What is CS2? Counter-Strike 2 Explained

Counter-Strike 2 is one of the most popular first-person shooters out there. If you have played any video game for some time, you might have heard of Counter-Strike. It is also one of the pioneers of competitive first-person shooters. To help you learn more about the game, here is a complete guide on Counter-Strike 2.

Key Takeaways

  • CS2, also known as Counter-Strike 2, is a popular first-person shooter game developed by Valve, released in 2023.
  • CS2 is a team-based game with different objectives, depending on the map, and features various game modes like Competitive, Premier, Deathmatch, Casual, and Wingman.
  • CS2 offers a wide range of weapons and equipment that players can purchase at the start of each round, with distinct items for terrorists and counter-terrorists.
  • CS2’s popularity is sustained by its competitive scene and esports ecosystem, with a strong player base, making it a long-lasting and challenging gaming experience.

Who Made CS2 & When Did It Come Out?

CS2 was first announced on the 22nd of March, 2023. At that time, a limited access closed beta for CS2 started, where only a few players got access. CS2 officially became available to all players on the 27th of September, 2023. As with almost all Counter-Strike games, Valve developed and published CS2.

CS2 Gameplay Explained

CS2 is a team-based game. As a match starts, one team becomes the Terrorists, and the other becomes the Counter-Terrorists. As the match progresses, the sides get switched after certain rounds, where the Terrorists become the Counter-Terrorists and vice versa.

A team must win a specific number of rounds to win the match. To win a single round, the team can complete one of several objectives. One of these objectives is eliminating the entire enemy team. The second type of objective depends on the map you are playing on.

If you are playing on a diffuse-style map, the objective of the Terrorists is to plant a bomb at specific locations on the map. On the other hand, the Counter-Terrorists must prevent the Terrorists from planting the bomb. If it got planted, the goal of the Counter-Terrorists is to diffuse it, while the Terrorists must protect it until it explodes.

On the other hand, if you are playing on a hostage-style map, the goal of the Counter-Terrorists is to secure the hostages and extract them to a rescue zone. Similarly, the Terrorists must prevent Counter-Terrorists from reaching the hostages. If the Counter-Terrorists don’t rescue the hostages in time, the Terrorists win.

Since CS2 is a first-person shooter, the gameplay primarily consists of players shooting at their opponents with weapons. CS2 has an extensive list of guns and equipment, which they purchase at the start of each round using the points they have accumulated.

CS2 Game Modes Explained

There are six game modes in CS2, including Premier, Competitive, Wingman, Casual, and Deathmatch. From the selection of game modes available in CS2, the CS2 community generally focuses on two, which are the Premier and Competitive modes. First, let’s discuss the Competitive game mode since it has been a part of Counter-Strike for several years, even before the launch of CS2.

Competitive is a game mode in CS2, where players receive a rank after playing ten matches. This rank represents their skill level. Before starting Competitive matchmaking, players must select the map or maps they wish to play on. Players can potentially play the game on a single map forever. Because of that, Competitive ranks got split and became map-based for CS2. But what does that mean?

When you complete ten competitive matches and receive a rank, that rank is only for the map you played. You would be considered unranked for all other maps until you play on them, and when you do, you’ll get a separate rank for them. There are a total of 18 Competitive ranks that you can get in CS2, which we’ll discuss in a later section.

Up next, we have the Premier game mode. In this game mode, you get a rating instead of a rank. Your rating is a numeric value that represents your skill. Your rating gets displayed on a leaderboard with ratings of players all across the globe. However, these ratings aren’t map-based since the map you play the Premier match on is not in your control. It is decided based on a map veto phase.

Besides this rating/ranking system difference, the gameplay of Competitive and Premier matches is essentially the same. A Premier or Competitive match starts with two teams of five. The first team to win 13 rounds wins the match, and the sides get switched at the 12-round mark.

The remaining three game modes aren’t that popular. The Deathmatch game mode is self-explanatory. It is a COD-style game mode usually played for aim practice. Casual is somewhat like the competitive and Premier game mode, except you don’t get a rank or rating after playing Casual. Also, the team size in Casual is ten instead of five. Finally, Wingman is probably the most played of the three game modes since it also has a ranking system. Think of it as a 2v2 version of the competitive game mode.

CS2 Weapons

CS2 has a different assortment of weapons to choose from. Along with guns, there is other equipment to help you with the objective. Weapons in CS2 include the starting pistol, regular pistols, shotguns, submachine guns, assault rifles, scoped assault rifles, sniper rifles, smoke grenades, frag grenades, incendiary grenades, and flash bangs. Plus, there is also a set of armor and helmets.

Certain weapons in CS2 are limited to the side you are on. In other words, players have access to different guns and equipment depending on whether they are on the terrorists’ or the Counter-Terrorist’s side. Examples include the AK-47, which is only available for Terrorists, and the M4s, which are only available for Counter-Terrorists.

As mentioned, each player has to purchase these weapons and equipment at the start of each round during the buy phase. You can click the refund button to sell it back if you accidentally bought the wrong weapon. Another way to acquire weapons is by picking up those dropped by dead players. You get to use whichever weapon you have at the end of each round in the next one.

CS2 Skins

One of the best things about CS2 is skins. There’s a whole ecosystem surrounding CS2 skins, which not only includes CS2 players but also those who don’t play CS2 that often but trade CS2 skins. If you want to learn more about CS2 skins trading, you can check out our complete guide. However, we will be explaining CS2 skins here only.

CS2 skins are in-game cosmetic items that you can apply to weapons. In other words, you don’t have to stick with those boring default weapon models. Besides guns, there are also complete character model skins called Agents. You also have gloves in CS2 that you can wear on your hands.

To acquire CS2 skins, you can either open CS2 cases or get them as free drops at the end of each match. However, both of these methods are not reliable. You don’t get any decent weapons from the free drop. Plus, there’s no guarantee what weapon you’ll get from a case.

If you want a particular weapon skin in CS2 and don’t mind paying cash for it, you can always purchase CS2 skins from the Steam community market. However, if you don’t like the pricing on the Steam community market, you can check out third-party marketplaces. The great part about these third-party marketplaces is that you can find some of the rarest skins here.

That said, there is one big problem with a third-party marketplace. There are many scam sites out there that you should be careful of. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t legit sites. You just have to find them. Fortunately, we have already done that for you. Check out our directory of the best places to buy CS2 skins from.

CS2 Ranks Explained

As we have already mentioned, there are two types of ranked game modes in CS2. The first one is Competitive, and the second one is Premier. Both of these have different ranking systems. The first has traditional ranks, and the second has a rating system. Here is a list of all the ranks that are part of the CS2 ranking system:

  • Silver I / Silver 1 (S1)
  • Silver II / Silver 2 (S2)
  • Silver III / Silver 3 (S3)
  • Silver IV / Silver 4 (S4)
  • Silver Elite (SE)
  • Silver Elite Master (SEM)
  • Gold Nova I / Gold Nova 1 (GN1)
  • Gold Nova II / Gold Nova 2 (GN2)
  • Gold Nova III / Gold Nova 3 (GN3)
  • Gold Nova Master (GNM)
  • Master Guardian I / Master Guardian 1 (MG1)
  • Master Guardian II / Master Guardian 2 (MG2)
  • Master Guardian Elite (MGE)
  • Distinguished Master Guardian (DMG)
  • Legendary Eagle (LE)
  • Legendary Eagle Master (LEM)
  • Supreme Master First Class (SMFC)
  • Global Elite (GE)

Ratings in CS2 are categorized into seven different rating ranges. Without this categorization, a player’s skill level would only be represented by one number, making it difficult for other players to get an accurate idea of how skilled a player really is. Here is the list of all the rating tiers in CS2:

  • Grey: 0 to 4,999
  • Light Blue: 5,000 to 9,999
  • Blue: 10,000 to 14,999
  • Purple: 15,000 to 19,999
  • Pink: 20,000 to 24,999
  • Red: 25,000 to 29,999
  • Yellow/Gold: 30,000+

CS2 Matchmaking Explained

The main goal of the CS2 matchmaking system is to find players who are as skilled as you so you can play with and against them in a Competitive or Premier match. CS2 matchmaking primarily considers your rank or rating to find such players. After that, the system looks for players with a similar rank or rating.

The primary purpose of the matchmaking system in CS2 is to improve the overall experience of all players. Instead of dealing with highly skilled players who won’t give you a chance to win even a single round or players with very low ranks who you will feel bored playing against, the matchmaking system finds players that are right for you.

Is CS2 Hard to Play?

CS2 is not hard at all. The learning curve for getting into CS2 and learning all the basics is not very steep. However, mastering each skill is very difficult. The skill cap of CS2 players is growing almost every day, with the community getting better at aim accuracy, recoil control, and map knowledge. While you can start playing CS2 in a matter of days and have a great time, you’ll have to put in a lot of hours before you can reach the top ranks.

How Many People Play CS2 NOW and Is CS2 Dying?

The average concurrent player count for CS2 is well over a million. Depending on the time of day, you can expect a concurrent player count of around 1.5 million to 500,000. That’s an impressive number, considering many of the top games out there don’t even manage to cross 100,000 concurrent players. For many games, anywhere around 50,000 concurrent players is a success.

This player base of around a million players has stayed like this for a long time. The announcement of CS2 alone skyrocketed the player base for the previous title, breaking all records for its player base. Currently, the player base for CS2 doesn’t seem to show a significant drop. It might even potentially go up. Therefore, we can conclude that CS2 is not dying.

Why is CS2 so Popular?

One of the main reasons for the popularity of CS2 is its competitive scene. CS2 delivers a competitive experience like no other video game. The skill cap is constantly increasing, and players are finding new and better ways to gain an edge over their opponents. This competitive ecosystem creates a challenging environment where the thrill of winning against a highly skilled opponent feels very rewarding.

That, combined with an exhilarating esports scene where hundreds of people from around the globe line up to see some of the top teams battle it out for victory, makes CS2 even more attractive. Seeing your favorite team show some of the most amazing CS2 gameplay adds to the competitive fuel of CS2’s ecosystem, making players even more motivated to improve and win.


Counter-Strike 2 delivers an experience like no other video game. It is one of the most competitive first-person shooters out there. The best part is that CS2 will stay here for multiple years since it has shown nearly zero signs of dying. If you like competitive video games and want to try a new first-person shooter, you should consider CS2.


What Makes CS2 Different from Other First-Person Shooters?

CS2 distinguishes itself with its emphasis on teamwork, strategy, and highly competitive gameplay. Unlike some other shooters, it features clear objectives, like bomb planting and hostage rescue, creating a unique and challenging experience.

How Do I Improve My Rank in CS2 Competitive Mode?

To improve your rank in CS2’s Competitive mode, you need to consistently perform well in matches. Winning rounds, achieving objectives, and accumulating points will help you progress. Additionally, communication with your team and regular practice are essential for climbing the ranks.

Are CS2 Skins Only for Cosmetic Purposes, or Do They Affect Gameplay?

CS2 skins are purely cosmetic and do not impact gameplay in any way. They allow players to personalize their weapons, character models, and gloves. The choice of skins doesn’t provide any in-game advantages; it’s about personal expression.

Is CS2 a Beginner-Friendly Game?

While CS2 has a straightforward concept, it can be challenging for beginners due to its highly competitive nature and the skill level of its player base. However, with dedication, practice, and learning from experienced players, newcomers can improve and enjoy the game.

How Can I Protect Myself from Scams when Trading CS2 Skins?

To avoid scams when trading CS2 skins, it’s essential to be cautious. Stick to reputable trading platforms and marketplaces. Always verify the legitimacy of third-party sites before making transactions. Never share personal information, account details, or login credentials with unverified sources.

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