In the past few months, CS:GO has experienced an explosive growth rate both for player base and in stream viewership numbers. The professional scene is thriving as the tournaments all around the world have a prize purse of over $100,000. This was a huge contrast to when the game was first released in August 2012 when interest was low.
I had many questions upon hearing news about the game’s growth. Why is the game suddenly so popular now two years after release? Why do so many gamer choose to watch this game over other Esports games such as LoL, DOTA2, Starcraft2, and Street Fighter 4? Is the game play actually any good? I decided to buy the game while it was on sales for $7.99 in order to find the answer to those questions. That $7.99 was worth every penny.
At first, I didn’t know what to expect when I dived headfirst into the game because shooting games weren’t exactly my cup of tea. I prefer RPG, RTS, fighting, and sport games over FPS. I played Call of Duty and Halo games and didn’t like it (Call of Duty has an awkward gameplay and Halo hasn’t had a good multiplayer mode since Halo 2). Furthermore, my reaction time clocks in around .300, which is considered to be below average. There is no question that First-Person-Shooter is one of my weakest genre in term of overall gaming skill level.
I started playing the game with a friend of mine who knew about the game. He reduced the learning curve of the game by explaining the basics such as mouse sensitivity, resolution, and graphic settings. He explained to me that pros use mouse sensitivity between 1 and 3 and that they use static crosshair to help them aim better. Next I learned that the best strategy for counter-terrorists is to camp the site and wait for the terrorists to come to you because they need to plant the bomb to win.
After learning a little bit about the game, I play my first game of CS:GO under the competitive mode. Competitive mode has the same rule set that professionals play on. The goal of this mode is simple: win 16 rounds. There is a terrorists side and a counter terrorists side. T can win a round by successfully planting the bomb or killing all CTs. In contrast, CT wins a round by defusing the bomb or killing all terrorists.
Competitive mode is always 5v5. I presume that this is the main reason why the game is the most popular esports game to watch because the rules of the game is simple to understand. You don’t have to play CS to understand what is happening when you watch a tournament match on twitch.tv. In contrast, you can’t watch LoL or DOTA2 games without knowing what is going on.
I was also surprised that CS:GO has a very good competitive matchmaking system unlike in CS 1.6 where you have to manually join a server or privately set up a game via IRC chat-room. Needless to say, I was extremely impressed by this game.
I learned how to rotate around the map on both CT and T side, when to peek and not peek, the concept of saving money between rounds, how to fake defuse and fake plant, how every single gun in this game has a predictable recoil pattern which allow firing rate to be controlled, the different firing techniques (bursting, spraying, etc), and how to move and fire accurately (counter strafing). Most importantly, I learned that this game is all about angles.
Game of Angles
Before knowing about the CS:GO professional scene, I assumed that most professional CS:GO players would be young and have supernatural reflexes. After all, reactions are what make you good at shooting games, right? Wrong. Most professional CS:GO players are actually quite old by gaming standard. Most of the elite players are over 23. How do these guys compete with the younger and faster player? The answer to that is simple: they are superior at manipulating the angle.
With the fast-paced nature of CS:GO, a head start in milliseconds is all that is required to kill someone. if you have your cross-hair on your opponent and he doesn’t have it on you, he should be dead most of the time because you get to react first with your shooting while he has to waste valuable time to aim his crosshair.
In an extreme case, if your opponent doesn’t see you on your screen and you see him, he should be dead 100% of the time. Experienced players understand this idea intuitively. Thus, they pre-aim their mouse to cover the angle where an enemy would most likely appear. When they walk around a corner, they don’t have their mouse cursor in the middle of the road. They position their crosshair hugging as close to the wall as possible as they turn the corner because that’s where an enemy will most likely to appears on the screen. Nevertheless, players with fast reflexes still have the advantage in unexpected fight and in deathmatch mode where everyone randomly spawns on the map.
Covering angles is an essential part of competitive CS:GO. When you are defending as counter-terrorists, you don’t want everyone to be looking at the same entrance because the enemy can come from a different path and shoot you at your blind angles. When attacking at a terrorist, you don’t want to be looking at the same thing as your teammates because it’s a waste of angles.
In a 2v1 situation, you want to approach the lone person from a vastly different angle at the same time because the person can’t aim at both targets at once. In contrast, if you are in a 1v2+ situation, you want to turn the 1v2 into 2 1v1 by moving into a position where the enemy doesn’t have an angle on you while you attempt to engage the other person. Watch how a pro plays a 1v4 situation in a video below. Notices how he positions his cross-hair.
CS:GO has all the elements of a great game: it is easy to pick up yet hard to master, you can play it with your friends, and there are nearly infinite skills to practice and many concepts to master. The most interesting thing about this game is that you can tailor your style of play to suit your strengths or to cover up your weak point. You can approach the game from a tactical standpoint using grenades or you can try to go Rambo and kill everyone 1v5 by the mean of superior aim. I have spent 60 hours thus far playing this game and I’m not going to quit any time soon. There is no doubt in my mind that CS:GO Is currently the best multiplayer FPS game on the market today.