Jacobs "Blog"

CSGO Ranking System - What we think

How many times do you see people talking about "Elo" and their ranks, and complaining that they're stuck in Silvers but aren't too sure what to do to get out of it?

Every player wants to shed themselves of their silver rank but not every player can. Our team comprises of players floating around the Silver 4 to SEM ranks who would otherwise, most likely, be classified as Gold Nova 1 at the minimum. Match making with GN1's shifts our match making pool up a ladder and we get some of the bottom-feeders in the GN1-3 pools. Last week we match-made with a GN2 using a GN1 and SEM friend and had a really good match against them with myself keeping a positive KDR coming in 3rd in my teams rankings for points. Yet I'm stuck at Silver 4 and in a couple of losses, I'll probably become Silver 3.

So why does this happen? Well I'm having a shit day and kind-of want to distract myself for a moment to figure this out.

Post edit: I wrote this up hoping to find some decent information because so many steam guides acted like they had seen a source from Valve confirming various things. Turns out they all lied and are just guessing, so I'm posting this as a Stub and will hopefully add to this later.

Glicko-2 and CSGO

Firstly, let's chat about why people think CSGO uses the Glicko-2 system. Here's a statement from someone listed as a "Valve Employee" (/u/vitaliy_valve): https://www.reddit.com/r/GlobalOffensive/comments/2g3r4c/the_ultimate_guide_to_csgo_ranking/

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.

This is the closest thing I can find to Valve talking about how they rank players in CSGO. Outside of this statement, we don't know anything for certain about how Valve ranks us.

When players and guidemakers talk about CSGO using a modified Glicko-2 system they are correct in essence, but their glossing over just how modified it is. The Glicko system was specifically designed for a 1v1 game of chess and the Glicko-2 system is an improvement over the original to include "large collections of extremely improbably game outcomes" (http://www.glicko.net/glicko.html). The basic formula works like this (VERY ROUGHLY):

  1. Players are assigned their previous rating, or a default base rating if no other ratings have been recorded. A volatility is set on the player and contrained by a system-set constant constraint.
  2. The players rating, rating deviation and volatility are then updated based on the opponents they faced. This takes into accounts the opponents rating and rating deviation but not their volatility.
  3. The variance of the team's rating based on the games outcome is calculated.
  4. The estimated improvement in rating is calculated using the above data
  5. new volatility is calculated using the above information.
  6. Rating deviation and ratings recalculated
  7. Convert ratings and rating deviations back to the original scale.

I am seeking a maths-genius to help me with this rough interpretation

Now it's worth mentioning that Valve modified this for CSGOs ranking system and for a very good reason. CSGO tracks a lot of stats on your gameplay which is all accessible via SteamDB - if only I could access private accounts I could probably create a script to calculate my Glicko-2 ranking based on my previous matches. It stands to reason that Valve would incorporate whatever else they could to ensure that fair, accurate rankings are taken into consideration, such as how much you 'help' your team possibly determined by scores or a combination of kills/deaths/mvps/accuracy/defusals/rescues or other hidden data, which we know there are lots of MVPs.

Performance in game could grant varying 'buffs' to your ranking score depending on weapon, at which time of the match your stats were tracked or based on the economy of the match. Truth is, we dont know what adjustments they made at all.

Reddit user /u/LazyPanda5 calculated Glicko-2 scores of teams competing in every major international LAN of 2018. He publishes his findings and explains the data: https://www.reddit.com/r/GlobalOffensive/comments/93unxk/csgo_glicko2_elo_rankings/

Unproven Myths

So many people try to add their own spin to things so let's talk about that and discuss their validity.

  1. CSGO Uses ELO I mean... yes and no. There has been no statement officially confirming the use of an "Elo" system and I feel people generally use the phrase to say "your rank goes up and the opponents rank goes down". Glicko-2 takes into account the other teams rating and rating deviance to calculate your own, so essentially the phrase "Elo" is being used correctly if considered to be a colloquialism, implying a general idea of 'you gain when they lose', but we can't confirm that the Elo ratings formula or theory is used by itself in any of the calculations.
  2. Anything regarding CSGO using a fixed number is also false. The Valve Employee above also stated that they use multiple values to calculate your match making and it stands to reason that this is the case. I won't speculate on what data they could be using to match make you.

Improving your "Rank"

So how does this help you move from Silver 2 to Gold Nova 1? It's simple; play better, play more competitive matches, be more of a team player.