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Published: May 9, 2024

Written by: Barney

When it comes to impactful FPS titles, one can quickly think of the original Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 which was released way back in 2011. The game was a sequel to arguably the most popular CoD title ever – Modern Warfare 2 and was highly praised for its story and gameplay. Many fans have spent innumerable hours climbing up the Call of Duty ranks ladder, as competitive play was a key feature of the game and a main reason for its popularity.

Having to build on that reputation, MW3’s revamped version, aptly named Modern Warfare III, had a difficult job ahead of itself. Released in November of last year, the game has been received with mixed feelings by both the wider gaming community and the dedicated CoD fan base.

However, MWIII’s multiplayer still performs decently well with tens of thousands of players playing at any given time. The developers have also been trying to spice things up in order to try and bring more players into the game. Last month, Season 2 of MWIII was released and although it had a somewhat rocky start, it did bring a lot of new changes to the CoD ranks. 

Perhaps these changes are for the best as the majority of the player base seemed to not like the competitive mode of the game when it was first released in January this year. In this article, we will try and give you an overview of what exactly Call of Duty ranks are, how they work, and other information you might need if you want to play MWIII competitively.

How to Unlock Ranked Play?

Multiplayer Ranked Play in Modern Warfare III is the official competitive 4v4 Multiplayer experience of the game and it uses the official rules, restrictions, maps, and modes from the Call of Duty League. Whenever the Call of Duty League rules are updated, those changes are also reflected within Ranked Play rules. 

Modern Warfare III’s ranked play further builds on the mode that was found in MWII and has many of its features. But to even start climbing the CoD ranks ladder, a player must, confusingly, reach Military Rank 55. This is essentially an XP progression system that you go through when playing Multiplayer and Zombies. You can earn Player XP for all kinds of actions, including landing eliminations, capturing objectives, and completing matches.

Once you’ve reached Military Rank 55, you will gain access to Ranked Play, alongside some other features from the progression system. 

What Is Skill Rating (SR)?

Once you already have gained access to the game mode, you will start accumulating SR points by playing competitive games. This is a metric that essentially determines your skill level compared to other players. In turn, this is used to place you in one of eight Skill Divisions which helps with matching you against other players of similar skill. Each player starts with 0 SR, although that number can rise well over 10,000. Below are listed the eight different skill divisions along with the number of points needed to be in them:

  • Bronze: 0-899 SR
  • Silver: 900-2,099 SR
  • Gold: 2,100-3,599 SR
  • Platinum: 3,600-5,399 SR
  • Diamond: 5,400-7,499 SR
  • Crimson: 7,500-9,999 SR
  • Iridescent: 10,000 SR minimum
  • Top 250: 10,000+ SR

The final two divisions are somewhat special. For starters, all of the ones up to, but excluding Iridescent, have 3 Tiers: Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III. However, Iridescent has just one rank and it comprises less than 1% of all players. It’s safe to say that professional play starts at that level.

Finally, there is the Top 250 Leaderboard. As you may suggest, this division comprises of the 250 best players with the highest SR above 10,000. It will be active at the beginning of each Season and start to fill as the best players climb above 10,000 SR and qualify for Leaderboard recognition. Furthermore, to better track the pros at the very top, each one of them who reaches the Top 250 Leaderboard will have their CDL team affiliation and player profile displayed on their ranking.

It should also be noted that the #1 Ranked Play player will receive a unique, one-of-a-kind Calling Card and Emblem at the end of each Season.

How Is SR Calculated?

Of course, to climb to the top of all Call of Duty ranks, you need to know how the Skill Rating is actually calculated. SR is mainly on the result of every match played – you gain points when you win a match, or lose some if you lose a match, pretty straightforward. 

However, the exact amount may vary a lot depending on how exactly you perform during the game. More emphasis will be placed on team performance within higher Skill Divisions to ensure all winning playstyles are appropriately rewarded.

Speaking of teams, one great way to earn SR and progress up the CoD ranks is to play with friends. This will not only help with communication and team synergy but will also mean you will have more fun playing. However, in order to ensure competitive fairness and balance of matches in higher Skill Divisions, players in certain Divisions can only party up with players around their current SR, meaning you and your friends have to be of similar skill in order to play ranked together. Here’s an overview of which divisions and ranks can play with whichever else:

  • Iridescent (Including Top 250) & Crimson: Can party with players within 1 Skill Division difference. For example, a Crimson player may play with a Diamond player.
  • Diamond: Can party within 2 Skill Divisions
  • Bronze through Platinum: Can party up without any restrictions

How Do Skill Divisions Work from Season to Season?

Every new season will place you in a lower division than the highest one you’ve achieved in the previous season. Here’s the breakdown of where you will be placed based on what’s the highest division you’ve reached before:

  • Bronze – starts with Bronze Tier I
  • Silver through Crimson players – start one Skill Division back with Demotion Protection enabled for their first three matches
  • Iridescent and Top 250 players – start at the Diamond Tier I Skill Division with Demotion Protection enabled for several matches

In addition to being placed in a new division once the new season starts, you will also get various rewards based on your previous performance. The reward is determined similarly to how Skill Divisions are determined – the highest level you’ve achieved, the better the reward will be. 

One of the biggest rewards you can get while grinding up the Call of Duty ranks is Skill Division Skin. These can be used with both CDL Male and Female Operators on both Factions to represent the highest achievement you’ve reached in the previous season. Once unlocked, they can be permanently used in the following Seasons in Modern Warfare III and also Warzone. The skins themselves are aptly named based on the corresponding division:

Gold to Iridescent get the applicable “Gold Competitor”, “Platinum Competitor”, “Diamond Competitor”, “Crimson Competitor”, or “Iridescent Competitor”

Top 250 Unlock the “Top 250 Competitor” Skin by finishing a Season in the Top 250 Skill Division. It should be noted that players must be in this division at the end of the season in order to get it. This is different from other ranks, which, as we discussed, get rewards based on their highest achievement, even if they have fallen down the CoD ranks by the end of the season.

What Kind of Modes Are There in Ranked Play?

Currently, Modern Warfare III offers three different multiplayer modes:

  • CDL Search & Destroy: No respawning; 1.5-minute round timer; Friendly Fire enabled. Supported maps include Highrise, Invasion, Karachi, Skidrow, and Terminal.
  • CDL Hardpoint: 5-minute time limit; 250 score limit; 60-second objective rotation; Friendly Fire enabled. Supported maps include Invasion, Karachi, Skidrow, Sub Base, and Terminal.
  • CDL Control: 30 lives per team; 1.5-minute time limit; 3-round win limit; Friendly Fire enabled. Supported maps include Highrise, Invasion, and Karachi.

Tips and Tricks on How to Rank Up Faster

While we do not have the time and space to discuss in length all the methods of more efficiently climbing up the Call of Duty ranks, we can give you a brief overview, so that you may have some initial guidance on searching for more tips and tricks.

To win more often, you should:

  • Objective Focus – Prioritize objectives in game modes like Search & Destroy and Hardpoint. Securing objectives both helps the team effort and also rewards you with more SR at the end of the match.
  • Killstreaks and Pointstreaks – Killstreaks have been an essential part of CoD games for many years so don’t forget to use them when you can. Each has pros and cons, so select the ones that would fit your playstyle and situation. 
  • Optimized Loadouts – Modern Warfare III offers a rich plethora of weapons and equipment. There are numerous possible combinations to choose from and each could be best suited for a particular situation, map, or play style. Make sure you find the ones that are most comfortable for you. The weapon meta also changes constantly, so be sure to keep an eye out when the devs change how different guns and attachments perform.
  • Play Smart – While aggressive play can be effective, also prioritize smart decision-making. Map awareness, flanking, and controlling areas is often more important than going in for kills. 
  • Map Knowledge – Speaking of maps, make sure you learn the ones you play on. MWIII maps can be quite confusing and they also have multiple cheeky angles and spots which can be used to gain an advantage over your opponents.
  • Movement – Staying in one spot for too long will expose you to flanking attacks. Make sure you rotate around the map to confuse your opponents, flank them instead, and play for objectives.
  • Communication with the Team – Arguably the most important of all. MWIII’s ranked play is heavily team-focused so coordinating with your team whether through in-game communication or external platforms is paramount. You are likely not a one-man army, so make sure to help your teammates so that they help you. 


Climbing up the CoD ranks can be quite challenging and requires a lot of skill and dedication, especially in higher Divisions. There are multiple game modes and maps that you can play on to rank up and you should utilize a blend of map knowledge, strategic thinking, mechanical skill, and team communication to have the best chance of winning.

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