“Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” (CS:GO) is one of the most popular eSports titles in the world and has a rich history.
Here are some of the most interesting facts about the game:
- Launched in 2012: CS:GO was launched on August 21, 2012, as the fourth game in the Counter-Strike series. It was developed by Valve and Hidden Path Entertainment.
- Skin Economy: CS:GO has a massive digital economy built around weapon skins. Some of these skins are incredibly rare and can sell for thousands of dollars. For instance, the AWP Dragon Lore skin was sold for over $61,000 in January 2018.
- Explosive Growth: CS:GO’s growth has been exponential. Initially, the game received mixed reviews and had a player count of around 20,000 at any given time. However, by the end of 2019, the game had peaked at over 1 million concurrent players.
- Robust Competitive Scene: CS:GO has a vibrant eSports scene with many tournaments held worldwide each year. Some of these, like the ESL One and Intel Extreme Masters, offer million-dollar prize pools.
- Became Free to Play: In 2018, CS:GO became free to play, and a Battle Royale mode called “Danger Zone” was added.
- Influence on FPS genre: CS:GO, like its predecessors, has had a significant influence on the First-Person Shooter (FPS) genre, emphasizing tactical gameplay where teamwork and strategy can often overcome raw aiming skills.
- Player Roles: Unlike many other FPS games, CS:GO has defined roles for players in competitive play, such as Entry Fraggers, AWPers, and In-game Leaders. This further emphasizes the game’s focus on strategy and team dynamics.
- Map Locations: Many of the maps in CS:GO are based on real locations. For example, the map ‘Dust II’ is inspired by the city of Marrakech in Morocco.
- The Majors: CS:GO’s major tournaments, aptly named “Majors,” are sponsored by Valve itself and are the most prestigious events in the professional scene. These tournaments attract the best teams from around the world and offer substantial prize pools.
- Infamous VAC Bans: Valve’s Anti-Cheat system (VAC) is used to ban players who cheat in the game. Some professional players have been caught and received VAC bans, leading to significant controversy.
Launched in 2012
“Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” (CS:GO) was released on August 21, 2012. It’s the fourth game in the Counter-Strike series, developed by Valve in cooperation with Hidden Path Entertainment. Despite being nearly a decade old, CS:GO has remained one of the most popular and competitive eSports titles, maintaining a high player count and a vibrant professional scene.
The “skin economy” in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) refers to the system of buying, selling, and trading cosmetic modifications for the various weapons in the game, known as “skins.” These skins don’t offer any gameplay advantages but are sought after for their aesthetic appeal and rarity.
Here are some key aspects:
- Drop System and Cases: Skins can be obtained through the drop system in CS:GO, where players are rewarded with skins or cases randomly after completing a match. Cases can be opened with keys purchased from the Steam Market to reveal a skin.
- Rarity and Quality: Skins are divided into different rarity levels (from Consumer Grade to Covert), and the skin quality can range from Battle-Scarred to Factory New. Some skins also come in StatTrak versions, which track the number of kills a player gets with that weapon.
- Steam Market and Trading: Skins can be bought and sold on the Steam Market for Steam Wallet funds. Alternatively, players can trade skins directly with each other.
- Third-Party Marketplaces: Some players choose to use third-party marketplaces to cash out their skins for real money, although this isn’t officially supported by Valve and comes with its own set of risks.
- High-Value Skins: Some rare and sought-after skins, such as the AWP Dragon Lore or the AK-47 Fire Serpent, can sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. The most expensive CS:GO skin sold to date (as of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021) is a version of the AWP Dragon Lore that was sold for over $61,000.
- Gambling and Controversy: The skin economy has also been the source of controversy. Various websites have offered gambling or betting services where players wager their skins, leading to legal and ethical discussions about underage gambling, fraud, and addiction.
Overall, the skin economy has become a prominent part of CS:GO, with players investing a significant amount of time and money into collecting and trading these virtual items.
“Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” (CS:GO) experienced explosive growth in its player base and popularity, becoming one of the top eSports titles in the world.
- Mixed Reception to Massive Success: Initially, CS:GO received a mixed reception from players and critics, who felt it didn’t bring enough new elements to the Counter-Strike franchise. In its early days, CS:GO would average around 20,000 concurrent players at any given time. However, improvements, updates, and the introduction of the skin economy helped boost its popularity.
- Free to Play and Record Players: In December 2018, Valve made CS:GO free to play and added a Battle Royale mode called “Danger Zone,” which led to a significant increase in the game’s player base. This decision paid off massively, and by March 2020, CS:GO reached over a million concurrent players, a record for the game.
- Growing eSports Scene: The eSports scene for CS:GO also saw exponential growth. From its inaugural Major tournament, DreamHack Winter 2013 with a prize pool of $250,000, the scene has grown to feature multiple major tournaments each year, with prize pools reaching into the millions of dollars.
- Consistent Updates: Valve has continued to support CS:GO with consistent updates, new maps, skins, and balance changes which have helped maintain a large and active player base.
Robust Competitive Scene
The competitive scene of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) is one of the most active and robust in the eSports industry.
Here are some noteworthy elements:
- Majors and Other Tournaments: CS:GO’s competitive calendar is marked by the “Majors,” the most prestigious tournaments sponsored by Valve itself. These tournaments attract the best teams from around the world and offer substantial prize pools. In addition to the Majors, there are numerous other tournaments run by organizations like ESL, DreamHack, and BLAST, ensuring that there is almost always a high-level competitive CS:GO match to watch.
- Global Competition: CS:GO’s competitive scene is truly global, with top teams hailing from North America, Europe, Asia, and South America. This has led to a diverse and vibrant professional scene, with different regions often having distinct playstyles and strategies.
- Defined Player Roles: Unlike many other FPS games, CS:GO has defined roles for players in competitive play, such as Entry Fraggers, AWPers (snipers), In-game Leaders, Riflers, and Support players. These roles, along with intricate strategies and communication, add a high degree of complexity to the game.
- Player Salaries and Transfers: Just like in traditional sports, professional CS:GO players often receive salaries, and there is a transfer market where players move between teams. The highest salaries and transfer fees can reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- Long-Standing Teams: CS:GO has several long-standing teams, such as Astralis, Virtus.Pro, and Natus Vincere (Na’Vi), that have become iconic within the community.
- Player Careers and Retirements: Some players have had long and successful careers in CS:GO and even transitioned to streaming or coaching roles after retiring.
- Cheating Scandals: The competitive scene hasn’t been without controversy, including a number of high-profile cheating and match-fixing scandals.
The robust competitive scene is one of the reasons why CS:GO has maintained such a high level of popularity since its release in 2012. It continues to draw in large viewership numbers for its tournaments, creating an entertaining spectacle for fans around the world.
Became Free to Play
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) became free to play on December 6, 2018. This move by Valve Corporation was part of a significant update to the game that also included the introduction of a Battle Royale mode called “Danger Zone”.
Previously, players had to purchase the game, but with this update, anyone could download and play CS:GO for free. Existing players who had purchased the game prior to it going free-to-play were given “Prime” status.
Prime status gives players access to exclusive features like Prime-only matchmaking, special item drops, and access to all weapon cases. New players can still earn Prime status either by reaching level 21 in the game or purchasing it directly.
The transition to a free-to-play model significantly increased the game’s player base. However, it also raised concerns about an increased number of cheaters, as creating new accounts became easier. Valve addressed this by continually updating and refining their anti-cheat system, VAC (Valve Anti-Cheat), and implementing trust factor matchmaking, which tries to pair players with similar behavior patterns.
Influence on FPS genre
“Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” (CS:GO), as well as its predecessors in the Counter-Strike series, has significantly influenced the First-Person Shooter (FPS) genre in several ways:
- Emphasis on Teamwork and Strategy: Unlike many other FPS games that focus primarily on individual skill and reflexes, CS:GO places a strong emphasis on teamwork, strategy, and communication. Players must work together to execute strategies, with each team member often having a specific role. This focus on tactical gameplay has influenced many subsequent FPS games.
- Economic System: CS:GO introduced an economic system where players earn money based on their performance and spend it on weapons, equipment, and utility in the next round. This added another layer of strategy to the game, as teams must decide when to save money and when to spend it. This system has been adopted, in one form or another, by several other FPS games.
- Competitive Format: CS:GO’s competitive format of 5 versus 5 players, with one team trying to plant a bomb and the other team trying to defuse it, has been emulated by many other games. The structure of its professional matches, featuring two halves with a fixed number of rounds, has also been influential.
- eSports Pioneer: CS:GO has been a pioneer in the growth of eSports. It helped popularize the concept of major tournaments with large prize pools, which have become the norm for competitive gaming across many titles.
- Community-Created Content: CS:GO has also empowered its player base by allowing players to create and sell their own custom weapon skins, contributing to a thriving digital economy. Many games have since incorporated similar player-driven economies.
- Anti-Cheat Efforts: The game’s developer, Valve, has made significant strides in combating cheating in online games through the development of the VAC (Valve Anti-Cheat) system. Other developers have looked to these efforts when designing their own anti-cheat mechanisms.
In these ways, CS:GO and the Counter-Strike series have helped shape the FPS genre and the broader world of competitive online gaming.
In Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), player roles are well-defined, especially in professional and competitive play. Each player on a team typically has a specific role to play based on their skills and the team’s strategy.
Here are some of the primary roles:
- In-Game Leader (IGL): This player is responsible for making strategic decisions and calling the plays for the team. They need to have a deep understanding of the game, good communication skills, and the ability to make quick decisions under pressure.
- Entry Fragger: This player is usually the first to enter a site during an attack. Their job is to get the first kill (or “frag”) of the round, or at the very least to gather information about the enemy’s positions. This role requires excellent aim and reflexes.
- AWPer: This player specializes in using the AWP (Arctic Warfare Police), a powerful and expensive sniper rifle. The AWPer often holds long sightlines and tries to get picks, thinning out the enemy team. They need to have excellent aim and good positioning.
- Support: This player assists their teammates by using utility (smoke grenades, flashbangs, etc.) to cut off sightlines, block enemy movements, or help their team move around the map. They might also back up the Entry Fragger during attacks.
- Lurker: The Lurker plays away from their team, often on the other side of the map. Their job is to catch rotating enemies off guard, disrupt the enemy’s movements, and gather information.
- Rifler: This player is skilled in using rifles such as the AK-47 (for Terrorists) or M4 (for Counter-Terrorists). They often fill in gaps in the team’s formation, and their exact role can change depending on the game’s context.
These roles are not rigid and can change during a match depending on the situation, the specific strategy being used, or the players’ personal preferences. However, they provide a basic framework for understanding the different responsibilities that players can have in a CS:GO match.
The maps in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) are a significant part of the game’s appeal, providing diverse and tactically challenging environments for players to compete in. Many of the maps are inspired by real-world locations, though they are not direct replicas and are designed to promote balanced and interesting gameplay.
Here are some of the most popular maps and the real-world locations that inspired them:
- Dust II: This is one of the most iconic CS:GO maps, featured in every version of the game since Counter-Strike 1.1. The map’s architecture and aesthetics are inspired by a North African/Middle Eastern theme, specifically Marrakech in Morocco.
- Inferno: Inferno’s architecture and environment are primarily inspired by small towns in Italy, particularly in regions like Tuscany and Lombardy.
- Mirage: Formerly known as “Strike,” Mirage is another map with a Middle Eastern theme. The map’s design elements suggest inspiration from a city in Morocco or possibly Jordan.
- Overpass: This map is set in a park near a canal, with architecture reminiscent of overpasses in Berlin, Germany. The graffiti art in the map adds to its unique flavor.
- Train: Train is set in an industrial area of Russia, complete with train cars and a depot. It gives off a vibe of the industrial outskirts of a city like Moscow.
- Nuke: Nuke is based on a nuclear power plant. While the specific location isn’t clear, the environment and architectural details seem to suggest somewhere in the United States.
- Vertigo: This map is set on a high-rise building under construction, and its location is intentionally ambiguous.
Remember, while these maps may be inspired by real-world locations, they are not designed to be accurate representations of these places but rather to provide balanced and exciting gameplay.
The Majors CS:GO
The “Majors” in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) are the most prestigious tournaments in the game’s competitive scene. They are sponsored by Valve, the game’s developer, and feature the largest prize pools and the best teams from around the world.
Here are some key details about the Majors:
- Inaugural Major: The first Major was the 2013 DreamHack SteelSeries CS:GO Championship, which took place in Jönköping, Sweden. The tournament featured a $250,000 prize pool, a record at the time.
- Tournament Format: As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, the format for the Majors has evolved over the years but typically involves a series of stages: a preliminary stage (formerly known as the “New Challengers” stage), a group stage (formerly the “New Legends” stage), and the playoffs (formerly the “New Champions” stage). Teams earn their spots in these stages based on their performance in the previous Major and in regional qualifying events.
- Prize Pool: The prize pool for the Majors has been $1 million since the MLG Major Championship: Columbus in 2016. The winner of the tournament takes home $500,000.
- Tournament Organizers: The Majors are held in partnership with various tournament organizers, including DreamHack, Electronic Sports League (ESL), ELEAGUE, and FACEIT.
- Legendary Teams and Players: The Majors have been the site of some of the most iconic moments in CS:GO history and have seen legendary teams and players rise to prominence. Teams like Astralis, Fnatic, and Virtus.pro, and players like dev1ce, GeT_RiGhT, and s1mple have all left their mark on the Majors.
- In-Game Items: To celebrate the Majors, Valve releases in-game items that players can purchase. These include stickers of the participating teams and players, which can be applied to weapons, and “souvenir” weapon skins that drop during the broadcast of the games.
The Majors are the highlight of the CS:GO competitive calendar, and winning a Major is considered the highest achievement in the game.
Infamous VAC Bans:
The Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC) system is an automated mechanism designed to detect cheats installed on users’ computers in games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). If a user connects to a VAC-secured server from a computer with identifiable cheats installed, the VAC system will ban the user from playing on VAC-secured servers in the future. A player who receives a VAC ban is also disqualified from eSports competition.
There have been several high-profile VAC bans in CS:GO:
- KQLY: Hovik “KQLY” Tovmassian, a professional player who played for Team LDLC, received a VAC ban in November 2014. KQLY admitted to using a cheat, although he claimed that he only used it in public servers and not in professional competition. The ban effectively ended his professional career.
- Emilio: Joel “emilio” Mako, a player for Team Property, was banned in the middle of a match during an online tournament in 2014. His screen went black while he was streaming live, and a message appeared stating that he had been VAC banned. Emilio maintained his innocence, but the ban stood.
- Sf: Gordon “Sf” Giry, a French player for Epsilon eSports, was also VAC banned in 2014, around the same time as KQLY. Epsilon subsequently released all of its players.
- smn: Simon “smn” Beck was a German player who received a VAC ban in 2014. Following his ban, smn alleged that several other professional players were cheating, which led to increased scrutiny and a wave of VAC bans in the following weeks.
These incidents sparked widespread controversy and led to increased scrutiny of cheating in CS:GO and professional eSports in general. They highlight the importance of maintaining a level playing field and the severe consequences for players who attempt to cheat.