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CS:GO – Skill Groups and Matchmaking System

CS:GO is the first Counter-Strike version with a modern (automatic) matchmaking system, which allows you to play competitive matches against similar skilled players. In this guide we will show you all existing Skill Groups, answer some frequently asked questions and try to lift some old myths about the Matchmaking system.


List of all CS:GO Skill Groups

  • The Global Elite
  • Supreme Master First Class
  • Legendary Eagle Master
  • Legendary Eagle
  • Distinguished Master Guardian
  • Master Guardian Elite
  • Master Guardian II
  • Master Guardian I
  • Gold Nova Master
  • Gold Nova III
  • Gold Nova II
  • Gold Nova I
  • Silver Elite Master
  • Silver Elite
  • Silver IV
  • Silver III
  • Silver II
  • Silver I

Bans and Cooldowns

Ban Duration Explaination
Skill Group Placement 24 hours New accounts are restricted to two competitive wins per day until they receive their competitive Skill Group.
Competitive Matchmaking 30 min – 7 days Abandoning a match early, excessive kicking and suiciding, AFKing, excessive team damage or team kills. Please check our additional explaination below for detailed information about the cooldown durations.
Overwatch (Minorly Disruptive) 30 days Excessive griefing, ignoring the map objective, killing or attacking your team mates.
Overwatch (Majorly Disruptive) Permanent Aim Hacking, Wall Hacking or using an external programs or scripts (e.g. bunnyhop script, speedhack etc)
VAC (Valve Anti-Cheat) Permanent The VAC system reliably detects cheats using their cheat signatures. Any third-party modification to a game designed to give one player an advantage over another is classified as a cheat or hack and will trigger a VAC ban. This includes modifications to a game’s core executable files and dynamic link libraries.

Additional Explaination

Competitive Cooldown Levels
Level 1: 30 min
Level 2: 2 hours
Level 3: 24 hours
Level 4: 7 days

The following explaination of the cooldown system is from Vitaliy Genkin (Valve employee) via Steam forums:

The rules are as follows: every cooldown increases the offense level by one level and after cooldown expires and a clean week goes by the offense level goes down by one level. First level offenders receive a 30 min cooldown, second level = 2 hr, third level = 24 hr, fourth and higher levels = 7 days. The confusion might arise for extreme abusers of the system whose offense level went beyond level 4 now.

Here’s an example: A player reaches offense level 4 and gets their first 7 day cooldown on Jan 1, it expires on Jan 8 — this means player can play, but their offense level stays at 4 for the duration of one more week. If player commits a competitive offense on Jan 8 then offense level is increased to level 5 and player is penalized with another 7 day cooldown. That cooldown expires on Jan 15 — again, this means that player can play, but their offense level stays at level 5 for the duration of one more week. So, after the clean week goes by on Jan 22 the offense level goes down by one level to level 4. Committing a competitive offense on Jan 22 will increase it again to level 5 and assign a 7 day cooldown according to the rules listed above.

Essentially if you got your second or third 7 day cooldown in a row this means you need to have two or three clean weeks after it expires before it goes down to offense level 3 which is penalized with a 2 hr cooldown.



Matchmaking System

There is a lot of misunderstanding how Valve’s Matchmaking System actually works. Some very detailed and well known guides (like this one in the Steam Guide section) are completely wrong as they assume Valve is using an ELO-like system for CS:GO.

For Competitive, we built a CS:GO-specific competitive ranking system that is significantly different and more complex than Elo.
-Vitaliy Genkin

There is no official statement or any kind of detailed explaination how the CS:GO Matchmaking algorithm exactly works. According to Vitaliy Genkin they are using a system, which is based on an improved Glicko-2 rating model, but much more complex in the end. Vitaliy also tried to lift some genreal myths about their system without going into details:

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.


Official FAQ


What is a Skill Group?
Like an Elo rating in Chess, the CS:GO competitive Skill Groups predict how well players will perform when playing against other players. Two equally skilled teams should, on average, win an equal number of matches when competing against each other.

I’m not a very good player. Should I still use competitive matchmaking?
Absolutely. Competitive matchmaking will match you with other players of similar skill, which is more likely to result in a fun match than jumping into a random game.

Where are Skill Groups displayed?
Skill Groups are displayed in the main menu, in party lobbies, and in the match scoreboard. (Once the Skill Group has settled.)

Where can I see my own Skill Group?
Once your Skill Group has settled and you have won 10 competitive matches, your Skill Group will be displayed on the main menu.

Should I avoid partying with lower skilled friends because they will hurt my rating?
No. Firstly, the matchmaking system will take your lower-skilled friend into consideration when finding a match. And second, the system makes a prediction about how well each team member will perform in a match. So losing a match with a lower skilled player on your team is not likely to significantly impact your Skill Group. If you always play your best then your Skill Group will provide you with well matched teammates and opponents.

How can you predict my skill in only winning 10 games?
When you play your first game, we have no idea what your skill is. As you play more games, we use those wins and losses to make predictions about what Skill Group we think you should be in. The more games you play, the more confident the system is in predicting who the other players are that you should be playing against. Winning 10 games gives us enough data to confidently place you in a Skill Group where we think you’ll be matched up with others matching your skill level.