CS2 Ranks Explained: How They Work & How to Rank Up - KeyDrop Blog
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CS2 Ranks Explained: How They Work & How to Rank Up

KeyDrop Team

If you’re new to Counter-Strike in general or haven’t played since the CS:GO era, CS2 ranks and rating systems can prove as confusing as a flashbang. It’ll wear out by the end of this post, though—you’re about to learn everything there is to know about CS2 ranks, so no worries.

There are two separate ranking systems in CS2: one for the Competitive mode, and one for the Premier mode. We’ll cover them both, starting with the Competitive ranks. Stick around until the end for tips on how your Premier rank is calculated and how to improve it faster!

Competitive Mode CS2 Ranks (for Each Map)

Competitve-Rank-CS2

There are 18 ranks in Competitive Mode in CS2:

  1. Silver I (S1)
  2. Silver II (S2)
  3. Silver III (S3)
  4. Silver IV (S4)
  5. Silver Elite (SE)
  6. Silver Elite Master (SEM)
  7. Gold Nova I (GN1)
  8. Gold Nova II (GN2)
  9. Gold Nova III (GN3)
  10. Gold Nova Master (GNM)
  11. Master Guardian I (MG1)
  12. Master Guardian II (MG2)
  13. Master Guardian Elite (MGE)
  14. Distinguished Master Guardian (DMG)
  15. Legendary Eagle (LE)
  16. Legendary Eagle Master (LEM)
  17. Supreme Master First Class (SMFC)
  18. Global Elite (GE)

You’ll recognize them from CS:GO, but that’s pretty much where the similarities end. In CS2, you earn a separate rank for each map. So most players will have a higher rank on some maps, but lower ranks (or no ranks at all) on others. You can be a Legendary Eagle on, say, Mirage, but a Silver I on Dust 2. 

Initial CS2 Ranks per Map

What was that about no rank at all? Yeah—you start out with no rank, and need to win 10 placement matches on a given map to receive your initial rank. Note that it’s winning 10 matches, not just participating. 

Technically, the game will determine your initial rank based on your performance in all matches played on the map. But initial ranks are often on the low end of the scale—no matter how good you are, you won’t get Global Elite right off the bat. Even if you win your 10 matches in a row with excellent performance, you’re unlikely to get placed above Silver Elite Master. 

You can then work your way up the ranks by continuing to perform well in Comp matches on the map. Consistently good performance will improve your rank over time, while losing matches can cause your rank to drop. 

One more thing to note is that only matches played in Competitive Mode, specifically, count towards your Competitive Rank. So, for example, if you play Ancient in Premier Mode or elsewhere, your performance there won’t impact your Ancient Map Competitive Rank.

Reasoning Behind the Map Rank System

Many players initially wonder why ranks are achieved on a per-map basis, rather than as a general rating affecting all maps (as was the case in CS:GO). 

In theory, this system is supposed to improve matchmaking. Knowing a map through-and-through gives you a huge advantage over someone who’s never played it before, right? Your per-map rank shows not only your general Counter-Strike skills, but also how well you know the map, its angles, challenges, callouts, and so on. 

When the Competitive Rank is used in matchmaking, it should ensure that you’ll play with (and against) players who are at a similar level. So hopefully, you won’t get owned instantly by super-experienced players, or carry your low-level teammates through the whole match. 

In practice, this system has yet to prove its effectiveness. At the time of writing (which is soon after CS2’s release), most players are getting bottle-necked in the Silver Ranks—it appears that almost everyone is placed there for their initial rank. Currently, you’re still likely to run into high-level players in Silver ranks, since that’s where the game placed them and they haven’t had the time to reach their “correct” rating by grinding for wins. 

How to Rank Up in CS2 Competitive Mode

We rank up in CS2 by winning matches. Shocker, eh? 

Still, it’s the “winning matches” thing that’s the hard part, so here are some strategies to help you win more matches and rank up quickly: 

Practice Maps

Use the Practice Mode to learn the lay of the land, practice angles and test out strategies. Get a feel for the different areas of the map and learn the callouts. Knowing your way around the map will make teamwork easier once you’re in a live match. 

You can use the bot_add console command to spawn some bots for a more realistic experience. Shoot’em up until you know every inch and every corner of the map. 

Improve Your Aim

You could have every pixel of a map memorized, but that won’t help you win if you couldn’t hit a frozen bot from three yards away. 

So, practice your aim, tracking, and recoil compensation skills in casual matches with friends or by using CS2 aim training maps. Aim maps offer a more predictable, repeatable experience, so they’re likely the better option here. Many aim training maps have Headshot Mode, where only headshots do damage to bots—perfect for precision training. 

Watch Matches

After every match, review the demo to see what went well, what went wrong, and what can be improved. You’ll never get better if you don’t learn from your mistakes (and those of others). It’s also a good idea to watch pro matches online, to pick up tips and techniques. 

Take It One Map at a Time

Competitive Mode lets you choose the maps you want to queue for, meaning that you can just play the same map over and over. This could be a good strategy if you can handle the grind—focus on one map at a time to keep the layout, angles, and tactics fresh in your mind. 

Premier Mode CS2 Ranks (CS Rating)

Premier-Rank-CS2

Now for the other rank system in CS2: Premier Mode CS Rating. 

This is a general rank that’s not specific to any given map. It’s expressed in numbers, from 0 to 30,000 and beyond. Every 5,000 points, you’ll enter a new tier that’s marked by a different color. 

  • 0 to 4,999 = Gray
  • 5,000 to 9,000 = Light blue
  • 10,000 to 14,999 = Blue
  • 15,000 to 19,999 = Purple
  • 20,000 to 24,999 = Pink
  • 25,000 to 29,999 = Red
  • 30,000+ = Gold

(For those of you still thinking in CS:GO terms: you’ll be glad to know Scope.gg calculated how the old CS:GO ranks correspond to the new CS2 Rating numbers. Check out their post for details.)

How the CS Rating System Works

As with the Competitive Mode Rank, you’ll need to complete 10 placement matches to receive your initial CS2 Rating. No matter how well you perform, you’ll likely be placed closer to the bottom of the pile at first—don’t expect to get into the Red tier just with your placements. 

From there, you’ll improve your rating by winning matches and lose points by, well, losing matches. Most matches will give you around 100–200 points for a win (although it’s possible to reach over 300 points per match if you’re on a winning streak). 

Speaking of streaks, they’re a major factor impacting your score for each match. The more matches you win in a row, the more points you’ll get for each consecutive win. Unfortunately, it works the same with losing streaks—if the first loss costs you -100 points, the fourth may cost -300 or more. 

Promotional and Relegation Matches

As we’ve already mentioned, most matches will give you around 100–200 points for a win. 

When you improve your score and approach tier boundaries (i.e. about to change color, every 5000 points), you’ll start playing Promotional matches. These matches will give you very few points—sometimes as few as 1 or 2 points per win. Meanwhile, you’ll still stand to lose the standard number of points. This makes the final few points needed to “tier up” something of a grind. 

The same process applies when you’ve lost a lot of points and you’re getting close to dropping down a tier. When you’re near the bottom of a tier, you’ll play Relegation matches where you lose fewer points per match, but get the standard number for a win. All in all, Promotional and Relegation matches make it harder to rank up, but also to lose a tier. 

How Your CS2 Rating is Calculated

The exact math behind score calculation is not public knowledge, but we do know that CS Rating loosely follows the principles of the Elo rating system. Originally developed for chess, Elo is a method of determining the skill level of a player in relation to the skill levels of other players. It’s used for games where the win/loss ratio counts, rather than specific scores. Here’s a detailed guide explaining how the Elo method works (for the truly insane among you). 

Before each match begins, you’ll see the exact number of points you stand to gain (or lose) depending on the outcome. This leads some players to believe that their performance doesn’t count—just winning or losing. But it’s possible (likely, even) that the game also uses your overall performance across all matches to calculate how many CS2 Rating points you get per match. After all, if win/lose was all that mattered, useless players could get high CS Ratings just from being carried by their teammates over and over. Your opponents’ and teammates’ ratings and/or general performance are also likely to be a factor. 

How to Improve Your CS2 Rating

Without knowing exactly how the game calculates your points, it’s hard to pin down specific strategies for ranking up quickly. But there are a few things you can keep in mind as you grind your way to that Gold tier: 

Learn Every Map

In Premier Mode, you pretty much have to be prepared to play any map. Unlike with Competitive Mode, there’s no way to limit yourself to playing only specific ones here. Matches start with a pick and ban phase, which means you have limited control over what map you’ll end up playing. 

Learning the angles, callouts, and tactics for all or most maps will help you get consistent wins and streaks, which provide bonus points. 

Get the Team Together

Sure, it’s possible to gradually accumulate wins and points by solo-queuing, but it’s not the most efficient way of doing things. It’s unpredictable and uneven, meaning that getting a winning streak will be a matter of luck as much as skill. And luck isn’t the most reliable thing in the world. 

So if you can, try to put together a solid team for regular matches. If your friends don’t play Counter-Strike, you can use something like Teams.gg to find players at your level, with the same goals and schedules. Predictable teamwork will go a long way to help you win matches consistently and stack streaks every time. 

And if your friends do play CS2 but you find you’re having to carry them every time, don’t play Premier together—losing matches costs way too many points. Stick to Casual Mode or go for a local server. 

Avoid Leaving Matches

Obviously, you should be doing that anyway—but sometimes getting matched with griefers can make it hard not to quit a match. Be aware that according to player reports, abandoning a match can cost you… wait for it… 1000 points. That’s not a typo, there’s no unnecessary zero at the end: one thousand points. 

Understandably, some players are calling this penalty far too harsh—you’d have to win at least 5–6 matches in a row to get those points back; potentially even more if you lost a tier as a result of the penalty. At the time of writing, Valve hasn’t spoken out about this issue, so just keep in mind that the cost of abandoning a match can be considerable. 

At the game’s release, getting kicked during a match also resulted in significant penalties (-1000 points, some said). Valve later called this mechanic a bug and fixed it with a patch (released Oct 6, 2023). Since then, players who have been kicked receive or lose a proportion of points according to the result of the match. 

CS2 Rank Distribution

Last but not least, you may be wondering about the rank distribution in the Premier system. How many people reached Gold (spoiler alert: not many), and what’s the overall rank profile of all CS2 players? 

It’s hard to answer these questions just yet—we’re writing this soon after the release of CS2 (Q4 2023), so players haven’t had time to reach their maximum ranks just yet. It’ll be a few months at least before we see more distribution data that actually reflects players’ levels. 

Anyway, here’s some of what we know so far, according to this awesome research on CS2 rank distribution by Leetify:

  • As of November 2023, the majority (77.8%) of players have CS Ranking scores below 10,000. This is similar to the bottleneck in Silver Competitive Ranks we’ve mentioned. 
  • 15.5% are in the 4,000 points group, so just short of advancing to the Light blue tier. Promotional matches are likely slowing their progress. 
  • 3% of players are at 15,000 or higher.
  • Only 0.2% of players have CS ratings above 20,000 (Pink, Red, and Gold tiers combined). According to the CSStats Leaderboard, just 3 players have reached Gold tier by Dec 2023, although it’s worth noting that external leaderboard data is incomplete by design. 

It’s still early days, so we’ll update this post once CS2 rank distribution has evened out some more. As rank distribution evolves, we’re likely to eventually see the same trend as in CS:GO: most players placing in the middle, with numbers tapering off gradually on either end of the scale. 

Conclusion

Here’s your TL;DR on CS2 ranks: 

  • Competitive Ranks are expressed in words (Silver, Gold Nova, etc.) and are awarded on a per-map basis. 
  • Premier Ranks are numbers and aren’t divided into map categories.
  • Both ranks are improved by winning matches. Losing matches can decrease your rank. 
  • Wins stack in Premier Mode: winning streaks get you more points; losing streaks = bigger point loss.  

Good luck with reaching better ranks and higher ratings! 

KeyDrop Team

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