As with so many things about Valve’s peerless team-based shooter, CSGO ranks are hard to wrap your head around when starting out. There is little in the way of in-game explanations to help you figure out how to get started with CSGO rankings. It doesn’t help that earning your stripes will take a lot longer than in other competitive first-person shooters like Rainbow Six Siege and Overwatch, either.
CSGO has continued to grow, now touting a concurrent player count of over 1.4 million during peak hours. That means there are a lot of new players learning the ropes and trying to adjust to one of the best PC games of all time. However, with 18 CSGO ranks and no progress bar, it can be tricky to climb the ladder. So we thought you could use a helping hand in the unforgiving multiplayer game – here is a breakdown of CSGO’s ranking system.
How do CSGO ranks work?
CSGO is a decade old, but no one has been able to solve the mystery behind the ranking system. There are a few things we are sure about, thanks to rank-up trends and an ancient slip-up from a Valve employee back in 2015.
CSGO uses the Glicko-2 system to determine the actual rank of players. Unlike the ELO system that considers round disparity among many other factors, Glicko-2 only cares about rating volatility and deviations. Valve has modified the Glicko-2 system to suit its shooter, but those exact modifications are unknown. But, based on Glicko-2 information available online, we have concluded how the CSGO ranking system works in 2023.
CSGO ranking system assigns a numerical range to a hidden MMR rank (Match Making Rating). It is always looking for variations and spikes in your performance. Let’s say your assigned MMR is 1500-2500. No matter how many games you win, the system won’t let you out of the assigned MMR until you do something out of the box. The higher your RD (rating variability), the more chances there are of you ranking up.
So, if you play about 20 games daily, the CSGO ranking system will have more consistent data to determine your rank. If you keep performing within your skill cycle, the system won’t try hard to push you out of the rank because it has already determined you are, let’s say, a Silver at best.
Conversely, if you have a volatile history, the system will notice high variation, meaning it can’t decide where precisely to place you. This ultimately results in higher chances of climbing. Players may also use this speculated information to take more breaks when rank goes stagnant. Sometimes it’s okay to let your rank expire and bounce back with a surprise to spike the variance.
What are the CSGO ranks?
The 18 ranks in CSGO are split into six tiers: Silver, Gold Nova, Guardian, Eagle, SMFC, and Global Elite. Silver I marks the very lowest rank you can achieve in CSGO, while The Global Elite rank is reserved for the very best players in competitive Counter-Strike.
Listed below are all CSGO ranks in order from lowest to 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 I
- Master Guardian II
- Master Guardian Elite
- Distinguished Master Guardian
- Legendary Eagle
- Legendary Eagle Master
- Supreme Master First Class
- The Global Elite
As you can see, the biggest ranking clusters are Silver and Gold, which means you have to be pretty talented to reach the higher tiers like Master Guardian and Legendary Eagle. Players would also feel a significant shift in game meta and competition once they pass the Silver and Gold tiers.
CSGO ranks distribution
Wondering who you’re up against in CSGO? Well, mostly Gold Novas. In 2023, about 34.68% of the player base is Gold Nova, whereas 31.93% is Silver.
The lower ranks of CSGO are crowded with overly competitive players, which is why most people find themselves stuck within the lower ladder. This also means a bigger reward. If you manage to break through the Silver ranks, you’d eventually become part of the crème of the crop; the 0.75% of the Global Elites.
Here’s the complete breakdown of the CSGO ranks:
- Silver I: 3.9%
- Silver II: 4.23%
- Silver III: 4.37%
- Silver IV: 5.21%
- Silver Elite: 6.44%
- Silver Elite Master: 7.78
- Gold Nova I: 8.76%
- Gold Nova II: 8.79%
- Gold Nova III: 9.05%
- Gold Nova Master: 8.08%
- Master Guardian I: 7.55%
- Master Guardian II: 6.61%
- Master Guardian Elite: 5.24%
- Distinguished Master Guardian: 4.15%
- Legendary Eagle: 3.25%
- Legendary Eagle Master: 3.2%
- Supreme Master First Class: 2.64%
- Global Elite: 0.75%
How to get ranked in CSGO
Earning CSGO ranks first requires you to reach level two by playing any standard game mode: Deathmatch, Demolition, Arms Race, and Casual. Once you have reached level two, you will be able to access ranked matches. You will need to win ten matches to get ranked in CSGO, and while you are not ranked, you will be thrown into games with a broad mix of skill levels – this is very intimidating but is necessary for the free PC game to figure out which rank you belong to.
Even if you win all ten initial matches without slipping up, the highest initial rank you can get is Legendary Eagle Master. It is also worth noting that you can only get two wins per day while in the process of earning your rank – this is to deter smurfs and hackers. Once you have earned those first ten matches, you will receive your CSGO rank, which you can spot to the right of your username when viewing the match scoreboard.
Is Gold Nova a good rank in CSGO
The busiest tier of CSGO ranks is Gold Nova, with the average player weighing in at Gold Nova II, but it certainly isn’t the easiest badge to earn, especially if you’re a green CSGO player.
Novas range in skill but generally have a basic understanding of advanced components of CSGO, like recoil and spray patterns, not to mention popular smoke and flashbang spots. So, new players will likely wind up in one of the Silver ranks, defined by a high number of smurfs and new players with a fundamental understanding of the FPS game, maps, weapons, and economy.
Master Guardian homes CSGO players with a complete understanding of the game and its many tactical and gameplay nuances. Ranking higher than this, such as Supreme Master First Class, is all about finessing that skill set to perfection.
How to rank up in CSGO
Racing for the top spot on the scoreboard is not enough in CSGO. Wins matter above all else in CSGO’s matchmaking system, based on chess ranking systems like Elo and Glicko-2.
Wins are the best and fastest way to rank up in CSGO, although you can mitigate deranks somewhat by maintaining a high K/D ratio. To rank up quickly, you will need to join a squad of like-minded, skilled players who share your desire to ascend to the lofty heights of Global Elite. This also means avoiding trolls and griefers, which is always a positive.
MMR pool plays a critical role in your rank-up journey. If you are against a team with a higher MMR than you and win, your numerical value will increase much more than if you win a match against an opponent you’re expected to beat and vice versa.
The system is more complicated than this and includes metrics for how often and how consistently you play. Huge play sessions might feel like an excellent way to rank up, but for each game you play in a row, the amount of points gained or lost is decreased. So playing one or two games a day, every day, for a week, is worth more than squashing all of those games into one horrible play session. It’s also probably a lot better for you.
Many players complain about not ranking up after a huge win streak, but the reason could simply be that the last few wins in that streak were worth much less than the first two or three wins.
If you need additional support with rising through the CSGO ranks, our CSGO tips guide is here to help. CSGO remains the king of FPS over a decade after release, so be sure to check out the latest Counter-Strike 2 release date news if you’re eagerly awaiting the sequel.