Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a highly competitive game, so it’s no wonder that it features its own ranking system. The thing is there are so many ranks that you can achieve in CS:GO and the inner workings of it all are so complicated that nobody knows for sure. Valve keeps their mouths tightly shut as well, so it’s up to guides like this one to shed some light on Counter-Strike ranks and how to rise through them.

Naturally, if you want to get better at CS:GO, you just have to master the rudiments: your aim, map layouts, how to place smoke grenades properly and effectively, etc. That’s a no-brainer and you gotta practice with your friends and strangers online if you want to boost your skills.

Still, the ranking system in CS:GO is something else.

Let’s begin with a list of all the available ranks, shall we? Here they are:

  • 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

Eighteen ranks, from the lowest to the highest, attainable only by a fraction of players and unavailable to mere mortals.


Anyway, achieving a certain rank and then progressing up the ladder seems to be a rather complicated process, even though it entails winning matches and working together with your team. Let’s take a look at what’s needed here.

How to gain your first rank?

If you want to receive your first rank and begin your Ranked adventure, you need to complete ten placement matches. They are limited to two per day, so it’ll take five days to assess your performance and assign a particular rank to you.

Once that’s done, you will finally be ranked.

This means you will be facing players of a similar skillset, ones whose aim, crosshair placement, positioning, map awareness and the overall grasp of the game’s rules is like yours. Time to give you some hints on how to rank up.

Reaching Gold Nova

Silver ranks mean you’re a beginner. Your aim is off, you don’t really know the layouts of the maps and it’s hard to say if you have any idea what you’re doing (/joke), but fret not, all it takes is a little practice and wins against other newbies to rank up.

Climbing the Silver ladder is rather easy, because all you need is to shoot straight here. Fans of the game suggest that you should try out headshots-only FFA game servers or grab a map titled aim_botz from the workshop. This should drastically improve your aiming skills and help you advance to the Gold Nova stage.

Reaching Master Guardian

This is where you should no longer focus on your individual performance, but your usefulness for your team. After all, CS:GO is a team-based shooter and only if you work together will you be able to achieve victory.

Perfect aim alone will not help you rise through the Gold Nova ranks unless you learn how to place your crosshair properly, learn the maps’ layouts (the radar will help you with that) and get hold of throwing smoke grenades and Molotov cocktails (deployed in right spot, these babies can make a difference). Also, you have to use your opponents’ weaknesses to your team’s advantage.

Reaching Legendary

Alright, you worked on your teamwork skills and got really good at cooperating with your allies, reaching the Master Guardian rank segment in the process. How can you attain the Legendary ones, though?

Master Guardians are usually people boasting a really sick individual skill level. Still, many of them don’t know squat about working with others to form a cohesive, deadly unit. Use this to your advantage, but also know that this can work both ways (i.e. your team may also fall apart if there is no cooperation).

Reaching Legendary takes a lot of grinding: literally thousands of hours spent on gaining experience. This will help you become a consistent player.

Reaching Supreme Master and the Global Elite ranks

You’ll reach these once you’ve put in enough time, mastered teamwork and became a perfect shot. And to be honest, there isn’t much difference when it comes to Supreme Masters and Global Elites. The former can easily wreck the latter, no problem.

What else can you do to reach the highest ranks? First off, do not resort to playing with strangers, instead form a team of players you know and respect. This will help you communicate with them clearly and with precision, greatly increasing your chances of winning a match.

Yes, communication is key here. Ignore that and you’re bound to fail big time.

Aside from that, learn from the pros, analyze their games, read all sorts of guides, ingest all the knowledge you can get.

Also, find a role you’re really good at and work to become amazing in it. Mixing roles, trying a little bit of this and a little bit of that is a rookie mistake that’ll cause your team to lose the match and hate you in the process. Focus on just one thing instead. Determine who you are – entry fragger, lurker, support, in-game leader, perhaps an AWP-er (the player who uses one the most powerful weapons in the game: AWP, or the Magnum Sniper Rifle, highly popular among CS:GOers and requiring an extreme amount of practice) – and stick to that role. Only then will you become an invaluable asset to your team.

Naturally, you can shake up things a bit and experiment with various other functions that you can play on the virtual battlefield, but better refrain from that in ranked matches, unless you want to ruin your results.

Actually, the same thing applies to maps. Pick your favorites and master them. There’s no point in squandering your time and effort on all the maps. Besides, if you get good at a bunch of these, you’ll have a much easier time

What’s the Elo system all about, anyway?

The Elo ranking system is perhaps something you’ve already heard of, since it’s used in chess. Each player is assigned a score and the victor takes the difference in points between their ranks and their opponent’s. Truth be told, a player with a lower rank has much more to gain than the one with a higher rank.

The thing about Elo is that it works well when it comes to 1 versus 1 competitions. But what about team-based games where there are several combatants fighting against each other? How should you handle that? What are the factors that are taken into consideration here?

Well, as we said above, Valve keeps these things a secret (although one employee once stated that they initially used the Glicko-2 ranking system for matchmaking), however, it seems logical to suggest that the following play a major role here: kill/death ratios, MVPs, frags, bomb plants and defusals, etc. There’s even a whole bunch of fan theories on the inner workings of CS:GO’s ranking system, as well as some anecdotal accounts that someone lost a match and still ranked up. There are also stories of folks who won a match, but got deranked as a result. Weird.

We won’t delve into those, but there seems to be a bunch of things that are pretty certain when it comes to the way the system works.

First, your ranking is determined through a wide array of factors and statistics. But it’s all stored by Valve, so it might be impossible to access these stats. This means we will most likely never learn how the matchmaking system works. All we know is that the most certain way to rank up is just to win as a team. Never go for individual stats or else things will fall apart and you’ll do yourself more harm than good.

Second, the more you play, the more difficult it might become for you to rank up. This is due to the game’s system believing it has properly determined your ranking, since it’s over a prolonged period of time. Still, improving your skills and competing with players of higher levels will help you go up the ladder.

Third, hiatuses are not recommended, as they can lead to you losing your current rank. Essentially, if you stop playing CS:GO for a couple of weeks, your skill group may no longer be there. This means you’ll have to either win or draw a match to regain your current rank. But even if you are degraded to lower levels because of a loss or an even longer break from the game, it’s not the end of the world! You just have to keep playing – and winning, of course – and you should be able to make good progress. It’s probably going to be easier than before thanks to your increased Rating Deviation, so no worries.

Alright, we suppose this covers the essentials when it comes to ranking up in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. GL & HF!