The CS:GO Ranking system

Image taken from official CS:GO blog.

Getting started

So you start up your CS:GO and can’t wait to start earning badges. Try as you might you can’t find anything to do with rank, why? Although it might seem annoying at first Valve has actually come up with an intuitive way to get players to play competitively in a relevant skill bracket.

Before you can access the rank system you have to play and win 10 unranked placement matches. These 10 matches will hone in on your broad skill bracket and start you off in a higher or lower rank depending on your win ratio and performance. There seems to be agreement the highest rank you can end up is Legendary Eagle Master.

What effects rank?

As we have mentioned no one knows exactly all the details that affect rank in CS:GO. Since Valve has not made any official announcements or comments we are left to guess through experience and trial and error. Don’t worry, there are however some aspects that undeniably affect your rank.

Your current rank and your opponent’s rank

The CS:GO determines rank by using some variation of the Elo technique. The higher your rank compared to other players the less you gain from winning and the more you lose from losing. The opposite goes for the lower ranked player. Read more on Elo here. This means even in your own team different players will get different rank changes based on their individual rank.

Win/Loss ratio per match

This one should go without saying. The more rounds you win in a match up the more experience you stand to gain. CS:GO competitive matches work on a best out of 30 basis. This means the soonest you can win is within 16 rounds. A draw can also affect your ranking based on how it compares to the competitors ranking.

MVP award

The Most Valuable Player (or MVP) award goes to the player that recorded the best performance in per round and is indicated by a little star next to the player name. You can find a full description of how to get an MVP award here. The MVP award can only be given to a member of the winning team if the match ends before the expiration time. This is to make sure no one puts personal performance above team goals.

What doesn’t affect rank?

Now we got to those irritating myths that keep popping up in CS:GO. Spreading rumors that these affect your ranking in any way does not only worsen the CS:GO experience but will leave you wasting energy on useless ways. The following DOES NOT affect rank:

  1. K/D/A results and scoreboard position (unless it gets you MVP)
  2. Accuracy and headshots
  3. Achievements
  4. Hostage rescues (unless it gets you MVP)
  5. Any kind of special kills

CS:GO – How to rank up fast

Now let’s look at what you should be doing to make your ranking up process as fast, consistent and seamless as possible. The community at large and pro’s all live and die by the following rules. Experience and results will differ for everyone but even if your rank doesn’t dramatically increase it definitely can’t get worse.

Practice, practice, practice

The very nature of Elo and Glicko-2 ranking techniques make it harder and harder to change your rank as time goes. It is therefore strongly advised if you are a new player to get to know the game before playing ranked. Read up on maps and techniques, watch pro videos and matches, practice in casual matches (a lot), and don’t queue for a competitive match if you don’t feel on your A-game.

Don’t stop playing for long periods of time

Not only will your muscle memory fade and your reflexes slow but stopping for too long could also make you lose rank. If you are serious about ranking you should try and play a competitive match at least every other day to keep the skills sharp. If you don’t play for a month you need to earn back your rank with a win or draw.

Play for your team, play to win

As you have seen the most important factor is to win. No matter how well you do individually if the team loses there is absolutely no way for you to gain rank. You can’t even get MVP if your team loses the round. It is always tempting to go for many or skill kills, but resist the temptation if it risks the result.

Learn the tricks of the trade

Sure, shooting the opponent in the head gets the trick done but there are many other important techniques to master. Smoking, flashing, quick-scoping, etc. are all skills often neglected by newbies that get all the more important later on.

Get to know your locations

It is important to play on different maps, not only to keep the experience exciting for longer but also to learn different play styles. It is however recommended that you choose a pool of maps that you feel comfortable with and focus on them in competitive play. Getting to know a map like the palm of your hand can give you an important edge.

Gear up

Invest in a proper computer, mouse, keyboard, internet connection and headset. CS:GO is a game that’s all about shaving off the split seconds it takes you to react. If any of those are sub-standard it could be the difference between who gets the first shot in. Communication and sound are also key.

We hope this guide has given you a clearer picture of what you need to do to get ahead in CS:GO. Whatever your skill level now, be prepared for a long and difficult journey. It’s easy to lose sight of what’s important when playing competitively so as a final tip we just want to say: Remember to have fun!