In this post we’ll highlight the key things you need to practice and work on to play CSGO at a decent level. This is the ultimate noobs guide to CS:GO and how to play CSGO. Let me know if you want me to add anything to this guide in the comments below.
How To Play CSGO
First off, let’s take a look at which guns you should be using, this is a little different from previous versions of Counter Strike, for example in CSS and 1.6 you generally used the USP or glock, the deagle, the MP5, the M4/AK and the AWP. If you were feeling crazy you might add a P90 in there, but generally these are the only guns you’d use. In CSGO the game is meant to be played with a much more variety of weapons, the developers wanted to make sure every gun has a time and place to use it. So now, in CSGO you could use pretty much any pistol, the USP/P2000 are good accurate guns, the glock is used for running and gunning, the p250 is a cheap pistol for eco rounds, the FiveSeven, Tec9 or CZ75 are great guns for force buys, the deagle and revolver are for slow shooting while trying to hit headshots, and the duelies, well they’re not so great, but they have a lot of bullets.
In terms of SMGs you can basically choose any, the Mac10 or MP9 is used for farming it’s really cheap and if you know the other team is on an ECO you can get some kills which will give you a lot back in return. The MP7 is the staple, it’s got decent range, decent damage and isn’t too expensive. The UMP has one of the best armour penetration ratings out of the SMGs, it’s relatively cheap too. The PP-Bizon is cheap and you get a ton of bullets too, but it’s damage is a little lacking and armour penetration isn’t great. The P90 is basically a rifle, you don’t get as much money when you kill someone with this, it has a high rate of fire and does decent damage.
Next, heavy weapons. These, although they might be fun to use, aren’t very good at all. I’d stay away from the machine guns completely, they’re too much money and aren’t very accurate. The shotguns can be worth buying in certain situations, but I’d only buy the MAG7 or the sawed-off. These are best used in close combat situations, for example at banana on Inferno and at drop down on Cobblestone.
Now we’re on to the weapons that are the best in the game. We have the weapon that you should be buying whenever you can, the M4A4, M4A1-S and the AK47. In terms of whether you should be using the M4A4 or the M4A1-S it’s really personal preference, the M4A4 is un-silenced, you can see the tracers through smoke but it has more bullets and shoots faster. The M4A1-S is silenced, shoots slower, is slightly more accurate, you can’t see the tracers and has next to no bullets, 20/40. The FAMAS and Galil are great weapons for anti ECO rounds and when you can’t afford a M4 or AK. But I really wouldn’t advise them on any other rounds than these. There’s also the scout (SSG 08), which is basically a mini AWP, you can run fast with it, you can 1 shot headshot and 2 shot body shot someone, it’s incredibly accurate and very cheap. The scout is perfect on a force buy round. Next we’re on to the scoped rifles, the SG 553 and the AUG. These are okay to use, but they’re really unreliable. I wouldn’t buy one in a competitive match. They’re expensive, they’re inaccurate and don’t do a great deal of damage. But they have a scope, so that’s nice. Staying in the rifles section we have the Auto Snipers, the Scar 20 and G3SG1. Auto Snipers are ideal weapons for when you’ve got excess cash that you don’t mind spending. The AWP should be prioritised over these auto snipers but they’re great to pick up to shut down one bombsite. They do a lot of damage, they have a decent rate of fire and have a huge range due to the scope. Which brings us nicely on to the AWP, this is the most expensive gun in the game and it’s really good if you can use it well. The AWP has a one shot kill on everywhere other than the legs where it does around 85 damage but there is a cool down before you can shoot again. I’d recommend always having one of these on your team when you can afford it.
Now you know which guns you should be using you need to learn how to use them. First off, unless you’re using a pistol or SMG don’t run and gun, always stop before you shoot. The best way of doing this is tapping the opposite of where you’re going before you should so for example if you’re doing right you tap A to stop yourself so you can shoot. The more you practice this the quicker it’ll be and soon it’ll become second nature. Just make sure at first you’re not running around while shooting because the bullets won’t go anywhere near where you’re aiming.
Remember, when the enemy is medium to long range tap shoot, if they’re close up hold down mouse1 and spray them down.
The next thing you need to worry about after not running while shooting is recoil. Every gun has recoil and some guns it’s a lot easier to control than others. The recoil sticks to a general pattern for most of the guns, here’s every recoil pattern for every gun in CSGO. If you take a while to stand still and just shoot at a wall you’ll be able to control the spray of a gun easily. Just do the opposite of what it does automatically. You’ll usually pull down then to the left.
Crosshair placement is also something you need to practice when coming in to CSGO, you’ll find that if you run around with your crosshair at the ground when you see someone you’ll have to move that crosshair the length of their body to get to the head. Not the fastest way of killing someone I’m sure you’ll agree. So when you’re just idly running around keep your crosshair at headheight, that way if someone does peak you when you’re not ready you can adjust your aim slightly and then kill them. Take a look at the video below for more information.
The economy in CSGO is quite complex but if you add in some simple rules you can easily get a grasp of it. In the first round you will get $800, this is enough to buy a pistol, grenades or armour.
Here’s what to buy on the first round of Counter Terrorists:
Defuse $400, Smoke $300, Decoy $50
Armour $650, Decoy $50
2x Flash $200, Smoke $300
Here’s what to buy on the first round of Terrorists:
Armour $650, Decoy $50
Tec-9 $500, Smoke $300
Tec-9 $500, Flash $200
P250 $300, Flash $200, Smoke $300
Second round is where the metagame has come in to play. If you lose the first round you get around $1400/$2000, if you win the first round you get around $3000/$4000. Some teams, if they lose the first round, opt to buy head armour and a pistol (either P250 or Tec-9/FiveSeven) which works quite often but is a risky play as you won’t be able to afford a full buy or an AWP buy on the fourth round. This works because the other team who won will be buying SMGs or rifles, if they have SMGs you have a good chance against them because the head armour will stop a lot of the damage from SMGs, if they have rifles you normally lose because rifle headshots don’t count head armour. Other teams opt to save in the second round which will allow them to full buy on the fourth round. If you are Terrorists and you plant the bomb in the first round you should always save in the second as you can afford a healthy AK buy in the third, a round where the CTs should still have SMGs or a very light rifle buy.
After the first few rounds the economy stabilises and you can usually get away with working out if you or your team should buy with one simple rule. Don’t buy if two or more players have less than $3500. If two or more people have less than $3500 you can eco, if you have between $2500 and $3000 you can buy a P250 on the eco round, if you have between $3000 and $3500 you can buy a tec9, anything less than $2500 you don’t buy anything.
Note: Always buy everything you can on the last round of the half, your money does not carry over from side to side.
Another thing that is a little more complex is that with the economy it’s good to force buy if winning the next round will reset the other teams economy, this is usually when you have won three then lost a round, if you then win the next round you will reset the other teams money and put them back down to around $2000.
Crosshair settings don’t affect where your bullets go or how you aim, it is wholly personal preference and you can use whatever crosshair you want. Here’s a good website to take a look at pro players settings, if you’re unsure of what kind of crosshair to have just copy one of these and get used to that one.
Mouse settings are again personal preference but you should definitely keep your sensitivity below 5, really high sensitivity does not help with accuracy what so ever. Make sure you have raw input on, this will make it so your computer doesn’t predict where your mouse should be going and go where you’re pointing. Popular DPI settings for mice are 400 and 800, but many mice go way above and below this. Pretty much all mouse settings in CSGO are personal preference, if you’re used to one way just keep it like that.
Video settings, personal preference. If your computer can run high graphics and you like the look of high graphics go for high graphics. Most professionals use low graphics to get that little extra FPS and to make it easier to see other people. It’s hard to see people through nade smoke or even regular particle effects that the game adds when you bump the graphics up to top. What you need to avoid is FXAA, this will blur your game if you’re on anything but native resolution. Again, most pro players use a low resolution because that’s what they’re used to from 1.6 and CSS.
A lot of people when they first start don’t have a clue how to practice and how to improve certain aspects of their gameplay. Instead just thinking as long as they’re playing and having fun they’ll improve.
Because all of the maps in CSGO are community built or started by the community then taken over by Valve, there’s many maps that are designed to train certain aspects of your gameplay. For example, if you want to improve your aim, movement and crosshair placement then play deathmatch, if you want to improve your aim and prefiring play aim_ maps. If you want to improve your movement play jump and climb maps (xc_), if you want to get used to a new sensitivity play bhop_ maps, if you want to practice AWPing you should play on awp_ maps. There’s even maps for knifing or just using the scout if you want to improve that. These are all found on the Browse Community Servers list.
If you want to play offline by yourself to practice smokes here’s a nice little guide. You can also download maps from the workshop by subscribing to them. There’s loads of maps on the workshop that will show you where to throw smokes, or improve your aim, one of my personal favourites is training_aim_csgo.
You can also watch professional streams, theses are good because they’re their POVs and you can see exactly how they play. Make sure you’re watching the professionals though, people such as olofmeister, flusha, s1mple, Hiko, shroud, GeT_RiGhT etc. Don’t watch CSGO streamers known for their entertainment value and not for their CSGO skills, TimtheTatman, summit1g etc.
This is the most important aspect in csgo and a lot of teams lack this and pretty much all the teams in matchmaking lack this. You should be flashing people in to peak places, you should be smoking places off for your team, you should be running in with your team and not leaving them to die. always play the numbers, 1v2 is a lot better for the 2 people than two 1v1s.
This is probably the most important aspect in CSGO, when a team is playing a mix team you should expect the team to win 90% of the time. Pretty much every game in CSGO matchmaking won’t have teamwork, people will be arguing, doing their own thing and just generally not cooperating. Find a group of friends to play regularly and improve with them.
You should be doing things like flashing people in to peak places, smoking off places for your team, you should be running in with your team and not baiting them, you should be doing organised pushes in to sites and sticking together whenever possible to allow for easy tradekills. Always, always play the numbers, 1 vs 2 is a lot better for the team of two than two separate 1 vs 1 situations. This is how people clutch, they turn each engagement in to a 1 vs 1 fight.
The current rotation of maps is:
This is the order in which you should learn each map. You should learn call outs for every place, here’s a gallery of the most popular ones:
On these maps you should learn where people are more likely to stand, each map has certain spots where you can almost guarantee a kill if you prefire the corner just because that spot is so popular.
You should also take a look at playing some aim_ maps, here’s a list of my favourites:
If you want to become a dedicated AWPer, there’s also maps for you to train your AWPing skills, here’s a list of my favourites:
There’s five different grenades in the game and even more ways to use them. Here’s a quick list of the grenades:
With grenades you’ve got to be careful you’re not wasting them, take a look at this video that will give a general overview of grenades in CSGO.
When throwing a grenade you can either press mouse1, mouse1+mouse2 or just mouse2 with mouse1 being the longest throw and mouse2 being the shortest. If you run forward, jump and throw a grenade it will go a lot further than if you just throw the grenade.
The most important grenade out of all of these is the smoke grenade, this is the grenade that you can block off certain parts of the map to gain access to a point, put pressure on a choke point, to block off an angle or to hide in. Smoke grenades are used in pretty much every tactic with the basic tactics being smoke here, rush here. For example, smoke Quad (short) push Arch (long) on Inferno. They’re used to block off points that terrorists want to gain access to, for example, a big issue with Inferno right now is that you can cycle smoke grenades at the top of banana to completely shut down the site. You can make it so that one person throws the first smoke at banana then the next smoke comes from the guy on arch, then because you’re only playing one A you’ve got two people arch and that guy can smoke it too, then if he swaps with the quad guy the quad guy can smoke top banana too and by that time the round’s probably already over, if not the apps guy can even throw a smoke. So you can see how overpowered they can be.
Molotovs or Incendiary grenades are the second most important grenade, they’re like a smoke but do damage as well as obscuring the view of other players. The reason why the smoke grenade is more important is because the molotov is incredibly expensive for what it is. These can be used best to flush out players from certain places or check spots to make entry to bombsites easier. For example, a great place to put a molotov is NBK on Cache. You then don’t have to check the corner because anyone stood there will be dead or will run back to quad boxes exposing themselves.
Flashbangs, these are used with smoke grenades and molotovs. Usually a strat will have someone throw a smoke at one area and then flash the other area then the whole team pushes the, hopefully, flashed CT holding the angle. You can also use the underarm throw to flash a place close so then you can essentially create a pop flash (a flashbang that goes off straight away and doesn’t give the opponent any time to turn away) at any corner.
Decoy grenades are possibly the most useless grenade in CSGO because they’re so obviously a decoy. The best use for decoys is by pretending it’s a flashbang and hoping someone turns from the flashbang so you can get an easy kill. Another way of using the decoy is by placing it behind a smoke to try and bait someone in to shooting through the smoke and revealing their position.
HE grenades can be used in a couple of creative ways, obviously there’s the use of throwing one at an enemy to kill them or at a corner to check it. But you can also double nade places to make sure they die or to stop someone peaking a particular corner. Another great use for a HE grenade that really has only been in the game since 2015 is throwing a HE grenade at the section between double doors on Dust2 to allow CTs to cross in to B without being spotted since the HE grenade throws up a temporary smoke screen when it goes off.
Communication is the biggest aspect of CSGO, if your team has good communication you’re 10x more likely to beat a team with poor communication. You should be calling where people are so that everyone knows which corners people are in and where they aren’t. This makes much more efficient pushes on to bombsites and stops people from getting killed from random places. You need to learn the map callouts shown above. Communication also includes an ingame leader that will tell your players where to go and what kind of strategy to pull off, whether that’s a split and pick or a B rush, he might also say to do smokes on a bombsite, this will change from bombsite to bombsite and will include you smoking the bombsite off with normal popular smokes before you push in. The main thing in this section is for you to learn all the callouts and understand that you need to call where people are when you see them and call if they’re dead.
Matchmaking and Where to Play
With the new matchmaking system you can’t just hop straight in you have to get to rank 3 by playing game modes such as gungame and demolition. But, matchmaking isn’t the be all and end all. If you go to any serious organisation and say you’re all ranked Supreme on matchmaking they will either laugh or just disregard that completely and look at your tournament or LAN placings.
If you don’t want to play matchmaking and want to play on 128 tick servers (better hit registration), then you should checkout FACEIT or ESEA. Once you’ve played these PUG (Pick Up Game) systems you can then move on to making your own team. You can look for team mates on a variety of different websites such as CSGO Team Finder, Gaming-Teams and /r/RecruitCS. Team play is a lot different to PUG play. The teams are more organised, in my opinion easier to read, and are a lot higher skill level. Playing in a team is the best way to improve. Once you’ve started your team and got all your players you can start playing in leagues, tournaments and cups on websites such as FACEIT, ESEA, ESL and GamefaceLeague.
Prefiring is done a lot in professional CSGO, this is where you shoot before you get around the corner and predict where the player will be stood. Don’t run around corners spraying like a crazy person, just prefire one or two bullets in a certain corner just to be safe and make sure you don’t get caught out with either no bullets left or having to stop to correct your spray pattern. This is something to think about adding in to your game after everything else. Don’t start prefiring because you won’t know where people are and how likely it is for someone to be stood in a certain position.
There’s many simple strats that work such as rush B and split A for example but when you progress in to the higher levels of CSGO and playing on a proper team you need to know about more advanced strategies and tactics. You should still run these simple strats as they’re simple but effective and can catch the opponent off guard if you’ve been doing crazy complicated strats all game. But these strats over time become more advanced and complicated, for example instead of just rushing mid on Inferno you could add smokes in to the strategy, smoke arch, then smoke outside library/minipit then smoke truck, then rush mid to quad. This is a lot more effective as it reduces the amount of places you need to check or can get shot from when pushing. So in this example, instead of having site, graveyard, apps, pit, arch, library and truck to watch you now only need to focus on site, graveyard and pit.
Here’s some strats I’ve been using on Overpass to help you understand what a successful strategy includes.
Let me know in the comments if you want me to go over anything else in CSGO or something I’ve missed in this how to play CSGO guide and I’ll happily edit this post as the requests come in.