CS2 Premier Mode Explained

  • Premier Mode is CS2’s main competitive game mode.
  • The map that a Premier match is played on is decided after a pick/ban phase where players get to vote for map bans, similar to what happens in pro matches.
  • The first team to win 13 rounds wins the match. If the match ends in a 12-12 tie, one overtime phase is played where the first team to get to 16 rounds wins. If overtime ends in 15-15, the match ends as a draw.
  • After winning 10 matches, players receive a CS Rating, ranging from 0 to 35000.
  • Your CS Rating will change after each match, and prior to the match starting you’ll see how much you stand to gain (or lose) for a win/loss.
  • There are international, regional, and friends-only leaderboards to compare your CS Rating to.

With the release of CS2, we’ve seen a lot of focus on Premier Mode as the game’s main competitive game mode. Some of you might not even know this, but the mode was also available in CS:GO; it just wasn’t very popular. Now that it’s getting a lot more traction and attention from Valve it’s a good idea to have the CS2 Premier Mode explained thoroughly so you know exactly what to expect when you dive in.

Update 26th of April 2024

In an update released in late April, Valve removed Overpass from the competitive map pool in favor of Dust 2. We also changed the CS2 ratings vs CS:GO ranks, since the CS2 rating distribution had shifted.

The article has been updated to reflect this change.

What is CS2 Premier Mode?

Premier Mode is the official main competitive gameplay avenue for CS2. Much like in other competitive games, there’ll be official leaderboards so that players can compete for the highest ranks with their friends, region, and even the entire world.

Players who wish to be ranked on the leaderboards first need to receive a CS2 rating (see CS2 Ranks and the CS2 Rating System Explained) which you get after winning ten placement matches.

There are currently three leaderboards to compete in:

  • Friends
  • Region
  • Global

Naturally, you’ll need to be quite the phenomenon to appear on the first pages of the global CS2 ranking, and being a consistent presence in your region’s ranks (or even the world’s ranks) might get you noticed as the next talent in the Counter-Strike scene. By adding a ranked system like this, Valve hopes to convince more people to play CS2 on official Valve servers rather than via third party like FaceIt, as was the case with CS:GO.

Note: players who have never received a CS Rating can’t queue with players who have already received a SC Rating. There’s also a limit to how far apart players’ ratings can be when queuing up together.

CS2 Premier Mode Explained - Ratings on the scoreboard

How to Get A CS2 Rating

If you want to appear on the leaderboards, you’ll need a CS2 rating. You get a CS2 rating by winning (not playing; you have to win) 10 placement matches. You will then be assigned a number ranging from 0-35000, and this number is your CS Rating.

CS Ratings Explained

Your CS rating replaces the old ranks what we’re all so used to from CS:GO (see CS:GO Ranks – Explaining the Ranking System). In CS2’s Premier Mode, your rank will consist of a number instead of a rank like Gold Nova and the likes. These ranks still appear in CS2’s competitive mode (more on that in our CS2 Ranks and Rating article) but are completely gone from Premier Mode.

Of course, players are curious to see how their CS Rating stacks up to their old CS:GO rank, so websites such as Leetify have already done some number crunching. Right now, the CS2 ratings roughly convert to the following CS:GO ranks:

CS:GO RankCS Rating
Silver 1 – Silver Elite Master0-4999 CS Rating
Gold Nova 1 – Gold Nova Master5000-9499 CS Rating
Master Guardian 1 – Master Guardian Elite9499 – 12999 CS Rating
Distinguished Master Guardian – Legendary Eagle Master13000-16999 CS Rating
Supreme17000-19999 CS Rating
Global Elite19500+ CS Rating

CS2 ratings are a bit more difficult to distinguish than CS:GO ranks, but if you look closely you’ll notice that there are still ranked tiers. Depending on your CS Rating, your number will have a different color. The CS Rating colors are as follows:

CS Rating ColorCS Rating
Grey0 – 4999
Light Blue5000 – 9999
Dark Blue10000 – 14999
Purple15000 – 19999
Pink20000 – 24999
Red25000 – 29999
Gold30000 – 35000

Seeing these colors, it’s easy to assume that players with a grey or light blue color are at the bottom tier of the ranked pyramid, but as of right now that’s not the case. If we’re comparing CS Ratings to CS:GO ranks, the vast majority of players will be either grey or light blue, so don’t get discouraged if you find that your CS2 rating is on the lower end: that’s where the majority of players are.

Before you get into a new rating tier, you have to play a promotion match.

Premier Mode Matchmaking

In CS2, the first team to reach 13 rounds wins the match. If you end up at 12-12, there’ll be one overtime period where teams try to reach 16 rounds, but if this overtime doesn’t produce a winner (i.e. the overtime ends in 15-15) the match will be considered a draw. Teams switch sides after 12 rounds.

One noticeable and rather unique feature about Premier Matchmaking is that players have to be ready to play every single map. Prior to the start of the match, there’ll be a pick/ban phase where teams take turns banning maps until one map is left over. Individual players can vote on their preferences, and the options with the most votes get picked.

The pick/ban phase consists of the following stages (teams have been called Red and Blue to make it easier to understand):

  • Blue chooses 2 maps to ban
  • Red chooses 3 maps to ban
  • Blue chooses the map to play from the remaining 2 maps
  • Red chooses which side (T or CT) they want to start on

After this pick/ban phase, the match will start.

Note: the graphics you see in the middle of the screen when picking/banning contain important info. The red graphic indicates your opponents’ recent map wins, while the grey graphic indicates the recent wins of your teammates. If you really want to win, it can pay off to try and steer the match towards a map that the enemy team hasn’t been playing on in recent times.

CS2 Premier Mode Pick and Ban

CS2 Promotion Matches

Previously, players had to play a promotion match at every 1000 rating points border. That means that, if you want to go from a rating of 1992 to 2000+, you got ‘stuck’ at 1999 and had to play a promotion match in order to get over the 2000 border.

In an update in October 2023, this has been changed so that promotion matches only occur at color boundaries. Going from 1992 to 2000+ will not require a promotion match anymore, but going from (for example) 4993 to 5000+ does require a promotion match.

CS2 Map Pool in Premier Mode

The current competitive map pool in CS2 consists of the following maps:

  • Ancient
  • Anubis
  • Mirage
  • Inferno
  • Nuke
  • Dust 2
  • Vertigo

As you’ve no doubt gathered, you need to be able to play on all currently active maps if you truly want to climb the CS2 leaderboards since there’s no way to eliminate certain maps from contention unless you’re always queuing with a stack and you’ve made an agreement beforehand.

How to Gain CS Rating

If you want to improve your CS rating, the objective is simple: win matches. Prior to each match, you will clearly see how much Rating you stand to gain (or lose) so you know what you’re up against. If you’re playing against highly ranked players, you’ll obviously gain more Rating from a win than you’d get if you’re playing against players who are ranked lower than you, but beyond that no specifics are known about the CS2 Rating system.

If your CS2 rating is newly calibrated (i.e. you’ve only just played your placement matches) then your win/loss amounts might be higher, as the system will attempt to move players faster after calibration to ensure that players end up in the correct rating tier. This was added in an update in October of 2023.

It makes no sense to try and game the CS Rating system by only going for kills or bomb plants, or by avoiding death as much as possible. We simply don’t know how Valve calculates your CS Rating (and Valve has always been very secretive when it comes to their ranking systems) so it’s best to just focus on being the best CS player you can be.

See: CS2 Guide for Beginners – 15 Effective Tips and Tricks

CS2 Premier Mode Explained - Post Match Screen

Difference Between Premier Mode and Competitive Mode

This is explained in more detail in our CS2 Ranks and Rating System article, but there are some key differences between Premier Mode and Competitive Mode.

In Competitive Mode, you can choose the map you want to queue for, just like it was in CS:GO. If you want, you could play Mirage every single time by just queueing Mirage.

You also get a rank per map. This rank is based on the ranking system we saw in CS:GO (from Silver to Global Elite) but rather than having one rank for all maps you could theoretically be Silver IV on Mirage and Global Elite on Vertigo.

All of this makes Competitive Mode the ideal training ground for players who want to grind the Premier Mode ladder. If there’s a new map or you are just learning the ropes on a certain map, just queue it in Competitive. Due to the new ranking system you won’t end up against elite players right away, and it’ll allow you to practice the map at your own pace.

CS2 Premier Mode Explained - The Leaderboards

Conclusion – Premier Mode Explained

Not wanting to repeat what happened in CS:GO (where almost all serious competitive players played on external servers with external ranking systems such as FaceIt), Valve has decided to make Premier Mode the competitive avenue for serious Counter-Strike players. With a pick/ban phase that mirrors what the pros do at tournaments and a robust ranking system that allows new talents to get picked up, Premier Mode is shaping up to be the next best thing for the CS scene.

Hopefully, Valve will manage to keep cheaters at bay (a more robust anticheat was also one of the driving factors of the migration towards platforms such as FaceIt in CS:GO) and keep things interesting in Premier Mode, but as things stand right now we’re very excited for this game mode to become the standard for competitive players.

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