Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive

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CSGO Ranking Explained - The In-Depth Guide
By RetriButioN
Are you confused by the obscure description provided by Valve regarding how ranking works? Do you not know how Elo works? Have you struggled to rank-up from Silver to Nova? Are you stuck at a particular rank and unable to rank-up even after a lot of wins? You've come to the right place.

In this guide, I will try my best to explain how ranking works in CSGO and what you need in order to increase your rank. Bear in mind that everything I describe is based on my personal experience with countless alt accounts and smurfs; in other words I do not have any official citation for my claims. However, I do believe what I write is true due to the fact that I have owned and played on more than 50 different alt & smurf accounts (I bought many CSGO gifts during sales) in the past and have gained ranks from Silver to Eagle.
What ranks are there in CSGO?
You can view all ranks available in CSGO in the image below, from lowest to highest:

* Image taken from Official Counter-Strike Blog.
Elo Rating System in Chess
Taken directly from Wikipedia Article[].

Originally posted by Wikipedia:
The Elo rating system is a method for calculating the relative skill levels of players in competitor-versus-competitor games such as chess.

The difference in the ratings between two players serves as a predictor of the outcome of a match. Two players with equal ratings who play against each other are expected to score an equal number of wins. A player whose rating is 100 points greater than their opponent's is expected to score 64%; if the difference is 200 points, then the expected score for the stronger player is 76%.

A player's Elo rating is represented by a number which increases or decreases based upon the outcome of games between rated players. After every game, the winning player takes points from the losing one. The difference between the ratings of the winner and loser determines the total number of points gained or lost after a game. In a series of games between a high-rated player and a low-rated player, the high-rated player is expected to score more wins. If the high-rated player wins, then only a few rating points will be taken from the low-rated player. However, if the lower rated player scores an upset win, many rating points will be transferred. The lower rated player will also gain a few points from the higher rated player in the event of a draw. This means that this rating system is self-correcting. A player whose rating is too low should, in the long run, do better than the rating system predicts, and thus gain rating points until the rating reflects their true playing strength.
Elo Rating System in CSGO
One might ask, if Elo Rating system is used in 1-Versus-1 game sessions, how can it be implemented in a team-based 5v5 game such as CSGO? The answer is simple, every round (please bear in mind every ROUND, not every game) will be treated like a single game of chess wherein the team with higher Elo Points is expected to win. Each team consists of 5 players which may or may not have the same rank, therefore their total Elo Points will be considered for the purpose of prediction. Consequently, a player with less Elo Points than the rest of the team would lose (give to the enemy team) less points than one with more points in case of a Round Loss and vice versa.

Please bear in mind, that each Rank covers a seemingly wide range of Elo Points. For instance, two people with the same Rank may not have the same amount of Elo Points. A player close to promotion would obviously have more Elo Points than one close to demotion, even though both have the same Skill Group (Rank). A skill group is more like a tag on a certain range of Elo Points.

One other thing worth mentioning is the fact that the Elo Point range considered for deciding a player's Skill Group is NOT relative. What this sentence means is that for example if players with Elo Rating of 1000-1500 are considered MGE, when a player with 1450 Points gains 51 more points, he will advance to DMG but he WILL get demoted back to MGE if he loses the exact same 51 points in the next games. I explained this because another guide claimed that the seemingly slider used for deciding ranks gets "reset" on each promotion and/or demotion which I believe is false. The reason it's rare to derank on a loss immediately after gaining a rank is because it's unlikely to lose enough points to cause it NOT because the points are reset.

In order to shed some more light on this subject, I would provide you the following example, please bear in mind that the numbers and information provided is just for the purpose of this example and may not (and probably aren't) exact:

MG2 = 500-999 Points
MGE = 1000-1499 Points
DMG = 1500-1999 Points
LE = 2000-2499 Points

Team #1 consists of 4 MGEs and 1 DMG with a total points of 6900:
  • Player A = MGE with 1200p
  • Player B = MGE with 1350p
  • Player C = MGE with 1050p
  • Player D = DMG with 1850p
  • Player E = MGE with 1450p

Team #2 consists of 3 MGEs and 2 DMG with a total points of 6600:
  • Player F = DMG with 1600p
  • Player G = MGE with 1100p
  • Player H = MGE with 1050p
  • Player I = DMG with 1650p
  • Player J = MGE with 1200p

As we can see Team #1 has higher total points than Team #2 even though they have lower ranks. Consequently, Team #1 is expected to win rounds until they lose enough points to have less total points left than Team #2. Team #1 will gain less points on Round Wins than Team #2 because they are expected to win, but if Team #2 turns it around and Win Rounds they will take more points from Team #1 than the other way around. All points won and lost are taken from the oposite team, you don't get points out of thin air. If a player gains points, another most lose.

Even though Team #2 gains more Total Points if the win rounds, the points are NOT evenly distributed among its members. The member with less Elo Points gets a bigger share than one with more. Consequently if Team #2 wins a round and takes for example 100 Points from Team #1. Player H will get more points than Player I because he had less points. Each player will NOT get 20p.

The game does NOT predict if a Team is supposed to win a game or how many rounds a team is supposed to win. Every single round is treated as a chess match. The Team with more points is always expected to win until they lose enough to the opposite team for them to have more points. So a Team with more points always loses more points on Round Loss and gains less points on Round Win than the opposite team.

However, there is another factor taken into consideration which is MVP. MVP is given to a player which has done the most work for their team. Please note that a player with 5 kill can still lose the MVP to a person who defuses or successfully detonated the bomb. The reason for this is because, CSGO is a team-based game, a player can kill the whole enemy Team but still lose the round because he may not have the defuser to defuse the bomb in time.

A player with most point on each team is expected to take the MVP each round until someone else gains more points. If the player with most points gains the MVP, he will receive his predicted share of Elo Points deducted from the enemy team, however if another player receives it, that player will take some of the gained (those added because of the win, NOT his original points) Elo Points from the player with most points. In other words, any play who gains an MVP will get a SIGNIFICANTLY larger share of Elo Points than other players.

MVP does NOT generate Elo Points out of thin air, it only grants a larger share of the won points. If the player with most Elo Points scores the MVP, he will may or may not receive more points than the other players because it all depends on the setup of the team and how much points each player has. But generally speaking, scoring an MVP will have a huge impact on how much points a player receives for a Round Win.
Factors affecting Elo Points
There are two and ONLY two factors that can affect a player's Elo Points (either gain or loss):

The first and foremost is Round Win/Loss:

You and other players on your Team will always lose points if a round is Lost. How much point each player loses depends on how much points they had in the beginning. A player with more points would lose more than a player with less points in case a round is lost.

You and other players on your Team will always gain points if a round is Won. How much point each player gains depends on how much points they had in the beginning. A player with more points would gain less than a player with less points in case a round is Won.

Bottomline: It is impossible to gain Elo Points on Round Loss and lose Elo Points on Round Win.

The second important factor is MVP:

The player who scores an MVP is rewarded a significantly larger share of Elo Points than the other four players (which COULD HAVE but didn't score the MVP). However if the player with most points gains a MVP he will always get less points than a player who does not have the most points. Please do not confuse this sentence, he will still get a lot more points than the other four players that didn't get the MVP.

Bottomline: The player with most MVP will most likely gain more Elo Points than others.

Anything listed below does NOT have ANY effect on Ranks & Points unless it leads to a MVP:
  • Kills, Assists & Deaths
  • Teamkills or Suicides
  • Headshots
  • Accuracy
  • Grenades kills, knife kills, stylish kills or anything of this sort
  • The time each rounds takes (to win or lose)
  • Losing/Winning with or without the bomb planeted
  • Soreboard position and/or Score
  • Achievements gained during each round (if any)
  • Hostage rescues or shots
  • Damage given and/or Taken
  • etc. (Anything else you can imagine)

So what affects your rank (points gained or lost) in a nutshell is:
  • Current Elo Points (rank)
  • Round Win/Loss
  • MVPs Gained
How Skill Groups (Ranks) Work
Each Skill Group (a.k.a Rank) covers a wide range of Elo Ratings (a.k.a Points). For instance, two players with the same rank do NOT have necessarily have the same skill and Elo Points. Players closer to a promotion (a.k.a. rank-up) will posses more points and players further away from it. If a team of 5 Eagles is matches with another team of 5 Eagles, it does not necessarily mean that it has 50% chance of winning and each team will take the same amount of Elo Points in case of a Round Win.

What I mentioned above is the most crucial fact that people seem to not consider. In order to gain a rank you will need to accumulate enough Elo Points that is set as the minimum requirement. Same applies for deranking. Let's assume a player with Elo Points ranging from 1000 to 1499 is considered MGE. A player who has 985 points will need at least 15 more points to be promoted to MGE, it does NOT matter how much points he loses and how much points he gains in the process. As soon as he fulfills the 1000 requirement, he will be promoted to MGE in the system. The actual display might be delayed for a match or two for various reasons, but he WILL still be matched against players of similar Elo Points (i.e. he will be matches against MGEs even though he is MG2).

What I'm trying to say is, there is no delay or miscalculation regarding the actual Elo Points. That is the reason we sometimes see players of lower skills groups and even unranked players matched against those of higher ranks. The reason is because their Elo Points are similar and they're very close to promotion. The system does NOT match people based on their Skill Groups, it finds matches based on your actual and exact (yet invisible) Elo Points.
Promotion-on-Loss Dilemma
There are many claims of Ranking-Up on a Game Loss and Deranking on a Game Win, some are with screenshots and/or even videos. So one might ask if it's possible. Mathematically speaking, it is possible to derank on Game Win and/or rank-up on a Game Loss (please note that I wrote GAME not Round), however it's extremely improbable and rare.

Based on how Elo Rating works in CSGO, it is possible for an individual player to hypothetically gain enough points through Round Wins in order to neglect all the loss and advance to the next Skill Group. However, the skill group difference has to be very vast (i.e. he has to be matched against players of higher skill groups on enemy team and players of lower or same skill group on friendly team) and he also has to score most or maybe all of the MVPs. In that case, if his team loses very closely (14:16 i.e.) and he is VERY close to advancing to the next Skill Group, he might be able to get promoted. Because he will gain a little bit more points than he loses since the enemy team was not supposed to lose that many rounds.

Please bear in mind that it is only impossible to gain points on ROUND Loss, but it is mathematically possible to win enough rounds to gain points while still losing the Best-of-30 Round game. However, I am unsure if it's currently possible after the recent matchmaking tweaks and updates.

The exact opposite can also be true, one player might be able to lose enough points to derank even if he wins a 30 round game.
What happens on Tie or Draw
A tied match or a draw would not have any significant or special difference compared to a win or loss because it's all based on Round results. Both a promotion and demotion is very possible when a Draw happens.

Please note there is no such thing as Round Draw, the only thing that exists is a Game Draw. One side will always lose some Elo points to the other team everytime a round ends. The only exception is if all 10 players abandon (NOT disconnect) at the same time. If all 10 players abandon before the game starts, no points with be transferred.
Effect of Surrender on Elo Points
UPDATE 2 June 2016: The old information is inaccurate now. Here's how Surrendering a match affects your rank:
Your rank will be updated based on the Round Results (at the time of surrender) and your personal stats such as MVPs. Basically, if you Surrender a match while you have more round wins than the enemy, you will GAIN rank points and vice versa. So it's usually a good idea to surrender a match once you're ahead of the enemy so you wouldn't risk losing it instead.

Another seemingly confusing matter, is surrendering and how it affects the ranks of Players on each team. You can only surrender if a Teammate leaves (and receives cooldown for doing so), and there are people claiming that if you surrender you will not lose any Elo Points which is not true.

This subject can be observed from two different point of views, first I will describe what happens to the player who leaves a match. A player who leaves a match will keep any changes to his Elo Points until the points round he leaves. For example if a player loses the first 3 Rounds of the match and rage-quits, he will only lose the points for those 3 rounds and how his Team performs afterwards will NOT affect that individual at all. Same is applied if he wins some rounds and disconnects for any reason. So in a nutshell, if a player wins a round and leaves, he will get some points (although very little) and vice versa. Please note that the finished game will still show up as loss in history, the extra rounds won or lost whatsoever have no effect on his Elo Points.

But what happens to the remaining players is a bit different than normal matches. From the round a player leaves, they will have the extra Elo Points removed from their total points and all points gained will be distributed only among 4 players. The BOT will have 0 Elo Points, and will never gain or lose points. An MVP gained through a BOT control will result in Elo Points being normally distributed among the 4 players (the game will assume no one gained an MVP and thus no one will gain the EXTRA BONUS). Please don't confuse this with less points gained, they will still take the full amount of points from the enemy team, however it will be more evenly distributed among the 4 remaining players.

So if a player leaves, the remaining 4 players of that team will gain significantly more points for Round Wins and the enemy team loses a significantly more points for Round Losses. That is because, it is highly unlikely for the 4 player team to beat a 5 player team (based on Elo; BOT is not considered). So in a sense, it's not really a good idea to surrender IF you're strong enough to Win ROUNDS. However, the moment your team surrenders, any extra rounds out of 30 will be forfeited and all players will keep the changes to their Elo Points.

To sum it up, if you lose against a team with a leaver, you will lose a lot more Elo Points and if they surrender everyone would keep their current ratings. Thus, it's not uncommon for someone to derank even if they win through a vote surrender. Because they might have lost enough rounds and thus enough Elo Points for a Demotion. Everytime a player leaves, the Elo Rating System will be revised for the remaining players, no matter how many they are.
Effect of Kick on Elo Points
UPDATE 2 June 2016: The old information is inaccurate now. Here's how being kicked from a game affects your rank:
Your rank will be updated once the game is finished, you will retain all the ROUND STATS (W/L) however your personal stats (including MVP) for the rounds that you didn't participate in (after being kicked) would be nullified. It would be basically the same as AFKing all the extra rounds without dying.
So overall, the effect of being kicked out of a game would ALWAYS be negative. In other words, being kicked out of the game has increases the amount of rank points LOSS and decreases the amount of rank point GAINS.

The effect of Kick is the same as a normal leave, the only difference it that it won't unlock the option to Vote Surrender. So if a Team votes of an individual player, they will only lose the advantage of keeping their current points through a surrender. They will however, gain significantly more points if they Win Rounds which is unlikely.

The voted-off player (doesn't matter if he receives cooldown or not) will keep any changes made to his Elo Points until the round he was kicked and the rest of the match will have no effect, even though it shows up as a loss in history. If a player is kicked by 4 other players who queued together, the whole match will be nullified.
Rank Difference in MM Lobby
Matchmaking is based on total (NOT average) Elo Points of each team, when a player with low rank queues with a player of high rank, he will contribute little points towards the total because the player with a higher rank would have a lot more points than the player with a relatively low rank. The system however, still matches them with a team of similar Elo Points (Points NOT Rank).

For example, let's assume a Silver IV player with 100 Points queues with a MGE with 1200 points and no one else. These two players with have 1300 Elo Points in total. The server tries to find three teammates and 5 enemies which results in a fair match with as little Point difference as possible as quick as possible. So the team it finds will most likely be like:

Team #1 consists of 2 MGEs, 2 MG2s and 1 Silver IV with a total points of 3800:
  • Player A = MGE with 1150p
  • Player B = MGE with 1200p
  • Player C = MG2 with 700p
  • Player D = MG2 with 650p
  • Player E = Silver IV with 100p

Team #2 consists of 1 MGE, 3x M♥♥♥♥nd 1 MG with a total points of 3900:
  • Player F = MGE with 1150p
  • Player G = MG2 with 800p
  • Player H = MG2 with 850p
  • Player I = MG2 with 650p
  • Player J = MG with 450p

It's considerably more likely to get matches with people of higher rank rather (still with fair Elo Points) than lower rank UNLESS the other team has a low-ranked people queued with a high-ranked one too. As you can see, the match above is still fair based on Elo Points even though the Team #1 has a Silver IV and every member of Team #2 is MG+.

Another fact worth mentioning is that every time Team #1 wins a Round, Player E will gain significantly more points than others because of the Elo Points difference. This is the reason lower ranked people tend to get "carried" to higher ranks by queuing with high-ranked people.

Please don't misunderstand this, queueing with low-ranked people WILL NOT make you lose more points upon a Round Loss because each match will be fair based on total Elo Points (once again this is NOT average, people who think it's average got it wrong) but it WILL make them gain more points and rank-up faster. This is fair because you're obviously less likely to win against MG+s with a Silver IV on your team anyway.
Unranked & Expired Ranks
Every new account will display its skill group after 10 Wins (NOT 10 games) and every expired rank due to inactivity will be displayed after a Win (again, not a game). The Skill Group displayed is based on Elo Points, not the other way around. This is the most important thing to remember.

Unranked people will start with default Elo Points and will gain/lose those points based on how the perform, once they have reached 10 wins, they will display the Skill Group in which (range) their Elo Rating is. Please bear in mind that being Unranked is NOT the same as being Low Ranked. It's possible for an unranked account to accumulate enough point to be matched against Eagles in its 10th game so it's safe to assume that the unranked person you see at the game of the game has close Elo Rating to the other players.

Same rule applies for Expired ranks due to inactivity, they will have the same Elo Points as before and only have their displayed Skill Group removed. As soon as they win a single game, they will display the current Skill Group their Elo Ratings is in.

One might ask why a WIN and not a game? That's a good question. The reason is because they tend to lose (most likely) Elo Points and ranks as long as they don't win and get matched against player with lower Elo Rating. The team they win is the team which is most likely to have members of the same skill so they will gain the same ranks as the team they won against. In other words, they keep playing against easier and easier opponents until they find a fair match.

It's been pointed out that expired ranks can also be possibly redeemed through a DRAW (Tie), however it wouldn't generally make much of a difference anyway.
How to Rank-Up Fast
Queue with 4 friends who have higher rank than you and have them let you get the MVP for Plant/Defuse whenever possible. You still need to be able to win a lot of rounds from the enemy team.
Regarding "developer 1" rank information
If you enter "developer 1" into your console, you will be able to see a number related to your Rank (or Elo Points) every time you finish a round which counts as an evidence towards the fact that your Elo Rating is changed every time a round is finished.

EDIT: An Official Valve Employe has confirmed that these variables presented in gamefiles are NO LONGER VALID and have no direct effect on ranking calculatings. I didn't claim they were related, but Valve has just confirmed these data are obsolete and irrelevant.
Clarification of "leaderboardsconfig.txt" information
Inside your "csgo" folder you will find a template for Global Leaderboards which mentions the word Elo. Some people argue that the factors presented in this file have a seemingly unknown effect on the actual Elo Rating used for matchmaking.

Some (not all) of the mentioned stats included in this file are (THEY HAVE NO EFFECT ON RANK):
  • Kills\Assists\Deaths\Damage
  • Score\Stars (MVP)
  • Wins\Losses
  • Plants\Defuses\Rescues
  • etc. (some other stuff)

As we all know, the factors mentioned above are what we actually see on the Leaderboards page, therefore these stats might only be collected for the sole purpose of being put up on the leaderboards. Inclusion of any factor in this file does not count as evidence towards them having any effect on Elo Rating points of players.

DevElopers have clearly stated that the algorithm is Elo-Based, inclusion of any unpredictable and irrelevant (to a TEAM-based game) factor such as Kill\Assist\Death would be against that idea. However, MVP (in a totally team-based game) is a different area.

EDIT: An Official Valve Employe has confirmed that these variables presented in gamefiles are NO LONGER VALID and have no direct effect on ranking calculatings. I didn't claim they were related, but Valve has just confirmed these data are obsolete and irrelevant.
Extraction of Ranking Information from Gamefiles

Valve is more clever than to accidentally release unnecessary information through updates, therefore I wouldn't take any claims to have successfully extracted ranking algorithm from gamefiles seriously. If anyone claims to have extracted the EXACT SAME algorithm, it couldn't more more false than someone that claims he has found the algorithm of case opening items.

It's pointless to go through all the game files a thousand times in an attempt to find out how Ranking works because it's simply server-sided. There is absolutely NO reason to include anything relevant to this in gamefiles. You simply can't find something that isn't there. It's crystal clear and vivid that Valve treasures their Ranking Algorithm dearly, if they wanted it out it would've already been out.

If you want to know why I think Valve doesn't want to release this information, please refer to the relevant section of this guide.
Why doesn't Valve officially release the Algorithm?
My guess is because of Boosters & Smurfs. I mean, haven't we got enough of those already? I'm not talking about boosters who get into lobbies with hackers, I'm talking about people being carried to higher ranks. Currently, the subject of what affects the ranks is highly debateable and everyone says something different.

Someone says K/D has a lot of effect, another falsifies it by mentioned than people with negative K/D get carried to higher ranks all the time. Another person says only W/L ratio matters, then someone else falsifies by mentioning people might derank on win. So it's best for Valve to keep it all as shady and obscure as possible in order to keep away smurfs and boosters from getting exactly the rank they want.

I might have even helped smurfs and boosters by publishing this guide because now they can even boost more effectively knowing the only thing that affects is Round Results and MVP. Tomorrow, we may have ten times more hackers 0-16 carrying noobs with negative K/Ds to Eagle and beyond. I'm not claiming my guide is 100% true and accurate, I'm just saying that based on my experience since the day Ranks were revealed until now, I truly believe this is how it works.

If Valve releases the exact algorithm and unveils how ranking works, I promise you, the day after we're gonna have an a dozen times more Eagle & Silver 1 Accounts trolling matches; then smufs & boosters will get EXACTLY the rank they want. Right now, all they know is, win to get higher rank.
Official Reply from Valve on this Guide
Originally posted by vitaliy_valve:
Debug output mentioned in the guide comes from game client code having very old calculations that were used by Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game where client calculations could be trusted and matchmaking used round-based skill adjustments in order to support drop-in and drop-out gameplay on consoles. That code is deprecated on PC however and those calculations aren't currently used on PC.

When competitive matchmaking as we know it now was introduced in CS:GO in late 2012 we switched all non-competitive game modes to use simple ping-based matchmaking. For Competitive, we built a CS:GO-specific competitive ranking system that is significantly different and more complex than Elo.

The CS:GO competitive ranking system started with ideas based on Glicko-2 rating model and improved over time to better fit the CS:GO player base. All computations are performed on our matchmaking backend and multiple matchmaking parameters describing scientific set of rating variables of a player are represented to players as a their Skill Group. You should be able to find papers on rating systems involving rating volatility and rating deviations online to get a better idea about why our complex competitive matchmaking parameters cannot be represented as a single numeric value.
Reference Link
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
If you claim to know all of this, why is your own rank so low (MGE-LE)?
1) This isn't my first and only account. My real skill would be around MG2 (but not higher)
2) Does knowing how Elo works make you better at chess?
3) My internet is absolutely one of the worst in the world, a lot of lag, a lot of dc and a lot of bans. I normally have a ping of around 150ms and a Loss of 8%.
No longer accepting skin donations. Thank you everyone.
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EDIT (Oct 12 2014): Felt like this image belongs here, wasn't sure which section to put it in so I decided to use it here.

EDIT (April 05 2015): Here's another picture of my Match History (on this account):

EDIT (April 08 2015): Here's another picture of my Match History (on this account):

UPDATE 1 - Placement Matches (10 Wins)
Every newly registered CSGO copy must win 10 placement matches through matchmaking (Classic Competitive) before displaying its Rank (Skill Group). While the algorithm for calculating the hidden Elo Points (MMR) is exactly the same for everyone, there's a core difference between how ranked players and unranked (less than 10 wins) players find matches.
Basically, an unranked would start with a default amount of Elo Points, after each win, he will be forcibly (think of it as queuing with higher ranked players) matched with players with considerably higher Elo Points. Bear in mind that this does NOT result in unbalanced matches because the total Elo Points for each team will still remain the same. As a result, he will gain considerably more points on each consecutive win because of the Elo Points difference between him and other players. The exact opposite applies in case of a loss.

In other words, in order to achieve a higher rank after placement matches, you must win the early matches. For instance, winning the first 3 matches in row and getting the 10 wins with 4 total losses will give you a higher rank than losing the first 3 matches in row and getting the 10 wins with 4 total losses.

Here's an example, when a Silver IV solo queues, he will always find matches with close skill groups on both sides (friendly and enemies). A Silver IV can NEVER be matched even against a single MG2 on the enemy team. However, if he queues with an Eagle it will be possible. When you're in placement matches, this limit is basically removed and you will be forcibly matched with people of considerably higher/lower rank on both sides and as a result gain/lose much more Elo Points. After you get 10 wins, you will show your skill group and the rest of the matches will be played out normally.

So in a nutshell, before displaying your Skill Group (Rank) you are given a default amount of Elo Points and each win will match you against people that are a few ranks above your current one (based on your points) and each loss will do the opposite until you gain 10 wins. Then your rank will be displayed based on the accumulated Elo Points and the rest of the matches will be normal.

NOTE: Since the last MM Update, it's only possible to accumulate 2 Wins per day until you receive your Skill Group badge.
UPDATE 2 - Effect of Win Count (K Factor & Uncertainty)
There are two other factors or parameters that affect the way you gain/lose hidden Elo Points: K Factor (a.k.a. Hard-limit) & Uncertainty (a.k.a. Rank-limit), both of them depend on your Win Count (not loss) that's displayed on your CSGO Profile in-game. Basically, the more wins you have the harder it will be for you to Gain/Lose Elo Points. In other words, your rank gets closer to your true skill as you play more and more games. A player with 20 wins is able to rank-up and/or de-rank A LOT faster than one with +100 wins because of this. Please bear in mind that it both affects gaining AND losing Elo Points, so even though you might rank-up slower if you win, you also de-rank slower if you lose.

K Factor - Hard-limit on point exchange:
K Factor or hard-limit is basically the maximum amount of Elo Points that each team can possibly gain or lose after each round. It's the factor that prevents you from ranking up twice in row (one game after another) even if you win 16-0 with 16 MVPs. There's a limit on how much points you can gain/lose in each round and in each game that's decided based on Win Percentage each player has.
If you have a low amount of Wins, you will have a higher K Factor in your games, therefore it will be easier for you to CHANGE (Gain OR Lose) your Elo Points. Bear in mind that player ranks have no effect on the K Factor, it's ONLY based on the total Win Percentage (Win/Loss*100) of each player in each team. In other words, players with lower win count can rank-up and de-rank faster than those with a high amount.
EDIT : I apparently made a typo, it's based on Win Percentage (Win/Loss*100) NOT Win Count. It still decreases over time.

Uncertainty - Limit on Rank diversity:
Uncertainty decides the Skill Groups RANGE which you could possibly be matched against, the higher the uncertainty, the broader the ranks in a match. For example, a player with 20 wins could often be matched with/against players of one or two ranks higher due to having a high uncertainty. However, a player with +300 wins would rarely be matched against ranks other than his current one. In other words, you will find more fair (rank-wise) matches the more wins you have. Uncertainty decreases as you win (not lose) more matches. Since lower uncertainty results in tighter ranks in matches, it will contribute to the increased difficulty in gaining/losing Elo Points.

Higher Uncertainty & K Factor result in easier Elo Points gain/loss. As you Win more matches, both of these factors decreases which makes it harder for you to both gain and lose Elo Points, as a result your rank becomes more stable and closer to your true skill-level.

UPDATE 3 - Silver Elo Hell Dilemma
There has been a lot of controversy circling around what's known as Elo Hell. What is Elo Hell? It's basically the idea that you can be stuck in a lower Rank (usually Silver-spectrum) and have a really hard time climbing up even though your true skill is a lot better. In other words, you can be stuck in Silver for a very long time while winning and top-fragging most of your games without ranking up.

While it is very possible (and somehow likely to happen), you need to bear in mind that it can only be caused by having an incredibly low K Factor. You can read UPDATE 2 to find out more about K factor. But K Factor is like a two-sided blade, although it makes it harder for you to rank-up, it also makes it harder for you to de-rank as a result. What most people that claim to be stuck in Silver Elo Hell tend to overlook is the fact that it's also relatively difficult for them to derank too.

The more win count you gain (losses come with increased count too, naturally), the lower your K factor goes resulting in a more stable rank. Stable means that you will need to win more for a rank-up and lose more for a de-rank. K factor limits the maximum amount of Elo Points (Hidden MMR) you can gain OR lose after each game (game in total, or after each round result). If you perform extraordinarily good during a single match, and perform good at the next, you are still bound by your K Factor. You can't gain more points than your K Factor, no matter how great you perform. Same can be applied to performing bad (and losing). Most Silvers get mad when they're on a long Win Streak without ranking up but they fail to remember that they have also been on a very long Loss Streak without deranking.

So in a sense, Elo Hell doesn't exist literally because a low K Factor can also be beneficial (slowing your derank process). So why is it only noticeable at Silver level? It can happen at any rank, because the K factor which is causing it is independent of your points. Silver simply care too much about a visual badge on their CSGO Profile that they go ahead and whine about it a lot while higher ranks tend to concentrate on actually improving their skill without paying attention to their visual rank. Another reason could be the fact that people could be put into Silver group with a very low K Factor but it can't happen at higher ranks which I'll explain in the next paragraph.

A low win percentage results in a low K Factor. Players that get put into Silver Skill Group after their placement matches would most likely have very low Win Percentage and rises very slowly over time, therefore contributing towards the slow progress rate. Bear in mind that winning 10 placement matches and losing 10 (50% win percentage) will hand you the same K Factor as winning 1000 and losing 1000. This might lead to confusion that if that's true, how can a higher Win COUNT (not percentage) lead to a more stable rank? The answer is simple: When someone has played many games, his K Factor will be decided by his Win Percentage which will then affect his personal assessment during each match. In other words, maintaining a high Win Percentage will cause you to Rank-Up AND De-Rank faster, nothing more. But you should also know that it's all connected, you can't have a high win percentage by losing most of your games and vice versa.

So how does this information help? It doesn't help at all. Because it can't be manipulated or used to your advantage. K Factor is like a small wagon of a huge train, you can't ride the wagon without moving the train. This information will help clarify the "Elo Hell" discussion for good. It still doesn't change the fact that after a lot of wins (+300), your current skill group will show your current true skill with an extremely high accuracy.
UPDATE 4 - The Scope of Ranking
CSGO Ranking System is using a large-scale algorithm. It's meant to calibrate and improve your ranking accuracy as you play more and more matches. A Silver Elite with 20 Wins clearly isn't the same as a Silver Elite with 300 Wins. The difference is very obvious. As you play more and more matches, your skill group will get closer to your true skill and you will find more fair games.

However, the problem with the system is the fact that it assumes everyone (that's playing Competitive) is going to play an insanely high number of matches. Even though it shows your Skill Group after only 10 Wins, it is not very accurate until you have played more than, let's say 500 matches. Once you have played more than 500 matches, you can safely say that your Skill Group (MM Rank) represents your real skill. Before that, it's just an inaccurate assumption.

The system also tries to match people with higher match count with each other if possible. So if nine players with more than 100 wins have been already found, a player with 220 wins has a higher chance (priority) than one with only 20 wins to be selected as 10th although their ranks might be the same.

What I'm trying to say is, if you're really into playing the Official MM, don't judge yourself by your rank until you have played at least 500 matches. If you're a Silver with 25 Wins, don't be discouraged and if you got DMG after placement matches, it doesn't mean you're good.
UPDATE 5 - Evaluate your True Rank
What is my true Skill Group?

Your true Skill Group is the rank at which you can Win approximately 50% of the games (not rounds) that you play. In other words, if you can maintain an approximate 50% Win Ratio (Match Win) at your current rank, it is safe to assume that your Skill Group (Rank) represents your true Skill.

How to find out your true Skill Group after 48 MM Games

1) Must have an active Skill Group (not unranked or expired)
2) Must play exactly 8 games per day for 6 days
3) Must solo-queue

- You need to play 8 games per each 24 hours, it doesn't matter if you play them in row or not.
- This evaluation takes 6 days, during which you can NOT play with friends.
- Needless to say, you should try your best at the games that you play.

Evaluation Method:
1) Take note of your current Skill Group and ignore any promotion/demotion that happens during the evaluation.
2) After each day (once you have finished the 8th match), go to your Match History (Watch => Your Matches). It should show all those 8 matches that you have played in that day.
3) Count your Wins & Losses. If you have more Wins than Losses, give yourself a +1. If you have less Wins than Losses, give yourself a -1. Otherwise, give yourself a 0 (if you have 4 wins and 4 losses).
4) At the end of the 6th day (when you have played 48 matches), sum up scores of each day (-1, +1 or 0).

- If your score is between -1 and 1 (-1, 0 or +1), you deserve your initial Skill Group.
- If your score is less than -1 (-1, -2, -3, -4, -5 or -6), you deserve a lower rank than your initial Skill Group.
- If your score is above +1 (+1, +2, +3, +4, +5, +6), you deserve a higher rank than your initial Skill Group.


It's very unlikely to have an score of less than -1 or more than +1 if you have +100 MM Wins unless you're in Silver Skill Group. However, if you have less than 100 MM Wins, rest assured, you will get the rank you deserve (based on evaluation results) once you have played +500 MM matches (not wins).
UPDATE 6 - 12 Apr 2015
The guide has been updated.

WARNING: Due to some unknown recent changes to the Ranking Algorithm, this guide might no longer be accurate or valid at all and may or may not be updated. -RetriButioN (12 Apr 2015)
UPDATE 7 - 2 June 2016
The following sections contained massive inaccuracies and/or false information, therefore they have been corrected to prevent spreading misinformation:
  • Effect of Surrender on Elo Points
  • Effect of Kick on Elo Points
Also, even though it's been confirmed that CSGO uses a heavily modified Glicko-2 (keyword being heavily), the general idea of this guide is more or less true regardless. The whole point being the actual rank is within a range rather than a specific badge which is affected by Round Results rather than Match Results and personal stats leading to a MVP.

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I don't know why this guy isn't deleting his guide. It is clearly misleading people. Either update it to include correct information or delete it.
You spend a lot of time making this but guide is wrong
Boost me im noob Oct 12 @ 1:37am 
I will tell you a little secret. Nothing in this guide it true exept the rank picture. sponsored by VolvO
This is incorrect. CS:GO does not use the Elo system and this was confirmed by a Valve dev on Reddit. Please update this guide so people don't get mislead.
vL.zOhSs Sep 29 @ 10:04am 
IF your guide is true then its accually dont matter if you win or lose a game....For example if i am a gn4 queqed with 4 friends mg2 and the enemies are 4mg2 1 mg and i take 6 mvp's and we lose the game 16-14 then i practically i have more elo than before...because in each lose round i lose less elo and in win i earn a lot more elo...i think something is wrong here...There should be a way that win or loss game affects your elo please respond
AzKat Sep 19 @ 1:03pm 
this whole guide is wrong because csgo does NOT use elo.
Denrix Sep 2 @ 9:02am 
please put a better icon for your guide m8, the guide is too good for it
blenzD^g Aug 31 @ 11:03am 
So if you are trying to rank up, and you are destroying the enemy team I suggest not to fool around at all, you want as much wins on them as possible.
blenzD^g Aug 31 @ 11:02am 
So let's say my team is winning the match and the score is 11-9. If we decided to surrender we would gain positive elo. and for @Fak=) yes, you will gain more elo points dominating 16-0 than 16-14 since you gain elo according to every specific round rather than a match.
✪ hu3y Aug 30 @ 2:18pm 
So does having a close game such as 16 - 14 give you less Elo than dominating at 16 - 0?