm told the maximum possible is 225 RP per match), and finishing as anything less than Apex Champion will get you considerably less than that, so the number of players who reach Diamond tier is relatively tiny: In season 6, for instance, only two percent (opens in new tab) of ranked players managed to achieve Diamond ranking or higher.
That's why it's noteworthy that 419 players who ranked Diamond or higher were caught abusing an exploit that let them play in Bronze lobbies despite their rank:
To the 419 Diamond+ ranked players who abused an exploit allowing you get into and farm bronze lobbies for RP, enjoy watching Season 7 from the sidelines 🔨❤️November 4, 2020
Ford said the bans were made across all platforms (opens in new tab)—"justice has no boundaries lol"—and while he didn't get into the specifics of the glitch, a quick search turns up all sorts of results explaining how to do it. In fact, it appears to be something of a long-standing issue: This EA support site entry (opens in new tab) from July 2019, for instance, complains that "higher ranked players of any rank (Example Platinum) can glitch into a lobby for the lower ranked games (Example Bronze) to farm easy RP and grind their rank."
The video below, by YouTuber TaylorHobbs, indicates that the exploit requires a little bit of timing, but not much else. (This may not be the specific glitch exploit that's being banned, but it illustrates the relative simplicity of the process.)
As you might imagine, Bronze-tiers players aren't super-enthusiastic about top-ranked heavy-hitters tearing things up in their games, and so the reaction to Ford's tweet is generally pretty positive.
I love this 😈November 4, 2020
pic.twitter.com/QUrg7IbPueNovember 4, 2020
pic.twitter.com/yhufGL8FwmNovember 4, 2020
@RSPN_Hideouts been SWANGIN that ban hammer. You’re the man pic.twitter.com/ZPrISZqNYmNovember 4, 2020
And in some cases, very positive.
GET FUCKING SHIT ON LETS GOOO!!!On some real shit though There are so many undeserving diamond players exploiting this. Thank you so much hideouts I love you.November 4, 2020
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Cheaters actually prosper quite often, but sometimes they get busted and suffer for it, and it's always fun to watch when they do. I've reached out to EA for more information on the crackdown, and will update if I receive a reply.