Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 League Play © 2013 . All rights reserved.

Black Ops 2 League Play explained

Game developer Treyarch added a competitive game mode to Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 called League Play, a game mode separate from public matches that allows you to rise through the ranks and play against the world’s best solo players and teams. It’s a great addition to the series for those of us who play to win or simply prefer a more competitive environment and serves as a more accessible equivalent to Major League Gaming.

One of the most common questions I get asked is how to rank up from the lowly Iron rank to the top two per cent of players in Masters – so here are two YouTube videos that take a look at how League Play works and below that are some of the basics.

Black Ops 2 League Play part 1 ─ M27 shenanigans

In the first YouTube video of a two-part series I look at how League Play works and try to provide insight in how I progressed in Team Deathmatch League Play from being a Bronze newbie to within the top 50 in the Platinum Division.

Black Ops 2 League Play part 2 ─ how to get into Masters?

Getting into the Masters division (top 2 per cent of players in the world) is a challenge and a half, whether you play in the Championship or Team Deathmatch series. So I decided to share some of the tips other players have suggested to try and help you get into the elusive club.


Once you have played five games and the “awaiting placement” message has gone you are given a division, which can be anything from the following:

Iron division (bottom 20 per cent of players)

Iron Division in Black Ops 2 League Play

Bronze division (next 20 per cent of players)

Bronze Division in Black Ops 2 League Play

Silver division (next 20 per cent of players)

Silver Division in Black Ops 2 League Play

Gold division (next 20 per cent of players)

Gold Division in Black Ops 2 League Play

Platinum division (next 18 per cent of players)

Platinum Division in Black Ops 2 League Play

Masters division (top two per cent of players)

Masters Division in Black Ops 2 League Play

Grand Masters/Professional (does it exist?)


Within a division you are given a number or ‘rank’ as it’s known. This number tells you where you are in relation to other players in your division and it can range from ‘1’ to ‘200’. This is because each division contains 200 players. Climbing the ranks is done by winning games and earning points for doing so. The more points you have versus other players, the higher your rank will get.

As you rank up, your division emblem may change in appearance. This is because subdivisions have their own variations on each division’s emblem.

Rank 101 to 200 = Bog-standard emblem version
Rank 51 to 100 = Slightly more intricate version
Rank 26 to 50 = Yet more detail
Rank 11 to 25 = Even more detail
Rank 10 to 1 = The best version of all

Rising up the ranks

Although Treyarch has yet to release exact details on the points and ranking system and probably never will, winning a game nets you a certain amount of points from 10 to 150 plus a daily bonus of 100 if you have any daily points left. 200 points are added daily to restock your daily bonus.

Losing a game usually results in the subtraction of points but sometimes you may just see “0” points lost. Therefore winning games is the key, not how well you or your teammates do in any given game. However, a number of players suggest score per minute (SPM) has a bearing on your ability to get into the Masters Division (and perhaps Platinum, too). This would backup claims that playing for the objective in the Championship Series helps your chance of gaining a higher rank because doing so gives you added points.

Problems with ranking system

It makes sense to reward victory as it encourages teams to go for the objective and work together, not run around getting Killstreaks. But League Play in Black Ops 2 has a few issues, mainly that if you get lumbered in a really bad team – and this will happen as the number of players is much less than in Public matches – you will lose no matter how hard you try.

Connection issues also result in a loss if the game quits, putting an end to your winning streak and possibly making you lose points. And there’s the issue of kill/death seemingly being ignored, which is a valid statistic in judging how well a player does. That’s not to say Treyarch takes it out of the equation but it’s secondary to winning so even if you are the best player on your team and score 55 – 0, it counts as a loss.

Do you earn experience (XP) in League Play?

League Play does give you experience points (XP) at the end of a game. However, headshots do not add up for weapons and neither do the kills so you will be unable to rank up to get new camo paint jobs for your guns. But any camos unlocked in Public Matches will be readily available.

Earning points and XP in Black Ops 2 League Play

Unlike public matches, every weapon and every attachment is already unlocked, regardless of whether you are prestige 10 or just starting out. It even ignores whether you have yet to reach the level required to Create a Class. This is good for players who want to try out weapons and attachments they have yet to unlock.

Does League Play affect kill/death ratio?

The simple answer is yes.

What about win/loss ratio?

Same as your kill/death ratio. When playing League Play, your win/loss ratio will be affected no matter whether you win a game or lose. Early reports suggested the opposite was true but testing in Season 5 onwards has shown your W/L can be affected.

Does anything count towards my Combat Record?

Yes, the number of kills you rack up and the number of wins will factor into your overall performance within your Combat Record.

How does matchmaking work?

A number of sources state that connection quality takes precedence and then skill level is factored in. This would explain why Iron and Bronze players end up rolling with guys from the Platinum or Masters Divisions on a regular basis.

Matchmaking in Black Ops 2 League Play

Unfair matchmaking is also the result of a relatively small number of players for Treyarch’s servers to choose from (1,000 to 3,000 players seems the norm for the UK). If there are only a few high-ranking players online, they will undoubtedly end up in games with newbies just because there are not enough players of a similar level to even things out.

How to improve your chance of winning

  • Use conservative Killstreaks you can get relatively easily and ones that benefit the whole team, such as a sentry gun in capture-based games or a Counter-UAV to block out enemy radar.
  • Play with friends: A solo player can team up with two friends, while a team needs a minimum of four. A good team of players lessens the chance of being lumbered with players who die a lot and contribute little to the team.
  • Use the guns you are best with: A challenge is fun but if you want to rank up there’s no point in making life more difficult. As much as it hurts to say, there’s a valid reason why people love using the AN-94 and light machine guns with the Target Painter.
  • Refrain from running into the open: Regardless of whether playing League Play or not, running into an open part of a map is unlikely to end well.
  • Communicate: If you have just been killed, let your team know where and how many players you saw. Extra information will benefit the rest of your tea.
  • Make use of cover: If you know an enemy is coming or have a gut feeling they will, get behind some cover or go prone.
  • Concussion grenades are evil. Not only do they make life difficult for a player who has just been hit by one, it gives you a clue where a player or players are via a hit-marker.

Got any tips of your own or experience with League Play that may benefit the article? Get in touch in the comments below.

  • wtf

    league effects kdr and w/l u retard

  • Deathbyair

    How do I kick someone from the team

    • xSacreD

      u cant u have to make a new team to do that prety much

  • CTK27

    Excellent piece Ben, well commentated and the thought the irony of the “improvement” comment was funny stuff.

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  • steven

    can someone post something about how to create a league team me and my friends play all the time and we can’t figure it out

  • UM

    I’m a good player and I dropped 60 kills to10 deaths and I got placed in the iron division.

    • kev

      its done against points, not just k’d

    • Bboy Jed

      League play also takes into account your league play history. If you continue to stomp, then you will level up quickly. But if you played every once in a while over a period of league play seasons and did well, then stomp… you will fly up toward the tops.
      Play history makes a huge difference.

  • uh

    When advising concussions, id use emps instead im in master division currently and EMP naded give 50 pts for assists, destroys equipment from far away, and also it has a larger hit radius, so more ppl get EMP’d in an area so u can get a larger area to know if some1 is in it.. so try em out if you havent!!

    • Good tip, thanks! EMP grenades are also good for knocking out Sentry Guns, which is extra handy because you can’t just knife them like in older Call of Duty games.

  • h3110

    Can someone tell me why i cant rank up. im rank 1 on bronze division and ive one 4 games in a row and i still havent ranked up. i have almost 1000 ladder points more than the guy in 2nd place and ive still been playing and winning games and nothing happens i just get more ladder points. if you can tell me whats wrong then my xbox GT is Ruse Ceddy

    • Been in this situation before. The best thing to do is be patient – if you are ranked number one in your division and keep winning eventually your rank should adjust. Is this your first go at League Play, by any chance?

  • Alan Hugh21

    I am rank 3 in Iron division and i keep going to rank 1 and i had almost 2000 points and i still dident get put out of this terrible division, If i just keep wining games will i go into Bronze division?