CS:GO Ranks Explained

CS:GO is a competitive game. As a result, it has different skill brackets. In the lowest divisions, you’ll encounter players who have anywhere between zero and a few hundred hours of play. In the highest divisions, you’ll get to play against people who have spent thousands of hours playing the game.
In this short CS:GO guide, I will take you through the basics of CS:GO ranks, how they work, and what you can do to climb the ladder.

How CS:GO Ranks Work

You may be familiar with the notion of Elo from chess, or simply with leagues and divisions from traditional sports. In CS:GO, there’s a similar system for keeping track of every player’s performance and strength. At the professional level, the ranking is done per team. You’ll generally see the likes of Astralis, Team Liquid, or Natus Vincere dominate the ladder. But for the CS:GO community as a whole, ranking is done based on individual skill and ability to win games on the server.

CS:GO Ranks
Roman Kosolapov/123RF

In total, CS:GO has 18 official ranks. That may seem like a lot, but most people enjoy this precise level of division between the various skill brackets because it gives them a clearer understanding of how good they are.

The 18 CS:GO ranks 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

The really good players are in the top 4 divisions, which constitute around 10% of the player base, and only around 0.75% of those who play CS:GO reach The Global Elite.
When you first start, you’ll be in the bottom 5%: Silver I division. Because everyone is a beginner, players will have trouble aiming, won’t know the maps very well, won’t understand grenade usage, won’t know how angles work, and so on. However, as you play the game more, you’ll start to notice patterns, and will improve your aim and your understanding of every map. Gradually, you move to higher divisions.

How to Climb the CS:GO Ranks

If you wanted to study martial arts, you would expect to put in at least a few years before you could call yourself a martial artist. You won’t get your first belt until you’ve developed a minimum level of physical strength and a basic understanding of the techniques used.
The same is true for CS:GO. If you’re just starting out, you’ll probably remain in the Silver 1 division for several weeks or even several months. It all depends on how fast you learn, of course, but don’t expect to win every game and move through the ranks at a high speed. CS:GO ranks are a reflection of your skill, and if you want to climb you need to set out to become a better player.
The average rank in CS:GO is Gold Nova III. If you make it to that level, you are better than 50% of the people who play the game. Given how many players spend hundreds and thousands of hours in CS:GO, if you manage to reach that rank by the time you’ve reached 1000 hours, consider that successful. In a game like Dota 2, you would not be able to reach that level in 1000 hours, but because CS:GO depends a lot more on a specific set of skills, it’s possible to climb higher at a faster pace simply by learning how to aim better, or by studying one or two maps very well and competing only on those maps.
Gaining skill at CS:GO and climbing the ranks can be done in a systematic way using a specialized approach. First, train your aim with bots of maps designed for training, and then only play Dust II. If you do that for three months, you are guaranteed to get much better at the game at a higher pace. Skill can be gained by going deeper into one thing instead of trying everything at once. You won’t have much map versatility by taking this approach, but you’ll master aiming quickly.

Radu Muresan

Radu Muresan