Top Ten Tips to Step Up your CS Game

By MIchael P

In today’s video game market, Counter Strike: Global Offensive sticks out as one of the most strategic first-person-shooters ever made. Despite its release in 2012, it has still defended its ranks amongst the likes of League of Legends and DOTA 2 asnerdynerd nerd a  tactic-heavy game that focuses on teamwork, strategies, and situational awareness. Any new player to such a game would be daunted by the immense collection of weapons, strategies, callouts and hiding spots. Funnily enough, this overwhelming feeling exponentially escalates as you find out about ideas like “jiggle peeking”, “shoulder peeking”, “spray controlling” and “bunny hopping”. Any new player would immediately be turned away by such a steep learning curve. To facilitate CS:GO’s growth into one of the most prominent eSports in existence, I have created this guide to help new players with some of the basic mechanics and technicalities of this game. All of this might seem intimidating, but keep in mind that even professionals such as Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund had to go through this process. Greatness starts somewhere, which just happens to be explained in this guide.

Before you dive in, however, you must be aware that, in its entirety, this article was written with several assumptions about the reader. In order to understand this guide, and the reasonings behind each point, the following traits as a player should apply to you:

  1. You have a basic knowledge of the weapons available in CS:GO, and the situations in which to use them.
  2. You understand Counter Strike Vocabulary such as “Rotation”, “Save”, “Pop Flash” and “Boost”
  3. You have a general knowledge of the callouts on all of the maps.
  4. Finally, and most importantly, you have a basic understanding of the game’s overarching mechanics. This can be achieved through playing several competitive games or watching professional matches.

Be aware that this article is not meant to be fully read; its purpose is to provide ample information on each point. Go through each section and see whether it applies to you or not.

  • Grenades are your best friend.

In almost any situation, a well timed molotov, flashbang, or smoke grenade can turn the tide of a firefight, or simply provide an opening to execute a strategy. Armed with an AK-47 and a pistol, most beginners rush everywhere, guns blazing, hoping to annihilate the enemy with raw skill. However, many such players run into a formidable obstacle; what happens if your enemy can outaim you? In such situations, a well-timed popflash or a molotov can force an enemy out of a position, giving you the advantage, and another kill on the scoreboard. Pop flashing when rushing a site can blind the defense present, giving you five seconds to either set up a crossfire, or get an easy kill. Molotovs can also be used in such a situation. For example, when rushing B on inferno, a coordinated team, or even a collective of PUG players, could molotov off New Box and First Oranges, two commonly used defensive positions. When the CTs run out of the flames in panic, they will be met by a team of fully armed Spanish Separatists. Other situations for using grenades might be pop-flashing your way out of an awper’s scope, or finishing off a wounded enemy with a well placed High Explosive Grenade.

  1.   Know when to play passively and aggressively.

One of the most commonly made mistakes by a beginner, or even an intermediate player, is the constant urge to rush everywhere they go. For some mysterious reason, you feel that the only way to win a round is to “Blitzkrieg” your opponent, and quickly overtake a site. However, such tactics almost always prove to be inefficient and easily counterable. Knowing that the terrorists are an aggressive team, CTs could easily hold a tight angle, killing you as you push in. Naturally, you would keep pushing onto the site, where two more newly rotated Counter Terrorists lie in wait.

scopeOne round in CS:GO can last from 1:45 to 2:00 minutes, depending on the organization with which you play. Constantly rushing a site takes approximately twenty or thirty seconds; the remaining time is simply put to waste. In order to improve you game, and be a better tactician, you must realize that you have plenty of time to create a strategy; use the time wisely. Instead of rushing Banana every round, you could ask your teammates to establish map control; spread yourselves around the map to gain dominance. Scouring out the map for aggressive terrorists, or simply probing for information can lead to an easy entry kill, or an insight into the CTs’ defensive formation. Playing passively is the perfect counter to an aggressive enemy; holding an angle on a pushing enemy almost always goes favourably.

However, what happens if the Counter Terrorists are playing extremely passively? In that situation, you must realize that the best course of action is to take advantage of the open map. When you have decided to push a site, you can easily flush the defenders out of their hiding spots with molotovs and flashbangs, as mentioned in Tip #1.

It is vital to remember that each playstyle (Passive and Aggressive) has its benefits and drawbacks. An experienced player will always be shifting between these two methods of play in response to the meta, enemy tactics, and the general path of the game. Remember to mix up your calls; a repetitive strategy can become predictable, and easily opposed.

  1.  Communicate with your teammates.

Teamwork is arguably the main foundation of Counter Strike: Global Offensive. Without any strategy or callouts, a team would be left in complete ruin; players would essentially always be in a state of 1v5. Many players, who are new to FPSs or are transitioning from the Call of Duty franchise, mistakenly see the objective of CS:GO as getting the most frags on the scoreboard. The truth, however, is quite simple; the goal of CS:GO is to win, no matter the circumstances. A win with 2 people at 10 kills is still considered a success. Those people might have been the lurkers, or simple did not get an opportunity to get kills due to the skill of the entry-fragger.

In any situation, teamwork is crucial in gaining an advantage and winning a round or an exchange. Calling your teammate for a popflash, or setting yourselves up for a cross-fire can stop an aggressive rush, or earn you several unexpected kills. Calling out enemy locations also gives your team an advantage; if you die, don’t simply frown and report the enemy for hacking. Tell your teammates where he killed you, and his current HP level. Armed with this knowledge, your comrades can finish a low health enemy with a grenade, or simple pre-fire him to the tenth spatial dimension.

  1. Train your accuracy on aim maps and deathmatch.

Although teamwork and communication are indeed important parts of a competitive match, an experienced player must also be able to function at a heightened level of personal competence. Some situations will simply require you to defend a site by yourself from a rushing team of five while your teammates rotate to back you up, or pull out a 1v2 clutch. Aim can be pivotal at almost any time, but also happens to be one of the hardest skills to consistently train. To practise you flick-shots, taps (one or two bullet bursts used when the enemy is far away) or even sprays (Full clip fire that is used for dispatching of a near to medium-range enemy), I would recommend the map aim_botz by Mr. uLLeticaL™ ( Loading this map up before a competitive game and playing for ten minutes will show definite improvement in reaction time, and accuracy. With its wide array of choices regarding weaponry, enemy range, enemy motion, and cover, the map should satisfy all of your aim-related needs.

To apply the techniques learned in the map mentioned above, I personally prefer to play a round of community FFA deathmatch. Instant after-kill reloads, immediate respawns, and a populated server can help you deal with situations where the enemy is at different range, returning fire, strafing, or is even a better player. Such servers can easily be found by clicking “Play”, “Browse Community Servers” and entering the search query “deathmatch”.

room in a videogame

  1. Learn to outthink your opponent.

One of the most difficult ideas to comprehend is that CS:GO is a game that is not only based upon tactics and aim, but also on manipulating the psyche and strategy of the other team. Faking sites, or having a distractive lurk could force a premature rotation, giving you unimpeded access to a site. No matter the round, you must always be focused and try to predict the motions and actions of an opponent. Is there a hyper-aggressive CT that always pushes halls? Hold an angle and swiftly dispatch of him. Have you pushed bombsite A three times in a row, and expect a stack? Fake A and go to the other site. Always be aware of the mentality of your opponent. Try to put yourself into the situation of your enemy.

This tip also becomes extremely useful in clutch situations. Tasked with a 1v2, it becomes almost impossible to win on the basis of aim alone. An experienced player will try to lure the opponents into thinking that they have him cornered. As soon as they split up to pinch the terrorist, he kills the scouter, turning the situation into a 1v1. Many times, terrorists have gotten a free plant by throwing a smoke at the site the CT would expect them to go, and doubling back. By the time the CT realises his grievous mistake, the bomb would have already started ticking down, and you would have taken a comfortable defensive position.

For Counter Terrorists in such situations, a “fake defuse” can be utilized. By tapping the bomb, and pre-aiming where the bomb is planted for, you force the terrorist out of hiding; they are trying to stop its potential disarming.

As you can see, outthinking your opponent is an important skill to obtain. By manipulating the psyche and mentality of your enemy, you can force them to make a hasty mistake, and win yourself the round/game.

  1. Stick to your strengths as a player, but also be aware of your weaknesses.

Every player on any professional CS:GO team has a dedicated role that he focuses on. Players such as Ryan “fREAKAZOID” Abadir or Adam “friberg” Friberg are entry fraggers, while Kenny “KennyS” Schrub and Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham take on the role of dedicated awper. These players have a certain collection of skill that make them perfect for the role they choose to play. An awper might have formidable long range accuracy, while an entry-fragger might be able to perform phenomenal flick shots, opening up a site. As a casual player, you should try and recognize your strengths as a player, and try to place yourself into situations in which you can fully prosper. If you attribute your success to patience, you might choose to play a lurk role in Palace, while your teams pushes Apps, instead of acquiring an AWP and going for a mid pick. In situations where you need to win a round, try and take on a role that will most likely result in success.

However, professionals don’t always stick to their pre-assigned roles; players like KennyS happen to have a decent ability to handle the AK-47. In order to truly improve as a player, you must be versatile. Certain situations like picking up an awp after a teammate or using an AK-47 during an aggressive push force you to be exposed to other playstyles. Aim to have a formidable knowledge of other weapons and playstyles, allowing you to be useful in almost all situations and in any tactic your team chooses to run.

  1. Utilize proper crosshair placement.

In many situations, proper crosshair placement can be the difference between a swift death, and possibly a round winning advantage. No matter the location, or time, your crosshair should be positioned at head-level to any commonly played position. Doing so allows you to quickly and efficiently dispatch of any enemies in those spots, or react to an unexpected peek. Many players, in the midst of an intense match, find their aim slowly drifting towards the ground. In the event that an opponent unexpectedly appears around a corner, your aim would have to snap to their head, giving the peeker the advantage. However, if your sight was already trained at the corner, a simple click would leave the enemy stunned at your reaction time.

  1. Know both your team’s and the enemy’s economy.

Knowing the economy at the start of any round can help you better coordinate with your teammates, either by modifying strategies to counter a saving enemy, who is more likely to rush, or playing more passively in response to your personal lack of resources. Look at the money of your teammates and analyze whether it will be enough to assemble a buy; keep in mind that armour, defuse kit and a primary costs ~$4500 (CT) and ~$3700 (T).

A common mistake made by beginners is to continually buy every round, even when the only item they can afford is a Bizon. Buying haphazardly and repeatedly restricts the transferal of money to the following round, which is the entire point of a save round. Not buying weapons for a round allows you to fully equip yourself for the next one. Doing this as a team will increase the chances of success even more; having five people with M4s is much more efficient than have only two, with three players saving (unless you are trying to equalize your team’s money).

  1. Keep calm and composed.

In any competitive sport, one of the most vital contributors to consistent performance is you and your team’s mentality. Speaking from personal experience, there will be situations in your game where either you or your team is underperforming, due to various reasons. Losing rounds early on, making simple but crucial mistakes or seeing a teammate lose an easy clutch are all factors that can make you upset, or even go overboard. As soon as this point is hit, only the negatives of each round will be filtered into your brain, slowly causing you to lose focus. Strong outbursts at your teammates, or even at yourself make you lose concentration, causing you to make even more mistakes, turning your game into a constant loop of errors and losses. Although getting upset is inevitable, try to remain calm and composed. Even after a round loss, congratulate your teammates on the successes that you had, identify your mistakes, and continue the game. Even situations that make a person’s emotions go ballistic (“99 in 5”) can be resolved; step away from the computer, and get a drink of water.

Even when somebody else starts yelling at you, try to ignore them and simply reply with “Sorry”, “Yeah” and “Ok, I’ll do better next time”. A yelling match can quickly turn a light-hearted competitive game into a sonic battlefield. Eventually, your ally will relax, and you can continue strategizing.

  1. Learn the map, and keep up with the meta.

Knowing the map in CS:GO can be the difference between life and death, and win or loss. Having a knowledge of the map can help you predict where terrorists are bound to go, where they are saving, and score you several kills with a smoke, pop-flash or a wallbang. Knowing timing can also be beneficial to your play, especially on the CT half. Knowing when and where the meeting points of a map are can prove to be quite important. Try to play on each map for a bit, in deathmatch, and in competitive, until you are comfortable with its layout and hiding spots.

Another important idea that you must be aware of is the “meta” in a game. This term exists in almost any strategic/competitive game; it refers to the changes in the popularity of certain spots and setups. During certain times of the game, either due to released videos or professional plays, certain tactics become more popular, while others become almost forgotten. Pay attention to this by watching CS:GO youtube channels and professional games, at least on a casual basis, to figure out the current positional trend, and how to counter it.

Although there are still many more bits of advice I could give to you, the former information should suffice in guiding you to becoming a better tactical and situational player. Although I am nowhere near the professional level, and have committed these mistakes myself, I hoped that a more “experience oriented” guide would make a stronger impact. In writing a relatively short article (believe me, this is nowhere near the amount of advice that will turn you into a professional), I hope that it will boost your coordination, skill and decision making abilities.

Additional Resources:

Channels to watch for Smokes/Flashes/Wallbangs

Channels to Watch for Advice and Strategies:

Aim/Smoke Practise Maps:


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