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CS:GO players celebrate as matchmaking tweak leads to bonus rankings

A Counter-Strike chicken with guns.
(Image credit: Valve)
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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has released a shake-up to its competitive ranking system, and lots of fans are very happy about it. The changes have seen some players lose ranks and others stay where they are, but it seems like an awful lot of us (myself included) have suddenly jumped about three or four ranks higher.

The official blog (opens in new tab) about the change is, as ever, short and sweet. Valve very rarely goes into detail about how Counter-Strike's systems work, for the simple reason that there's so many people out there who'd love to game them.

"Typically when we ship changes to CS:GO’s matchmaking system, the adjustments are small enough that we don’t include them in our release notes. However, today’s update affects all CS:GO players so it requires some explanation.

"When you launch CS:GO, you’ll notice that your Skill Group is not displayed: you’ll have to win one more match to reveal your Skill Group. Most of you will notice a change to your Skill Group, but some of you may find that you were already in the right place."

Of course, it also allowed the official account to get a few nice dunks in.

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I noticed this after suddenly hitting Master Guardian rank last night, which I put down to the nerve-steadying glass of red wine I'd had beforehand. Then I checked online and saw it was a fluke of the algorithm (I'll be back where I belong soon). A quick look around my usual Counter-Strike haunts showed lots of players had a similar experience: this silver went up to Master Guardian Elite (opens in new tab).

A forum poll (opens in new tab) of Counter-Strike players has 435 respondents at the time of writing: 193 said their rank had risen, 177 saw no change, and 65 reported a decrease in rank. Most interesting is that of those 193 risers, 157 said they'd gone up "by 3 or more ranks".

This lucky sod went from Master Guardian 2 to Global Elite. I am quite charmed by the honesty in their description: "I always dreamed of being an Office global, but never expected it to happen. Seems kinda broken. I'm pretty shit and I only play Office lol."

mg2_global from r/csgo

Watching the CS: GO community react made me think about what rankings mean. These markers that only have relevance within a particular game world, and dictate your competitive standing and even level of respect within it. When you talk about making Global Elite, most people would think you're banging on about becoming a billionaire.

When you play a game like Counter-Strike competitively, it's strange how much this little marker can mean to you, and the sense of pride you take in gradually moving up. I felt this one:

tears from r/csgo

There are definitely players who've gone down in rank, but the majority of those reacting to the change seem to be doing better, and in some cases wildly so. This player skipped up six ranks after drawing their first match.

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The matchmaking re-calibration is the main aspect of CS: GO's latest patch, and we'll see if the rank inflation persists or settles down after a few weeks in the wild. Here are the full patch notes (opens in new tab):

Misc

  • Multiple changes to the competitive matchmaking algorithm, which will require Skill Groups to be recalibrated for accuracy. Your Skill Group will not be visible until you win your next match.
  • Game instructor should now correctly reload saved state if it is disabled and re-enabled.
  • Game instructor floating hints are disabled in competitive matches.

Maps: Ember

  • Altered the angle that the North cannon faces
  • Cannons can now be aimed upwards, and is now 2x faster
  • Now have 3 firing speeds (change with mouse2)
  • Reduced inaccuracy multiplier
  • Killfeed now shows weapon icon
  • Produce a beefy screen shake and more particle effects
  • Base model now also rotates
  • Added damage falloff to cannonballs after their initial collision
  • Fixed being able to bumpmine away from cannon and keep control
  • Fixed cannons continuing to turn when no longer in use
  • Added bus to bus stop outside Industry

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."