If you want to begin the long journey toward the top rank, you'll have to start at Bronze IV, work your way to Bronze I, and then do the same through the Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond ranks. The final rank, Apex Predator, is the only one not divided into four tiers.
You'll rank up by earning Ranked Points, and the scoring is pretty simple:
- Each kill: 1RP (max of 5 per match)
- Top 10 placement: 2RP
- Top 5 placement: 4RP
- Top 3 placement: 7RP
- Win: 12 RP
The RP awarded for placements don't stack. That is, you won't get 12RP for a win, plus 7RP for placing in the top 3, and so on. That means the maximum number of points that can be earned in one match is 17RP for five kills and a win.
You also have to spend RP to play ranked matches, and the cost increases with each rank, making progression harder the higher you rise:
- Bronze: free
- Silver: 1RP
- Gold: 2RP
- Platinum: 3RP
- Diamond: 4RP
- Apex Predator: 5RP
As an example, say you earned enough RP to rank as Gold II, the second highest Gold tier. If you play a ranked match and score two kills but don't place in the top 10, you'd net 0RP for the match. If you didn't score any points at all, you'd lose the 2RP entry fee.
By losing RP, it is possible to drop tiers—you might go from Gold II to Gold III, for instance—but you cannot drop all the way down to a lower rank. Once you're in Gold, you'll stay in Gold unless you reach Platinum.
This seems to present a problem: What if I'm in Gold and I play so terribly that I lose all my RP and so can't pay the 2RP entry fee? That's not a possibility, as Respawn clarifies later in the Reddit comments. Once you reach a rank, you can't lose RP that would drop you out of that rank. So if I have 280RP, putting me in the lowest Gold rank, and I have a terrible match where I earn 0RP, I won't be docked the 2RP entry fee and will still have 280RP at the end of the match. If I have a great match and score 12RP, however, the fee would reduce it to 10.
When matchmaking with friends, everyone will pay the RP fee called for by their rank, but Apex will look for a match based on the highest-ranked player in the party. The idea there is to prevent Apex Predators from carrying a bunch of Bronze players in easy matches against other Bronze players.
The first competitive season will last through September, ending at the end of Season 2, though future ranked series may be longer. A lot depends on what Respawn learns during this first go at a ranked mode, and the developer notes that we should expect "updates on the fly" as it adjusts.
The Reddit post also provides an explanation of why these ranking and scoring decisions were made, as well as details on rewards (not much on that yet), penalties (if you quit early, you get put in time out), loss forgiveness (if your teammates quit, you won't lose RP), and plans for future series.