• Ranked modes offer challenging environments for skilled players in different games, each with varying skill ceilings and rank distributions.
  • Players invest thousands of hours to reach the top ranks in their preferred games, flexing hard-earned badges to others.
  • Real-time strategy and fighter games offer tough competitive experiences, requiring time, skill, and mastery to excel and reach the highest ranks.

Playing a ranked mode in any game is a fun way to match with skilled players and enjoy a highly competitive environment. Some games have an easy ranked experience due to a lower skill ceiling, while others have a high skill ceiling and provide a challenging ranked experience.

All ranked modes start easy and gradually increase in difficulty as players gain experience and climb up, but some games have a less subtle difficulty increase and have a skewed rank distribution. Many players have invested thousands of hours to reach the highest rank in their preferred game. Once at the top rank, these players can flex their hard-earned ranked badge to others.

Updated March 30, 2024, by Aly Azmy: Shooters get too much attention in the media for being the most difficult games in a competitive setting, but real-time strategy and fighter games have lots to offer. This list of the hardest competitive games has been updated to include two real-time strategy games and one fighting game, giving a diversified cover of ranked games. The added games require a large time investment to learn, master, and excel at. They all have lots of mechanics players need to digest and fully comprehend before they reach the highest ranks these games offer to their players.


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11 Rainbow Six Siege

Team Coordination, Gunplay, and Extensive Map Knowledge

Operator holding ability and weapon

Rainbow Six: Siege
December 1, 2015


Rainbow Six Siege is full of intricate mechanics that players must learn before playing in ranked. They must understand the maps, operators, and audio to hold their own in a ranked game. On top of understanding several mechanics, players must have satisfactory team coordination and patience. Dedicating team roles such as an anchor is vital for victory in ranked.

Users will need to select optimal Siege operator combos that allow for their team plays to overwhelm enemies. Rainbow Six Siege players frequently analyze professional gameplay and use the information to advance through ranked.

The highest rank in Rainbow Six Siege is Champion, and will require time and skill while competing with the most skilled players in the game.

10 Rocket League

Vehicle Control, Ball Skill, and Team Play

Rocket League

Despite appearing to be a casual game at first glance, Rocket League is the polar opposite of that. While many consider Rocket League a fun party game to play with friends, the title is full of intricate mechanics that are hard to master. Rocket League has a strong player base due to its easy-to-learn and hard-to-master gameplay style.

Players must learn many skills, such as shooting, passing, ball control, vehicle control, and game sense. Team play is another vital part of matches, and players on voice comms will have an advantage over their enemies.

The highest rank in Rocket League is Supersonic Legend, which requires players to advance through 7 rank tiers to reach.

9 Fortnite

Extreme Building Skill and Gunplay

Fortnite shotgun fight

Fortnite stood out during the early Battle Royale craze thanks to its unique building mechanics. While the gun mechanics and movement aren’t noteworthy, players still need to maintain an above-average skill level. Mastering shotguns is the key, as they tie into the building mechanics.

The building mechanic will require new players to learn a new skill and master it. Building adds an entirely new skill and has a nearly impossible ceiling to reach. The game has two ranked modes, one with building and the other without.


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Fortnite’s highest rank is Unreal and players can check their position among the rank through Unreal global leaderboard. To reach Unreal, players need to fight their way through seven ranks to reach the top.

8 Valorant

Team Coordination, Map Knowledge, and Gunplay

Valorant with 2 agents cover art

June 2, 2020


Valorant was the most-watched FPS game on Twitch in 2022, and is showing no signs of slowing down. The game has a vibrant competitive community with frequent tournaments and thousands of online guides. Valorant is an FPS with a heavy emphasis on team coordination. The more coordinated a team is with their abilities, timing, and pushes, the more likely they are to outperform their opponents.


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Players need to understand all agent abilities, have strong map knowledge, and consistently aim to hold their own in ranked. Players have created aim routines on AimLabs to improve their aim and give them an advantage in competitive play.

The top rank in Valorant is called Radiant and only holds 500 players. Reaching Radiant is a testament to their skill and unmatched understanding of the game.

7 Counter-Strike 2

Gunplay, Map Knowledge, and Teamwork

player using ak firing at ct

Counter-Strike 2
September 27, 2023

Valve’s updated Counter-Strike 2 still embodies the competitive spirit that shined throughout Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s career before it was replaced. The game regularly sees over one million concurrent players and shows no signs of slowing down.

With such an active player base, Counter-Strike 2 requires players to stand out from a mountain of players and pick up the easy-to-learn yet difficult gun mechanics of the game. Gamers need to develop a deep understanding of map layouts and team play methods.

Counter-Strike 2’s highest rank is The Global Elite, and it consists of the best players and premade teams with excellent comms.

6 Dota 2

Hero Knowledge, Team Coordination, and Item Understanding

Dota 2 heroes fighting abilities

Dota 2
July 9, 2013


Dota 2 has a bigger pool of heroes and more intricate items than League of Legends and has more mechanics players need to learn and master. Players need to dedicate a vast amount of time to stay on top of all the updates and changes Dota 2 receives. The tournament scene of Dota 2 reveals how difficult it is for players to reach the highest level of skill. The 2023 International tournament had a prize pool of $3,380,000 and displayed the high skill ceiling that the game has.

Dota 2 is ranked as one of the best MOBAs of all time and stands out by offering a more challenging experience compared to the more popular League of Legends. The highest rank in Dota 2 is immortal and requires players to grind their way through seven rank levels.

5 Apex Legends

Gunplay, Team Coordination, and Movement

bloodhound fighting art

Apex Legends
February 4, 2019

Electronic Arts

Battle Royale , First-Person Shooter

The ranked grind in Apex Legends is a grueling task. Apex Legends has a high skill ceiling as it has intricate movement and a high time to kill compared to other games. The Battle Royale format in ranked leads to a chaotic match that requires players to understand positioning and playing alongside the ring.


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With Apex Legends currently in Season 17, some players think Respawn Entertainment needs to overhaul the Ranked system for the battle royale.

Having a team is crucial, as Apex Legends requires intense team coordination in the higher ranks. The highest rank is Apex Predator, which holds 750 players per platform. Apex Legends saw a failure in its ranked season 17 as a pro player was able to reach Apex Predator without using a gun. The majority of players are ranked at Masters, which is the rank directly below Apex Predator.

Apex has implemented changes to rebalance its ranked distribution and prevent players from reaching the higher ranks with ease. In a previous season, the top two ranks held 0.20% of the player base.

4 Street Fighter 6

Mechanical Skill, Precise Timing, Fighter Knowledge

Fighter kick colors street

Street Fighter 6
June 2, 2023


Beginners can have plenty of fun in casual fighting games, but the difficulty ramps up when playing in a competitive setting. With each character featuring a unique move set, players have lots of combos to learn and counters to perform.

From mastering precise inputs to learning obscure mechanics such as the delay tech, players must become mechanical experts to stand out in ranked.

The eight rank divisions in Street Fighter 6 from lowest to highest are rookie, iron, bronze, silver, gold, platinum, diamond, and master. Players keen to advance through the ranks must master a great deal of mechanics to reach the higher ranks.

3 Age of Empires 2

Tech Tree Knowledge, Multi-Tasking, Controlling Units

Player empire under attack

Age of Empires 2
September 27, 1999

Real-Time Strategy

Despite its original release in 1999, Age of Empires II is a timeless classic that radiates a challenging yet fun experience. Despite seeming simple at first glance, AoE II has a ton of depth, which results in a different experience depending on the player’s skills.

To rise through the ranks in Age of Empires II, players need to optimize their resource management skills, know which technologies to unlock first, constantly scout the map for information, learn how to control units in battles, and learn various hotkeys to speed up their gameplay.

Age of Empires II uses an ELO system for its ranks that starts from 0 and peaks at around 2500. The rank modes are 1v1 and team mode and both take place on a randomly selected map.

2 Starcraft 2

Micro & Macro Management, Multi-Tasking, Controlling Units

Starcraft 2 armor suit gunfire bow

StarCraft 2
July 27, 2010

Real-Time Strategy

As one of the hardest real-time strategy games, Starcraft II demands great planning and a thorough understanding of the game’s mechanics. Players will have to micromanage their units while macro-managing an economy.

While learning the game, players should understand basic offensive tactics such as harassing, rushing, pushing, and going all in. Players must trick enemies and counter any attacks while optimizing their economy-building skills.


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The most common kind of ranked play is 1v1, but there are also 2v2, 3v3, and 4v4. The ranks in 1v1 are bronze, silver, gold, platinum, diamond, master, and grandmaster. Grandmaster is only available to the top 600 players in the three regions, with 200 players per region.

1 League of Legends

Champion Mastery, Team Coordination, and Mechanical Skill

League of Legends Arena Mode Shop Phase

League of Legends
October 27, 2009


Few games can tilt gamers in ranked like League of Legends can. Since League of Legends is heavily team-dependent, players often have a match lost due to a bad play from a teammate. The ranked grind in League of Legends is challenging, as players are expected to lose a lot.

Players need to master more than one LoL champion to grasp the game’s depth. There is a shocking amount of mechanics players need to master to advance in rank. Players must frequently glance at the mini-map, avoid bad trades, improve their dodging, skill shots, mouse accuracy, and even remember enemy cooldowns.

The highest rank in League of Legends is Challenger and can only hold the top 200 or 300 players per region. The rank below Challenger is Grand Master and, on average, holds around 0.5% of the ranked player base.


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