Welcome to my CS:GO Beginners Guide! If you have just started playing Counter Strike, or if you're just getting into playing competitive matchmaking, then this is the thread for you. Please keep in mind that I'm basically a scrub myself (Nova life) so use my guide to, well, guide yourself and don't take everything that I talk about literally, as everyone plays differently. Without further adieu, let's jump right into it.
This guide will teach you the basics of Counter Strike, so that you're not completely lost when you play. I'll also teach you some basic things and outline things you should practice on your own so that if/when you decide to jump into competitive matchmaking, you'll have an idea of what you're getting yourself into.
What is CS:GO And How Do You Play
So you're interested in playing Counter Strike eh? Well forgot almost everything you've learned about FPS games because CS isn't like them. I know a lot of people have been transitioning from Call of Duty to CS:GO, and let me just say that you'll be very discouraged when you begin playing. The first step you need to take to getting better is that you're going to have to accept the fact that you're not good at the game yet, but that's OK.
CS:GO has a few basic gametypes that you'll be playing. First you have Deathmatch, which is basically a 10 minute team deathmatch. This gamemode is what I would recommend to a beginner, seeing as the player is probably already familiar with the concept of team deathmatch. Spawns are usually pretty crappy, since they're fitting an extensive amount of players on maps that are usually designed to be played in a competitive nature.
Another main gametype is Arms Race. If you're familiar with Call of Duty then Arms Race is similar to Gun Game. If you're not familiar with either, then Arms Race is a gametype where you start off with a weapon, and after you kill someone with that weapon, you're automatically upgraded to another weapon and so on and so forth. The person who gets through all the weapons first ends up with a knife and once they kill a person with their knife, they win the game. Arms Race maps are significantly different from your typical maps and the games are usually quite fast paced.
Demolition is a lesser played gametype. Once again, if you're familiar with Call of Duty then you'll understand the basics of Demolition, but the CS:GO version is a bit different. First off, it isn't a respawn type gamemode, as in it's treated like Search and Destroy. Another thing is that the gametype is combined with Arms Race in a way, where getting a kill with a certain weapon in one round means that you'll automatically be upgraded to another weapon the next round.
Casual is where things start to become interesting. Casual is the closest thing you'll get to playing Competitive, without actually playing Competitive. It's essentially a simplified version of Competitive. The games are essentially Search and Destroy, so to win the round you have to either A plant/defuse the bomb, or B, kill everyone on the opposing side. Casual takes away some of the constraints Competitive has like team sizes and economy. The games are also significantly shorter and map rotation is a lot more diverse.
Competitive matchmaking is what makes CS:GO stand out from other shoots of its kind. Competitive matchmaking consists of a 5v5 Search and Destroy based game, where every kill you get nets you some cash to use towards purchasing weapons, armour and grenades the next round. I'll be going more in depth into Competitive throughout this guide so don't fret if what I just said is quite vague.
Crosshairs, Viewmodels, Sensitivity
Before you begin playing matchmaking, I highly recommend that you adjust your crosshair, viewmodel and sensitivity. If you're not familiar with what these things are, your crosshair is the set of lines in the middle of your screen which indicate where you're aiming, your viewmodel is your field of view in a sense and your sensitivity is how quickly your character will spin depending on how far you move your mouse.
- It's important to adjust your crosshair because for one, the default crosshair is annoying (kappa) but more importantly, it's better to find a crosshair which you can comfortably play with to ensure that your aiming and accuracy are optimal. Here is a workshop map where you can build your own crosshair or choose a crosshair that a pro player uses.
- Your viewmodel adjusts how your characters model appears in your pov, so it's important you adjust it for the same reasons you adjusted your crosshair. You need to find something that suits you for your viewmodel. Use this workshop map and this video to determine your best viewmodel.
- Your sensitivity is obviously a huge factor in your game, as you're obviously not going to hit anything if your mouse is flying across your screen. Typically, lower is better but this all depends on how well you can control your mouse, and the DPI that your mouse is using. You can use this video as guide to figure out your mouse settings.
Learning Weapons and Recoil Control
As I talked about before, memorization, practice and muscle memory is a huge part of CS:GO. Learning basic weapon recoil patterns is something that is extremely essential to become decent at the game. I would start off by practicing the main T and CT rifles and then working on towards different weapons that you use often. It is also essential that YOU ALWAYS AIM AT HEAD LEVEL when you're playing, as that allows you to get headshots easier and allows you to win more gunfights. Here is an excellent video guide that goes into the matter of crosshair placement. Remember, these are all things that you have to remind yourself to do as you play, but it's a lot better if you practice these things from a lower level. If you would like to practice your recoil patterns, here is an excellent map that lays out the patterns for you and allows you to follow along.
Getting to Know The Map
CS:GO consists of a few different map pools, with the main ones being the Competitive map pool and the Reserves pool. The Competitive map pool consists of maps which are currently being used in the professional scene at all major tournaments, while the reserves pool are maps that aren't currently in the competitive pool, but may become available at a later date. For the purpose of matchmaking, you can actually pick any single map you want to play on, or queue up for a variety of maps. It's essential that you practice these maps on your own private server or through DM, as you are going to need to learn the various callouts for each map and you'll need to know the different choke points, grenade spots and line of sights that each map has to offer. I recommend you watch pro games to see how they play the maps. Learning the maps is also essential for taking or defending bombsites as each player role has something different they need to do. Here are basic map layouts of all of the current competitive pool maps, complete with callouts. I suggest you study these before going into matchmaking.
Grenades And How To Use Them
Believe it or not, a single grenade can be the difference between a win or loss. Your grenades are very valuable in CS:GO. To start things off, the different types of grenades you have to work with are the HE Grenade, Smoke, Incendiary/Molotov (Fire grenade), Flashbang and Decoy.
- Your HE grenade, or your typical frag grenade are very useful for taking out low health enemies or taking out enemies who haven't purchased armor. Typical plays with the HE grenade consist of "nade stacking" a confined area or choke point, or in other words spamming grenades. This tactic is always very effective, especially on earlier rounds since enemies may not have armor and the grenades will deal massive amounts of damage and may even claim a player or two.
- Smoke grenades may as well be the best grenade in the game. They create a large smoke screen that players obviously cannot see through. These grenades are extremely essential in taking bombsites and defending, as it cuts off various lines of site, limiting the possibilities as to where you can get shot from. Every map has a few elaborate smoke throws which accurately place a smoke in a certain spot from elsewhere on the map. You can practice your smokes by finding a smoke spots map in the workshop for every individual map.
- The fire grenades are very useful in a variety of situations, most notably for forcing a player out of position, slowing down a rush from the opposition and for trapping a player who is stuck in a confined area. Most players do not use them as effectively as they should, especially at the lower ranks. Most of the smoke spots that are used to slow down the enemy can also be substituted with a fire grenade. It's worth noting that these grenades don't last as long as a smoke.
- Flashbangs are going to become your best and worst friends. Flashbangs temporarily blind whoever looks at them. The duration of the blindness is determined with how far the flash is and how much of the flash the player saw. These are extremely useful for when you are taking a bomb site and you need to clear out an area. Pop flashes are a different way to use flashbangs. A pop flash is a flash that is thrown in a certain way that blinds the enemy but is only visible to the enemy for a split second before going off. This tactic is an easy way to get kills.
- A decoy grenade is simply a grenade that imitates gunfire from your weapon while you can move elsewhere. They are not often used effectively and it is fairly easy to tell the difference between a decoy and a real enemy. They are cheap however, so it may not hurt to pick one up.
Communication is ESSENTIAL in a team based shooter like CS:GO. It is very important that you communicate and relay information with your team to effectively take each round as they come. Things like calling out wherever you see enemies, calling out enemy grenades or even calling out your own grenades are greatly appreciated by most players. I suggest that you purchase a mic if you are planning on playing matchmaking, as it is very easy to communicate with your team. Also remember to always keep your cool. A negative minded team is extremely vulnerable and it will not end well for you if you don't keep a positive attitude until the game is over. Again, I suggest you take a look at the callouts above to effectively make use of your communication skills.
How Does Competitive Work
Competitive matchmaking is the bread and butter of CS:GO. It's what keeps most players entertained for hours on end and it gives CS:GO life. I've already given a basic rundown of competitive above, so lets go into some detail.
There are 16 ranks in competitive matchmaking, ranging from Silver I all the way to Global Elite.
Silver I is the lowest possible rank one can hold while Global Elite is the highest. The average rank these days is around Gold Nova II, if that puts things into perspective. The way you rank up is by winning games and achieving MVP stars after rounds are over. CS:GO runs off a basic elo system which is all hidden behind the scenes, so there isn't any accurate way of knowing when you're close to being promoted or demoted from a rank.
If you have ever played Call of Duty, CS:GO competitive is essentially search and destroy. The Terrorists must plant the bomb at either bombsite A or B, while the Counter-Terrorists are tasked with defending the bomb sites.
Your economy in CS:GO is very important to manage. After every kill, you get a few hundred dollars depending on what gun you are using, so a weaker gun would get you more money compared to a more average or "high risk high reward" gun such as the AWP. It is essential that you and your team purchase weapons and armor as a unit, rather than some buying and others not. You also need to be smart with your money. If you know the enemy team have AK - 47's which are a one hit kill to the head regardless of head armor or not, perhaps it is wise to only purchase a vest.
There are a few different types of buys you can do with your team. First and foremost, you can regular buy, or full buy, which consists of a gun of choice, armor and a few grenades. Depending on your current economic state, it may be wise to actually preform a full save, where everyone on your team purchases nothing and then in turn, you utilize all of your current money and the bonus money you receive at the round end to buy next round. If you feel as if it necessary, you could half buy, just so that you aren't caught with your pants down and so that you have a better chance at holding everyone off. Finally, you may find yourself in a situation where you have to force a buy, in which case you invest all of your money to try and take the next round and give it all you got. This is most common near game point or when a team is down by a significant amount.
The max amount of money you can hold at one time is 16k, but that's not very likely to happen. In CS:GO, you can also drop your weapons for your teammates to pickup. This may be a wise decision in a situation where you have money to spare while your teammate doesn't, or if you're force buying. A cool strat that terrorists can use is to have one player purchase a kevlar vest while another drops him a better pistol, such as a TEC 9. All in all you will need to learn how to effectively manage your money, never take any of it for granted.
CS:GO is very much like a team sport, where every player is tasked with doing different tasks. These roles vary from each side but generally here are the basic roles. On the Terrorists side, you often have one player who lurks around the map away from their team to catch enemies off guard. You have the entry fragger who is going to be the first person into the bombsite who will quickly check corners and take out enemies. The entry is often paired up with a support player who throws flashbangs and other grenades for the entry and then you have the remaining two player.
On the CT side, a 2-1-2 setup is most commonly used, where 2 players work around defending bombsite A, 2 defend B while one patrols the middle portion of the map. This setup is often subject to change, depending on the situation the team is currently in and depending on the map the game is being played on.
A Typical Game
Every first round of each half is called the pistol round, as players don't have enough money to use any gun other than a pistol. After the pistol round, it's usually 2-3 rounds before we see a real gun round, as the loser of the pistol round has to build up their economy, as the losers of the round gain less money from the round end bonus compared to the winners. After that the rest of the half is played and the process repeats for the second half. A typical match can last anywhere from 30-50 minutes, so I would advise that you only opt into a competitive match if you have the time. If you abandon a match, you will take a loss and you may receive a cooldown. Each game has 30 total round in it, 15 in each half and the first team to 16 rounds is the winner. A tie is also possible if both teams have 15 rounds each.
Practice Makes Perfect
CS:GO is a very repetitive game, in the sense that you need to build your muscle memory and memorize the maps and callouts to become successful. The come up will take a lot of time, but the results are definitely well worth it. Before jumping into competitive matchmaking, it is worth warming up on a bot map to warm up your aim and game sense. Everything else will come with practice and experience, so that includes all of your boosts, smoke spots and other variables. Here is a map that can aid you to warm up before games, there are plenty of others out there if you care to look.
Thank you for taking the time to read through my basic beginners guide. As time goes on and as I learn more things, I'll be sure to update this thread!