The main challenge I think for Ranked season 3 will be to give players that do not belong to the absolute top a reason to play.
What last season showed is that Ranked needs these players, whether it likes that fact or not.
Ranked is intense and time-consuming. I enjoyed it a lot, yet for me it had two faces. I learned and improved a lot. It is very challenging and rewarding at its best, but also a life-sucking vampire at its worst.
People deserve to be rewarded for engaging in this unforgiving crucible. Right now, I believe the dominant sentiment among the sub-top is that they stand to lose, and not to gain.
Almost a thousand unique accounts attempted several matches of Ranked, yet after only a few weeks nothing was left. The potential for success is there. Many, myself included, believe that an increase in population will alleviate much of the issues that Ranked has. So where did all these players go?
The most obvious answer lies in the decision to gate the Triumphant jewel behind 1000 MMR. As was explained in the past, reaching this MMR was deemed possible for everyone, yet in practice this turned out different, at least in part due to the lack of games being played. The issue is not just that it gave weak players the idea they stood little to gain, but it also gave competitive players the idea they stood much to lose.
For many players, this is the only reward that Ranked offers that has value for them. I know some will argue that they believe the rewards to be sufficient as they are, but the way the season developed has shown the majority of players disagree. That is a given, whether we like it or not.
I'll state it bluntly, if the Triumphant jewel had not been locked behind 1000 MMR, we would have had Solo Ranked matches 24/7. People could afford to simply play, and not have to worry as much about spinning with weak players or into stacked opposition. The MMR system could have done its job to ensure quality control at the highest levels of play.
The price to pay? The jewel would be a little less exclusive. Is that worth it? I'll leave that up to everyone to decide for themselves, but I think my answer is clear.
Lastly, I'd like to note that Ranked gamemodes in whatever game they are present, are just as much about the top as they are about reaching that top. If the latter cannot be made appealing, I fear Ranked will not live.
If people crave content that is only about the winners, why not host a tournament? Ranked is not that. It's a continuous process and it requires an steady influx of aspiring champions to stay healthy.
I did my best to be constructive. Don't take this as anything other than my genuine thoughts about how to improve this game mode. I greatly appreciate the work that was put into this and it was a little heart-breaking to see it die so fast.
"I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That's my dream; that's my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor... and surviving." - Colonel Walter E. Kurtz