Counter Strike was created back in 1999 and since then has undergone several new game releases. With a massive growth in the eSports industry, Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) has become one of the most popular first-person shooter games in the world. When players play at a professional level, they are placed in a 5-man team that competes for large prize pools ($1.4million for Eleague Season 1 in 2016). It comes to no surprise that the game has risen in popularity among gamers.
In this article I'll go through some of the basics, but also cover slightly more advanced tips and tricks, in order to give you an edge over other players. Also see: Latest games news.
Best Counter Strike tips & tricks: What is CS:GO and how do you get it?
CS:GO is a FPS game, which when is played competitively, is a 5v5 team-based game, where the Terrorists have to plant a bomb or kill the five counter-terrorists, and the Counter-Terrorists' job is to defend the A and B bomb sites or stay alive, without the bomb being planted. Each competitive round is two minutes long and has 30 rounds in regular time.
The game is primarily made for PC and Mac. It also exists on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but isn't anywhere near as good as its computer variant. Also see: Games console reviews.
Best Counter Strike tips & tricks: What is rank in CS:GO? How do I rank up in CS:GO?
To start this guide, let's talk about rank. If you're an old CS player or have never tried competitive matchmaking, then ranks will be completely new to you.
There are 18 ranks in CS:GO, this determines the level of people you'll be matched against in competitive games, and also give you a rough indication of how good you are. Despite people bragging about rank, it isn't a perfect depiction of how good you are, just an indication.
To get a rank in the first place, you'll need to first get a profile rank, which is used to get drops in-game and prevent cheaters from easily ruining the game. Once you've gotten Private Rank 2, you'll be eligible to play competitive matchmaking. Once you win (not only play) ten games, you'll be assigned a rank, this can be anything from the Silver, Nova, Master guardian, or Eagle ranks. It's very rare for someone to get placed above the Eagle ranks (ie Supreme or Global).
I've gone through almost every rank, so I feel I'm in a good position to let you know how hard each rank gets.
I first started CS:GO after having migrated from Call of Duty and Battlefield. CS:GO had a steep learning curve and after having won my first ten competitive games I got placed in Silver 2, almost the bottom of the pile. I was happy nevertheless, fast-forward two years, and I'm now Global - where I place in the top 1% among other CS:GO players.
To rank up, you're going to need to practice, be patient and if possible find a group of players to play with on a regular basis, things I will go through in this article; but before doing that, you'll need to understand how to rank up and what happens when you derank or even lose your rank.
How to rank up in CS:GO
To rank up in CS:GO, you'll need to win competitive games or potentially draw a few. You don't get any rank in other games other than competitive matchmaking.
To win a game, you'll need your team to get to 16 points first. Alternatively, you can draw 15-15. Unlike pro games, there's no overtime in regular competitive matchmaking.
When you win games, especially if you do well personally, you get Elo points. The Elo ranking system is quite complicated and no one truly understands the full game mechanics in CS:GO, but some have researched it in great detail and written about it at great length.
You win more Elo points when you play against players who are higher ranked, which coincidentally, when you're about to rank up, will find games get slightly harder as you're playing against those with a higher rank than you.
Losing a competitive matchmaking game in CS:GO
Losing a game is never good for your rank, so try not to lose many - although sometimes that will be completely out of your hands, as it's a 5-man team based game. Even if you top frag and get all the kills, you'll still need your team to help you out. Without communication and a plan, you won't be able to win a game. Naturally, you'll lose games, where if you lose several games in a row, you have a high chance of deranking.
If you derank, you'll lose one rank. For example, going from Silver 2, down to Silver 1. Note, there's no rank lower than Silver 1.
My rank has disappeared
If you haven't played in over 30 days, your rank will automatically be taken away from you. In order to get it back, you'll have to play one game. It has often been the case, where someone has lost their rank and has been placed in a much lower skill group. The biggest reported change has been from Supreme down to Nova 3, a massive difference.
In order to ensure you keep your rank, ensure you play at least one competitive matchmaking game once a month.
Alternatively, if you've been hacking or have played (sometimes inadvertently) with hackers in your lobby, your rank will be taken away. Here, you'll need to reclaim it by playing a competitive game or give up CS:GO because you're dirty hacker (no one likes hackers).
If you happen to suspect someone is a hacker, you can report them to Valve, by right clicking on their name in-game and submitting a report. Hacking happens at every rank, recently in a Supreme game, I managed to permanently ban four out of the five players I was up against in a game - they were all slapped with a VAC ban. if this occurs, you'll get the game back, where the stats for that game won't count. Also see: Most anticipated games of 2016.
Best Counter Strike tips & tricks: Buying strategies in competitive matchmaking games
To access the buy menu press 'B' - you can then navigate the menu through your keyboard or mouse.
An important element in competitive games is the money-situation of both yourself and your teammates. Sometimes, after losing a few rounds, you'll need to 'Eco' - where you need to save for the following round.
There are various guides on the internet, but in principle I would always suggest keeping your money above $2,000 in an Eco round, in other words if you need to Eco, buy anything you can until you don't drop under $2,000 - this will allow you to full-buy in the following round and give you an edge in an eco, potentially even allowing you to win the round on a full-eco!
For the first pistol round I always buy armour and if I'm pre-made kindly ask someone to drop me a P250. The P250 is one of the most under-rated guns in the game. It's only a pistol, but when used right, you can obliterate your oponents.
I always try and buy a Smoke and Flash Grenade too. The most important thing is to make sure your money is in-line with the rest of your team. If you have a lot of money, but your teammates have nothing, don't full-buy, whilst they're on an eco. Buy them P250 pistols and do a full-buy next round.
Best Counter Strike tips & tricks: How to improve spray control in CS:GO
One of the biggest tips I can give to anyone starting in CS:GO, is to practice your spray control. Every gun has a unique spray, where bullets will shoot in a certain way. Valve very rarely updates the spray patterns, but nevertheless keep an eye out on their blog, to track the official updates.
You won't have to necessarily learn the spray pattern for every gun in the game, but learning guns such as the AK-47, M4A1-S, M4A4, P90, Famas, Galil AR, MP7, UMP-45 and MAC-10 can be very useful. Out of all the guns available in-game, these are the select few which are often used (excluding the AWP sniper rifle and the pistols).
To practice your spray control, it's best to see a visual of how each gun behaves. Essentially, you'll want to counter the spray pattern in order to compensate for the recoil. This will then give you a very small spray, allowing you to be more accurate and essentially a much better player. A graphics of each gun can be seen on Csgoskills. Tobycs has also outlined a good guide on his website, showcasing console commands that will help you become a better CS:GO player.
Best Counter Strike tips & tricks: Practice smokes in CS:GO
Once you feel you've got a good hang of spray control, it's time to start practicing smokes. Smoke grenades make a massive different in CS:GO. They are used to play-out your opposition and make it easier for you to execute or defend a given site.
Learning smokes takes a lot of time and patience. To practice smokes, you'll want to load a game with bots and watch many YouTube videos on where and how to smoke out a site. Tobycs has a script to allow you to do this with ease. It's also unique per map, so you'll want to learn most of them if possible - it will take you a huge chunk of time, so try being a little selective on the one you want to actually learn. There's a lot of YouTube videos out there, such as this one from Jamiew on Dust 2.
Learning your smokes, will open up or make it a lot easier to defend a bomb site - if you're serious about CS:GO, you'll want to perfect them. Practice really does makes perfect. Also see: Best VR games.
Best Counter Strike tips & tricks: Learn the current map pool
Playing one map can be fun once you get used to it, but in order for you to get the most out of the game, I would suggest playing every map on a regular basis. This will not only allow you to play the game in a different way, but also enable you to figure out which is your favourite map out of them all.
While playing, you'll learn the different calls in-game and be able to help your team a lot more.
Best Counter Strike tips & tricks: Communicate in CS:GO
Communication in CS:GO is key. Especially at higher ranks, being able to call-out and give information to your team can make or break your game.
The default key to communicate in-game is the letter 'K', although I would suggest reassigning this to 'C' or something closer to your WASD keys.
Yes, for this part you'll need an actual microphone - don't be shy to communicate with your team, but don't hog the voice comms, as you'll be disrupting people's concentration levels.
Best Counter Strike tips & tricks: Play in a 5-man pre-made team
After you start playing a few games, you'll start meeting people and this is where I suggest adding a few of the better players in your games and pairing up with them to play another one together. Playing with people you somewhat know or get to know over time, is a lot better than playing on your own (in other words solo queuing).
Once you start getting to know each other, you'll learn tendencies of each and roles. I personally play as a rifler and often entry frag bomb sites. Others prefer to be a lurker, awper or support-type player.
Best Counter Strike tips & tricks: Get a better keyboard, mouse, monitor and internet connection
This tip is the only one that might set out back some extra pennies. However, if you're playing on a low refresh rate monitor, have a poor sensor in your mouse, an irresponsive keyboard, or play on a bad internet connection then you'll naturally be put at a disadvantage versus other players.
Having a good internet connection, results in lower ping and thus will allow you to 'see' players faster on a server. If you've got high ping, due to poor internet, your shots won't result in kills, but a lot of frustration.
The keyboard, mouse and monitor also help. You don't have to spend a lot of money to get a competitive edge, but if you can afford it and you're serious about competitive gaming, such as in CS:GO, then these peripherals will greatly help you have a better experience.
Best Counter Strike tips & tricks: Watch the Pros
A fantastic way to learn how to play the game is to actually watch the pros play. This will often teach you fantastic positional play, new smoke spots, an indication of when to spray or tap fire and most importantly how to play as a team.
A good channel to follow on Twitch is ESL - they cover a lot of the major events.