Image via Activision

MW3 Ranked Play Guide: Modes, Rules, Weapons, and Restrictions

Ranked Play is officially in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Here's everything you need to know.

Ranked Play is finally in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. Like Call of Duty League (CDL), there are custom rules and restrictions you must know to climb the ladder. I’ve collected the most important details on modes, rules, weapons, and restrictions as your companion guide.

Recommended Videos

All Game Modes and Maps in MW3 Ranked Play

Image via Activision

I love most of the classic Modern Warfare 2 (2009) maps. However, CDL play takes place on a select few. These maps and the modes were sourced based on experience and feedback from the pros themselves. These are the only modes and maps we’ll play on:

  • CDL Search and Destroy
    • Highrise
    • Invasion
    • Karachi
    • Skidrow
    • Terminal
  • CDL Control
    • Highrise
    • Invasion
    • Karachi
  • CDL Hardpoint
    • Invasion
    • Karachi
    • Skidrow
    • Sub Base
    • Terminal

Each Ranked Play map and mode was chosen for the relative balance and quality of possible competition. Based on what we have, I can conclude that the maps and modes not included are too chaotic. They give an unfair advantage based on initial spawn points, trapping capability, or general low-quality map design.

All Restricted Content in Modern Warfare 3 Ranked Play

Image via Activision

What does Restricted mean in MW3 Ranked Play? It means you can’t use whatever is marked as restricted. These are many and varied, seeking to even the playing field across all player types and in-game roles. Different players play different positions and have different things to do at any given point, whether as an anchor, a roamer, or a flex, for instance.

The restrictions cover weapons, attachments, field upgrades, equipment, and everything in between. Don’t expect there to be any killstreaks. Force multipliers like those are the enemy of competition and haven’t been part of the scene as far back as Call of Duty 4.

Here’s the full list of restricted content in MW3 Ranked Play:

Content Restrictions

  • Weapon Restrictions
    • MW3 Weapons
      • Assault Rifles
        • Holger 556
        • DG-58
        • FR 5.56
        • MTZ 556
      • Battle Rifles
        • All
      • Shotguns
        • All
      • Marksman Rifles
        • All
      • LMGs
        • All
      • Sniper Rifles
        • Longbow
        • KV Inhibitor
      • Launchers
        • All
      • Melee
        • Riot Shield
      • Pistols
        • WSP Stinger
        • COR-45
        • TYR
    • MW2 Weapons
      • All
  • Attachment Restrictions
    • MW3 Attachments
      • Muzzle
        • All Suppressors
        • All Melee Damage Muzzles
      • Barrels
        • All Silencers
      • Lasers
        • All
      • Optics
        • All Thermal Optics
        • All Night Vision Optics
      • Ammunition
        • All
      • Underbarrels
        • All Launcher and Shotgun Underbarrels
      • Trigger Action
        • All Fire Rate Triggers
      • Grip
        • All Akimbo Grips
      • Aftermarket Parts
        • All
    • MW2 Attachments
      • All
  • Equipment Restrictions
    • Lethal
      • Proximity Mine
      • Molotov Cocktail
      • C4
      • Claymore
      • Thermite
      • Throwing Knife
      • Drill Charge
      • Thermobaric
      • Throwing Star
      • Breacher Drone
    • Tactical
      • Shock Stick
      • Decoy Grenade
      • Stim
      • Snapshot Grenade
      • Tear Gas
      • Flash Grenade
      • EMD Grenade
      • Battle Rage
      • Scatter Mine
      • Smokes (Hardpoint and Control Only)
    • Field Upgrades
      • Tactical Camera
      • Inflatable Decoy
      • DDOS
      • Deployable Cover
      • Munitions Box
      • Loadout Drop
      • Portable Radar
      • Tactical Insertion
      • Recon Drone
      • Smoke Airdrop
      • Suppression Mine
      • Anti-Armor Rounds
      • Heartbeat Sensor
      • Comm Scrambler
      • Med Box
      • A.C.S.
  • Vests
    • Engineer Vest
    • Demolition Vest
    • CCT Comms Vest
    • Overkill Vest
    • Gunner Vest
  • Gloves
    • Scavenger Gloves
  • Gear
    • Control Comlink
    • Bone Conduction
    • Blacklight Flashlight
    • L/R Detector
    • Threat Identification
    • Data Jacker
    • Signal Jammer
    • Hijacked IFF Strobe
    • Ghost T/V Camo
  • Killstreak Restrictions
    • UAV
    • Mosquito Drone
    • Sam Turret
    • Bomb Drone
    • Care Package
    • Guardian-SC
    • Counter UAV
    • Cluster Mine
    • Precision Airstrike
    • SAE
    • Mortar Strike
    • Overwatch Helo
    • Juggernaut Recon
    • Wheelson-HS
    • VTOL Jet
    • Emergency Airdrop
    • Advanced UAV
    • Chopper Gunner
    • Gunship
    • Carpet Bomb
    • Remote Turret
    • SAE

How Skill Rating Works in MW3 Ranked Play

Image via Activision

Ranking up in MW3 Ranked Play is straightforward. You earn Skill Rating (SR) by helping your team win matches. You lose SR when you lose. Skill Rating increases include your personal performance and your team’s. The higher your SR, the more impactful your team’s overall performance. The goal is to reward all styles and roles.

There are eight SR tiers in MW3 Ranked Play, but everyone starts at SR 0, also known as the Bronze tier. As matches are decided, you rank up or down until you settle at one of the tiers.

  • Bronze – Starting Division
  • Silver – 900 SR 
  • Gold – 2,100 SR 
  • Platinum – 3,600 SR 
  • Diamond – 5,400 SR 
  • Crimson – 7,500 SR 
  • Iridescent – 10,000 SR 
  • Top 250 – 10,000+ SR

Players in the Top 250, who only enter that group after passing 10,000 SR, are visible to every player in the world from Day 1. However, it takes some time before the list populates, so be patient. The team affiliations and profiles of any pro players in the Top 250 are also visible, but pros aren’t guaranteed to reach the #1 spot at the end of the season. If you or another player holds the #1 spot, you receive a one-of-a-kind Emblem and Calling Card.

But I wonder if the system can be exploited. If there’s a way to cheese or otherwise sidestep the ranked grind, it will be found, and there will be thousands of YouTube tutorials about it. I hope that doesn’t happen and that Sledgehammer and Treyarch prioritize anything not a traditional cheat that still falls outside honest competition.

MW3 Ranked Play Rewards

Image via Activision

Competition for competition’s sake is nice, but rewards sweeten the deal. There are four rewards in MW3 Ranked Play: Rank rewards, Season 1 rewards, Division Skins, and Seasonal Division Rewards. Your Rank, which goes from 1-50, is separate from your SR. It persists across seasons, and requires Stars earned by winning matches. Get enough wins, and you advance in Rank. Every five Ranks has an associated reward.

All MW3 Ranked Play Rank Rewards

  • Rank 5: MW3 Ranked Competitor Skin for use with both 2024 CDL Male & Female Operators on both Factions.
  • Rank 10: MW3 Ranked Play Rank 10 Weapon Camo.
  • Rank 15: Iced Out’Animated Emblem.
  • Rank 20: Bomb Squad Weapon Charm.
  • Rank 25: Lock it Down Weapon Sticker.
  • Rank 30: Full Stack Animated Emblem.
  • Rank 35: Never Chalked Large Weapon Decal.
  • Rank 40: Top Fragger Weapon Charm.
  • Rank 45: MW3 Ranked Play Rank 45 Weapon Camo.
  • Rank 50: MW3 Ranked Veteran Emblem & Operator Skin for use with both CDL Male & Female Operators on both Factions.

All Reloaded Season 1 Rewards

You earn Season 1 rewards based on the number of wins you notch during the inaugural season of Ranked Play.

  • 5 Wins: MW3 Season 1 Competitor Weapon Sticker.
  • 10 Wins: Pro Issue Gutter Knife Weapon Blueprint.
  • 25 Wins: Script Writer Weapon Charm.
  • 50 Wins: Built Different Large Weapon Decal.
  • 75 Wins: MW3 Ranked Play Season 1 Loading Screen.
  • 100 Wins: MW3 Season 1 Ranked Veteran Weapon Camo.

Division Skins

As expected, Division Skin rewards are based on the Division you reach at Season’s end. You apply these to your CDL Operator Skins.

  • Gold — Iridescent: Earn the applicable Gold Competitor, Platinum Competitor, Diamond Competitor, Crimson Competitor, or Iridescent Competitor Skin based on your highest Skill Division reached for the Season. 
  • Top 250: Unlock the ‘Top 250 Competitor’ Skin by finishing a Season in the Top 250 Skill Division. Players must be in the Division at the end of the Season to qualify for this reward.

Seasonal Division Rewards

On top of the Skin rewards, there are cosmetics for reaching specific seasonal Divisions.

  • Bronze: Emblem.
  • Silver: Emblem.
  • Gold: MW3 Season 1 Gold Weapon Charm and Animated Emblem.
  • Platinum: MW3 Season 1 Platinum Weapon Charm and Animated Emblem.
  • Diamond: MW3 Season 1 Diamond Weapon Charm and Animated Emblem.
  • Crimson: MW3 Season 1 Crimson Weapon Charm and Animated Emblem.
  • Iridescent: MW3 Season 1 Iridescent Weapon Charm, Animated Emblem, and Animated Calling Card.
  • Top 250: MW3 Season 1 Top 250 Weapon Charm, Animated Emblem, and Animated Calling Card.
  • #1: A one-of-a-kind Emblem and Calling Card.

How MW3 Ranked Play Keeps Competitive Integrity

There are several features coming with MW3 Ranked Play designed to ensure consistency and fairness across all skill levels and divisions.

  • Penalties & Suspensions: Players who disconnect or quit matches receive SR penalties and temporary suspensions, with escalating penalties for repeat offenders. 
  • SR Forgiveness: If a matchmade player disconnects or quits mid-match, all team members outside that player’s party keep SR.
    • It’s possible to earn SR if players overcome their disadvantage, but a loss at a numerical disadvantage won’t decrease SR for players outside of the leaving player’s party.
  • Match Cancel: If a player quits or disconnects before the start of a match, the match is canceled and doesn’t count. The remaining players return to the main menu.
  • Professional Conduct Only: Friendly Fire is enabled in Ranked Play per CDL rules. Repeated Friendly Fire kicks players and gives penalties and suspensions.
  • Demotion Protection: After advancing to a higher Skill Division, players are granted temporary Demotion Protection. They don’t lose SR within the first three games in the new Division. Following that initial protection, if players lose enough SR to be demoted, they are dropped to the minimum threshold of their current Skill Division instead of being demoted. Losing their next match results in a demotion.
    • Demotion Protection is also applied for the player’s first 3 games of each Ranked Play Season. 
  • Party SR Restrictions: To ensure competitive fairness and balance in higher Skill Divisions, players in certain Divisions can only party up with players around their current SR. The player with the highest Skill Division in the party determines which Party SR Restrictions are used:
    • Bronze – Platinum: Can party up without any restrictions.
    • Diamond: Can party within 2 Skill Divisions.
    • Iridescent (Including Top 250) & Crimson: Can party with players within 1 Skill Division.

And that immense info dump is everything you need to know about ranked play in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. It’s a lot, and it’s all a lot less complicated in practice than it is to write down or read. For more on MW3, check out our Modern Warfare guides hub.

GameSkinny is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of John Schutt
John Schutt
John Schutt has been playing games for almost 25 years, starting with Super Mario 64 and progressing to every genre under the sun. He spent almost 4 years writing for strategy and satire site TopTierTactics under the moniker Xiant, and somehow managed to find time to get an MFA in Creative Writing in between all the gaming. His specialty is action games, but his first love will always be the RPG. Oh, and his avatar is, was, and will always be a squirrel, a trend he's carried as long as he's had a Steam account, and for some time before that.