The Spawn Room (TSR) is a gaming and eSports hub by Sam Shadow (SMSHDW).
The Spawn Room (TSR) is a gaming and eSports hub by Sam Shadow (SMSHDW).
Here are 10 things to help casual and amateur players become immediately better at Counter-Strike.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve watched teammates die to exposed AWPers or run through doorways which were clearly covered. Each hoping they’ll get the glory of the kill. These are stupid risks. Always assume your enemy is accurate and ready. Instead, you should reassess and realize that running in blind is a last resort. I would rather a team run out the clock attempting strategies than lose to stupid risks. At least that way you’re experimenting with what works as opposed to reinforcing the idea that running in is a valid option. Over time this will reduce your deaths, reduce mistakes and stupid risks, increase your odds of winning, and expand your understanding of what’s possible.
Getting a kill is rewarding, but injuring the enemy can be even more effective. By obeying our impulses it’s easy to chase enemies through doorways or around corners in an attempt to secure a kill, but often this can lead to an unnecessary death. It is important to catch ourselves in those moments and be patient instead. Let a supporting teammate throw a grenade or simply hold the position so they have to walk back into your advantage. Let them rotate into your other allies or slowly flank them together. There are many options which don’t sacrifice your advantage, but can still result in you getting a kill. Wait for opportunities when possible, don’t become someone else’s opportunity.
When things don’t happen immediately I will often seem teammates rotating or revealing their position. Often times it seems like the moment they do, the enemy shows themselves a couple seconds later. Had they been more patient they wouldn’t have exposed themselves to an increased likelihood of death and could have maintained an advantage over the enemy. Sometimes just staying quietly hidden in an area forces the enemy to move slower, allows you to hear their presence, and then gives your team more time to rotate in, as opposed to impatience leading to an immediate firefight, your death, a quick bomb plant, and less time for your allies to rotate in. Be patient and move when you have more information.
It can be intimidating when the enemy floods into your bombsite or you find yourself clutching a round. I’ve seen players get nervous when the weight of a round rests on their shoulders, understandably so. However, I take solace in these moment when I think about statistics. My teammates may want or expect me to win, but the numbers suggest otherwise. In those moments the likelihood of success drops considerably and so it’s less about winning and more about smart decisions. Are you carrying an expensive weapon? Then maybe focusing on survival is the best option. Do you need to clutch because your eco is low and the enemy is gaining momentum? Then don’t engage, but don’t expect to win, instead attempt to injure. Use hit and run techniques to extend the number of opportunities you have to engage and possibly get a kill. Let the other side get greedy and chase into your positional advantage or keep them busy and let the bomb finish off a player.
Spread out, don’t move into firing lines, don’t bunch up, and don’t get greedy. Let your team support you as you support them. Share kills. Make sure someone is watching the rear. It can be comical at times how much like a herd we act, all looking in the direction of a recent kill or rotating to support an ally and leaving a position wide open. I’ve seen allies block doorways and one-by-one step through to their deaths instead of all rushing as was planned. A good player needs to recognize what role they should fill from moment to moment.
This one is simple, but fails all the time. When your plan is to rush a bombsite, don’t stop because someone shot at you. It sucks to be the first two guys into a bombsite, but it has to happen. Do your job, take the fire, call out the positions, do damage if possible, but don’t stop running. The moment you stop you bunch up which increases the likelihood of enemy fire hitting someone, it increases their effectiveness of grenades, and often blocks teammates from shooting enemies. Give yourself every advantage in those strategies because you’re already operating at a massive disadvantage.
Don’t think of grenades as weapons, think of them as tools. If you want to kill your enemy a grenade is not an effective option. A bullet to the head is infinitely better. Instead use grenades to delay, distract, and injure. There is just too much time between switching weapons to make it a good tactic. In fact, I’d suggest early on to avoid purchasing grenades at all so you don’t get into the bad habit of pulling them out at bad moments. It is better to stay alive, keep your weapon out, and learn other parts of the game. Master grenades later on or rely on team communication to instruct you when to use them.
This sounds obvious, but it happens constantly. Allies will get overzealous and injure their teammates or, even more likely, blind them. As I mentioned above, use grenades as tools and call out what you’re about to do with them. More importantly, don’t get greedy and throw HE grenades to try and secure kills when your teammates are chasing the enemy.
Early on in my gaming career I had the bad habit of constantly reloading. Game after game I let this bad habit get me killed until I finally addressed it. I know there is an impulse to be prepared and not get caught with your pants down, but reloading is another strategic element of the game. Don’t reload when engaged with the enemy, it makes you too vulnerable. Instead, conserve your shots, back up, and try to find safety if possible. If there’s no way you’re going to make it and the count is low, switch to your pistol, that’s what it’s there for.
Always know who the bomb carrier is and be sure to never miss an opportunity to plant. This doesn’t mean choose bad times to plant the bomb and get yourself killed, it just means don’t forget to plant the bomb after securing the site. It also means, plant the bomb when the odds are against you to secure money for your team instead of trying to survive 1-vs-whatever.
This is something I rarely see players do, but suppression fire is real. Don’t worry about wasting ammo, usually you’ll never run out, and delaying a push can give real advantages. Especially if you’re focused on injuring enemies, like mentioned above, suppression fire can be an even stronger barrier to an injured player.
When I was actively creating YouTube content I produced a series called Behind the Play which reviewed strategy and tactics in competitive games. Here are the notes from studying Counter-Strike: Global Offensive:
Remember with CS:GO, things like suppression fire and pressuring don’t work as obviously in something like LoL or Dota 2 where you can deny farming. But they DO exist. You can suppress and pressure enemies out of areas to buy time for bomb plants or save allies.
Highly skilled players must recognize a running calculation that determines their team advantage. The higher the skill, the more this mindset is considered. Kills are the most obvious form of advantage, but there are many exploitable options in CS:GO. For example, if you can afford 1 second of suppression fire, that is better than 0 seconds. Even if the advantage gained is minuscule, a well synergized team can exploit it or enact other actions that stack a growing advantage for your team. For instance, 1 second of suppression may be long enough for a vulnerable teammate to switch from a grenade back to his rifle to better protect himself. Or drawing fire because you’re at a further range or not in possession of the bomb.
Movement Advantages – It’s important to take note of where players move from the spawn position. Once a route is selected it is rarely changed because lost time equates to better timing and positioning for the enemy (same with indecision). Although if done intentionally it can confuse the enemy team as long as your players are positioned correctly.
Timing Advantages – Choosing your timing for particular strats are incredibly important. At higher levels of play, and even inadvertently at lower levels, timing of just 1-3 seconds can completely change a round. For example, a split rush on bombsite B on dust2: if the terrorists in tunnel begin their attack at the right moment, the CT watching mid will turn his back to reinforce his ally who’s just called for help. Done correctly, the terrorist at mid will enter just as the CT becomes vulnerable, taking an easy kill and helping secure B. However, if the tunnel Ts are delayed by even a second or two, the CT at mid will see the T coming, NOT turn his back and level the playing field in terms of who wins the gunfight. Now B cannot be secured in a timely manner because the mid CT may live to delay the bomb plant, which in turn allows CTs from A to reinforce faster, along with denying positioning advantages for the Ts.
Awareness Advantages – An important aspect of this game is positioning, you need to dynamically cover positions as the variables change. Starting with 5 players, you take your initial positioning and begin gathering intel. Based on enemy movements, you begin your adjustments to counter whatever it is they’re doing. When engagement occurs it is often very easy to get caught up in the physical confrontation, but it’s equally important to keep a running record of variable changes so you can continue adjusting your strategy. Failure to do so will place your team at a running disadvantage. It’s useful to develop a pattern for eye movement, frequently glancing around the screen to gather intel (minimap and ammo count).
Positioning Advantages – There are also positioning advantages to take into account when performing a “mixed buy”. This means a couple of “wealthier” teammates are heavier weapons, while the rest save. The point being that the heavier weapons are placed in key positions (strong positions) where they can secure kills or at least suppress enemies (defend plants, etc.). They are also placed in positions where teammates can easily recover the weapon should the teammate die. Here is the full explanation via Reddit user btattersall:
“Firstly you would need to be playing with a TEAM that knows what is happening and how to coordinate their positioning. The point of a buy like that is to put a heavy weapon in two key positions (likely bombsites, or adjacent) and to ensure that your teammates can recover the weapon before the other team does. Probably makes most sense when you have two people who are hard-fragging, and three who are lower on cash and kills. The two who are juiced with kill cash make the buy, distribute the weapons as necessary, and even up the economy for the whole team, so they can make the rest of their decisions together. The rifles take a longer-range sightline with good cover, and the others play closer positions with nades to try and bait the other team into over extending where they don’t realize there is a heavy weapon. Not easy to pull off, even if you have practiced the strategy, but might be able to win you a marginal round if the other team is caught off guard, but at worst your economy levels out and you are able to run your standard save or buy strats which you have probably practiced more.”
Conservation of Ammo and Reloading – Don’t worry about conserving ammo. Utilize suppression fire and pre-fire techniques because you will rarely run out of ammo. Additionally, don’t reload unnecessarily or at inappropriate times. It can be somewhat compulsive to keep your gun stocked with bullets, but frequent reloading at inopportune times will only result in a disadvantage.
Spray Patterns – Keep control of your firearm by either firing rounds manually or controlling spray patterns. Understand how each gun fires in rapid succession so you can maximize the statistical likelihood that your rounds make contact.
Headshots – Aim for the head. This may sound obvious, but in Counter-Strike it is especially important. In other games, the penalty for body shots first, is less, but in Counter-Strike it is steep. Professional and even just moderately skilled players will generally place their first round as a headshot. If you are aiming for the chest, which may seem intuitive since it’s a larger target, you will be placed at a severe disadvantage.
Grenades – Decoy grenades emit a gun shot sound to trick enemies, exploding at the end of its lifespan. Grenades also have a variety of strategies attached to them. They can delay rushes, distract enemies, and bait rotations. They can also cause enemies to fire their weapons in response which can reveal how many enemies are in a certain area.
SMGs – SMG buys need to be more strategic than simply “I don’t want to, or can’t, buy a rifle, so I’ll get an SMG”. Instead coordinate with your team, the rifle buys should position themselves in stronger, more advantageous positions while the SMG buys float or play more aggressively. The point being that they are the first to get killed, BUT weaken the enemy team. The rifle positioning should be further back to cover bomb sites and finish off the enemy players who’ve been weakened by SMG fire. It’s also important that the rifles don’t get dropped early on, or far up, for the enemy team to pick up and use. Your team should try and recover the rifles because they are in good positions to do so. So for someone in my position of playing support / clutch, I should almost always have a rifle. You can also bait with SMGs to draw enemies into your riflers. These strategies also level out your economy by having high income players distributing rifles to low income players.
The bomb carrier can force a commitment if he dies with the bomb in a bad location.
Grouping too closely increases a single enemies chance of each round hitting an enemy player.
When it’s hopeless (1-v-5), your objectives are different:
If the enemy knows where you are, then you can safely exploit suppression fire (if they didn’t, doing so would reveal your position):
On anti-eco rounds (2nd round after a 1st round win), hold longer positions so you can’t get killed by a pistol and instead gather intel. Hold back, see where the enemy is weak, get picks, and then move out. The reason for this is because CTs like to stack after a 1st round loss which means one side of the map is super weak and one side is really strong. Find the weak one, call it and rotate.
Having a lurker is good and the position can change depending on the rotate:
When pushing a bombsite it’s important to have proper spacing and positions for your teammates. Having the bomb carrier and an escort rush up while 2 hold further back for support, allows the support riflers not to get flashed and grenaded by incoming CTs. That way if the rushing T’s get lit up or blinded, they aren’t immediately killed because the support riflers can lay down fire and get picks.
Remember, along with not worrying about ammo count and just laying down fire, you should also be using your grenades. If you’re dying with them then you’re basically losing out on some serious potential advantages. It’s much better to use them and increase your odds of winning because they’re relatively cheap. The potential gain is thousands of dollars while the potential loss is only hundreds.
One of the best ways to gain some traction in the eSports community (as a non-player) is by conducting interviews. It gets you noticed, it’s something the community wants, and keeps you engaged with ideas and events. When I was more involved in eSports I attended a few live events, covered online tournaments, and conducted a brief interview series called, “Getting To Know…” on YouTube. The goal of this article is to provide some insights I learned along the way and a template for jumping into eSports interviews.
Introduce yourself and ask politely if you can interview the player, organizer, or attendee. Be sure to tell them who or what you’re doing the interview for.
Be prepared. People are busy and will quickly notice if you’re just spit-balling or someone that’s on their game. Don’t force them to wait around while you dig out a laptop and connect to a wifi network.
Start your interview with simple introductory questions: Who are you? Why are you here? What do you think of the event so far?
Remember, not all your questions and their answers need to be shared in the final piece. Sometimes you ask questions to break the ice or bridge into another topic and they’re not worth wasting your readers time. Publish the most engaging content.
Get your information straight. Don’t get their name wrong. Don’t forget to link relevant social accounts or a website. Don’t get the event name wrong or forget to include a major sponsor if they’re a part of it. For instance, I attended the Midwest Meltdown which was organized by the Teh Pwn Gaming Club, but the Collegiate Star League was a primary player. Ask how the event should be officially referenced.
When you’re done, make sure to thank them and reference the website where the interview will be posted and how soon.
Simple Starter Questions:
Overall coming up with basic interview questions is easy, but asking compelling questions that people will actually read is not. It is helpful during interviews to imagine who the current question serves and what it could accomplish for them. If you’re interviewing a player, your audience is probably hopeful competitors looking for insight about how to practice more and achieve better results. If it’s an organizer they might be looking for industry knowledge to help them drive more spectators or close a marketing deal with a sponsor. For casters it’s probably ways to advance their careers and get noticed in the community. And for fans and community members it’s about revealing the inner workings of eSports. Just imagine that the person you’re interviewing has secret knowledge and you’re trying to expose it to the community. You’re cataloging a movement so find the highlights that people will want to read in the future.
I love Skyrim, but I think I’ve played enough that even after a long break I don’t feel immersed in it like I used to. Managing my inventory and figuring out where I left off seems like a chore and the gameplay is kind of stale now. So I turned to the modding community to see what they’ve cooked up over the years and that’s when I discovered a fresh and compelling new way to play Skyrim.
Note: I initially used the Steam Workshop for some of the plugins, but ultimately found the Nexus to be a better resource. I also used the Nexus Mod Manager which is a little wonky, but gets the job done and makes installing a two-click process. It also might seem a little tedious getting all this setup, but start to finish this might only take 10 minutes. None of these plugins require anything fancy like editing ini files. It’s all just download, install, and enable.
If you’re bored of reading and want to go test this out, now is the time. If you can stomach a little more, here are some additional notes and ideas that might be of interest (especially the “Building Your Team” section).
Performance and Stability Concerns – I’ve always been a bit skeptical of community plugins for performance and stability reasons. I also think they tend to clutter up your saves and put them at risk of corruption, however, since these are short disposable game sessions half of those concerns are immediately insignificant. I also haven’t had any issues with game instability or performance loss using these plugins, which kind of came as a surprise. The only advice I’d share is to not use these with your actual saves and disable all the plugins if you want to return to them. Other than that, its been smooth sailing!
Spending Skill Points – to help keep your fragile character alive I’d recommend spending your first skill points in block and armor proficiency since they can directly save your life. After that I’d spend a single point in my primary weapon type (generally single or two -handed weapons), then archery, and then sneak. All of the first tier skill points provide a big boost to those basic abilities. If you happen to live long enough, I’d also consider restoration so you can heal yourself and teammates. After that I’d redo the same order and increase survivability, then damage, then utility.
Building Your Team – one of the best aspects of this playstyle is building out a badass team of warriors and there are numerous combat styles and settings to choose from in Amazing Follower Tweaks. You can learn more about the options by checking out the full readme here (specifically “3. Combat” and “7. Settings”). Here are my recommendations to make the game more challenging:
Skyrim is an amazing game out-of-the-box, but like everything it grows old after awhile. This unique mix of plugins completely changes the way you play the game. Gear, loot, and money become much less important. Combat becomes challenging and dangerous. Allies bring intrigue and safety to the battlefield. Some areas become too dangerous to explore. And the added immersion expands roleplaying possibilities. Here are some examples of the novelty this provides:
Thanks for reading!
In this podcast I talk about two social perception issues: is competitive gaming a real sport? And, should professional gamers make a living off of eSports?
Alright, here comes another rendition of my CSGO analysis series that combines elements of Behind the Play with the Competitive Snapshot. I’ll be referring to these episodes as “Overanalyzed” because that’s exactly what they are. This entire episode, which runs 26 minutes, only covers a single round from the EMS One Katowice 2014 Grand Final between Virtus Pro and Ninjas in Pyjamas (NiP Gaming). This first round touches on pistol round purchases, positioning, delays, distractions, rotating, and mistakes. Let me know what you think about this style of broadcast.
FORK TIME! The Competitive Snapshot is branching off into new territory! This time around, instead of focusing on a specific strategy, this episode covers map positioning on dust2, specifically bombsite A. It also covers examples of attack and defense strategies and optimal grenade placement.
It’s been awhile, but I finally sat down and decided to make another Behind the Play (BTP) episode. This one features pro teams Virtus Pro and Ninjas in Pyjamas (aka NiP Gaming) going head-to-head for the Grand Finals at EMS One Katowice 2014. It’s part 1 of a full match analysis where I do my pause-analyze-resume thing and talk about various insights and questions to consider. I know it’s long-winded as usual and probably fairly basic for most players, but too bad! :P
My goal with this series, assuming I can keep up with it, is to refine my knowledge of CS GO strategy and release more intense and interesting episodes. And if I get that far, then I’ll probably look into casting as well. But for the time being here is part 1 of the latest BTP with part 2 incoming later on. I’ll embed it here, otherwise just subscribe to my YouTube channel and you’ll see it once it’s up. Thanks for watching!