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I've noticed that some games have the option of a "ladder match". Logic would tell me that it's a game in which you can climb to a higher rank, but if that is the case, then what is the difference between a "ladder match" and a "ranked match"? If I interpreted it incorrectly, what does a "ladder match" mean and what does it entail?

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Have you encountered games that use both terms? If not I guess they're equivalent, there's no real standard terminology. –  Anzeo Jun 30 '11 at 8:16
    
I... don't remember. I think Starcraft had both? But I don't remember for sure. :( –  Ragnar Jun 30 '11 at 10:11
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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Typically, ladder matches are like a tournament. There's a set number of games and you have to win to get to the top.

With ranked matches, that just means that your stats are tracked during the match and added to your cumulative overall stats. These stats would probably include ranked ladder matches as well as normal ranked matches.

If you play an unranked game, your stats won't be tracked and the game's outcome will not affect your overall total scores.

I'm sure certain games work these in different ways, but I think that's about how it works overall.

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