With that I agree, it’s really not guaranteed to, but it’s supposed to and for some people it really does. I believe the problems with the current ranked system could be fixed so it better represents your overall skill level relative to other KI players in ranked - it won’t ever be perfect but it can improve by so much!
First of all, why no rank downs? I believe back when this system was first introduced people where getting pissed off because the old way rank worked made you lose A BUNCH of points for a lost match, meaning all your effort into getting a certain rank name could be lost by just a few matches. I believe people where highly misguided when they complained about losing their “rank names” because they at the time also though ranks should be akin to levels (with enough time you are eventually guaranteed to have them) when they definitely shouldn’t, but unfortunately IG listened and changed rank systems to what it was in the majority of S2. Huge point loses where kept (at least when you lose to a lower rank) but there are thresholds where you can’t get bellow so you’re never at risk of completely losing your “progress”.
Second, the qualifier rounds. The idea is kinda neat, it allows you to avoid the grinding by already placing you a little higher than Bronze with 0 points, but with no rank downs and only 10 matches to qualify there is a HUGE risk of you being placed higher than you deserve and now there is no way around it.
Comes the current changes in ranked and I think IG tried to fix these problems while not really fixing them. First they made it a little harder to rank UP so the problem of no rank downs would be mitigated, since it’s harder for people to go up there is less need to rank down. Then they added an optional rank down that you do on purpose, kinda of adding rank downs but not quite, and then they added a single rank down point in case you’re a Killer and away for a month.
All of that indicates to me that IG is unfortunately very worried to give players a real ranked system where your skill is being measured and you WILL go down a bunch of ranks if you’re having a lousy week and losing a lot. Instead they gave us this fake ranked system that tries at the same time to measure skill and give all players that feeling of accomplishment when you see numbers go up. I don’t blame them, many players are locked in that mind set that a rank is like a participation medal and everyone should get one because they love the game and play it so much.
My suggestions to IG to make a better ranked system while trying to satisfy players who just want to measure their dedication to the game (instead of their skill with it) would be:
1 - Allow full rank ups and downs. You could add a little “protection against bad luck” by requiring something like 3 losses with 0 points in a rank to go down, but overall allow players to lose their ranks if they can’t play well enough for that league.
2 - Normalize the points again. No -200 for a loss in a qualifier round. Winning against your rank or better should give a good amount of points and winning against a lower rank should give very few points while losing to them should cost you a bunch and that’s it. With rank downs there is no need to protect the rank up. The “only rank up after playing your rank or better” is a good idea thou, it should be kept.
3 - Remove the cap on Player Level (and maybe Character Level) and make it flashier. Let IT be the prize for dedicated players that spend a lot of time with the game. Give names to the levels like you do to the ranks and maybe in the future implement additional medals as Profile Icons and Profile Taunts they can show off. Let levels be levels and ranks be ranks.
4 - That one is already implemented but it’s good to remind, keep the player levels advancing for all game modes, even offline ones.
Looking at the list we can see KI is almost there, the tools to implement good rank and level systems are pretty much already implemented, they just need to change a few rules to make the system work as it should. I think with changes like that we could have a ranked system that represents skill better (it won’t ever be perfect) while giving all players a leveling system that keeps them motivated in keep playing even when they don’t play ranked. With Shadow Lords coming we would have even more incentive for those players who don’t like ranked and only play for that Killer status.