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 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.
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.
The Psychology of How to Rank Up in CS:GO
Imagine you’ve started training as a boxer and only three months into the process, you start wondering, “What must I do to get a shot at the title?” This seems to be the same assumption that most people have when thinking about their CS:GO rank. They want the results without thinking about the implications of the work.
Your CS:GO rank is simply an approximate reflection of your level of skill. If you want to know how to rank up in CS:GO, figure out how to get better at CS:GO. If s1mple or device would be given a Gold Nova I account, they would quickly reach The Global Elite regardless of problems that may arise along the way. Their CS:GO skills alone are good enough to allow them to reach the top division.
The main pitfall of wanting to rank up in CS:GO is this feeling that you are vastly better than your current rank – which is probably not true.
Playing in The Global Elite division when you’re not on that level is like trying to be a brain surgeon without having studied medicine first.
Not only will you get crushed by much better players, you will also ruin your teammates’ experience as well. And you won’t even know what you’re missing.
As a novice in boxing, train hard and find opponents of your current level in order to grow gradually and learn as much as you can. The CS:GO equivalent of this is very intuitive:
Your current rank is the perfect place to start getting better and deepen your understanding of the game. Be patient with yourself and don’t set out not to win every game, but to improve every game and use your tactics and skills to the best of your ability.
If you do that consistently, you will improve and rank up.
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.
Tips on How to Rank Up in CS:GO
CS:GO is a game that revolves around specific key things: maps, equipment, positioning, aim, communication, decision-making, and so on. To rank up faster, master a tiny aspect of the game and then play that part to perfection.
Don’t try to become a one-man orchestra. Just get really good at one thing.
For example, learn everything about one map, and then on that map, learn everything about how to guard or assault a certain position. Every game, select that map and play on that side of the map.
Do it hundreds of times in a row. If you go through this process, you will have mastered every angle and every possibility in that position. You’ll know every scenario and how to respond to it.
Pick a few weapons and train with those weapons. Pick a map and train on that map. Pick a role and train for that role. The more you switch, the harder it will be for you to specialize.
Even at the professional level, players have specializations. When you see a team like Astralis decimate an opponent on a given map of their choice, they have probably played that map in training thousands of times.
Look at football (soccer) teams for a better example. If the goalkeeper would have to play as a striker, he would look like a fool for a very long time until he learns even the basics of what needs to be done in that role.
Specialize and admit that your current rank is a reflection of what you can do for your team inside the game.