CS:GO RANKS

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE RANKING SYSTEM

INTRODUCTION

Below is our detailed CS:GO rank guide where we have broken down everything you need to know about the game’s competitive skill groups, what each of them means, andhow to progress through each rank in the most efficient manner.Ranks play a significant role in competitive CS:GO, they directly indicate how good a player is, those with high ranks have clearly honed their skills and invested a lot of time in the game. The attraction of the top ranks is undeniable; however, if you have put in hundreds of hours in the game, you will likely understand that attaining them is not straightforward. While players put a lot of emphasis on to ranking up, there is a distinct lack of information available on how Valve’s ranking system works. This page has been designed to clear that discrepancy up by using information taken from Valve themselves and other equally reliable sources.

COMPETITIVE SKILL GROUPS

Competitive skill groups, also known as ranks, are used in CS:GO to indicate how good a certain player is, relative to all other opposition. The ranking system developed by Valve enables the game to match up two teams of five equally skilled players, so that games always remain competitive. The skill groups are an obvious incentive for players to continue to play matchmaking, with the ultimate goal being the Global Elite rank. The underlying system works in a similar way to how an ELO rating works in Chess. There is a total of 18 different ranks in CS:GO’s standard matchmaking system currently. These have remained in place since the game’s launch, they are:

Silver 1

SILVER I

Silver 2

SILVER II

Silver 3

SILVER III

Silver 4

SILVER IV

Silver Elite

SILVER ELITE

Silver Elite Master

SILVER ELITE MASTER

Gold Nova 1

GOLD NOVA I

Gold Nova 2

GOLD NOVA II

Gold Nova 3

GOLD NOVA III

Gold Nova 4

GOLD NOVA IIII

Master Guardian 1

MASTER GUARDIAN I

Master Guardian 2

MASTER GUARDIAN II

Master Guardian Elite

MASTER GUARDIAN ELITE

Distinguished Master Guardian

DISTINGUISHED MASTER GUARDIAN

Legendary Eagle

LEGENDARY EAGLE

Legendary Eagle Master

LEGENDARY EAGLE MASTER

Supreme Master First Class

SUPREME MASTER FIRST CLASS

Global Elite

GLOBAL ELITE

RANKING DISTRIBUTION

The data in the chart below has been obtained from the third-party statistics tracking website, CSGOStats. It illustrates what percentage of the current player base occupies each individual rank. While the proportions of players do fluctuate from day to day, the median is typically centered around MG3 and MG4. The top 15% of players sit within the the top 5 ranks. Additionally, it has been a number of years since the Global Elite rank has made up more than 1% of the total player population. This fact alone outlines how difficult it is to achieve this rank today, it truly does take a significant amount of dedication to the game to master it and reach the top.

CSGO Ranking Distribution

GETTING YOUR FIRST RANK

Before you have the opportunity to play competitive games, you must first earn your stripes by investing some hours into the casual side of the game and reach profile rank level 2. There are several game modes which can be played to gain the required points; these include arms race, casual, deathmatch and demolition. The quickest way to do this is to jump into some deathmatch games, which incidentally are also a great way to learn the mechanics of the game too. Once you have reached level two, you are able to jump straight in to play some competitive games in the traditional matchmaking. Here you will need to win ten placement matches to receive your initial competitive rank, unfortunately there is a limit of two per day and so it will take at least five days. Valve implemented this limit to prevent smurfs and hackers from easily plaguing matchmaking. After you have won your first ten placement matches, you will be assigned to one of the eighteen skill groupings. The highest any player can be placed is Legendary Eagle Master following ten wins out of ten, with the lowest of course being Silver I.

WHAT THE RANKS MEAN

It is difficult to define what any individual rank means in terms of a player’s skill, however it is possible for us to identify some characteristics typically exhibited by certain rank groupings.

Silver 1
Silver 2
Silver 3
Silver 4
Silver Elite
Silver Elite Master

Silvers are the least experienced players in the game who have usually only played for a short amount of time. These beginners (see: noobs) have a very poor grasp of mechanical side of the game, have no game sense, and rarely use any form of tactics when they play. People who are new to the game often complain that it is difficult to progress out of these ranks due to there being a large number of smurfs concentrated here. It is possible for players with good mechanical skill to “carry” themselves out of this rank rapidly.

Gold Nova 1
Gold Nova 2
Gold Nova 3
Gold Nova 4

Gold Novas are the most diverse grouping in terms of ability and it is where the majority of the players are found too. At these ranks players are starting to improve all elements of their game play; being able to use a range of weapons, understanding the basics of the economy, and learning when and where to use grenades on each of the maps. Currently, the average rank for a CS:GO player is somewhere between Gold Nova 3 and 4. Again, it is still possible to climb through these ranks with mechanical skill alone.

Master Guardian 1
Master Guardian 2
Master Guardian Elite

Master Guardians are the first rank grouping which is considered to consist of above average skilled players. The majority here have a good grasp of how to control recoil with most weapons, when to save and force, where a variety of different popular grenade spots are on each map, and ultimately how to capitalize on opponents’ weaknesses. Despite there only being three Master Guardian ranks, it is common to see this as a stumbling block in many players’ progression. Reaching the higher ranks requires players to critique their own play, work effectively as part of a team, and consistently practice to improve various elements of their individual game. Mechanical ability alone just will not cut it here.

Distinguished Master Guardian
Legendary Eagle
Legendary Eagle Master
Supreme Master First Class

Distinguished Master Guardian and above contains all of the games’ best players. While the top five ranks contain only around 15% of the player base, the skill differential between DMG and Global Elite is huge. Some players will invest a number of years and never reach the top rank. After all, as it stands, less than 1% of the entire playing population is ranked Global Elite. In this group of ranks it is impossible to carry yourself without an extensive knowledge of all aspects of the game, in addition to mechanical aim.

Global Elite

Global Elite is the highest achievable rank in CS:GO matchmaking, reaching it is incredibly difficult. Despite this rank containing the best players in matchmaking, this top 1% of players can vary in ability substantially. Due to this, many players who are looking for a new challenge will venture into independent matchmaking solutions such as Faceit and ESEA. In these platforms it is possible to find players with an overall higher skill ceiling than in traditional Global Elite matchmaking.

HOW TO RANK UP

Understanding the inner workings of CS:GO’s ranking system is something that the Counter-Strike community has never been able to do. Over the years Valve has remained tight lipped about their matchmaking algorithm and as a result there is a lot of misinformation about how the system works. A Valve employee announced that they are utilising a modified version of the Glicko-2 ELO system for determining skill groups. Consequently, we now know that wins have substantially more weight on a player’s overall rank than any other metric, including MVPs and kills.

When competitive matchmaking as we know it now was introduced in CS:GO in late 2012 we switched all non-competitive game modes to use simple ping-based matchmaking. For Competitive, we built a CS:GO-specific competitive ranking system that is significantly different and more complex than Elo.

The CS:GO competitive ranking system started with ideas based on Glicko-2 rating model and improved over time to better fit the CS:GO player base. All computations are performed on our matchmaking backend and multiple matchmaking parameters describing scientific set of rating variables of a player are represented to players as a their Skill Group. You should be able to find papers on rating systems involving rating volatility and rating deviations online to get a better idea about why our complex competitive matchmaking parameters cannot be represented as a single numeric value.

– Valve Employee, 2015.

Each player has an invisible ELO rating, which corresponds to the skill group they are placed in. In any given matchmaking game, each team will have a combined ELO and therefore will be assigned a probability of winning. The greater the differential that this win/loss probability is, the greater the potential net gain/loss of ranking points players see at the end of the match. Winning matches against higher ranked teams will therefore have a much greater impact on your rank than versus easier opponents and vice versa.

There is no evidence to suggest that a win or loss streak has an impact on rankings, but it would not be outside of the realms of possibility to assume that they do. Consequently, it is not the end of the world if your team loses a few games, it is more important to ensure your win to loss ratio is greater than 50%. If this remains the case, and you play consistently so that no rank decay occurs, you will eventually rank up. It really is as simple as that.

The key takeaway from this is that it is better to get consistently fewer frags as an individual, but more rounds as a team. While wins are by far the most important metric to focus on; kills, deaths, MVPs, rounds won, rounds lost, damage given, damage taken, bomb plants, and time away from the game all also likely play a role in defining a player’s rank too.

So now you have learned that ranking up in CS:GO is as simple as stringing together a few wins on matchmaking, but how can you ensure that you do that consistently? Read on below to find out how to improve your skills and climb Global Offensive’s competitive rankings.

TIPS TO RANK UP FAST

All players will eventually hit a competitive rank where they seem to plateau and no longer progress any further. Fortunately, this is something that can be overcome in most cases. If you are serious about improving your rank, you can read our top tips for efficiently improving your matchmaking rank below.

PLAY WITH A PREMADE TEAM

Improving your mechanical aim and overall knowledge of the game is not something that can happen overnight. These skills take hundreds of hours to truly develop and so they are not great ways to increase your win rate in the short term. Playing with a party of like-minded individuals, all grinding to improve their rank, is singlehandedly the best way to improve your performance in the short term. Solo queue can be a particularly painful affair to begin with, but you are also much more likely to come across toxic players if this is all that you do. If you have played competitive CS:GO for more than a few hours, then you will know that griefing is a big problem in the game and limiting it is key. If you can pull together five equally skilled players, then you will often come up against other grouped players, but not always as a full stack. If your team’s communication is strong, then you have a solid advantage over your opponents from the offset. Finding a team can be challenging, there are various websites, sub Reddit pages, Discord channels, and other resources which aim to make this easier; however, our preference is to make a close knit group of friends in-game over time by inviting players you get along with.

PLAY WITH HIGHER RANKS

This suggestion goes hand in hand with the previous one – where possible, you should always aim to try and play with higher ranked teammates. The reasoning for this is two-fold: firstly, playing with better players will lead to you being matched up against better opponents. This will therefore expose you to more advanced strategies, mechanical ability, and overall game sense. You might initially struggle, but over time you will develop your skills and be able to compete. The second benefit for this suggestion is that you will also rank up quicker too. As the lowest ranked player in a team, you are expected to get only a few frags and MVPs. However, occasionally you will have a great game, exceed the expected result for your MMR and therefore be granted relatively more ranking points.

LIMIT YOUR MAP POOL

Another great way to improve your win-rate is to simply reduce the number of maps you play. Everybody has a map that they feel super comfortable on and often this goes hand in hand with more wins. Perhaps there is one area you are great at holding as a counter-terrorist, one where you know plenty of grenade lineups and callouts, or one where you have a few additional strategies for your team. It is likely that all these variables will contribute towards a higher win percentage on that map and so if you are intent on ranking up, you should be playing that map more. One strategy that some players like to employ is to master a map which is not frequently played at a competitive level. This gives them a measurable edge over their competition.

PRACTICE YOUR AIM

Raw mechanical aiming ability is a defining characteristic of a player’s potential in CS:GO and finding ways to improve it is essential. If your ability to aim is significantly worse than your opponents, then your capacity to increase in rank will be severely limited. Regardless of your role as a player, you need to be able to contribute frags consistently, or your progress will plateau. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to quickly improve your aim, it simply requires more time spent playing. Ensuring that you use this time effectively is crucial, this can be achieved by playing deathmatch, aim botz workshop maps, or on retake servers. Any of these options ensure that a significant proportion of your time will be spent shooting enemies, thereby developing your mechanical skills.

LEARN RECOIL PATTERNS

One of the distinct characteristics of CS:GO as an FPS is the recoil that the weapons have. It is almost impossible for any new player to pick the game up for the first time and master it, regardless of how good their aim is. Learning each of the game’s weapons recoil patterns is not something that comes quickly. This is something that is only developed through playing the game a lot. Our recommendation would be to initially check out the recoil patterns for your favorite guns, then spend some time watching professional players compensate for the recoil, and finally invest a substantial amount of time refining your skills in deathmatch servers.

LEARN GRENADE LINEUPS

Spending some time watching videos on where to throw smokes, flashes and Molotov grenades will have a direct impact on your gameplay. Grenades play a huge role in CS:GO and learning where to throw them is incredibly easy too. Smoke grenades and molotovs can be used to efficiently cut off the enemy team and are perhaps the most useful for beginners. Flashbangs are considerably harder to master and so should be focused on last.

TAKE A BREAK AFTER LOSING

While it can often be tempting to continue to play after a lost game, it is best to first consider why you lost and ultimately whether you should play again. Perhaps you were pushing too much or aiming poorly? Alternatively, there could be a player in your team who is playing very poorly, and it may not be in your interest to party with them anymore. Regardless of the situation you find yourself in after a loss, there will always be something that can be improved. After all, games are typically lost because of a collective group of mistakes and not solely due to a single person. Making sure that you set some time aside after a loss can considerably help improve your performance in subsequent matches.

OPTIMIZE YOUR SETTINGS

Ensuring that your game is set up so that it consistently runs without any form of lag, graphical or network based, is extremely important. If you are lagging even the slightest amount in a fast paced FPS like CS:GO, then it will certainly be impacting your performances. Secondly, making sure that your game is optimized so that you are easily able to recognize enemies is also key. This can be achieved by adjusting the visual settings in-game so that player models are instantly identifiable across maps.

QUESTIONS

WHERE IS MY SKILL GROUP DISPLAYED?

After receiving your first competitive rank, your skill grouping will be displayed within the game’s main menu, within party lobbies, also during matches in the scoreboard. Additionally, whenever you are party of a lobby, everybody who has a competitive rank will have it shown there too.

 

WHY DON’T I HAVE A SKILL GROUP?

There are two potential reasons for not having a rank. Either you have not yet won your initial ten competitive games or have had an extensive break from the game. Valve’s matchmaking algorithm calculates a player’s skill group over the time it takes for a player to amass ten wins. Alternatively, if you have taken a long break from the game, your rank will be hidden, and you will be required to win one more game to have it re-calibrated again.

 

SHOULD I PLAY WITH LOWER RANKED PEOPLE?

This depends on what your motivations for playing are. If you are taking the game seriously and your principal aim is to rank up, then it is undeniably better to play with people at your rank or above. Valve states that the matchmaking system makes allowances for having lower ranked teammates and therefore losing with them should not considerably impact your ranking. However, if you play with people higher ranked than you, you are expected to have a bad game, relative to your teammates. If you have a good game, then you will gain massively from this performance. In the opposite scenario with lower ranked teammates, you are expected to do well. If you have a good game, you gain a small amount; however, if you have a bad game then you will lose a large amount.

 

SHOULD NEW PLAYERS PLAY COMPETITIVE MATCHMAKING?

Absolutely, Valve’s competitive matchmaking algorithm has been designed so that it consistently matches up players of equivalent ability. This therefore facilitates a great environment for new players to learn and develop in.

 

WHAT ARE SMURFS?

Smurfs are players who have multiple competitive matchmaking accounts. This enables them to play with and against players who are a significantly lower rank. It is common to find smurfs at every rank, with the majority playing in between the silver and gold nova skill groupings. Using a prime account will reduce the number of smurfs you come up against considerably.

 

WHAT IS A PRIME ACCOUNT?

Prime matchmaking enables players to limit who they play with and against in competitive CS:GO. With the setting enables, players can only play with other “Prime” players. In order to activate Prime your Steam account must have a level 21 profile rank and it must also be linked to your mobile phone. There are two main benefits of activating Prime matchmaking: Prime adds an additional level of security to your account to prevent against hackers and it reduces the likelihood you will be placed against hackers or smurfs.

 

WHAT IS TRUST FACTOR?

Trust Factor is a system that runs in tandem with the traditional competitive matchmaking algorithm. This system does not match up players based on ability; it instead matches players up based upon behavior in-game. The system will therefore aim to place serious non-toxic players, with other like-minded people. If you are keen on playing to win in a healthy team environment, the it is in your interests to behave. Valve have not publicized the exact metrics that they use to grade a player with the Trust Factor algorithm; however, it is widely assumed that account age, time playing CS:GO, number of griefing reports, VAC bans and more are all implicated to a degree. New accounts are expected to have a very low Trust Factor and so initial games can be frustrating. Valve’s rationale for this is acting against people who smurf or use cheats in competitive play.

 

DOES GETTING KICKED AFFECT YOUR RANK?

Yes, being kicked does affect your rank. If your team wins after you have been kicked, then you will gain some ranking points. Conversely, if your team loses, then you will lose some points too.

 

WHY DO I HAVE A SEPARATE RANK FOR WINGMAN?

Wingman is part of a separate matchmaking ranking system than traditional competitive matches. The number and skill level of players who play each of these game modes are vastly different. It is therefore not possible for them to share the same rank, nor would it make logical sense to, given the inherent differences between these variations. Most players will find that it is considerably easier to rank up or down in Wingman than in normal competitive games, they also typically find that their rank is higher too.

 

WHY ARE THE DANGER ZONE RANKS DIFFERENT?

Danger Zone is a Battle Royale version of CS:GO which has a completely different set of skill groupings because the game mode is significantly different to normal matchmaking. Below are the current Danger Zone competitive ranks:

 

HOW ARE COMPETITIVE RANKS DIFFERENT TO PROFILE RANK EXPERIENCE LEVELS?

Your competitive rank is a metric which can be used to gauge how good your individual skills are at the game. Profile rank is a set of experience based levels which resets to rank 1 every calendar year. This increases over time by playing casual or competitive matches and gaining experience over time. Once a player reaches level 40 they receive a service medal for the year. Below are the current profile ranks and corresponding experience levels within them:

 

WHAT ARE FACEIT AND ESEA?

FACEIT and ESEA are independent competitive gaming platforms which enable players to sign up to play various types of online games. These platforms use their own third-party servers, which are often considerably better quality than those used by Valve for traditional matchmaking. Both providers boast about their anti-cheat systems, stating that they far outperform Valve’s VAC. Additionally, the skill level of players in these ecosystems are also higher too. In fact, this is where many professional players play when they are not training with their respective teams.

RankBadgeTitleXP RequiredCumulative XP Required
0Recruit Rank 0Recruit1,000 XP0 XP
1Private Rank 1Private I5,000 XP1,000 XP
2Private Rank 2Private II5,000 XP6,000 XP
3Private Rank 3Private III5,000 XP11,000 XP
4Private Rank 4Private IV5,000 XP16,000 XP
5Corporal Rank 5Corporal V5,000 XP21,000 XP
6Corporal Rank 6Corporal VI5,000 XP26,000 XP
7Corporal Rank 7Corporal VII5,000 XP31,000 XP
8Corporal Rank 8Corporal VIII5,000 XP36,000 XP
9Sergeant Rank 9Sergeant IX5,000 XP41,000 XP
10Sergeant Rank 10Sergeant X5,000 XP46,000 XP
11Sergeant Rank 11Sergeant XI5,000 XP51,000 XP
12Sergeant Rank 12Sergeant XII5,000 XP56,000 XP
13Master Sergeant Rank 13Master Sergeant XIII5,000 XP61,000 XP
14Master Sergeant Rank 14Master Sergeant XIV5,000 XP66,000 XP
15Master Sergeant Rank 15Master Sergeant XV5,000 XP71,000 XP
16Master Sergeant Rank 16Master Sergeant XVI5,000 XP76,000 XP
17Sergeant Major Rank 17Sergeant Major XVII5,000 XP81,000 XP
18Sergeant Major Rank 18Sergeant Major XVIII5,000 XP86,000 XP
19Sergeant Major Rank 19Sergeant Major XIX5,000 XP91,000 XP
20Sergeant Major Rank 20Sergeant Major XX5,000 XP96,000 XP
21Lieutenant Rank 21Lieutenant XXI5,000 XP101,000 XP
22Lieutenant Rank 22Lieutenant XXII5,000 XP106,000 XP
23Lieutenant Rank 23Lieutenant XIII5,000 XP111,000 XP
24Lieutenant Rank 24Lieutenant XXIV5,000 XP116,000 XP
25Captain Rank 25Captain XXV5,000 XP121,000 XP
26Captain Rank 26Captain XXVI5,000 XP126,000 XP
27Captain Rank 27Captain XXVII5,000 XP131,000 XP
28Captain Rank 28Captain XXVIII5,000 XP136,000 XP
29Major Rank 29Major XXIX5,000 XP141,000 XP
30Major Rank 30Major XXX5,000 XP146,000 XP
31Major Rank 31Major XXXI5,000 XP151,000 XP
32Major Rank 32Major XXXII5,000 XP156,000 XP
33Colonel Rank 33Colonel XXXIII5,000 XP161,000 XP
34Colonel Rank 34Colonel XXXIV5,000 XP166,000 XP
35Colonel Rank 35Colonel XXXV5,000 XP171,000 XP
36Brigadier General Rank 36Brigadier General XXXVI5,000 XP176,000 XP
37Major General Rank 37Major General XXXVII5,000 XP181,000 XP
38Lieutenant General Rank 38Lieutenant General XXXVIII5,000 XP186,000 XP
39General Rank 39General XXXIX5,000 XP191,000 XP
40Global General Rank 40Global General XXXX0 XP196,000 XP

LAB RAT I

Lab Rat II

LAB RAT II

Sprinting Hare I

SPRINTING HARE I

Sprinting Hare II

SPRINTING HARE II

Wild Scout I

WILD SCOUT I

Wild Scout II

WILD SCOUT II

Wild Scout Elite

WILD SCOUT ELITE

Hunter Fox I

HUNTER FOX I

Hunter Fox II

HUNTER FOX II

Hunter Fox III

HUNTER FOX III

Hunter Fox Elite

HUNTER FOX ELITE

Timber Wolf

TIMBER WOLF

Ember Wolf

EMBER WOLF

Wildfire Wolf

WILDFIRE WOLF

THE HOWLING ALPHA

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