The ranking system in CS:GO is a mechanic that allows us to find out who’s the best of the best. Let’s find out exactly how it works.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a competitive shooter that involves playing and winning against other human players. Sooner or later every CS:GO player will grow tired of playing the casual game mode. They’ll feel more confident in their skill and will try to move on. And what’s the best way to move on? Why, the competitive matchmaking, of course! What makes it different from the casual mode is that it allows players to progress and play against players of equal skill. That’s the essence of CS:GO ranking system.
Taking a closer look at CS:GO rank system
To help players better understand how skilled they are, Valve has added something like levels of progress. If you ever wondered how many ranks there are in CS:GO, the answer is simple - 18.
All of the CS:GO competitive matchmaking ranks
Overall, ranks can be divided into 3 sections. First (left column on the screenshot above) are the ranks of new CS:GO players, also known as 'Silvers' among the players. Those are the guys who still learn how to play properly, don’t know all the game’s mechanics, still getting the hang of various weapons, maps and in-game movement. Usually, they aren’t the ones asking a question of how many wins does it take to get to a higher rank. Don’t expect a proper teamplay on this level.
The second group are the ranks from Gold Nova 1 to Master Guardian Elite. You can expect players of those ranks not just to know the maps and how to aim, but also some semblance of a proper teamplay. Complicated tactics or grenade executes are a rare sight. On the other hand, players of these ranks usually spend quite a lot of time on DM servers, so they definitely know how to aim at the head, a fact that can easily be a decisive factor for victory on this skill level. They definitely know how the ranks and CS:GO ranking system work. Getting to a Legendary Eagle Master is still quite common for dedicated players, however Supreme and especially Global Elite can be a great achievement, especially for someone who’s quite new in Counter-Strike.
Getting to a highest rank would require dedication and hard work on your in-game skills. It might seem easy at the glance, although the low number of Global Elite players says otherwise. Anyway, getting a Global Elite will always be an achievement of itself, so you sure can be proud of yourself if you have one!
Back in 2017, Valve added another game mode, allowing you to queue for competitive 2x2 matches. This mode, Wingman, can be another way of getting a high rank if you have a friend or find another player with the same goal.
ELO system in CS:GO
Official Steam matchmaking is not the only way you can play competitively. Other platforms, such as FACEIT, can use other forms of progression. Usually it’s something like 10 skill levels, with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest. Every level has a corresponding amount of points, called ELO (the ranked system in CS:GO).
Taking FACEIT as an example, to get to a 6th level on FACEIT, you need to get 1401 points, for 7th level - 1551 points. On average, you get 25 points for winning the game and lose the same amount for losing the game. If your opponents have higher ELO than you, you’ll get more points for winning against them. Considering this, to level up from 6 to 7 on Faceit you’ll need to win 6 games in a row.
You can read more about the Faceit ELO system here.
How to start playing ranked in CS:GO?
If you’re a new player and you’ve just launched CS:GO for the first time, the game won’t allow you to immediately play ranked matchmaking. You can think of it as a means to allow only players with at least a basic understanding of the game into competitive game modes.
Counter-Strike has an account level system. Roughly speaking, it shows your experience in various game modes. Playing on casual servers, DM, retakes and all the other maps will earn you account experience. To be allowed to a ranked matchmaking, you’ll need to get to at least account level 2, and that might require some time. Maximum CS:GO account level is 40. So, the answer to what level you need to play ranked in CS:GO is 2.
By the way, levels are, in fact, infinite. Getting to a level 40 will award you with a medal that you can find in your inventory. After that your level will be reset, but it won’t prevent you from playing competitive matchmaking.
How to know what is your rank is in CS:GO?
First of all, you’ll have to get a rank. If you don’t know how to get a rank in CS:GO, all you have to do is play competitive, also known as just matchmaking. In order to get a rank as a new player, you’ll need to win 10 games. After winning the tenth game, you’ll be assigned a rank depending on your performance on your way to those 10 wins. In theory you can get as high as Legendary Eagle this way, but that’s something only a skilled player with a new account will be able to achieve.
To see your current rank in CS:GO, open the dropdown menu on the right side of the in-game main menu. You’ll see your rank just below your nickname.
How does the CS:GO ranking system work?
If we’d take a closer look at how CS:GO ranks work, it’d be quite easy to understand. First, a player who just launched the game for the first time on Steam won’t have a rank at all, which is quite obvious. The system needs some time to test a player's basic in-game skills to understand which ranks should it set this player against.
Second, matchmaking matches players so their average rank on both sides would be similar. Meaning, if you play solo, ranks of all the players on both teams should be the same as yours. However, if you team up with your friends with different ranks, the game will find you opponents also with different ranks, similar to your and your premade’s ranks. Do you have a silver in your team? That means that the enemy team also has one. Occasionally even matchmaking can make a mistake, but that’s quite rare.
Speaking of the actual in-game matchmaking, there’s no way to know how long it will take for you to get the next rank and there’s no way to check your CS:GO ELO. Valve has deliberately disabled players’ ability to do it so the players wouldn’t abuse the numbers. And still, the players have managed to find out what the formula behind it was - it was a Glicko-2 rating system that's commonly used in chess. Since then the developers have changed the formula and nowadays we don’t have clear info on what maths behind rating are.
At the same time there’s an indirect way to guess when the coveted rank-up is going to happen. There’s nothing fancy, you just have to win more often than you lose. And yet situations like winning 12 games in a row without a rank-up may occur. Why is that? Here’s when the second factor comes into play, not only do you have to win, it also depends on how strong your opponents were. If their skill level is lower than yours, you’ll have to win many more games compared to winning against equal or stronger opponents.
Another thing to consider is your personal performance during the games.
Check the insights about your performance on SCOPE.GG.
Doing useful actions like kills, assists, grenades and doing whatever is possible to bring victory to your team - it all matters at the end of the game, whenever the hidden ranking points are calculated. What that means is even when your team is losing you mustn’t give up and try your best, this way you’ll be deducted less points than your teammates. It doesn’t work like this on every platform, like FACEIT. Check more about how FACEIT platform works.
Winrate and KDA. What is that and how does it work?
Even though CS:GO is just a game, you can’t get away from the numbers. They show the effectiveness of a player, of a team as a whole and can be a measure of your progress.
Let’s begin with KDA in ranked games. That means “Kills, deaths, assists”. First one is simple: to win in CS:GO you have to shoot better than your opponents and get as many kills as you can. Deaths are also a pretty important value as it shows how careful you are during the match. The more you die, the more often you leave your teammates at a disadvantage and the more money you lose. As for the assists, currently there’s no in-game reward except points on a scoreboard, however, they still can be used to measure ability to work as a team. Don’t forget that even the smallest things can be considered whenever the ranking points are calculated.
Average KDA can tell you a lot about the player - things like how often he practices his aim or how well he plays around the map both alone and with his teammates. You might also meet a player that deliberately tries to score high KDA. Players like this never try to attack the enemy and hide around the map instead, they’d rather get a couple more kills at the end of the lost round instead of actually helping his teammates whenever and wherever they need it. They often save their weapons instead of trying to win a disadvantageous clutch. That’s why KDA isn’t the only thing that matters.
Another thing that matters is a win rate and it’s partially affected by the overall team’s KDA. Win rate shows the percentage of wins among the total number of matches. So, winning 3 games and losing 1 would net you a 75% win rate. Matchmaking also considers this value whenever it tries to find opponents for you. Higher win rate equals stronger opponents in the next matches. If you win a lot of games, that means your current opponents are too weak for you, right?
Even if you have a high KDA, your teammates might fail to keep up with you and you’d end up losing a match. Every system tries to keep the player’s win rate close to 50%. If your KDA gets above 50%, the game will rank you up and match you against stronger opponents. And that’s how you get to higher ranks in CS:GO.
How long do you have to play to get to a higher rank in CS:GO?
As we’ve already said, to get your first rank you’ll have to get 10 wins in the competitive matchmaking. It also should be noted that new accounts are limited to 2 wins per day in competitive, so getting your first rank will take at least 5 days.
To rank up you just need to win more than you lose. On average it’s possible to rank up after 3-5 wins in a row, but that’s not always the case, considering different factors we’ve mentioned above. It’s also affected by your personal performance and your opponents’ skill level. Situations like winning 10 matches in a row without a rank-up might happen. Situations like losing several games in a row and winning a single match after that to rank up might also happen. We’ll never know how exactly this works until Valve reveals the maths behind their ranking system.
How to reset your rank in CS:GO?
There’s no way to do it. The only way to start anew is to create a new Steam account and do everything from the beginning. The developers have restricted rank reset so the players wouldn’t abuse the system to deliberately play against weaker opponents. How would you feel as a silver player if some Global Elite player would decide to reset his rank and the game would match him against you?
We hope that this guide helped you understand the CS:GO ranking system and now you’re ready for your journey to the Global Elite.