Blizzard has finally released Patch 3.4.0 for StarCraft II, adding some much needed transparency to their rankings, as well as tightened the requirements for the highest rank achievable, Grandmaster.
Here is current StarCraft II Senior Game Designer David Kim as he talks about the changes in this Developer Update:
Blizzard has been using feedback from the last six years of StarCraft II’s existence to create a ranking system that fairly ranks players of similar skill. The community has decided a ranking system that has all of its player-base naturally rank up over time is less preferable to having a skill-based ladder. Blizzard agrees, and the new ranking system will reflect this idea.
Your new ranking system clearly displays your MMR, or Match Making Ranking, on your Ranked Ladder page. The Ranking system has been updated with an extra layer. Instead of seven ranks (Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Diamond, Master, and GrandMaster), each rank will have three tiers to differentiate between, for example, a lower ranked and an upper ranked Gold player. The tiers are a simple numeric system of 1-3, with 1 being the highest. A new progress bar has been added, displaying how close you are to your next rank. Upon filling the bar, a brand new 3D animation will commemorate your new rank. The combination of MMR to display your current skill level and your highest achieved Ladder rank will allow players to accurately see where they stand in the competitive player pool.
StarCraft II has also updated their GrandMaster requirements in order to accurately showcase only the very best players. While the Ladder has always been updated in real time, now at 5:00 PM, server time, the bottom five percent of GrandMaster players will be dropped from their position. They will now be placed, along with GrandMaster aspirants, into a Contender Ladder. At 8:00 PM, server time, the top players on that ladder will be promoted based on their current MMR and active eligibility. Key to this is the active eligibility clause, as it removes players who have played little. There will be no GrandMaster tenure available. The goal for these changes is for Blizzard to acquire a more accurate list of competitors for the StarCraft World Championship Series.
Also in the patch are Co-Op mode balances and changes, as well as a laundry list of bug fixes and minor changes. You can view the full patch notes here, or experience the changes by playing today.