We take a deep dive into the competitive mode of CS:GO

Last week we gave you a  guide with all the basics a player should know when approaching Counter-Strike: Global Offensive for the first time. With the basics covered, the inevitable next step is to jump into CS: GO’s competitive mode.

This aspect of the game is an essential pillar of its playability and the foundation on which all eSports tournaments in the world are founded. For this reason, we believe that our website e-Sports Magazine deserves all the attention.

Basic rules of the competitive mode

In competitive mode, the two teams, Terrorists and Counter-Terrorists, must be made up of 5 players each before starting. Until this is the case, the automatic ‘Matchmaking’ system will not let us start the game.

Once 10 users of the same skill level have been found, the server will start loading the encounter map (randomly chosen from the ones we have filtered in the menu).


While the different players load the map on their computers, the users who enter, before the game officially begins, will have a series of minutes to warm up in which they can buy and use any weapon. Of course, without the score obtained being used for anything.

Regulatory item

Once the match officially begins, the teams should already be randomly assigned; one as Terrorists, and one as Counter-Terrorists, and they will stay that way until round number 15 . At this point, the teams change sides to seek equal conditions in the games. The team that will win will be the one that first obtains a total of 16 rounds won; unless there is a tie at 15. In the latter case, it would go to extra time .

How do you win a round in competitive mode?

To get a point in this version of CS:GO , players will have to eliminate the entire rival team, or achieve the objective of each of the two sides. Although in the competitive mode of the game any map of the user’s choice can be played, the ESL (Electronic Sports League) , the world’s leading eSports platform that currently regulates the game’s regulations, only recognizes a total of seven maps with missions as official deactivation.

Thus, the ways to score a round are very clear and defined in this classic Counter-Strike mode. They are the following :

  • Terrorists : Eliminate the entire Anti-Terrorist team or plant the bomb in the ‘A’ or ‘B’ areas marked on the map.
  • Counter- Terrorists : Eliminate the entire Terrorist team or deactivate the bomb in the ‘A’ or ‘B’ areas marked on the map.

Extension (‘overtime’)

In the event of a tie at 15 rounds during the course of the cash game, there will be no choice but to go into extra time (also called ‘ overtime ‘). This extra time, which is granted to break the tie, consists of 6 additional rounds ; three from Terrorist and three from Counter Terrorist. It will end with the first team that manages to score more rounds than its rival. In case of a three-way tie, a new extension will be played until one side manages to win.

Official Maps (ESL)

Currently, the maps that the ESL (Electronic Sports League) establishes as official and regulatory for its eSports competitions in CS:GO are seven:

  • de_nuke
  • de_train
  • From_Inferno
  • de_cache
  • de_mirage
  • de_overpass
  • by_cbblestone

The ranking system in CS:GO

As with the great ranking system in  StarCraft 2 , as a good eSports title, the competitive mode of  CS: GO also has a very efficient ranking system. Its main objective is very simple: to generate multiplayer games that are as balanced as possible.

How does it work?

When starting out in competitive mode, you’ll need to play a total of 10 games for the system to give you an estimated rank to start with. These divisions in CS:GO are as follows:

  • Silver 1, 2, 3, 4, Elite and Master Elite
  • Gold Nova 1, 2, 3 and Master
  • Guardian Master 1, 2 and Guardian Elite Master
  • Distinguished Master Guardian
  • Legendary Eagle and Legendary Eagle Master
  • First Supreme Master Class
  • global elite

The way the system determines our rank is based on the so-called Elo Rating System, also used in the world of chess .

In order not to expand too much in its explanation, it is a mathematical system that calculates the relative skill of the players who compete with each other based on a series of parameters. Although this form of ranking is originally intended for 1v1 matches, it has been adapted for 5v5 CS:GO matches.

We break down matchmaking

When looking for a game in competitive mode, what matchmaking will do is find two teams of 5 players that have a similar level of Elo points. Even so, with almost total certainty, one of the two opposing groups will have more points than its rival. Therefore, what the Elo Rating System will do is take each round (not game) as if it were an entire chess match.

In the end, as the system understands that the team with the highest number of Elo points must win, the group of players with a lower rank will always obtain a higher score with each round won. For its part, the same will happen with the distribution of Elo points between each of the users: the one with the lowest rating will win the most .

How to rank up

As we said above, the Elo changes in each round (not in each game), depending on a series of factors :

  • What is your skill and that of your team.
  • What range the enemies have.
  • The number of times you get an MVP of the round (best player).
  • How many games have you played?
  • The uncertainty of your level : the more matches you have played, the more realistic your rank will be, and therefore, the tighter the games you play. This will slow down the rate at which you gain or lose points.

The K-Factor

A term already known among advanced CS:GO users is the K Factor. It is a kind of limiter on the points that we can win or lose. The game is set for each team and player based on their win-loss percentage (W/L ratio) . So, just like uncertainty, the more games a user has played, the harder it is to gain or lose Elo Points .

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