Whether you’re playing with the pros in Global Elite servers or stuck in Silver, ranks are synonymous with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Ranks can be hard to attain and maintain, but understanding the ranking system in the popular Valve shooter is key to working out just how good you are, and what you need to work on.
Not everyone will be able to climb to the dizzying heights of Global Elite, and that’s ok, but the skill gap between the average ranks can be far and few between. If you want to improve as a player, you’ll want to get studying, because understanding the ranking system in CS:GO is crucial to your development.
We can’t promise it’ll be easy though. Like all good competitive games, you’ll be taken on a rollercoaster of emotions, with every win, loss, and draw factoring into your rank, which will determine how the community sees you.
This detailed guide will cover everything you need to know about CS:GO ranks, including the difference between Competitive, Wingman, and Danger Zone ranks, and what you can do to establish yourself as a Global Elite.
How do I get my CS:GO first rank?
When you boot up CS:GO for the first time you’ll have no rank. Like many other competitive games out there, CS:GO players are expected to jump into casual servers to learn the ropes first, before committing to a serious ranked match. Even if you wanted to, you can’t, as all new players must reach Private Rank 2 before diving into the deep end.
To get started, you’ll need to play online matches of various CS:GO modes. Deathmatch is a good place to start, as you’ll be forced to try different weapons from various spawn points every time you die. Casual matches are handy too, as they follow the same rules of competitive matches, just with more players on each team.
Read more: Take some tips from the best esports teams of 2019
Once you’ve earned enough XP for level two, you can start searching for competitive matches via the matchmaking menu. You’ll need to complete ten competitive matches to get your first rank. But remember: you’ll be pitched against opponents of varying ranks, so don’t worry if you struggle to get going at first.
What are the ranks in CS:GO?
CS:GO has 18 ranks, split into six tiers. Where you fit into the ranking system determines how good you are at the classic FPS.
Here’s what they look like:
|Silver Master Elite|
|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 Master|
|Supreme Master First Class|
Silver is usually associated with new players who haven’t quite got to grips with the mechanics of the game. There’s usually a lack of strategy and communication, which can hinder players trying to better themselves. There’s also the added challenge of ‘smurfs’ for Silver players.
Gold Nova is where you’ll find the largest proportion of the CS:GO playerbase. The skill level among these players varies depending on the rank. Those towards the higher end of the scale are more likely to have better knowledge of managing the economy in-game, each gun’s spray patterns, and smokes.
Master Guardian players are typically more advanced. These players spend time in custom servers learning new ways to use utility and retake sites. If you’re aiming to reach Master Guardian, be prepared to stick in some extra hours.
What are smurfs in CS:GO?
Smurfs are higher-ranked players who play on alternate accounts to play with friends or mess about on a lower-ranked account. These types of players often stand in the way of Silvers making their way into Gold Nova.
What is the highest rank in CS:GO?
The best players in the game are found at the rank Legendary Eagle and above. These are the players who have spent time analysing their own gameplay, tweaking their settings, learning the meta, and training their aim. You’ll need to have an analytical mind to become one of the best in CS:GO. Having a good aim is one factor, but learning how to counter other players is another.
Why is my CS:GO rank different for Wingman?
Wingman is CS:GO’s 2v2 mode, played on smaller versions of some of the game’s most iconic maps. It has the same ranking system as Competitive matches.
As a smaller proportion of the playerbase play Wingman, many people find that they have a higher rank than their normal one. This is because the ranking system is weighted differently, and because you’re more likely to encounter unbalanced teams frequently – especially if you like playing with friends who have a different rank to you.
What are the Danger Zone ranks in CS:GO?
Danger Zone is a battle royale mode that Valve added to CS:GO in December 2018. It sees 18 players, or nine teams, fight to the death in an ever-shrinking battle arena. As the aim of this mode is vastly different from the game’s primary ranked mode, Valve added new ranks in 2019.
Here’s what they look like:
|Lab Rat I|
|Lab Rat II|
|Sprinting Hare I|
|Sprinting Hare II|
|Wild Scout I|
|Wild Scout II|
|Wild Scout Elite|
|Hunter Fox I|
|Hunter Fox II|
|Hunter Fox III|
|Hunter Fox Elite|
|The Howling Alpha|
What does Trust Factor in CS:GO mean?
Trust Factor is a system designed by Valve that matches you up with similar players based on your behaviour. Valve has never shared the full list of factors which contribute to a player’s rating, but we do know that behaviour, the age of your Steam account, and your hours in CS:GO and in other games play a part. So if you want to have good games, you better be on your best behaviour.
What is a Prime account and how do I get one in CS:GO?
Players with Prime accounts on CS:GO are people who have linked their mobile phone with their Steam account and have reached Lieutenant Rank 21. The system adds another layer of security to your Steam account, and acts as a filter for your competitive games in CS:GO, allowing Prime account holders to play games with one another.
This should deter smurfs from playing in lower-ranked servers and spoiling the experience for everyone else. However, since going free-to-play, players can also opt to buy Prime status from the Steam store.
How do I rank up in CS:GO?
While the process of ranking up in CS:GO can take some time, there are a few things you can do to improve your general gameplay:
- Tailor your game settings
- Practise your aim and learn recoil patterns
- Learn smokes and pop flashes for retakes
- Play with higher ranked friends
Changing your crosshair and settings can have an immediate effect, but training your aim will take a bit longer.
Fortunately, there are plenty of custom maps in Steam’s Workshop to help you out. Aim training and recoil maps serve as useful educational tools. There are also YouTube guides that break down utility usage and placement, which can be the difference between Silver Master Elite and Gold Nova I.
The best thing to remember is that experience is key. You’ll learn new tricks from every match you play. Win or lose, there’s always something worth going back and rewatching.
If you’re struggling to progress by solo queuing, take a look at the Steam Discussion Board or the Nearby Lobbies option in-game. Make friends with like-minded individuals who would prefer to go all guns blazing with a teammate. Games are, after all, more fun with friends.