In this guide, we’ll explain all the basics of CS:GO. It’s a fairly simple game, but there are a few things you should know before getting stuck in. It’s worth noting that CS:GO features multiple game modes: Arms Race, Deathmatch, Demolition, Weapons Course, Casual and Competitive. This guide will focus on the Competitive game mode, as that is what’s used in professional tournaments.
In a Competitive Counter-Strike game, there are 2 teams of 5 players: Terrorists and Counter-Terrorists.
The Terrorists’ (T-Side) main objective is to plant a bomb on 1 of 2 bombsites. The bomb takes 40 seconds to detonate under Electronic Sports League (ESL) tournament rules. Once detonated, the Terrorists win the round.
The T-Side can also win the round by killing all of the Counter-Terrorist (CT-Side) players.
Counter-Terrorists can win a round by defusing the bomb or running down the clock. “Running down the clock” means that the round has ended without a bomb plant taking place.
Of course, they can also win a round by killing all of the Terrorist team.
A Competitive game of CS:GO has a maximum of 30 rounds. According to ESL tournament rules, these rounds last 1 minute and 55 seconds each. The first team to score 16 rounds wins the game.
If the game ends in a scoreline of 15:15, the match finishes as a draw. Depending on the rules of the tournament, some organizers may allow for extra time rounds. The number of additional rounds will vary by tournament organizer.
Once 15 rounds have been played, the game enters a half-time period. This gives each team an extra 60 seconds to catch a breath and discuss tactics. At half-time, the teams are switched so that the Counter-Terrorists become the Terrorist side and vice-versa.
The in-game economy of CS:GO is an incredibly important factor in how a Competitive game will play out. The economy system allows players to be rewarded for good play and compensated for losing streaks. The economy system has been regularly tweaked since the game was released to ensure the game is well-balanced.
Here are some examples of in-game financial rewards:
- $300 for planting the bomb (T-Side only)
- $600 for killing an enemy player with the UMP-45 SMG
- $1500 for killing an enemy player with a knife
At the start of each game, every player is given $800, a basic pistol and a knife. Because of this, the first round of each half is often referred to as the “pistol round”.
Any money the players are rewarded with throughout the game can be used to buy weapons and utility.
There are 4 classes of weapons in CS:GO: pistols, SMG, rifles and heavy weapons.
More powerful weapons often cost more money. Players are rewarded a certain amount of money for kills with each weapon. The more powerful the weapon, the less the player is rewarded. This is in an effort to keep the game balanced. This also explains why the knife is the most financially rewarding weapon at $1500 per kill.
Depending on the style of map that’s being played, most teams will try to play with a variety of weapons. For example, if all team members decided to buy sniper rifles, they would be very inefficient in close-quarters combat.
Players can drop their weapons for other team members. This is especially helpful when one team member has a lot more money than another.
When a team can’t afford good weapons, they’ll often choose to “eco” for a round or two. This means that the team won’t buy any expensive weapons and will save up to buy more powerful weapons in a later round.
It’s worth noting that knives are always given to a player at the start of each round at no financial cost. All knives deal the same amount of damage.
Utility – such as grenades, Kevlar and defuse kits – are a vital asset in high level Counter-Strike strategies. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the utility available to purchase and how they affect gameplay:
- Flashbang grenades temporarily deafen and blind players who are closeby (including teammates!). At a cost of $200, they’re a very cheap and effective tool to use when taking new positions on the map. Each player can carry up to 2 flashbangs.
- Smoke grenades are another useful piece of equipment that can be used to create cover when taking new positions on the map. You’ll often see Terrorist teams throwing multiple smoke grenades onto bombsites to block off defensive positions. This makes it easier to enter bombsites and other key areas. Smoke grenades are slightly more expensive than flashbangs at $300 each.
- HE grenades are high-explosive grenades that cause damage to players who are nearby when they detonate. HE’s cost $300 each.
- Molotovs (T-Side)/Incendiary grenades (CT-Side) are grenades that cause an area to be set alight on impact. These are frequently used to deny movement of opposition teams. You might also see the Terrorist side throw them onto the bomb once it has been planted. This makes it very dangerous for the CT-Side to try and defuse.
- Kevlar vest and helmet can be bought at a cost of $1000. They can also be bought separately. Wearing armor makes bullets of certain weapons deal less damage on impact.
- Defuse kits can be bought by the Counter-Terrorist side to help defuse the bomb faster. By default, the bomb takes 10 seconds to defuse. If the player has bought a defuse kit, that time is shortened to 5 seconds.
There are 12 maps in CS:GO that are built for bomb defusal. This is the mode that most professional games are played in.
All of these maps have 2 bombsites and a spawn location for the CT and T-Side respectively.
Maps in CS:GO are designed to be well-balanced for both teams. You’ll often see game updates where crates, barrels and other items are moved around slightly to ensure the game is well-balanced.
Some maps suit teams who prefer close-quarters combat. De_train would be a good example of this. There are also maps that are better-suited to long-range combat.