I’m Zan and welcome to my first CS:GO guide. A little about myself, I’m a former Starcraft 2 semi-professional Terran player who has recently been enjoying CS:GO. I used to play 1.6 a ton when I was in my very early teens and I capped out at CAL-IM and played a bunch of CAL-O/IM/M pugs. The past few months I’ve been focusing on improving my CS:GO abilities and after about 3 months of actively trying, I’ve reached global and moved onto ESEA/Cevo.
In SC2, I’ve coached numerous students as well as creating a ton of videos to help newer/experienced players learn the game. I want to apply that experience towards CS:GO.
This guide will be a briefish overview of what you need to be aware of and understand on a basic level. All of these topics can be fleshed out more in depth (which I will likely do in the future), and to be bombarded with all the intricacies at once will likely be detrimental towards your own personal evolution as a player.
With that said, the first thing I’ve noticed about CS:GO is trying to fundamentally improve what you can and cannot control. What I mean by this is that you can always control where you throw your smokes in an execution, because of the way CS:GO works. There isn’t any wind or any other variable that you should really worry about (except that pesky overpass train!) and you should be able to nail your smokes 100% if you practice them. Whereas your teammates aren’t something you can control, and you often have to play with, rather than against to gain momentum.
With that said, let’s break improving into sections on what builds a strong CS:GO player.
MINDSET: (What you can control)
Never stop learning, and never let your ego become too big. Essentially, it’s ok to understand your limitations and you have to don’t pretend that you know the best move in every scenario. You want to learn and try and make the best play(s) as much as possible. There will be times where you make a mistake and the sooner you realize, the better. You want to be thinking logically as much as possible throughout your gaming sessions. Also, try not to be too hard on yourself or your team, tilting often doesn’t help anyone but the other team.
TIME MANAGEMENT: (What you can control)
The first thing you need to do before you dive into improving is understanding where you need to place the focus of your time. You need to separate yourself from mindless gaming and begin training effectively. Football players don’t just play scrim after scrim to improve and a UFC fighter doesn’t always just start sparring when they hit the gym, they implement a variety of drills to increase their skills. I suggest at least one hour daily towards improving one aspect of your CS:GO playstyle. This can be an activity focused on aiming, or analyzing a replay, or practicing smokes. For example, if you only have time for 2-3 games a day, you should be able to just cut out one of those games for just practice.
If you want to improve faster, you need to put more time into the game. Just remember to keep putting the time in effectively to help avoid hitting a road block in your play. If you feel stuck, just keep practicing your mechanics and analyzing replays.
AIMING: (What you can often control, but bad days happen, let’s mitigate the damage of bad days)
Aiming is the foundation to everything in your CS:GO playstyle. It can make or break a round and can allow you to build confidence within your own playstyle. Starting out, this is where you should segment the majority of your time. Essentially, you should almost always be able to hit the easy shots, as well as hitting a considerable amount of the more difficult shots. There are a few different options you have towards improving your aim.
The Bare Bone Basics-
Basic Placement- If you aren’t doing this already, always keep your crosshair at headshot level depending on the terrain of other players and you’re already on a good start towards building consistency.
Bursting- can be done any number of ways, but a 10 bullet burst is probably your maximum before it becomes a spray. 2-3 bursts are very common at a medium to long distance. Feel free to practice on a wall to understand how your bullet patterns operate. This of course differs from gun to gun, so it’s good to toy around with them.
Spraying- Find the nearest clean wall and let loose with that left mouse button. Continue to do so and you will see the spray pattern of the gun. This will give you a good idea of how to control it, essentially pull your crosshair in the opposite direction of the spray pattern. IE, bullets go up = you pull down. The pattern goes right = you go left. You want to readjust so your spray hits your target. I will be listing a map below that will help you improve your spray. This is best used at close distances, but sometimes through really effective spray control, can be used at a medium and even long distance.
Here are some practice maps that you should certainly implement into your training regimen:
Workshop Practice Maps:
Aim Botz: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=243702660&searchtext=aim+botz Map created by – Mr. uLLeticaL
You should have seen this map on pro player streams, and for good reason. This is a good map to build muscle memory as well as understanding crosshair placement and model placement. I would do 1,000 kills a day (roughly takes between 25-45 minutes) focusing on headshots and general spraying. A basic routine I follow is 100 kills with the M4a1/AK/Famas/Galil/Awp, then move onto 50 kills for the Glock/USP/P250/Tech-9/Five-Seven and then the remainder would be a mix of the SMGS that I use. Don’t feel like you need to copy my regiment, optimize it towards your needs. If you want to include 100 kills with a nova, go for it!
As for the settings, the default (after you hit fix/addbots to get the bots out of spawn) works fine initially, but feel free to mess around with the settings for a different styled practice. I sometimes have the bots move around at varying speeds or I put in some crates or I implement both.
Recoil Master: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=419404847&searchtext=Recoil+master Map Created by – Mr. uLLeticaL
This is an awesome map used for practicing your recoil. It’s pretty self-explanatory, you shoot the movement lock so you’re stuck in place and begin spraying the target in front of you. It has a dot you can follow with your crosshair to understand the movement of the spray and how to center it towards getting your bullets to hit their target. I use this to warm up 5-10 minutes a day at any point if my spray feels off.
Training_aim_csgo2_dark: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=241148414&searchtext=Training_aim_csgo2_dark Map Created by: statsistheory
My first training map I used. I would go up to 300 target kills each time before death matching for a few weeks. Awesome map, awesome practice. The settings I’ve used (again, feel free to mess around with them.):
Death matching is a very powerful tool to utilize and I like to use it to compliment my general warm up (recoil master/aim botz/etc). You can gain a lot of experience from death matching and it’s something that should be included into your practice.
I prefer to play in Fragshack servers, because they generally have the highest average level of individual skill, and just work my way down to any other DM server if Fragshack isn’t available. I try and avoid Valve match making servers. Valve servers just simply aren’t as good (lower average skill/ lower tick rate servers).
I focus on two separate play styles that I apply to competitive play: Aggressive play and passive play. When I’m playing aggressive I’m just running forward and getting frags, doing my best to quickly clean angles before another aim duel. I apply this to entry fragging in competitive match making. These skills will help you bust into sites or take control of a contested area (apartments in Inferno). It has the additional benefit of being caught by surprise and having to do a reactionary shot.
The passive style I implement in death matching is that I try and take a location that I might play in a competitive match. For instance, if the map is Dust2, I will stay in the pit at Long A and just try and kill as many people as possible. I play long in Competitive Dust 2, so it’s even more practice once I get comfortable in my spot. You can do this at any location that you might play at in a competitive game. I wouldn’t play passive at T spawn on Dust 2 too much though, because it’s unlikely to be a common occurrence in your competitive matches.
Smokes and Flashbangs (Something you can often control)
This is something that can be actively practiced and researched as well. Pro players often know most of their smokes, so obtaining replays or watching streams can give you a good idea of where to throw them. You will want to practice them on your own in a private server or custom map.
There are 3 different ways to throw grenades, which breaks down to LMB(left mouse button) for long range, RMB to lob, and holding both and letting go for a medium ranged nade. Also jumping with nades will help you get some distance with a nade as well and is used in some structured smokes/flashes.
This is something that is really easy to practice and you should absolutely know at least the most general nades in the game. Smoking cat on Dust2 for instance is a smoke you should know; properly flashing into B on a T side rush on D2 is a flash you should know.
Here are some maps that will allow you to be lazy as well as efficiently practice your nades. They are self-explanatory.
Here’s a link to a video that will help you set up an easy server config to go into any map you want to practice your nades.
Offline grenade practice: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_MYu4IS4zg
Map: Dust 2 – Smoke Practice: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=447269341 Map Created by: crashz
Covers awesome basic smokes in Dust 2, a good fundamental start.
Map: Cache – Smoke Practice: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=436268593 Map Created by: crashz
Another great map by crashz that covers some nice smokes. I use this map frequently whenever I forget my Cache smokes.
Map: Mirage Bombsite A T Smoke: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=431044609 Map Created by: P1g3on
This will give you a good stairs smoke, jungle smoke, and ct spawn smoke. The barebones for having a good A execute.
Map: Inferno Terrorist Smokes: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=434795006 Map Created by: P1g3on
Another map by P1g3on which focuses on some good standard smokes you should know as well as some Molotov placements. You will see some of the standard smokes such as B CT smoke, arch, porch, etc.
A helpful tip as well, whenever you play a game and you forget the smoke that you used to know, don’t start another game until you practice it! You don’t want to continue playing with a hole in your gameplay.
Analyzing Replays: (Something you can control)
I personally enjoy going over replays and learning new tactics, but it’s still often overlooked. One way is to analyze your replays looking for mistakes and questioning your decisions and looking for a better response. For instance, maybe you shouldn’t have peeked or pushed when you had the bomb planted, because it got you killed in the replay. You want to keep it as logical as possible and always ask yourself, “was this the best move?”
Another way, which I like doing the most, is to analyze pro replays. I will find professional games (the recent Cologne is a great start) or ESEA games from pros (do voice_enable 1 to turn off voices if you use esea) and analyze what they do. I find a player who plays a similar spot to me, for example Shroud on Dust 2, he almost always plays pit on CT and I do as well. This makes him a good player for me to learn from. Watch and learn what angles they peek or what angles they hold, how they push, how they take engagements. Always try and figure out why they do things, look at the minimap so you can see the locations of their teammates. Maybe they are pushing Banana on B on Inferno, because there’s a push in progress at A or they are just trying to get aggressive because they’ve been playing passive all game.
You want to effectively copy/emulate what you see from the pros to help develop your own gameplay. This has helped me play positions better when I have a general outline of what I want to do.
I’ve also changed it up on whose replays I watch. I’ve analyzed Freakazoid for entry fragging, Krimz for general anchoring/support, Apex for learning a new spot my team wants me to play, etc,etc.
I also prefer to use notepad as I watch the replays to take notes which I go over at the finish of the replay to help retain some of the information that I watched.
Additional Sources of Good Content:
If you want more additional information that isn’t covered by this guide, I highly recommend checking out these content creators for additional help. I’m almost certain you’ve seen these names already, but they are just sources that I directly used to help my individual play and I felt that including them couldn’t hurt.
The first source of information and practice videos that I watched when I first got back into CS:GO. Adren has a really good, methodical style of explaining that helps newer players understand the game and it definitely helped improve my understanding of the game. Since I skimmed over it in this guide, here are some videos on resolution and mouse sensitivity that are really good. Adren on Resolutions – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ozQbWdqXzkc
Adren on Mouse Sensitivity – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwT5fXEloxg
Steel – He’s a really good teacher and delivers a lot of good content and information. I have found myself learning a thing or two when he goes in-depth with his CS philosophical streams. His new WTF is….. series is really good as well, I haven’t seen them all, but I thought they were good.
His channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/JoshNissanCS
Dazed – Another good teacher who has really good content with his replay analysis of professional games. He really knows CS in and out and is another avenue of good technical information. One of the videos I remember watching that I thought was informative was this replay analysis.
Cloud9 at Gfinity Analysis – https://youtu.be/joHtUFgVj0o?t=10m39s
More of his content, at least that I’m aware of, can be found here https://www.youtube.com/user/NetcodeIlluminati/videos
I didn’t use too many of his guides, but I understand that they can be helpful towards newer audiences. I prefer to focus learning from professional players, but I can’t overlook that he goes extremely in-depth with the topics he covers, and I love that style when I’m learning a new game fresh. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpFcHE36IoySjYj1Rytxyog
This certainly isn’t the most in-depth, but it lays out the general basics of what you want to think about as you work towards global. There is still much more to cover in terms of working with your team, playing with a man advantage, playing the bomb and other intricacies. I hope this helps you learn the game more efficiently and will help you take more out of your CSGO experience.