Here's how Hearthstone's new Ranked system works

new hearthstone ranking system
(Image credit: Blizzard)

Trying to figure out how the new Hearthstone ranking system works? Blizzard's colossal card game has seen a flurry of changes over the past few weeks. In a short space of time we've got a tenth class, the Ashes of Outland expansion, and frequent balance patches. On top of this, Ranked play has undergone a serious makeover.

Whether you're climbing the ladder after a long Hearthstone vacation, or need clarification on how win streaks and star bonuses determine your rank, pull up a chair by the PC Gamer hearth and let's get started. From the new leagues, to end of season rewards, here's how the new Hearthstone ranking system works. 

The new Hearthstone ranking system: How it works

There are two Ranked ladders in Hearthstone: Standard and Wild. Standard format includes cards from all the expansions released in the past two years (including the Demon Hunter Initiate set), as well as the Basic and Classic sets. Wild format allows you to play with cards from any set. 

There are now five regular leagues in the Hearthstone Ranked system, spanning Bronze to Diamond, with ten ranks in each. Players that advance beyond Diamond 1 rank move into Legend tier, which operates similarly to before. 

New players now enter the Apprentice League rather than jumping straight into regular Ranked play. This league runs from Apprentice 40 to Apprentice 1 and offers Classic packs as rewards at various milestones along the way. You cannot lose stars while in the Apprentice league and you only have to complete it once. A couple of Classic packs and packs from each of the most recent Hearthstone expansions are rewarded as you make the jump from Apprentice 1 to Bronze 10.

Each of the five leagues has two rank floors, spaced at ranks 10 and 5. Once you reach these levels, you cannot drop below them again until the rank is reset at the beginning of the following month. This stops you from deranking too far and losing your laborious progress on the ladder. Matchmaking is decided by MMR to ensure that matches are as fair as possible.

Hearthstone Ranked star bonuses and streaks

At the start of each month, all player ranks are reset to the lowest rank (Bronze 10) to begin a fresh ladder climb with a star bonus. Star bonuses are active from the first day of the new season and vary depending on the rank you reached in the previous month. Here are the minimal initial star bonuses by rank:

  • Bronze 5 to Silver 10: Two stars
  • Silver 5: Three stars
  • Gold 10: Four stars
  • Gold 5: Five stars
  • Platinum 10: Six stars
  • Platinum 5: Seven stars
  • Diamond 10: Eight stars
  • Diamond 5: Nine stars
  • Legend: Ten stars

There are three stars in each rank between Bronze and Diamond. You gain stars by winning matches and lose one star per defeat. If you reach one of the higher leagues, your star bonus will be higher, as listed above. This means you can climb out of the lower ranks much faster at the beginning of the month, as you accumulate wins. For example, if you finished in Platinum 5 last season, you begin the new season with a seven-star bonus, so your first win places you in Bronze 8.   

Win streaks also come into play, so if you're on a seven-star bonus and happen to be on a win streak, your star bonus doubles to 14 stars for a win. As you hit each rank floor, your star bonus reduces by one, and it's worth noting that win streak bonuses end once you reach Diamond 5.  

If you take a break from Ranked, you retain your star bonus for one season. Longer vacations result in MMR decay and, depending on the length of your absence, this may affect your star bonus.

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Hearthstone Ranked rewards

A season in Hearthstone is just a calendar month. Each month, Blizzard offers a new seasonal card back for you to add to your collection, which you get your hands on by winning five games in Ranked. While you have to stack these wins in Ranked mode—not Casual—the wins count at any rank, making these seasonal rewards easy to obtain. You can check to see whether you've earned this season's card back by clicking on your Ranked chest.   

First-time rewards

The new ranking system came into effect in April 2020 so if you haven't progressed through all the leagues yet, here are the first-time rewards you can expect to earn along the way:

  • Bronze 5: One Classic pack
  • Silver 10: Four random Classic Rare cards
  • Silver 5: One Classic pack
  • Gold 10: Four random Classic Rare cards
  • Gold 5: One Classic pack
  • Platinum 10: One random Classic Epic card
  • Platinum 5: One Classic pack
  • Diamond 10: One random Classic Epic card
  • Diamond 5: One Classic pack
  • Legend: One random Classic Legendary card and the Legend card back

End of season rewards

As you hit each rank floor, more items are added to your Ranked chest. End of season rewards are cumulative, meaning they stack as you progress. So, if you reach Gold 5, expect to receive all the rewards offered at the lower rank floors, up to your rank, giving you a tidy bundle of treats at the end of the month. Here are the rewards you can expect to receive at the end of each season, depending on your final rank:

  • Bronze 5: One Standard Rare card
  • Silver 10: One latest expansion pack
  • Silver 5: Two random Standard Rare cards
  • Gold 10: One latest expansion pack
  • Gold 5: Two random Standard Rare cards
  • Platinum 10: One latest expansion pack
  • Platinum 5: Two random Standard Rare cards
  • Diamond 10: One latest expansion pack
  • Diamond 5: One random Standard Epic card
  • Legend: One latest expansion pack
Emma Matthews

As PC Gamer's guides writer, Emma is usually juggling several games at once. She loves competitive first-person shooters like CS:GO and Call of Duty, but she always has time for a few rounds of Hearthstone. She's happiest when she's rescuing pugs in Spelunky 2.