Ranked is a term describing ranked servers, players who participate there, and tracks which are played on such servers. The most important difference between ranked servers and other (non-ranked, "casual" servers) is that the results of races on ranked servers are submitted to STK Player Ranking. This can cause some major and sometimes unexpected consequences.
Why Ranked is so different?
First of all, there is a type of players who
care really care about ranking, their position there, etc. So players tend to be more concentrated to win as much time as possible to win more points, which is natural. Though, players can try to cheat for some reason, and some players can blame other players of rank that (in their opinion) is too big compared to the actual skill. Another thing are players' feelings even in a normal ranked race, depending on the amount of points they get, or depending on luck. So ranked can provide unbelievable emotions.
Points are abstract values that are supposed to rank players by skill: the more skilled a player is, the more points a player should have. However, this is not always true. Ranking system can be not ideal, and points can be actually changed by external factors. Though ranking system quality can be discussed.
The ranking that was in power in versions 1.0 and 1.1 was rather complicated
as it should be so we won't display here the whole algorithm. Here are the main features of this ranking system and ranked in general:
- Ranking is Elo-based, which means the winning probability is supposed to be defined using only the points difference between players.
- A new player gets 2000 points, while during the first 40-100 races he gains 2000 more points supposedly (of course, it depends on skill, one can gain more or less, but in general, if one has few races, his points tend to grow dramatically, no matter what happens).
- The more experienced you are, the less you can gain or lose.
- The more points you have, the less points you gain and the more you lose. Moreover, if you won not enough time from a less ranked player, you can even lose points.
- To win against a player fully, one needs to have a gap of 1 second per 40 seconds of one's race time (or, if we suppose that a race lasts roughly 2 minutes, then it's 3 seconds). This implies that there is not a big difference between 10s and 20s gap.
- If a player disconnects ("rage quits"), he loses A LOT of points, especially if he is higher ranked. This was introduced to encourage players to finish in case of a bad race, but in practice players who disconnect because of technical issues (and thus rarely) suffer a lot because of this.
- Longer races can bring more points (as it is actually promised)... but not for top players even if they win in dominant style.
- Ranking inflation exists, for example, since summer 2019 the number of points for 10th player increased by 1500).
- STK server is the only thing that actually plays a game, and players actually only send signals to it and receive some information to display the world correctly, so if one tries to modify the config locally, this won't bring extra speed, but rather lag and slowdown because the synchronization would be bad. That's why it is said "cheating is impossible"...
- ...so the only way to cheat is creating several accounts. This can be unfair because this way an account can gain points using fake "games" between several accounts by the same player, or a player can use different accounts for different players --- in other words, such accounts do not reflect the real skill, gained in rivalry with all usual players. However, there are many opinions on mobile accounts.
- In addition, some players are creative enough to use VPN so others cannot identify them... or can, but this makes banning them complicated. Please please don't use it unless you really need it (for example, you cannot connect otherwise).
- There is probably only one trick to really cheat the game, but it's not that serious.
- Ranking is usually criticised by literally anyone, and some players even do deletrolling. We encourage everyone to bring something positive to this and to discuss and contribute to ranking (and any other area that needs to be improved)!
In August 2020, a new ranking system was introduced alongside the 1.2 version. This ranking is based on 1.1 ranking, with many changes that attempt to deal with some known issues. Some of the changes are:
- There are now two main values used for rating calculation: reliable score (which is listed in the Scores column) and deviation. For a new player, the starting score is 1300, and the deviation is 1000. The greater the deviation, the less reliable the score is (actually for the players with high deviation the score is lowered, so you need to play for some time for your rank to be stabilized).
- Deviation is lowered after each race and raised after a disconnection.
- Another value holds the disconnection rate among the last 64 races (or less if they are not completed yet). The greater the rate, the more a player is penalized for disconnecting from the race.
- Each day at 00:00 UTC players get ranking decay. Players that were not active during this day have more points subtracted (about 4) than those who were playing. However, those who have less than 1300 points can have increased points after that. The ranking deviation is increased.
- This ranking has much bigger points changes for new players, which is supposed to help them establish their true points after smaller number of races.
- There was a testing server based on Addons Ranked before the release, however, the testing didn't last long, and the decay was introduced only after the new ranking started to work.
A known feature/issue of 1.2 ranking is the fact that there is a minimal deviation value based only on the number of disconnects. It can probably be exploited in the following way: if a player disconnects
x times in a row, gets some deviation, and then plays
64 - x races, the deviation can reach its minimal value (which is greater than 100 and is based on
x only) before completing those 64 races, so in the remaining races the player doesn't spend the deviation and gains points in the case of win, while everyone else loses deviation.
A much more exploitable issue lies in the fact that every ranked server stores locally the points of the players currently present on it. This means that if a player quits a ranked game and manages to move to another ranked server before that game ends, the second server will store locally the points before that race, and any subsequent race on this server will make the points of that player not dependent on the result of the game on the first server. Basically, this is a way to cancel for yourself any bad game, the only thing needed is to quit in time.
List of Ranked servers
Sorted by availability for European users which are the major part of players.
- Poland Ranked - normal race, known for having networking issues sometimes.
- Sweden Ranked Race - normal race, quite a new ranked server.
- Addons Ranked - normal race, has addon tracks, one of the most modern servers, but some players complain on lags a lot so it may depend on player. It is closed sometimes.
- Chicago Ranked - normal race, just a ranked server, not very popular though.
- HK STK #1 (Ranked) - time trial, the unique ranked server which gives 40% faster changes. Best for players from Southeastern Asia, may be playable for other players but it really differs.
- HK STK #2 (Ranked) - normal race, a server with same lags as HK STK #1.
- Strasbourg Ranked - normal race, the other European ranked server which was pretty ok in terms of lags but was also old (it had version 1.0), which caused checkline issues and even ranking resets for players. Was closed after someone complained again and again.
- TextGames #1 (Ranked) - normal race, was closed in late 2019 (?). It wasn't as popular as European servers, though.
- London Ranked - a new (rumored) planned location for a ranked server.
- Bretagne Ranked, Ireland Ranked - pseudoranked servers.