This will be a overview of some of the basic concepts. There will be things left to be said, and I didn’t include all the concepts possible. Nevertheless, I think this will be useful to most people who want to learn from watching pro games.
I will start by listing four concepts that are important to use as a framework for analysis when watching pro games. These are: positioning, choke points, information, and economy management. The particular relevance to team or individual decision making and playing is different, and also differs from side to side. Choke points are of a different importance to T’s than CT’s. So, after talking about each concept in general I will give some thoughts on watching pro games looking at either the T’s or CT’s.
I want to start by highlighting the four important concepts those who wish to learn should pay attention to and keep in mind when watching pro counter strike because these should form the starting point of your analysis. They form the framework within which you should work, this will make every piece of info and thing you see more relevant and easier to remember. They won’t just be individual pieces of ‘awesomeness’ but rather fit into a larger framework that holds it all together and relates it to each other.
- Positioning: Positioning is quite straight forwardly how players position themselves. This is both relevant to the individual and team: how does the individual player move when holding a certain area of the map? How do they move in response to a flash bang? Do they go back to the same angle, or switch? How are they positioning themselves in re-takes, to hold sites, and as t’s to get an entry? But also as a team: how do the two players on Inferno mid (arch+porch) position themselves off of each other to set-up a crossfire and at least get trade kills? Where is the guy behind the entry fragger on Dust2 short so he can easily get the trade?
- Choke points: every map has choke points that the CT’s have to defend, and the T’s are eventually going to have to break through to get to a site, so throughout watching the game you’ll want to focus on how both sides are playing the choke points. What choke points are the CT’s focusing on early in the round, and when nothing happens there, where do they go after? (Dust 2 pistol round you’ll see a lot of teams focus on B tuns and A long very early on because those are the choke points the T’s get too first- after that they focus on mid and cat)
- Information: counter strike is a game of information gathering. At the competitive level what a team needs most is information about what the other team is doing: for the T’s it allows them to decide where the best place to attack is, whilst for the CT’s it allows them to set up such that they are well prepared for where they predict the T’s will want to attack. This is again relevant to both individuals and the team: in a clutch situation, what info does the clutcher have, and how does he use that info to play the clutch out in a specific way? As a team, how does the team respond to the information they have gathered as mentioned above?
- Economy management: A big part of counter strike is managing your teams economy to put together full-team buys with all the necessary equipment. On the CT-side you’re going to need nades to hold back pushes or cut off certain parts of the map, whilst as T’s nades are important to clear (flashbang/molly) or cut-off (smokes) certain angles. When watching, you want to pay attention to how the team spends their money round by round. Some teams are famous for forcing up a buy all the time to keep pressure on the other teams economy: winning a round surviving with only one player is a huge burden on the economy of the winning team, as they are forced to re-buy with only $3250 + any kill bonuses (assuming they spent all their money the round before). When you do then win a round, they’re forced on a double eco- they can’t afford a full buy for two whole rounds! How do you play a double eco situation? The AWP-er on the team might full save both rounds to be able to afford an AWP, whilst the other plays will likely buy a pistol and armor on the first round since they will still be able to buy at the same time. This is an important aspect to keep in mind. In the 1v4 clutch as a CT against the T’s who’ve planted the bomb, does he go for exits aggressively? Why might he do that? Well, maybe because he knows the T’s just spent all their money (first buy round perhaps) and killing 2 of them will do huge damage to their overall economy. If the T’s are rolling in money, he might save instead. Again, this is a concept that applies both to team decision-making and individual decision-making (balancing out the economy by spending more money in the save round than rest of the team to equal out the money is another example).
When you are watching a professional match and want to learn, keep these four concepts in mind and interpret and look at the game through the context of those three concepts.
Now, as to individual sides:
Counter-Terrorists: When you are watching the CT’s play you will want to pay attention to how the play around the choke points on the map. What nades do they use in what way to cut off certain choke points? How do they position themselves relative to other teammates in sites to create cross-fires or advantageous trade scenarios?
At the start of every round the CT’s have to make a decision as to how they want to play out that particular round. What choke points to focus on and which ones to leave open (it’s usually hard to have a good defense on all the choke points on the map at the same time). As to information gathering, CT’s may decide to use two or even three players to push a particular area of the map right at the start, knowing that they can put up a good fight if the T’s are there, and if they aren’t they just gained a whole lot of information. For example, nV loves pushing up upper dark (upper tunnels) or have Happy push into lower tunnels early on in the round. They do this, because they know that if they find no one there, the T’s are either playing mid or long, allowing them to shift their defenses to those spots. Additionally, they are now in a much better spot to rotate to the A-site. This how you can see information playing into the game on the CT-side.
Terrorists: On the terrorist side they also need to play around information gathering and the choke points. The early parts of the round are usually spent finding info about the CT set-up. So, on Dust 2 they’ll send at least one person tunnels, to see if the CT’s push, and find out what nades they used to shut off tunnels (if two HE-grandes are thrown, you know two people are in B-site, that’s valuable info). At least one other person will hold long to get info from there. They use the info they gather to decide where to attack. Pay attention to how they use flashbangs and nades to get info on where the CT’s are: they might flash into mid doors to get a peak and more map control- if no one is playing mid you know there’s two guys on B-site you can isolate with a B-split. The terrorists need to find out how the CT’s are playing which choke-point- that’s the key piece of information the T’s need to make a smart decision about where to attack.
These are some basic preliminary thoughts on how you can watch a pro-game and learn from them. How teams and individuals respond to information is something you can learn from: what does a team do when there’s two guys long and one mid on D2? Positioning in terms of set-ups and in terms of holding sites alone is valuable for you own solo-queue play. Watching Krimz hold b-site on Inferno alone will teach you a lot on how you can play it to delay any attack. Watching individual players can teach you pop-flashes and new angles to hold.
There’s obviously a lot more to be said here, but I wanted to provide some basic points and concepts for people to keep in mind.