How do CSGO ranks work, and how to climb the ladder

By William Davis


Mar 5, 2021

Reading time: 4 min

Now over 20 years old, Counter-Strike defied all the odds and is still one of the most popular competitive shooters in the world.

Who could have known that a game that was once only a mod would rise to become one of the most successful franchises in gaming history? The latest title, Global Offensive, modernized the game from top to bottom and added features only seen in other AAA titles making it better, and arguably the best FPS game online. 

One of those features is the CSGO Ranks system that completely changed how matchmaking works. While it feels standard now, this wasn’t always the case back in the day when user-run servers were the norm and most of the matchmaking was done on IRC.

Here’s how the rank ladder works and how to reach the top. 

How many ranks are there?

Global Offensive has 18 different ranks that you will go through until you reach the top.

It’s more than obvious that the first couple of ranks are the easiest to complete. However, as you climb the rank ladder, you’ll face greater challenges. Going through them will not be easy, so get ready to invest some serious time into playing the game.

The first six ranks you have to go through are Silver 1 through 4, with Silver Elite and Silver Elite Master. Completing these six ranks will give you a chance to grind the Gold Nova ranks going from Gold Nova 1 until Gold Nova Master. 

The first ten ranks might not be such a challenge to complete, but the next eight are a completely different story. 

Going from Master Guardian all the way to The Global Elite will be much more challenging, even if you’re an experienced player. 

To do so, you’ll have to grind through Master Eagle and Supreme Master First Class if you want to join the top 0.7% of the player base that rank as The Global Elite. It won’t be easy, but no one can ever stop you from trying.

Do we know how ranking works?

There’s still a debate about how this ranking system works, but it’s not all covered in a veil of secrecy.

CSGO uses a system called Glicko 2 to analyze data that will later be used for ranking the player according to his performance. Glicko 2 is the main tool for ranking the players in the same groups that will later be used for better matchmaking.

The system follows your live matches and analyzes key stats such as kills, deaths, and assists. It’s the best tool for categorizing the player base and separating the pros from the newbies.

The matchmaker will later use the ranking system and match up the players accordingly. There are plenty of people who get around the system, either by smurfing to intentionally play against those who are worse or boosting by using some method of getting one’s account ranked higher than it should be. It’s still a generally strong system, though.

What are the best practices for ranking up?

Like anything else in life, climbing the rank ladder is not an easy task. To reach the top ranks in CSGO, you must get ready to invest a lot of time practicing your skills and developing a winner’s mindset. There are a few particular areas to focus on if you want to maximize your chances of climbing.

1. Practice with a team

Play with friends in a relatively structured setting to practice executes and strategies for specific situations. This won’t be the same as dealing with random teammates in pub games, but playing in a familiar setting does help regardless.

2. Better communication

Learn how to express yourself clearly and concisely, and keep the comms clear unless you have something valuable to say for the team. And of course, make sure you know all your callouts. Calling out “sandwich” on Mirage is a lot more helpful than calling out “the area between connector and tetris.”

3. Practice shooting and aiming

This might sound obvious, but use the game’s practice mode. It helps a lot. Each weapon has a different spray pattern, so learning how to work around it is important if you want to get better.

4. Watch the professionals

Learn from the best. Check out some of the streamers and learn by watching their videos. They’re a valuable source of information, and you can learn a lot of tricks that you can later use in your own live matches.

How Time-Consuming Is It To Get To the Top?

It might not come as a surprise that reaching the top rank and becoming The Global Elite might take you forever to complete.

However, don’t let that discourage you from trying. Anything is possible if you have the right mindset. Take it as a challenge, and motivate yourself to join the exclusive club of The Global Elite rank that only a few already managed to do. If others did it, there’s no reason to believe that you can’t do the same.

It will take a lot of time, but the reward of being one of the best in the world will be worth it in the end. 

The Counter-Strike franchise has a bright future ahead. Despite being relatively old, the player count for the game has been trending upwards and Valve has seemingly been more invested in CSGO’s sustainability since the launch of rival shooter Valorant.

The ranking system gives players reason to stick around and contributes a lot to the game. There’s a lot to look forward to with CSGO, even in 2021.