Basically, Valve’s player hierarchy is comprised of 18 ranks with each rank more skilled than the last. The ranks are in the following order from the bottom to the top:
– Silver I (S1)
– Silver II (S2)
– Silver III (S3)
– Silver IV (S4)
– Silver Elite (SE)
– Silver Elite Master (SEM)
– Gold Nova I (GN1)
– Gold Nova II (GN2)
– Gold Nova III (GN3)
– Gold Nova Master (GNM/GN4)
– Master Guardian I (MG/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).
“Silvers” are at the bottom of the food chain; it’s the rank where players are total beginners, and there’s little to no strategy involved in gameplay. This range of ranks are where “smurfs” (higher ranked players on alternate accounts) are commonly found. Escaping the silver division is extremely challenging for newer players because of smurfs.
“Novas” sit in the middle of the bell curve as they’re beginning to learn more and more about the game, such as economy, spray patterns, smokes, pop-flashes, etc. The upper nova ranks act as the true checkpoint for being above-average. Players who are “all aim and no brain” are most commonly found in Nova, meaning that they can aim their gun and kill enemies, but they lack the game sense to improve.
If you have “Master Guardian” in your rank, players are generally more advanced. They already have knowledge of sprays, economic buy trends, site execution with utility, and retake coordination. Moving up anywhere past the MG ranks requires perfecting your skills, learning from your mistakes, and making incremental changes to your playstyle for improvement.
Anything above DMG (LE through GE) is where the elite of Counter-Strike reside. These guys are really, really good at finding ways to kill you.
Improving your rank is pretty rudimentary: if you win enough games, then you rank up. Losing games will derank you.
CS:GO follows a modified Glicko-2 ranking system, according to Valve. Essentially, this algorithm evaluates a player’s skill pool based on their round influence, and whether their team wins the round. Factors such as kills, deaths, MVPs, assists, damage given, and bomb plants all affect a hidden numerical value that determines your place within a rank. A general in-game model to follow would be to play for the round win and not for kills. The amount of kills you have doesn’t matter as much if your team is consistently losing. Those kills only play as a long-term role in preventing you from deranking.