The CS: GO rank is a badge of exclusive chance. Some players agonize over their level within the competitive matchmaking system, excited to escape 'silver hell' or push to the towering heights of Global Elite. But despite the powerful give attention to these position symbols, information about how precisely the system works is hard to find. Collated below is the best knowledge available to help you understand your competitive rank and what factors influence it.




How CS:GO ranks work
  • At the time you commence your matchmaking voyage, you'll first be requested with winning (not just completing) 10 placement complements, at a limit of two per day. These kinds of allow coming back the game's ranking system to determine your calibre. Be aware that an unranked player will be unable to queue with anyone of rank Expert Guardian 2 or higher, unless queuing with a full team of 5.
  • Once ten matches are complete, you'll be given as one of 18 Skill Groups, depending on your performance. You'll now be able to play several matches as you like, but can only queue with players within +/- 5 ranks of your own (once again, excluding a team of 5 queuing).
  • Based on successes and failures, your rank will be altered at the end of every match, assigning you a greater or lower Skill Group if necessary. The technicians behind this are still unclear, nevertheless the surest way to improve through earning as a team.
  • Take up no matches for a month as well as your Skill Group will disappear, requiring a win or draw to return it. Again, likely to no longer be able to get ranks above Master Guardian 1 until you've earned it again.
Rank distribution

This data is collected through randomly sampled matches, so extending the catchment period to a month gives a good idea of how the ranks spread out.

Inside the sample above we can see in Feb that the average ranking was Gold Nova 2, with around 35% of most players sampled in the Gold Nova bracket. When you have earned your way to Legendary Eagle, congrats, if you're in the top 10% of matchmaking players. In fact, you might be even higher than you think. The site's randomly sampling technique means that because higher ranked players will, on the whole, play the game more often, they can be disproportionately likely to be sampled. But you may be wondering what does indeed each rank actually suggest, and how does the game determine where to place you?

Elo and Glicko-2

Not surprisingly, Valve has kept extremely tight-lipped when it comes to the lining functions of its games, for fear that some players might game the program itself, prioritising their own development over the success with their team. But back again in 2015, a Control device employee let slip that CS: GO at first centered its matchmaking on the Glicko-2 ranking system, though it has since recently been adapted and improved, concerning some heavy modifications.

Probabilities are you've heard of Elo ranking. Designed for player vs player tournaments such as chess, each combatant is assigned a number to represent their rank. The difference between two competitor's numbers shows the expected outcome of the match, with the victor claiming points from the loser. Should the player better rank gain, he'll take significantly fewer points than the lower player would, outcome solved.

Since the adoption of Elo, many variations have been designed to combat some of the system's flaws. Glicko-2 is one such alternative, assigning a Ratings Deviation (RD) around a base number. A player's Match Making Rank (MMR) then becomes a range (e.g. [1000-2000]), rather than a single number (e.g. 1500). This improves accuracy; the system can then say it knows a player's rank will lie within this bracket to a 95% certainty. The better the system knows your real rank, the smaller this range will be. Glicko-2 also takes into account a player's 'volatility,' how much a rank is expected to fluctuate over time (increased through erratic performances, decreased through consistency).

However, despite Glicko-2 being an open system, clear limitations stop it from applying directly to CS:GO. Both Elo and Glicko were designed with 1v1 competition in mind. In a 5v5, team-based game, far more factors come into play. An individual player's impact on a game is a difficult thing to judge. Sure, one player can earn four kills in a round, but that may only be because of an ally securing the bomb-plant, or placing a well-timed flash. From K/D ratios to MVPs, performance statistics are varied, and Valve has said nothing about how they're taken into account with regards to rank. In response to this silence, some players have their own theories on how CS:GO's ranking system works.

Player theories

Back in 2014, Steam user RetriButioN posted a lengthy record of his experience ranking up multiple accounts. He's since updated the guide, acknowledging that all claims are based purely off his own anecdotal evidence, but it makes for an interesting read regardless. He proposes that ranking is determined on a round-by-round basis, adjusting all players involved to redetermine the expected winner. This method could explain why players sometimes rank up on a lost game, given a close scoreline. However, these cannot act as hard evidence for a round-by-round system, as external factors (e.g. previous games being removed due to a detected cheater) can also influence your ranking during a match. These outside events are more likely to explain especially bizarre claims like deranking after a 16-0 win.

RetriButioN also goes on to claim that, aside from winning and losing the round, MVPs are the only factor to affect your ranking score. The logic behind this and the guide came from the use of console command, 'developer 1,' which revealed a ranking number that changed based on rounds and MVPs. However, Valve has dispelled this claim, confirming that files stored on the user-end no longer affect ranking. However, if MVPs previously played a role, there's chance that they still do. Recently, reddit user dob_bobbs shared his own thoughts, covering the workings of the Glicko-2 system and suggesting that a high volatility may limit the loss or gain of points. The logic behind this is that a player may have an unusual bad patch or lucky streak, not indicative of their true skill, meaning that time to establish the trend is needed.

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