I’ve run myself ragged playing Call of Salmon Spawning and other low-skill shooters, and find myself willing to play them only when new downloadable “content” comes out. A lot of my friends on Steam have been playing Global Offensive, and I couldn’t help but join them for a few games. Expectedly, I got my ass handed to me time and again for reasons that require their own article to explain. That said, I’ve watched some competitive footage since playing and there are two big concepts any new player should master.
Don’t be so hasty
Unlike Carl of Booty: [redacted] [removed], Counter-Strike has not, does not, and will not ever, reward the player who thinks speed is the answer to everything. Firstly, if you’re new to CS of any stripe, there are about ten thousand other players who have ten years more experience than you in nothing but Counter-Strike. They know everything there is to know about the game. I’m talking about understanding, in exacting detail, how long it takes a player to arrive at a certain position on a map, down to the millisecond.
For this reason, among many others, let me stress the following. Do not play CS:GO quickly, but do not camp. Your movement should be constant and deliberate. You will be outshot, out-thought, and outplayed more times than you’d like to think possible. Minimize each by taking as much time as you think you need.
The kills you do get will not be paired with calls of “camper” and “hacker” and “noob” unless you make it blatantly obvious your strategies involved nothing but those descriptors. The CS community, for the most part, would rather have you play smart and slow that ignore the win by playing fast, loose, and stupid.
Most importantly, your patience will teach you the timings I mentioned earlier. If you follow more experienced teammates, you’ll see them taking it slow even though they’re fully aware of what’s coming. As you follow or lead, try to make mental notes of when you hear or see the first signs of your enemies. The tink of a grenade, shot fired, a teammate dying.
After a few days of playing, you’ll begin to learn these timings at a subconscious level, and over a longer period, you’ll anticipate your enemy’s movements just as they’re thinking about yours.
Know your (mental) geography
While being patient is an important skill, it will get you only so far if you don’t know the maps you play on. The problem with CS is your knowledge of the maps will almost always be far less than the people you play against, so I don’t recommend spending too much time exploring them. Play some Deathmatch to get a feel for the flow of troop movement and a basic understanding of where advantageous positions are on a map.
When you think you’re ready, jump in Classic Competitive. Discover you weren’t ready, but soldier on. Exercise patience and watch your teammates. Once they’ve arrived at the objective, what do they do? Do they even go straight there, or even more for a few seconds (barring the Buy period of the game)? The answers to both questions are just one part of the puzzle.
The solution is not something I can give you in this article. True skill in Counter-Strike is something like a science, but the kind of science whose practice varies from person to person. I’d advise that you experiment often and for extended periods. Entire 15 round matches should count as just one test, and every player a single piece of data. Jump in and out of lobbies on your off nights, and dominate just one when you can’t be stopped.
Never, I repeat never, stop analyzing your teammates, enemies, and yourself. Every mistake every player makes should be like a dot on a graph, or a number in a long spreadsheet. It’s your job, as it has been and will be for every Counter-Strike player, to extrapolate your own theories from this large pool of data. Then you need to test, fail and rethink and test again, just as scientists and other players do with their own experimental findings.