CS:GO Ranks Explained 2021 - How Ranking System Works, Tips for Good Rank, Complete Guide

CS:GO Ranks Explained 2021 - How Ranking System Works, Tips for Good Rank, Complete Guide

Daniel Medado
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  • CS:GO ranks are the main basis for players to perceive someone's skill level. There are 18 different ranks in CS:GO, broadly categorized across 4 levels.
  • The CS:GO rank system is apparently based on a variant of the popular Glicko-2 rating system, as per information obtained from 6 year old excerpt by a Valve employee.
  • This complete guide on CS:GO ranks will help you attain a good initial rank, explain how exactly does the CS:GO ranking system work, and provide valuable tips on how to improve your rank.

CS:GO ranks are the main basis for identifying someone’s skill level inside the game. CS:GO is a competitive online first person shooter, and millions of people play it for the sole purpose of reaching the highest possible rank. Whether it’s to brag, for self-satisfaction, or just to have fun, there are countless people you will meet in-game who have the goal of improving in a bid to reach the top. If you’re just starting out and want to improve your rank, or have been playing for a while and want to fully understand how the ranking system works, this article will explain everything one needs to know in great detail and even provide some rank improvement tips.

RELATED:  How to Surf in CS:GO - Maps, Servers, Tips

CS:GO Ranks Explained 2021: Complete Guide

CS:GO uses the term ‘Skill Group’ to denote a player's rank in-game. If you have played competitive matchmaking before, you may have noticed that at the end of the match you can see text on top of your screen which says ‘Skill Group’. The game updates you on your rank or ‘Skill Group’ after every competitive match.

All CS:GO Ranks - Skill Group

Here is the complete CS:GO rank list in increasing order from the lowest skill group to the highest,


  • Silver I
  • Silver II
  • Silver III
  • Silver IV
  • Silver Elite 
  • Silver Elite Master


  • Gold Nova I
  • Gold Nova II
  • Gold Nova III
  • Gold Nova Master

Master Guardian

  • Master Guardian I
  • Master Guardian II
  • Master Guardian Elite
  • Distinguished Master Guardian


  • Legendary Eagle
  • Legendary Eagle Master
  • Supreme Master First Class
  • The Global Elite

In total there are 18 CS:GO ranks or skill groups which are broadly categorized into 4 levels - Silver, Gold, Master Guardian, and Legendary. Now, let’s see how you can reach these ranks especially The Global Elite.

CS:GO Ranks Explained 2021 - How Ranking System Works, Tips for Good Rank, Complete Guide
All 18 CS:GO Ranks

How To Attain First CS:GO Rank

CS:GO ranks are used to determine a player’s skill in-game, how good of a player they really are. This helps in segregating the players, so everyone can enjoy playing in their own skill groups and move up or down the ladder depending on their performance. 

The basic concept is that if you lose games you rank down and if you win games you rank up. But in reality things are a bit more complicated than that. When you understand how CS:GO ranks actually work, you will have an easier time climbing the ladders and improving your rank.

But before going further one needs to first earn their initial or first rank. For this, you will have to win 10 competitive placement matches to let the system gauge your performance across different metrics, and give you a suitable starting skill group. Do keep in mind the following points before starting out:

  • The game will limit you to 2 wins per day during your placement games. This is because the ranking system needs time to calibrate your initial ranking properly.

  • You will be unable to join the matchmaking queue with someone ranked Master Guardian II or higher, unless you are queuing with a full 5 man party. 

Once you have completed your 10 wins, the game will assign you a rank between Silver I and Legendary Eagle Master. Now that you have earned your initial rank, you can now:

  • Win more than 2 games per day.

  • Queue with people either 5 ranks below or 5 ranks above you, unless you queue with a full five man party upon which these restrictions are bypassed automatically.

  • You rank will now be affected positively or negatively after every game depending on whether you win or lose a competitive match.

  • Remember, you will lose your rank if you have not played any competitive matches for a month. To get your rank back, you will have to either win or tie a competitive game. If you have been inactive for over a month, the rank that you obtain will most likely be lower than what your rank was before having stopped playing.

Now that you have earned your rank, it will be adjusted after every competitive match you play. You will be assigned either a higher or a lower rank after a set of wins or losses. This is how you basically improve your rank, by winning more competitive matches then losing. However, the process behind it is a mystery and to be honest quite complicated.

How CS:GO Ranking System Works

How exactly does CS:GO calculate when to rank a player up or down?

Truth is, Valve has not publicly released this information. The developers have not even provided a clear explanation about how things like personal performance, win streaks, and other such factors affect a player's rank, both initial and afterwards.

The closest thing to an explanation when it comes to how the CS:GO ranking system works is a response from ‘u/vitaliy_valve’ (Valve Employee) from 6 years ago to a Reddit post about ‘CS:GO ranking guide’. The valve employee said,

“The CS:GO competitive ranking system started with ideas based on the 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 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.”

CS:GO rating model - What is Glicko-2?

The Glicko-2 rating system is a method for assessing a player's strength in games of skill. Basically, instead of keeping track of a single number (eg 1000) to identify the skill of a player like in the ‘Elo based rating system’, Glicko-2 keeps track of two factors - the rank and the rank deviation.

The rank is a hidden number that’s also known as MMR (Match Making Rating) and the rank deviation represents how accurate a player’s MMR is. Having a higher rank deviation means that the system is less confident in your rank and this results in more frequent changes to your rank.

The fact that two different factors together influence the rank or skill level of a player makes Glicko-2 a more efficient rating system, and if CS:GO rating system is based on it then we can conclude some things that can help improve your rank.

CS:GO Ranks Explained 2021 - How Ranking System Works, Tips for Good Rank, Complete Guide

How To Improve CS:GO Rank

As the CS:GO ranking system is apparently based on the concept of the Glicko-2 rating system, these are some factors you should keep in mind when trying to improve your CS:GO rank.

  • The more games you play in the same skill group, the harder it is to rank up or down.

This is due to the nature of rating deviation. When you continually play games against people who are around the same rank as you without improving, your rating deviation will increase. As a result, the ranking system will believe that your MMR has been calibrated accurately and going forward the MMR will adjust less. So you will have to win more games and play harder to improve your rank.

To avoid this when you’re first starting out, you should practice these fundamental skills before heading straight into the competitive matches.

  1.  Aim -  You can practice on aim maps, I recommend the famous map Aim Botz.
  2. Movement - Understand how your player moves around the map.
  3. Economy - Understand the economy of both the CT and T Side.
  4. Map Knowledge - Learn the common callouts first then slowly learn all of them.
  5. Utility - Learn basic utility usage and lineups.
CS:GO Ranks Explained 2021 - How Ranking System Works, Tips for Good Rank, Complete Guide
  • Kills alone will not help you rank up.

Many different factors go into calculating your MMR which directly affects your rank, and you can try your hardest to find out the exact information, but you will probably not find anything. However, there is one thing which you can do to assure ranking up and that is to win the game. 

In order to achieve this you might want to inculcate the habit of teamwork over solo performance. Play more objectively to make sure that the round win is assured and for this you might need to make some sacrifices at times.

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How To Check Your CS:GO Rank

You can always check your CS:GO rank by following these easy steps,

  1. Launch CS:GO.
  2. Move your mouse to the right side of the screen.
  3. The sidebar menu will expand.
  4. If you have an available rank, you will see it over here.
CS:GO Ranks Explained 2021 - How Ranking System Works, Tips for Good Rank, Complete Guide

Tips For Getting High Initial CS:GO rank

These are some tips you should keep in mind if you want a really good starting rank. 

  1. Pre-Aiming is a shortcut to good aim.

    Practicing your Pre-Aim means improving your crosshair placement. If you practice enough, your crosshair will most likely be pointing at the right spot when you’re about to peek an angle. This will give you a massive advantage as you will have to spend less time on adjusting your crosshair.

  2. Use Utility right, or don’t use it at all.

    Utility can be very useful in many different situations. You will have to do some of your own studying on when and where to use different grenades. If you don’t bother understanding the different scenarios of when to use grenades, you are better off not using them at all, as you can get punished by your opponents or you might end up hurting your own team with badly used utility.

  3. Never too late to practice your aim.

    It is never too late to practice your aim, whether you just started out or you are already a global. Players at the highest level practice their aim all the time. You will have to experiment with your in-game settings like sensitivity, scoped sensitivity, and store them all as part of your launch options.

  4. Use earphones or headphones while playing to hear in-game sounds better.

    Using headphones or earphones is essential in competitive online games. Being able to hear enemy footsteps, grenade pins, and reloads is essential for any CS:GO player who is trying to improve their rank.

  5. Prioritize team work over solo play and always give priority to the objective.

    Use in-game voice or chat to relay information like enemy locations and health. Being friendly also helps your team a lot.

  6. Use the best available CS:GO Launch Options.

    CS:GO launch options can boost your fps and make your game run better which is essential in online competitive games. You can find our list of best CS:GO Launch Options for 2021 by Clicking Here.

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Daniel is an aspiring esports writer and a student. When he's not covering CS:GO or playing League of Legends, he enjoys watching livestreams of esports tournaments.

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