Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is one of the most popular competitive games. At the upper level of play, professional players can win hundreds of thousands of dollars in tournaments. If you have found this guide, you are likely a new or struggling player, and you're in luck. The following guide will help you play with more skill and reach higher competitive brackets by teaching methods and habits for improvement, as well as containing useful information.
Whether you want to be on the next CS:GO world champion team, or simply want to be less embarrassed when playing with your inexplicably more skilled friends, if you want to get better and reach higher competitive ranks, this guide is here to help.
I have logged 650 hours and won over 300 competitive matches since I began playing. I have risen from my original rank of silver 2 to Master Guardian Elite at my peak over the course of 2 years. The information contained in this guide is a compilation of what I feel has helped me the most in learning to play the game better.
Step 1: Video Settings
Adjusting Video Settings for Better Frame Rate
Being able to react quickly is key. You cannot react to what your computer has not yet processed.
In order to play CS:GO most effectively, you must have a smooth frame rate. The settings pictured above will allow the game to run with the best possible frame rate with a penalty to graphics. In order to dial in the settings to best match your computer, begin with these settings and slowly raise the graphics quality while keeping an eye on your frames per second (FPS) while in a match(the frame rate in the main menu screen means nothing as far as gameplay performance is concerned). I would suggest maintaining 150+ FPS, but the optimal range can extend as low as 60 FPS as long as this is stable and does not drop below 60, where the lack of smoothness will begin to impact your gameplay, as most monitors only display 60 frames per second. Make sure you hit apply when finished adjusting your video settings.
You can display your frame rate in-game with the following console code:
net_graph 1 (to get netgraph)
net_graph 0 (to turn off)
net_graphproportionalfont 0 (for small netgraph)
NOTE: You must enable the console in Options > Game Settings by locating "Enable Developer Console" and choosing the "yes" option. The default hotkey is ` (next to 1). For more information on the console and how to enable it, check out this guide.
Step 2: Audio & Communication
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is a fast paced tactical game. Because of this, every piece of information about the enemy's movements and location can make the difference between a victory or a loss.
Hearing an enemy coming around a corner or coming up behind you gives you time to position yourself with good cover and anticipate when and where they will appear, while (if you have been silent) they may not be expecting you or know where to be aiming when they get to you.
Ensure the game's music is turned down or off so that you can hear footsteps at all times in the round. If you are using speakers with adjustable bass, the sound is much clearer and more directional if you turn the bass all the way down. Make sure your left speaker is to your left and your right speaker is to your right.
Communication is another important aspect of this team-based game. There is nothing stopping you from informing your teammates of where you were killed from when you die, or where you saw them go after you were down.
Your teammates are only human, and as such we make mistakes. Sometimes we miss a small detail on the peripheral and as a downed teammate, you can spectate your teammates and point out things you have seen they may not have. Make sure your voice does not cover up important sounds like footsteps your teammates may be listening for.
As pictured above, every map has callouts that correspond to a specific location in the level. By learning these, you can quickly and specifically communicate about the other team's strategy and positioning. Listen for your teammates to state where the other team is while you play. Callouts for a specific map can be easily googled.
Step 3: Dial It In: Aiming and Practice
Setting Up a Practice Server
Precise aim is crucial to success. One way to dial in your sensitivity to give you the most accurate aim is to start up a practice server in which the bots stand still and, from various distances, keep your crosshair trained on the bot and strafe left and right around the bot (i.e. keep your aim on the bot while you press a and d). Adjust the sensitivity up and down to find the best sensitivity for you. The following code for a game config file is what I use to run my practice games (taken from BIG SMOKE's steam guide). Copy and paste it into notepad and save it as practice.cfg.
<br><p>sv_cheats 1; sv_grenade_trajectory 1; sv_grenade_trajectory_time 10; sv_grenade_trajectory_dash 1; sv_showimpacts 1; sv_infinite_ammo 2; mp_warmup_end; mp_freezetime 0; mp_roundtime_defuse 60; mp_roundtime 60; mp_maxrounds 10000; mp_autoteambalance 0; mp_limitteams 0; mp_startmoney 99999; mp_buy_anywhere 1; mp_solid_teammates 1; mp_buytime 999999; ammo_grenade_limit_total 10; mp_restartgame 1; mp_maxmoney 99999; bot_stop 1<br> bind L "bot_place" bind K "noclip"alias "<br> quot; "impulse 101" alias r "mp_restartgame 1"</p><p>alias CT1 "bot_add_ct" alias CT2 "bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct" alias CT3 "bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct" alias CT4 "bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct" alias CT4 "bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct" alias CT5 "bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct" alias CT6 "bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct" alias CT7 "bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct" alias CT8 "bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct" alias CT9 "bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct" alias CT10 "bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct; bot_add_ct"</p><p>alias T1 "bot_add_t" alias T2 "bot_add_t; bot_add_t" alias T3 "bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t" alias T4 "bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t" alias T4 "bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t" alias T5 "bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t" alias T6 "bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t" alias T7 "bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t" alias T8 "bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t" alias T9 "bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t" alias T10 "bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t; bot_add_t"</p><p>alias off "sv_cheats 0; sv_grenade_trajectory 0; sv_showimpacts 0; sv_infinite_ammo 0; mp_freezetime 4; mp_roundtime_defuse 2; mp_roundtime 2; mp_maxrounds 20; mp_startmoney 99999; mp_buy_anywhere 1; mp_solid_teammates 1; mp_buytime 45; ammo_grenade_limit_total 4;mp_maxmoney 16000; bot_stop 0; mp_restartgame 1; echo "___________________________"; echo "You have disabled the scipt" </p><p>clear echo "__________________________________________________________________________________________" echo "Practice script executed" echo "First don't forget to type 'GOD' in console, and every time game or map restarts" echo "You can buy anywhere on a map now !!!" echo "____________________________" echo "This script will add some extra commands which you can type in console, they are" echo "off - Disables the practice script" echo "r - Restarts the game" echo "$ - Gives you money" echo "--------------------" echo "T1 - Adds one T bots" echo "T2 - Adds two T bots..." echo "T10 - Adds ten T bots" echo "" echo "CT1 - Adds one CT bots" echo "CT2 - Adds two CT bots..." echo "CT10- Adds ten CT bots" echo "Note:Sometimes these commands add only 1 or none bots before game automatically restarts" echo "____________________________" echo "This will also add 2 binds which you can use" echo "K - To fly around" echo "L - To place bots" echo "____________________________" echo "If you want to get a Wallhack (only for sv_cheats 1) you can type in console" echo "r_drawothermodels 2" echo "r_drawothermodels 1 To set it to deafult" echo "___________________________________________________________________________________________"</p>
To run the code, place the .cfg file you just made into CS:GO's config folder. The default location is:
C:\Program Files\Steam\steamapps\common\Counter-Strike Global Offensive\csgo\cfg
To run this practice game, select the map you want as an offline match with bots and type the following in console:
If your aim is shaky when trained on the bot's head at any distance, lower your sensitivity. If you run out of mousepad, buy a bigger mousepad. Most professional players play with mousepads that are well over a square foot in area. For less than the price of the game itself (~$7.00), the Steelseries QcK gives you plenty of room to take aim and is my personal recommendation.
You can also use this practice configuration to practice grenade throwing and shooting enemies through walls, as well as any other skills you may need to practice.
NOTE: Sensitivity can be accessed in Options > Keyboard / Mouse in the main menu, as well as through the Esc menu mid-match.
Aim at a Wall
As silly as it sounds, shooting walls is the easiest way to practice compensating for recoil. To become better at "spraying" with your weapon, hold down the mouse button to continuously shoot at a wall and try to make your shots all land in the same place your first shot lands. Every gun has a different spray pattern and its corresponding mouse movements to correct for this recoil. The pictures above show three different spray patterns for three different guns.
Step 4: Competative Play: Choosing a Map
As the game is very strategic in nature, it is important to be familiar with the map you are playing on. The most common map is Dust II. Avoid this map. Everyone who smurfs (buys a new account to purposely play in lower skill brackets), hacks (maliciously changes game functionality to give themselves an unfair advantage), and is generally clueless ends up in your matches, making it nearly impossible to rank up.
Find a map you enjoy and get to know it well, its callouts, and how strategic matters unfold on it. Operation maps are only there for as long as the operation lasts, which is usually a few months. Some permanent maps I would suggest playing on are cache, nuke, inferno, and mirage.
Step 5: Competative Play: Guns and the Economy
There are many in-depth guides and forum arguments over what the best strategy for buying is. One such guide, written by the Professional Counter-Strike Team Dignitas can be found here. While there are many theories on what is best, it ultimately comes down to what you are good at using and how you want to play.
The mechanics for earning money to buy equipment at the beginning of a round, as explained in the above linked guide, are as follows:
"If the bomb explodes or is defused, the winning team receives 3500$. Of course, the planter or defuser also gets 300$. Once all enemies are eliminated, the victorious squad receives 3250$. To compensate for a lost round, the team that has lost a round will receive 1400$. If they continue losing consecutive rounds, they will receive 500 extra dollars on top of every compensation they get.
1 round lost: $1400
2 rounds lost IN A ROW: $1900
3 rounds lost IN A ROW: $2400
Another important thing to consider is that, upon death, a player drops his/her most expensive weapon, their most recently equipped grenade, and if they have one, the bomb or a defuse kit. Once dropped, players from either team may pick them up from the ground with the exception that only terrorists can pick up the bomb.
Additionally, the player receives money for eliminating other players. The default value is $300, modified by the weapon used. For a knife kill, they player receives $1500, while for an awp kill, the reward is merely $100. One other item of import is that shotguns reward a hefty $900 while being generally inexpensive, thus making them a good option for cash strapped players.
Applying these mechanics to the set of 30 rounds divided into 2 halves of 15, there are a few universal practices to understand.
To begin, for each first round of each half, all players are given $800 to begin. On the terrorist side you will be given the Glock, and on the counter-terrorist side, you will be given either the USP-S or the P2000. Each of these has their own unique tradeoffs.
Depending on which side you are on, the first round strategy is slightly different. If you begin as a terrorist, it is common practice to buy an alternative pistol to the Glock as it has very low damage (often taking upwards of 7 shots to eliminate an enemy), unless you are confident that you can get a guaranteed headshot when necessary. If you are counter-terrorist, your starting pistol is relatively effective, allowing you to buy armor if desired or grenades to prevent the common first round T (as in terrorist) rush. If faced with a T rush, attempt to slow them from entering while alerting your teammates and staying alive to help them retake the bomb site. For the sake of space I will refrain from talking about more advanced strategy in this section.
Past this first round, things become more unique to the situation at hand. However, upon a first round loss, your team has three options, two of which are viable. Your team can either save money the second and third round by not buying and attempting to pick off an opponent or two in hopes of obtaining their gun and saving it for next rounds, "surprise buy" in the second round, and, if this round too is a loss, saving until round 5, or you could force buy every round. Teams that force buy every round rarely end the game with more than 5 rounds won.
Another starter tip is to become familiar with one gun from each class, and use only that. Familiarize yourself with the following to quickly master the most commonly/easily used:
For a pistol, the P250 is surprisingly effective for its price. Mastering this will allow you to be effective even in rounds where you are pressed for cash. It also makes for a great backup when in combat and in need of a reload. It is much faster to pull out your pistol to get that last shot in than to reload your primary weapon.
For an SMG, the p90 is the most common choice to master. Unfortunately due to the price I would advise against having this be the first SMG to master. Instead I would recommend practicing the mp7. Hold down the trigger and aim down as you fire continuously.
For a rifle, I recommend learning the M4A1-S for counter-terrorists, and the Galil for terrorist. The most common terrorist gun to use is the AK due to its 1-tappable first shot that can instantly kill an enemy; however, it is wildly inaccurate and takes many hours of practice to master.
Some general questions to ask yourself to decide on what, if anything, to buy are as follows:
-Did anyone else buy anything?
-Does the gun I want to buy fill a role someone else is already fulfilling (i.e. are there already (at most) two snipers)?
-Does everyone on the team have enough money to buy?
-What position/role will I play this round?
-and many others.
NOTE: Due to the ineffectiveness of the starting pistols against armor, using them past the first few rounds is generally a bad idea. Even if you are not buying anything to save money (commonly referred to as a "save round") it may be a good idea to buy the P250, a surprisingly effective cheap pistol. It only costs $300, and can be effective provided you can get a few quick shots off before you get blown away by the people with big expensive guns.
Step 6: Play Well
Now that you have all of the information to succeed, go play! Make sure to warm up, practice, listen, communicate, and think while you play. Its not over until someone has 16 points, so don't give up in the middle of a losing game. Comebacks happen.
Keep your aim at headshot height, and stay alert.
Check back to this guide in following weeks as I will be expanding it to encompass more in depth tips and explainations. For academic reasons I must keep the guide at a maximum of 2,000 words until it has been graded.
Good luck and have fun,