The ultimate CSGO ranking system guide

The CS:GO Ranking System is an invaluable part of the CS: GO world. Often when you hear people talking about the game, the first question they ask is „What rank are you?“ It instantly gives other gamers at least a somewhat accurate overview of your in-game skill-level which sets the baseline for the conversation. After reading this article, you’ll know exactly where to start, how to get your first rank as well as what they consist in and how to rank up quickly in CS:GO.

Every player aims to achieve the highest potential rank, not just because then you’d be considered good in CS: GO, but also because CS: GO is considered as the flagship of all FPS games and if you’re considered a high ranked player in Counter-Strike, you’re more likely to be above average in any other FPS game as well.

All Counter-Strike Ranks

Before you have even played any competitive matches, you are standing as an unranked player. Once you have 10 competitive match wins, you will be assigned your first rank. Your first rank can vary from Silver to Gold Nova, rarely any higher than Gold Nova III.

Specifically in CS:GO, your rank determines your level of skill and then matches you up with teammates and opponents with similar skill-level so both teams could have equal chances to win. The more you win, the more likely you’ll rank up.

If you are looking for the ranks in other modes, go check out our Wingman ranks guide or our Danger Zone ranking guide.

Difference between ranks, levels and medals

Before we jump into the ranking system, there’s also another important matter we need to go over briefly to avoid any confusion. You might have noticed there’s not just ranks in CS:GO, but also XP levels.

Levels and ranks are completely separate things and have nothing in common so if you’re purely hungry to climb in ranks and get better in the game, you can simply ignore levels.

Badge Collection: difference between Level, Rank and Medal

What are cs:go levels?

The most important thing you need to know about XP levels if you’re new to CS: GO is that you need to reach Level 2 before you can play any Competitive matches, but more on that later in the „How to get started“ section. Unlike ranks, your level is not an indicator of your in-game skill, but rather an indicator of time spent in the game and the success rate in any game modes in Valve Official Servers.

If you play a decent amount of CS: GO throughout the year, then eventually you will max out your level which is 40. Once you hit level 40, you will be awarded a CS: GO Service Medal and after this, your XP levels will be resetted and you will start from level 1 again. If you play a lot, you even have a chance to grab multiple Service Medals in one year.

How to get medals in cs?

There are in total 6 different Service Medals you can grab each calendar year and every one of them differs from another displaying your dedication to the game.

Basically, the more times you hit level 40 over and over again, the more rare medals you can collect.

The most efficient way to grind XP levels is to play competitive matches because you earn about 480XP every time you play (plus multipliers, if you have them). To level up, you need 5000XP on each level and in order to reach level 40, you need to collect in total 196 000 XP.

CS GO Medals from level 1 to 5

Cs: go ranks and the Elo system explained

So how does the CS: GO Ranking System work exactly? Well… the simple truth is – nobody knows exactly. Because it’s not public information and Valve has been doing a really great job of keeping it a secret. But there are some things we know about.

To start off, we know that the ranks are equal compared to skill – the higher your rank, the higher your skill. We also know that with each win you get closer to ranking up and with each loss you get closer to ranking down. These are facts and here’s where it gets more interesting and a little bit mysterious.

We also know that the ranking system is based on ELO (which is the same system used in chess rankings) but unlike in chess, the ELO in CS: GO is highly dynamic and affected by many factors.

What affects ELO in CSGO in 2020?

The CS:GO ELO system takes into account your region, your opponent’s rank, your teammates rank, your score/kills/deaths/assists, and most importantly the number of rounds you win. Everything, basically. Unfortunately, we will probably never know exactly how it works.

  • Region of the Player
  • Your Rank
  • Rank of the opponent
  • Rank of the Teammates
  • Your score ( Kills, Deaths & Assists)
  • Number of rounds won

The ELO system is unpredictable and that’s why it’s difficult to pinpoint when exactly are you going to rank up or down.

It might come as a surprise or it just might come as you expected. Either way – the better you perform and the more games you win, the higher the chances of ranking up you have, especially if you happen to play against higher-ranked opponents.

Csgo ranking distribution

Valve has made a lot of effort over the past years to make sure the rank distribution is as balanced and as accurate as possible.

From their efforts, we can see that most of the CS: GO player base is ranked around mid-tier levels (Gold Nova I – Gold Nova Master), while less than one-third of the player base is ranked in Silver and the people who have reached Master Guardian Elite are already considered the top 20% of CS:GO, leaving the best of the best (The Global Elite) at only 0.69% of the player base.

What’s even more interesting is that to consider someone a semi-pro player, he would have to fit in the 1% of the 0.69%, meaning that reaching professional levels takes extreme effort and dedication.

Ranking Distribution

Classification of csgo ranks: what your rank says about you

Silver to Gold Nova

If you haven’t had any experience with CS: GO or similar FPS games before, you shouldn’t be surprised when your first rank is Silver. Silver rank is usually filled with players new or unexperienced to the FPS mechanics and it gives you a fair chance to start learning the basics since communication and teamplay isn’t something that makes or breaks your game.

Silver to Gold

Once you get a hold of your aim and movement, weapons and utility, you could climb yourself to Gold Nova just with your individual performance where you can then start learning about good communication and team play.

Gold nova to Master Guardian

As we saw before, Gold Nova is where most of the player base is sitting at and because of this, the skill level of these players can vary by some margin. You’ll meet players who already have a solid foundation of mechanics and movement, but their knowledge may lack in other areas or vice versa. Gold Nova is where most casual players are in and if you want to take it to the next rank and reach Master Guardian, you need to put in some extra effort.

Gold Nova to Master Guardian

So if you find yourself in Gold Nova, it’s most important that you find out your weaknesses and focus mostly on fixing these issues.

If you want to improve on specific maps, you will love our map guides where we explain everything from the best tactics to the top places to throw smokes:

Master Guardian

Master Guardian

Master Guardian players have a good understanding of the game’s economy and meta and they don’t need to rely purely on aim. You will get outsmarted, you will get outplayed, but this isn’t to discourage you. This simply means that if you’re willing to put in some extra effort, you can become the top 20% of the players in CS: GO. This is where for some people, the real competition starts.

Legendary Eagle to Global Elite

In order to achieve the highest ranks in CS: GO (Legendary Eagle – The Global Elite) you need to be ready to rack up some serious hours. We’re talking about 1000 hours and more.

This is where only pure dedication will help you. You’ll find yourself analyzing demos, watching pro players play and learning from them, consistently training your aim, practicing utility, etc. Only then you can have a chance to become the top 1% in CS: GO.

Legendary Eagle to Global Elite

As we mentioned in the beginning – if you’re high-skilled in CS: GO, you’re most probably already a decent player in any other FPS game as well-meaning that climbing for that 1% ranking is definitely worth it because not only will you get a good reputation amongst your friends and teammates but you can then simply jump into any other upcoming FPS games and instantly read the game better than most players. If you like a good challenge, then look no further.

How to get a cs:go rank

Once you get a feel on how the game works and you’ve unlocked XP level 2, you can now queue up for a Competitive Matchmaking game.

Before CS: GO gives you a rank, you need to win 10 Competitive matches and at the end of the 10th win, you will be assigned your first rank.

Whatever your first rank will be, remember that this is just the starting point. You will need to consistently improve your skills by playing more matches, doing individual aim training, learning the weapon recoil patterns, learning utility etc.

What is your current CSGO Rank?

Like everyone else, when you first launch CS: GO, you start with no rank. The only way to get a rank is to play competitive matches, but since you’re a new player, CS:GO wants you to learn some of the basics first before jumping into a serious match and you’re not allowed to play Competitive Matchmaking before you reach XP level 2 (Private Rank 2).

The best way to go about this is to play a couple of other game modes, like Deathmatch or Arms Race so you can get a first-hand feeling of different weapons and how they behave. If you want to experience what a Competitive Match would look like, you can try out Casual since it’s similar to Competitive, the difference being that it’s unranked and with more players.

How to rank up fast

There are obviously many things you need to work on in CS: GO in order to consistently improve, but to avoid confusion and make this as easy as possible for you, here’s a checklist of things you should pay attention to:

  • Find a comfortable sensitivity
  • Find a comfortable crosshair
  • Warm-up before games
  • Train your aim
  • Learn basic smoke lineups

To sum it up, if you’re just starting out with CS: GO, don’t put too much pressure on yourself and focus on having fun first – everything else will come with time. If at one point you decide you really enjoy the competitive part of the game, you can start taking things more seriously.

Rank up to Global Elite

They say that CS: GO is one of the most difficult FPS games to master and while true, you don’t always need to aim for mastery. CS: GO is also perfect for casual gamers as there are lots of laughs to be had with your friends queuing up to a competitive game after a long day. The CS: GO Ranking System is here to help you find a place where you fit so you’d get the most enjoyable experience possible every time you launch the game.

All in all, Counter-Strike’s Ranking System is extremely advanced and very efficient at what it does, taking into account almost every statistic and giving you a rank you deserve.

Sometimes you will hear people say that they play much better than their rank shows, but there’s always a reason they are where they are – being toxic, losing games on purpose, leaving games, etc are usually the reason people are stuck in a lower rank than they think they deserve. Don’t make that mistake and always remember that videogames are supposed to be fun.

Enjoy the game and get started on climbing these ranks.

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About The Author

Anthony Clement
Anthony Clement
Anthony Clement is a french enthusiastic gamer and gaming journalist with over 2 years of writing experience and ultimately the Founder of Theglobalgaming.
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