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Black Ops Cold War League Play: Ranks, divisions, and more

Here's everything you need to know about Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War's competitive ranked mode if you're looking for a challenge.

After a very long wait, Call of Duty fans finally received a dedicated ranked mode for the first time since Black Ops 4 in 2019 when Black Ops Cold War ranked arrived on Black Ops Cold War League Play was released on February 8, 2021. Treyarch’s League Play ranked mode gives competitive-minded players something to really grind for.

The ranked mode shares its name with Treyarch’s previous modes in the Black Ops Series, and the majority of its features are the same. In the past, it also worked in tandem with the Call of Duty League, the franchised esports league housing the world’s best CoD players before newer releases came out. Nevertheless, League Play takes on the CDL rulesets and game modes to give players the sensation that they’re really playing on one of the Call of Duty League teams.

If you’ve never indulged yourself in a Call of Duty competitive mode before but you’re fancying the challenge, then fear not, as we’ve got the answers to all your queries about League Play. What is it, how will I climb the ranks, and what do I get in terms of rewards for taking on a competitive challenge in one of the best FPS games?

How does Black Ops Cold War League play work?

Like any competitive game mode, League Play has a ranking system for you to climb. However, ranked play in Black Ops Cold War is considerably different to the typical system used to climb the Apex Legends ranks or the League of Legends ranks, for example.

In Black Ops Cold War, you need to earn Gems to move up a rank. Gems are earned from your placements in Division Ladders, which are groups of 50 random players picked from the same Skill Division as you (more on those in a moment).

While you won’t necessarily match up against these 50 players in matches, your performances are pitted against them. Match wins and going on winning streaks will earn you Division Ladder points. The higher up a Division Ladder you finish will earn you more Gems.

You will only ever play against players of the same Skill Division as you in League Play.

Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War ranked league play: Players battling on Raid in Black Ops Cold War, with two characters engaged in a melee on the right, and one firing at another in the background.

Black Ops Cold War league play skill divisions

There are four Skill Divisions in Black Ops Cold War League Play, each representing a certain percentage of the player base depending on their skill.

Here’s the breakdown of each Skill Division:

  • Master = Top 2%
  • Elite = Top 15%
  • Expert = Top 30%
  • Advanced = Top 50%
  • Competitor = Bottom 50% of Players

These Skill Divisions determine who you will match up against in League Play games. All 50 players in a Division Ladder will also be selected from the same Skill Division.

Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War ranked league play: A group of soldiers walking into a lobby area firing at enemies to the right side of the images.

Black Ops Cold War League Play ranks

In Black Ops Cold War League Play, there are 30 ranks.

In Black Ops 4, the then-20 ranks were simply numbered 1-20, which is slightly boring if you ask us. In a world where games have far more exciting names for their top ranks, such as ‘Apex Predator’ in Apex Legends or ‘Radiant’ in Valorant, we were hoping for some flashy new names.

However, the ranks are still simply named 1-30. Shame.

Black Ops Cold War League Play rules

Competitive modes or playlists in Call of Duty games will always have a set of rules and restrictions that players must compete under, and these are usually the same as the ruleset used by pro players in the Call of Duty League (previously the Call of Duty World League).

This means that some weapons, attachments, scorestreaks, perks, and field upgrades will be banned, and there will be a limited amount of maps and modes to play.

Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War ranked league play: A group of soldiers firing to the left as they walk towards the camera in a neon-lit urban area.

Here are the major things to look out for.

Three modes – Hardpoint, Search and Destroy, and Control – are available in League Play, across the maps Checkmate, Crossroads, Garrison, Miami, Moscow, and Raid. Note that not all of these maps are playable for every mode – for example, Control is only played on Checkmate, Garrison, and Raid, and Miami is only used for Search and Destroy.

If you love whipping out your best DMR loadout in Black Ops Cold War, then you’re out of luck in League Play, as all tactical rifles are banned, as are all light machine guns. Stimshot and Decoy Grenades have also been banned.

Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War ranked league play: The five rank badges from Black Ops Cold War League Play.

Black Ops Cold War League Play rewards

League Play rewards in Black Ops Cold War are sadly only limited to rank badges and calling cards. There are no operators, blueprints, or weapon skins that can be won by playing League Play.

Calling cards are earned every five ranks (5, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30), and the colour and appearance of your rank badge will change (as you can see above) depending on your placements in Division Ladders.

That’s the lowdown on League Play, so choose your favourite Black Ops Cold War class and get stuck into the competitive experience. All these years on, it still has a surprisingly active community.