What Do the NCL Brackets Mean?

Once you finish the National Cyber League (NCL) Preseason, you get a fun email letting you know that you’ve been sorted into Brackets for the Individual competition. But what do these distinctions mean? How does Silver differ from Gold in the long run? Here I’ll give you the broad Bracket distinctions and how they affect your experience as a player.


Uh oh! Someone forgot to play in the Preseason!

If you’ve been placed in the Pewter Bracket, that means that there was no data for the Cyber Skyline team to use to sort you into the other three Brackets. Overall, your scores won’t be counted on the leaderboard during the Individual Game, and you won’t get a Scouting Report at the end of the season.

If you started in a different Bracket and you are (Ada Lovelace forbid) caught cheating in the Preseason, Individual, or Team Games, you’ll be knocked out of the race and into Pewter. Don’t take this as a challenge. The Cyber Skyline team sees you when you’re scanning, they know when you’re awake, they know when you’ve submitting counterfeit flags, so be good for goodness sake!


If you’re relatively new to the Games or are just starting out in cybersecurity, you’ll probably end up here. To be fair, 50% of players end up in this Bracket, so you’ll be in good company regardless! If you’re bummed about your placement, don’t worry! You’re still going to be climbing the same leaderboard as everyone else.


Good show! 35% of players get into this Bracket, so you’re doing pretty well! If you were really struggling with those log or exploitation questions and need a little bit of a boost to up your rank next season, there are tons of available resources both on the NCL website and right here on this blog to get you going!


By the calluses on your fingers and the strain in your eyes, it seems like you’ve made it to the top 15% of players! Congrats! Either you’re a veteran of the games or are really good at learning new concepts on the fly. With enough energy drinks and Google at your side, you’ve flown your way to the top. Will you be able to keep up this pace during the Individual Games? Only time will tell…

So What Does It Mean?

“So what?” I hear you cry, “What’s the functional difference between these rankings?”

In summary? Not much.

Though your Preseason rank may be an indicator of how much time you are willing to put into the Game (and therefore where you might place in Individual), it won’t drag you down in any way. All players get access to the same challenges regardless of Bracket, so it wouldn’t be shocking to find someone from Bronze make it into the top 100, or even win the Games outright.

What really matters in the long run is dedication. If you want to learn and grow, you’re going to do so regardless of what Bracket you are in. So go forth and learn! When it comes right down to crunch time, you may learn something about yourself and your drive for competition you didn’t already know before…

Moritūrī tē salūtāmus
– WebWitch

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