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Counter Strike: Global Offensive Ranking System

The ranking system in Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS: GO) is one of the most competitive ranking systems online today. It truly tests your wits and puts you in an appropriate bracket based on your skill. CS: GO has a separate ranked matchmaking playlist where you can rank up or down based on your in-game performance.

Thanks to the competitive ranking system of CS: GO, you will always be able to find teammates and opponents with the same skill level as yours. This is why, as you reach higher skill groups, the matches also get exponentially more intense.

Competitive Skill Groups

There are 18 different competitive skill groups in CS: GO that you can be in based on your performance.

Counter Strike: Global Offensive Competitive Skill Groups

These skill groups are (lowest to highest with common abbreviations):

  • Silver I (S1)
  • Silver II (S2)
  • Silver III (S3)
  • Silver IV (S4)
  • Silver V (S5)
  • Silver Elite (SE)
  • Silver Elite Master (SEM)
  • Gold Nova I (GN1)
  • Gola Nova II (GN2)
  • Gold Nova III (GN3)
  • Gold Nova Master (GNM)
  • Master Guardian I (MG1)
  • Master Guardian II (MG2)
  • Master Guardian Elite (MGE)
  • Distinguished Master Guardian (DMG)
  • Legendary Eagle (LE)
  • Legendary Eagle Master (LEM)
  • Supreme Master First Class (SMFC)
  • The Global Elite (GE)

Even if you are a Gold Nova I, you are considered "too good" at CS: GO. This is how competitive the skill group gets as you rank up (i.e. Gold Nova I is exceptionally high skill level). The ranking system of CS: GO is based on the Elo rating system, a method for calculating players' relative skill levels, similar to how it is done in Chess.

The Global Elite pool contains a handful of players who have mastered this game to another level. These guys are highly skilled and won't even give other players a chance to pull the trigger.

Ranking Up

When you first jump into CS: GO, you won't be in any of the above-mentioned skill groups. You can normally see your skill group displayed next to your name in party lobbies, scoreboards, and even the main menu screen.

Silver Elite Skill Group (Assigned)

To get your first rank, you must first reach Private Rank 2 in CS: GO by playing casual matches or deathmatch. Once you've reached Private Rank 2, you will be able to play competitive games.

Once you reach Private Rank 2, jump into one of the competitive matches, and play at least ten matches. You must finish all ten to receive your first rank.

Note that if you take an extended break from CS: GO competitive matchmaking, the skill group is not visible on your profile. In order to get it back, you must win at least one game after for the system to recalibrate your rank and put you in a skill group based on that.

Not playing the game for an extended period expires the skill group

Profile Rank VS Competitive Skill Group

Profile rank is completely different from the competitive skill group. Profile rank is displayed above your competitive skill group, and it increases based on your match XP. You can earn match XP by playing either casual matches or competitive. However, to be eligible for match XP in competitive, you must complete the full match. The max possible profile rank is 40.

All 40 Profile Ranks in CS: GO

Once you reach max level 40, you can also get a service medal, but that is only possible after trading in your 40 levels. You will then need to reach Private Rank 2 again to enter competitive matchmaking. You can repeat and get another service medal by reaching level 40. This is similar to the prestige system seen in the Call of Duty games.

2020 Service Medals 1 to 6 (top left to bottom right)

Your competitive skill group is assigned based on your competitive matchmaking alone. The competitive rank can either increase or decrease based on your in-game performance.

Best Way to Rank Up

In CS: GO, the only best way to rank up is by winning competitive matches. You need to win at least 5-6 consecutive matches to rank up, albeit this is not always the case since there are other factors to be considered.

If you finish 5-6 games with the highest score in your team, you will have higher chances of ranking up. This means you should get MVPs (Most Valuable Player) in the matches with at least 1+ K/D (Kill/Death Ratio).

Post-match screen showing the titles each player get based on their performance

Another method that can help you rank up fast is by playing with players in a higher competitive skill group than you. This is technically "boosting," but it is highly effective if you win games while playing with higher skill groups.

CS: GO Ranks Distribution 2020

As mentioned before, the competitive ranking in CS: GO is based purely on your skillset. You can see a graph below that shows CS: GO ranks' distribution in 2020. This is the latest graph provided by csgo-stats.com.

CS: GO 2020 Ranks Distribution (source: csgo-stats)

As you can see in the above distribution, Gold Nova II (8.81%) and III (8.73%) make up the majority of the total CS: GO players in 2020, followed by Gold Nova I (8.52%) and Gold Nova Master (8.17%). The Gold Nova tier I to Master comprises of over 34% of the players. This is highly unusual to see, as Gold Nova is more of a higher tier group. More populated tiers should have been the common Silver tiers.

After the Gold Nova tiers, we have Master Guardian I with 7.39%, Master Guardian II with 6.30%, and Master Guardian Elite with 5.25%. You will notice that after Gold Nova Master, the percentage of players keeps declining moving forward towards Master Guardian Elite and beyond.

Silver tiers are certainly not behind when it comes to being common, as the Silver pool constitutes exactly 33% of the total player base in 2020, with Silver 1 sitting at 4.51%, Silver II at 4.33%, Silver III at 4.39%, Silver IV at 5.37%, Silver Elite at 6.70% and Silver Elite Master at 7.70%. It is just 1% less than the Gold tier. Out of all the Silver groups, Silver Elite Master is at the top with 7.70% and Silver II with the least percentage of 4.33%.

Let's turn to the top tiers with the least number of players out of all the competitive skill groups. It shouldn't come as a surprise that these skill groups have the least number of players, for it takes hundreds or thousands of hours of practice, on top of complete dedication to this game.

The top tier skill groups' percentages include Distinguished Master Guardian with 4.07%, Legendary Eagle with 3.16%, Legendary Eagle Master with 3.19%, Supreme Master First Class with 2.61%, and finally The Global Elite with an understandable 0.78%. The top tier skill group only accounts for over 13% of the total player base, with less than 1% for the highest skill group, The Global Elite.

As mentioned before, this game truly tests your wits and skills. And to be the best in CS: GO, you have to put in the work. Getting to the top skill group is a true definition of hard work and grind. Earning that Global Elite icon is an achievement in itself that truly qualifies you for bragging rights!

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Gaming has been a part of Hassan’s life for as long as he can remember. Not only does he game well, but he also holds excellent overall knowledge about the industry. He keeps his eye open for gaming-related content to make in-depth guides on and is always keen to share his experience. Find Hassan on LinkedIn.