Counter-Strike

Image by DoctorRed2000 on DeviantArt

For the last few days, Valve has been teasing the release of a revamped version of venerated Counter-Strike map Dust 2, and yesterday they spilled the full beans on the new facelift. Valve's been refreshing old Counter-Strike maps for a while now, in an attempt to keep CS:GO looking as modern as possible, but messing with Dust 2 is a bit more of a risky proposition than modifying less-played maps like Train.

The more beloved a map is, the larger the potential backlash will be. Dust 2 has been a staple of competitive play for over 15 years, and was far and away the most played map in the game until its removal from the active map pool back in February. 

It's not surprising, then, that Valve's rework is so conservative. While all the assets have been replaced with higher-res, higher-poly ones, achieving the goal of bringing the map in line with modern graphical expectations, changes to the way the map plays are modest. 

The biggest change is to the visual clarity, which has been improved across the map. Most of the dark or busy looking areas that allowed players to blend in with their surroundings have been illuminated: the tunnels leading to B are much brighter thanks to a new open ceiling, and a lot of the crates throughout the map have been draped in white cloth to better contrast with player models. Bombsite A benefits from the deletion of the busy-looking doors at the back of A long, and some cleanup of the wall decoration along catwalk. These are bound to be uncontroversial changes, and are in line with what Valve has been doing with the other map facelifts.

There’s also been some common sense cleanup work that probably should’ve happened years ago. Stuff like widening the window from CT spawn into B site, and simplifying the scaffolding near CT-side mid doors, feels like pretty basic quality-of-life improvements that will prevent newer players from getting stuck on weird geometry or having their shots glance off of random pipes.

What impact will these changes have?

In the coming weeks we’ll get a better idea of the full ramifications of this update. A couple things to keep an eye on will be whether the new single car on A long (which replaces a pair of cars that were at odd angles in the map’s previous version) will actually be useful as cover now, and whether the increase in room to maneuver behind B site’s car will increase its viability as a hold point for CTs.

It s a healthy overhaul that makes some modest but interesting changes without reinventing the wheel.

There are also some subtle changes that may not even be intentional, and may or may not have a substantial impact on gameplay. Foremost among these is a problem we’ve seen already on some of the other modernized maps, but doesn’t seem to have caused enough of a ruckus to attract Valve’s notice: almost every previously-flat surface is now slightly bumpy (presumably for visual fidelity reasons), which affects the way grenades bounce off of floors and walls. Given how big of a deal smoke and flash placement is in CS, this may prove to be problematic in the long term, as it’s going to reduce the accuracy with which banked grenades can be placed.

Also on the topic of small, maybe-unintentional changes, the spawn locations have shifted slightly. A helpful redditor has pointed out after exploring the map that counter-terrorists can now get to their side of A long a full two seconds before terrorists can get to theirs, which may impact which corners CT players choose to hold, and which angles T players choose to peek from. Again, these are the kind of changes that will require some time to shake out, and we won’t know the full effect of this stuff until the competitive meta has fully adapted, which may take even longer than usual given there's a decade-plus of habits to unlearn.

But Valve seems to have struck a good balance with this update. It’s a healthy overhaul that makes some modest but interesting changes without reinventing the wheel. From a purely visual perspective, the new Dust 2 is beautiful, and undeniably an upgrade from the previous iteration. The terrorists have also gotten new higher-fidelity player models as part of the deal, and they’re a big improvement over the dated look of the existing models. (Puzzlingly, the CT models have not gotten the same treatment thus far.)

There are of course a host of bugs related to the new geometry, allowing for all manner of unintentional boost spots and weird clipping, but this has always been the case with these big map refreshes, and generally they get fixed in a fairly timely manner. Once these issues are addressed, we should expect to see Dust 2 re-added to the Active Duty map pool (possibly at the expense of Cobblestone) and the tournament circuit will quickly demonstrate what effect, if any, the update will have on the way Counter-Strike’s most iconic map is played.

PC Gamer

A reload is a seconds-long sideshow of watching ammo numbers go back up, a firearm equivalent of wiping the blood off a blade. Whether it’s the snappy accuracy of a mil-sim mag swap or feeding vomit balls to a living rocket launcher, reload animations are testament to the artistic prowess of personalizing a ubiquitous aspect of shooters. In alphabetical order, here’s some of the best reload animations on PC.

Battlefield 1 - Gewehr 98

Battlefield’s reloads mix function with form to spruce up each kit’s arsenal without straying too far into prolonged five-finger theatrics. The bolt-action rifles have satisfyingly crisp rechambering sequences, and it’s wonderful picking out DICE’s split-second touches on the older weapon design. The left hand of this Gewehr 98 sniper clamping over the rifle’s port to prevent an unspent bullet from flying out as he cycles the bolt to reload is a fine example. 

Battlefield 1 - Kolibri 

Behold the pee-wee Kolibri, the tiniest sidearm in a game filled with bulky, ancient MGs and hulking tanks. This novelty pistol has perhaps daintiest reload animation in gaming history. Swapping a magazine smaller than some caterpillars (the slight wiggle before the magazine enters its housing is a hilarious nudge) perfectly accompanies the sophistication of the pinky, ring, and middle fingers raised at maximum teacup clearance. 

Battlefield 4 - AK-12

Diverging from typical FPS fare of tilting the gun sideways for a clearer view of a reload, Battlefield 4’s AK-12 instead scores points for sticking with the realism of a trained military soldier dispensing with unnecessary movements. Note the forward-facing angle during the entire animation—this keeps the barrel’s business end pointed at the enemy—and the support hand curving beneath the grip to rack the charging handle and keep the firing hand near the trigger.

(gif via Jarek the Gaming Dragon)

Battlefield 4 - AN-94

 The AN-94 provides another AK-style reload with a much flashier “mag-pop” sequence that both seems terribly wasteful and oddly celebratory at the same time, almost as if it’s the gun version of sabering champagne.

(gif via Static Gaming)

Battlefield 4 - Unica 6

Catching one of DICE’s handful of easter-egg reload animations guarantees a double-take and that special feeling of accomplishment for triggering the fabled 1-in-10,000 probability. The Unica 6 secret reload is one of the earliest recorded from Battlefield’s community, and it holds a special place of honor for its ridiculous speedloader flick and follow-up cartridge comfort pat.

 (gif via Shimytangtang)

Battlefield Hardline - .410 Jury

Battlefield Hardline boasts plenty of hidden reload animations seemingly trying to upstage each other with increasing ridiculousness. Levitating an AK magazine with powerful criminal magic is impressive enough, but it’s hard to top the mesmerizing smoothness of the twirling .410 Jury and its gunslinger savant performing some extremity ballet.

(gif via Gibs O Matic)

BioShock - Grenade Launcher

Everyone’s favorite objectivist dystopia beneath the sea is a playground of art-deco architecture and hybrid steampunk weaponry—and then there’s the Grenade Launcher which looks like something the Home Alone kid slapped together in his garage. Its rough reload gives weight to its explosive power; you practically break the thing in half to shove in another coffee can’s worth of grenades into its metal gullet.

Borderlands 2 - Tediore

Borderlands 2's zillion guns follow a small pattern of reload animations based on each manufacturer. For Tediore, it involves chucking the entire gun like a slab of beef (with obligatory explosion) before generating a new one right in your hands. And yes, there’s entire character builds centered on throwing out as many Tediores as possible.

Call of Duty: Black Ops - G11

The few prototype guns found in Black Ops’ Cold War-era arsenal are a refreshing change from the cookie-cutter animations pasted across nearly every Call of Duty, and the G11 assault rifle nails that conceptual feeling best with its caseless rod reload and cocking handle crank that wouldn’t look out of place on a windup toy.

(gif via Undeath92)

Crysis 2

No single weapon in Crysis 2 sports an interesting reload, but each Nanosuit mode changes how Prophet rearms himself with suitably subtle animation changes. If you’re in power mode, you’ll slam in magazines with gusto and cock the handle with a firm grip. In stealth mode, you’ll more gingerly swap magazines and slowly bring back the handle so it makes less noise. Maximum context.

Counter-Strike 1.6 - M4

Surprising detail and nuance, for the time. The classic one-two of the open-palm mag-tap and fantastically inaccurate forward assist yank was a common occurrence when spectating a CT victory during those binge nights when homework was finished early.

Doom 2 - Super Shotgun

The only new weapon in Doom 2 was a powerhouse of a double-barrel shotgun with a big boom and a framey click-clack reload that’s music to a shooter grognard’s ears. You could've switched back to the original pump-action and saved some ammo, but you didn't.

Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon - Galleria 1991

Picking out a single example from Blood Dragon’s neon hallucination was almost as impossible as questioning Rex Colt’s sense of subtlety, but the Galleria 1991’s extra flair of casually tossing in shells is too excellent a combo to pass up.

Far Cry 4 - M-700

Carried from Far Cry 3 into the mountains of Kyrat, the M-700 is a plain but reliable sniper rifle favored for stealth-inclined players. Its reload is far more interesting with its abundant use of left-side screen space as the gun traverses across your monitor and back.

(gif via Jarek the Gaming Dragon)

Half-Life: Opposing Force - Spore Launcher

Shepherd’s logical action of picking up a baby of those creatures from another dimension trying to kill him gives us this Half-Life memento of an impromptu feeding session followed by—what else?—deadly vomit.

Killing Floor 2 - Dual 1858 Revolvers

The gun nuts at Tripwire earned their reputation as reload wizards from Red Orchestra’s authenticity, and Killing Floor 2’s high-fps, motion-captured animations are visual treats. The Gunslinger’s dual reloads pack so much refinement, the above GIF had to be slowed down to more easily observe the entire reload from start to finish. Nearly every other reload style is a blast to watch, a popular favorite being the smooth magazine retention for rifles and SMGs.

Max Payne 2

With enough kills chained during Bullet Time, Max whirls into a camera-orbiting move that’s less of a traditional reload and more of a sudden urge to pirouette his pain away. Still, it’s a stylish ode to Payne’s cinematographic influences, especially if you keep “Ave Maria” playing in your head the entire time.

Max Payne 3

Rockstar gleefully embellished Max’s gun-fu in his third killing spree, with the best animated touches emphasizing Max’s familiarity at juggling a small armory of guns. Reloading a one-handed gun while holding a two-handed weapon in the offhand is one of the best displays from the world-weary monologuer, as he tucks the bigger gun beneath his arm to free up his hand to change magazines.

Metro: Last Light - Shambler

The ramshackle design of Metro’s arsenal is already a pleasure to behold, but the Shambler shotgun’s revolver-style reload is one of the most unique of the series. The small toss between Artyom’s left and right hands as he feeds a shell into each clamp is a dash of detail and personality. 

(gif via Arbybear)

Overwatch - Torbjörn's Rivet Gun

Blizzard’s penchant for polish is on display in Overwatch’s reloads. Most of the cast would be right at home in this gallery, such as Torbjorn’s screen-spanning scrap refill, the only time I can think of molten liquid being poured into a gun.

PlanetSide 2 - Commissioner

The powerful Commissioner revolver is a trusty companion in PlanetSide 2’s massive warzones, and its split cylinder reload and automated spin bring that subsequent thrill of badassery after some bullseye frags.

Postal 2 - Beta Shotgun

The well-known video of Postal Dude elegantly shoving a fistful of shells into his awaiting shotgun embodies creative reload animations dispensing with silly real-world rules such as gravity and jams. The animation’s absurdity is even better experienced firsthand in the thick of Postal 2’s chaos, so definitely grab either the Paradise Lost DLC or the Eternal Damnation mod to see it for yourself.

Resident Evil 4 - Broken Butterfly

Console players have long recognized Leon Kennedy’s reloads in Resident Evil 4 as those of an expert zombie slayer, and the 2007 PC port brought his expertise into sharper detail. The Broken Butterfly revolver is a top pick; Leon’s nonchalant no-eyes-needed head tilt as he dumps out the cartridges and the almost lazy-looking single-bullet toss into the cylinder are just pure awesome. 

(gif via Hi-Res Reset)

Rise of the Triad - Dual Pistols

The challenge of animating an elaborate akimbo reload is smartly executed in Rise of the Triad, a fantastic world where air resistance is a myth and wrist strength reaches mutant levels.

Shadow Warrior 2 - Springchester

A lever-action flip might be passé by now, but Shadow Warrior 2’s Springchester exaggerates the pull-flip sequence so strongly that it's a wonder Wang isn't ducking for cover on the backswing. 

(gif via PC Gaming Videos)

Squad - M4

With all the arsenal acrobatics, it's nice to sometimes plug some realism back into restoring ammo to a weapon. This M4 reload from Squad reinforces the no-frills approach and the professionalism of the soldiers you play as therein, particularly with the confident-looking hand movements and double-check of the ejection port for a clean mag transition.

Titanfall 2 - 40mm Cannon

The Titans of Titanfall 2 are massive robots shooting equally massive guns, but their reloads pleasingly mirror human hand movements at a bigger scale. I love the small gears spinning open the ammo box housing and the slight jiggle of the barrel cover responding to the charge handle slamming forward.

PC Gamer

Some of the best games I've ever played aren't games at all. That is to say: some of my fondest gaming memories have come courtesy of total conversion mods—modifications which take some of the best and most well-known classics and radically transform them into new and exciting things. I imagine most of you will have played at least one total conversion at some point in your gaming careers, but Chris' list of the best total conversion mods ever gathers a large number of my own favourites and may point some of you towards mods you haven't yet played. 

The benefits of total conversion mods are probably pretty obvious. First and foremost, they extend the time spent wandering our favourite game worlds; and quite often offer players the chance to visit new realms and arenas tied to the games in question. These scenarios tend to be dreamt up by hobbyist modders—people who, like you, are fans of the relevant series. The best total conversions therefore portray likely circumstances and credible characters which complement their source material. 

What I love most about total conversion mods is tied to that last part. As hobbyists, the folk behind these projects create them for free—at times designing worlds similar in scope and size to big budget games, fitting development time around full-time employment among other real life distractions. Many have went on to earn cash from their endeavours eventually, but the vast majority of developers start out driven by passion alone. Over the years I've chatted to a few of the devs responsible for some of my favourite total conversions and it's their stories which have been among the most interesting I've ever heard. 

Minh Le is a name some of you will know well. Le, who otherwise goes by the pseudonym Gooseman, is a freelance programmer, modeller and designer for Facepunch Studios' open-world survival game Rust—however also co-founded the one-time Half-Life mod Counter-Strike with Jesse Cliffe in 1999. 

As I'm sure most of you are aware, Counter-Strike has gone onto become pretty popular, however it wasn't until last year that I discovered Le and Cliffe spent the first three years of their respective Valve careers without actually meeting in person. When Valve approached the duo about acquiring the mod they'd crafted using the original Half-Life GoldSource engine, Le moved from Canada to Valve's Seattle HQ while Cliffe spent the next few years finishing school. It was only after this time that Le and Cliffe were ever in the same room together. 

Valve's GoldSource engine and its Half-Life 2 Source engine have been responsible for a number of other total conversion success stories. Garry's Mod celebrates ten years on Steam this year and has seen its community grow exponentially—not to mention its multitude of user-made game modes—in that time. Unlike Counter-Strike's more focused beginnings, Garry Newman designed the sandbox game which would eventually allow him to take up game development full-time as a result of messing around with the Source engine and a desire to see how far he could push it. 

Newman learned coding on the job and in a chat earlier this year told me that without Source Control pre-release, GMod game crashes meant he was forced to bin all previous work and start the entire game from scratch every time he encountered bug-related problems. Further crashes meant repeating this process and then hoping for the best in the next run.

Other total conversion stories of intrigue include Sven Co-op, another Half-Life mod which, although created in 1999, was continually developed and iterated on before finding its way onto Steam for free earlier this year. The prolific and super efficient work of Elder Scrolls enthusiasts and hobbyist modders SureAI has seen the likes of Nehrim and Enderal come to be—both hugely impressive Oblivion and Skyrim mods which are arguably as good, or at least equally as ambitious, as their source material. 

XCOM: Enemy Unknown's ultra-challenging Long War total conversion mod is another of my own personal favourites about which creator John Lumpkin told me back in July: “Last September, I went to the Firaxis offices when they were in the fairly late stages of polishing XCOM 2. I met Jake Solomon there and showed him what XCOM: Enemy Unknown modding looked like. He wondered aloud if I had closets full of chains and leather.”    

He doesn't, it turns out, but Lumpkin's story—not to mention those touched upon above—is but one of thousands of interesting anecdotes behind some of the most outstanding mods-cum-games I've ever played. Furthermore, the dedicated communities these mods have inspired make the mods themselves even more inspiring in my book. Again, Chris' 'best of' list is well worth checking out, and I'd love for you to share your own favourite total conversion stories in the comments below. 

PC Gamer

Counter-Strike: Classic Offensive is a remake of Counter-Strike being made inside a remake of Counter-Strike.

Yesterday the modder Z00L released a launch trailer for his curious mod, a project that aims to reproduce the look and feel of the original Counter-Strike (version '1.6' as it's more colloquially known) inside CS:GO. "The main goal of the mod is to get the gameplay from 1.6 right into CS:GO including weapons, sounds, movement, all the old stuff you've dreamed to see in CS:GO," he writes on ModDB. "As you can see, I'm pretty near."

The mod is built within CS:GO's version of Source, and it'll require CS:GO to play. At launch, planned December 25, Z00L says that retro versions of Dust2, Italy, Mirage and Inferno will be playable. Each of these maps exist in the current version of CS:GO, of course, but they've since been aesthetically and structurally reimagined in small or significant ways. 

As stated in August, Z00L's goals with the project are to make weapons that behave similarly to 1.6, remove 'GO'-specific guns, replace all sounds, and remove skins. He also outlines what he is not able to do as a result of the engine:

  • Wallbangs as in 1.6 (even if I change it it won't penetrate more than 32units)
  • Remake the crouching jumping bug (no I won't edit the dlls)
  • Playermodel selection (a plugin could fix that though)
  • See inside smoke particles (the game don't draw the world when inside, so nope..)
  • Bring back the tactical shield
  • Change flashes, smoke time, nade physics
  • Add buying ammo

So although the project is appetizing to folks like me who grew up playing 1.6 in internet cafes, it does seem to be operating under some fundamental constraints that might make it impossible to include certain movement quirks and 'desirable' map bugs what were buffed out over Counter-Strike's different iterations. It's hard to tell from the in-game trailer exactly how well Classic Offensive captures the movement and weapon feel of old CS, but to my eyes it resembles the higher-fi Counter-Strike: Source more than anything. I guess that isn't unsurprising, considering it's the link between 1.6 and GO.

Which version of Counter-Strike was the best, the most pure, or the most tactically interesting remains a hotly debated topic by FPS players. For the year following its release in 2012, CS:GO wasn’t even the most popular version of Counter-Strike—some players were still actively arguing the merits of GO against its thirteen- and nine-year-old predecessors.

PC Gamer

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive's esteemed Inferno map has been given a fresh lick of paint and a host structural renovations bringing its 2012 design in-line with the world of today.

In doing so, three main areas have been the focus of improvement: to advance visibility across the map; to make it easier to move around in groups; and to "fine-tune the gameplay based on community feedback."

Fresh from a stint in its beta phase, the new slant on Inferno is now available to all in the Reserves Map Group, and Valve is keen for Counter-Strikers to test it out and file feedback. Full details on what's been changed and why can be found here, but you can check out how each area has been reworked via the sliders below.

Bombsite A

"We focused on increasing the readability of positions, and giving the attackers more ways to utilize their equipment such as smoke grenades and flashbangs before entering the site itself.

"The overhanging roof on the site was removed, letting more natural light flow in. This also makes sniping between library and balcony more viable for both sides, and allows you to land smoke grenades on the site itself.

"The infamous truck that served as the path onto balcony has been replaced with a simpler cart, which has a more solid shape making gameplay more manageable, and makes navigating onto the balcony easier.

"The upper platform features improved visibility, with less parallaxing geometry for attackers to sift through to be able to spot a defender."

"In addition to these changes, the path leading to balcony has now been opened up, to allow attackers to flashbang into site before exposing themselves. This forces a defender playing from pit to stay alert.

"Another change inside of apartments is the removal of the 'dark' bedroom. This room was a very powerful defensive position for CTs, and Ts would be forced to use some of their grenades in clearing it before even reaching the site.

"This has been changed to a cubby (similar to the 1.6 version of Inferno), which is easier to check, but remains a powerful position for a defender."

Bombsite B

"The final stretch leading into the bombsite has been widened, along with giving Terrorists some additional cover before committing to the site itself.

"The skybox in this area has been tweaked as well, it no longer allows CTs to smoke off B site from other areas of the map.

"On the site itself, there have been some changes. The gap between 'newbox' and the pillar has been closed off, the position near the entrance to the site is now climbable and visibility in general has been improved."

Middle

"The biggest change in the middle of the map is that the underpass connecting middle and alt-mid is now halfway walkable. You still need to crouch to be able to enter from middle, but about halfway through the tunnel you are able to walk upright.

"Another minor, but impactful change; the lightpole that has absorbed millions of bullets over the years has been removed, so there is one less object to blame if you miss your shot."

T Spawn

"The T Spawn now finally has its second exit opened up, which puts you directly into alt-mid."

Valve signs off the update with the following: "While there have been upgrades and adjustments throughout the map, the core gameplay remains more or less the same. By releasing the new Inferno early as a beta we were able to collect valuable player feedback and made many fixes ahead of this official release.

"Thank you to those who contributed. We will continue to observe the gameplay and make tweaks and fine-tune the map as we collect more feedback."

PC Gamer

Chloe Desmoineaux isn t your usual Counter-Strike player. I ll cut to the chase: because she uses lipstick to play the game. As in make-up.

She calls it Lipstrike, and it uses a clever mix of basic electronics, key remapping and gun-based violence. I like it a lot.

Using a kit from Makey Makey, Desmoineaux hooked up the control board and some alligator clips to her lipstick. The mouse is used, of course: left click to move forward, right for aim-down-sights, scroll wheel to switch weapons.

But when she applies the lipstick, the connection in the Makey Makey circuit board is completed, which is linked via USB to input as a button being pressed... and the bullets start flying.

Desmoineaux explained her thinking in an email to Motherboard, pointing out it s not exactly a serious thing it s just interesting and funny:

Counter-Strike is one of those games that's mainly attributed to a male audience. Lipstick for girls, war games for boys. Fuck that! I can mix it up... If it visually works and the resulting effect is comical, maybe it s because we all use shortcuts and stereotypes embedded in our heads. It's in this spirit that I got the idea for Lipstrike.

You can catch up on Desmoineaux s performances over on her Twitch channel, and she ll be broadcasting new sessions over there until June.

PC Gamer
PC Gamer

lurppis played CS 1.6 professionally for eight years for teams such as wings, roccat/69N-28E, EG and WinFakt with team winnings exceeding $350,000. Since ending his playing career in 2012 he has stayed active in the CS:GO scene as part of the media.

The competitive Counter-Strike scene is at its peak. There s more talent than ever in pro CS, which means that in order to pick the best players in the world you need clear, specific criteria. To make this ranking, a player must have competed in a number of top tier events—no player can be awarded top ten status for simply being incredible online. Almost by default, that means the player will be on a top team as well, which is the case for everyone on this list. I also decided to use roughly the past six months results for statistical comparison, with obviously more emphasis on recent performances, as they are most likely more indicative of these players current form.

Before we dig in, let s first take a look at some of the big names who barely missed the cut of being in the top ten. Recent fan favorite Nikola NiKo Kovac did not make this list because he has not performed at enough events yet. Richard shox Papillon came close, and in Titan he might regain the kind of role that will allow him a spot on the list, but currently he must be left out. Finally, NiP s Christopher GeT_RiGhT Alesund s Dubai performance was incredible, but it is not enough after six-plus months of, for him, average play. You could also have made a case for Rene cajunb Borg, who has been TSM s second best player for a long time, and like shox and GeT_RiGhT, boast a strong individual track record at the majors.

Photo via the ESL Flickr page

10. Kenny 'kennyS' Schrub

France | Team EnVyUs

In late 2014 and early 2015 kennyS was arguably the number one player in the world as the game s most dominant AWPer. Despite playing on a team barely in the top eight, he constantly put up performances that allowed Titan to compete with all of the world s best teams, and even score some strong tournament finishes. Since the AWP update he hasn t been as dominant, and it is possible the limited, in comparison, role he has on EnVy will never allow him to regain the top spot. Even through these changes, Kenny remains one of the world s best.

Photo via HLTV.org

9. Tyler 'Skadoodle' Latham

USA | Cloud9

While fans go crazy about shroud s exciting flick shots, the true star of Cloud9 and the player who makes the team who in the summer was a legitimate threat to contend for titles go, is Skadoodle—one of the world s best snipers. He s the best North American player—at least until Hiko fully returns—by far the most consistent player on Cloud9 and the team relies on his strong play more than anyone else s. It s possible Skadoodle will climb the rankings in the future, but his team must regain top form to do so—competing in North America won t help him here.

Photo via HLTV.org

8. Aleksandr 's1mple' Kostyliev

Ukraine | HellRaisers

Easily one of the most explosive players in the world, s1mple—the third AWPer so far on this list—has been outside of the spotlight since he left FlipSid3, seemingly out of the blue, after the team was knocked out of ESWC. Some of the statlines s1mple put together while playing in a tactical, but not very skilled F3 team are absurd. Once his ESL ban is up and he matures a little, he will become the number one player in the ex-CIS region, and you can expect him settle much higher in this ranking once he reaches his peak—he s still only 17.

Photo via HLTV.org

7. Robin 'flusha' Ronnquist

Sweden | Fnatic

flusha was the best player in fnatic for a long time, and his overall performance throughout 2014 was incredible. This year he has taken a backseat in the team while his teammates have shined brighter, but one must not discount his impact in fnatic s wins either. For one, he has the best stats overall across all the CS:GO majors to-date, and he is one of just three players ever to three majors—and one of five to win two. He has nearly perfected the passive playing style as a rifler, yet is still capable of flashy highlights when needed. flusha could conceivably be the best player on almost any team, but he has practically accepted a smaller role to ensure his team keeps winning.

Photo via HLTV.org

6. Freddy 'KRiMZ' Johansson

Sweden | Fnatic

No one could have predicted the breakout performances KRiMZ had in late 2014. He was a role player on the successful LGB team, and had been without a team before fnatic picked him up last summer. That KRiMZ went onto have some of the best individual performances on that team is truly remarkable. He was not a player who caught a hot streak and went with it, his nearly flawless fundamentals, especially with the M4A1-S and AK-47, allowed him to elevate his level of play almost overnight, and what s more, he s stayed up there for a year now. A cornerstone in the world s best team s success, and easily one of the best players in CS:GO.

Photo via the ESL Flickr page

5. Janusz 'Snax' Pogorzelski

Poland | Virtus.pro

Due to the way Virtus.pro is structured, a lot of the time their players go without the same kind of celebration that top players in other teams enjoy. There is no clear superstar in the Polish team, and at times all five of their players have good enough games to receive MVP awards. In any case, over the long haul the best player in Virtus.pro, and the most important one as well, has been Snax. He is an extremely versatile player, a part-in-game-leader, and probably the game s trickiest player. He was the MVP of ESL ESEA Dubai Invitational, the second-best player all-time at the majors, and you can bet any time he plays that well Virtus.pro will go deep in tournaments.

Photo via HLTV.org

4. Vincent 'Happy' Cervoni

France | Team EnVyUs

Happy might be the first in-game leader in Counter-Strike s history to have the kind of success individually that he has had. He gets criticized by many—including me—for baiting his teammates at times, in a fashion that almost looks like he s padding stats. In any case, he is the best player on EnVy, who have been a top three team for most of the past year, and has become the game s best lurker after GeT_RiGhT s decline. He can AWP, lead the world s best team, and play with just about every weapon out there. Happy is almost a complete player, and that kind of versatility is especially valuable.

Photo via the ESL Flickr page

3. Ladislav 'GuardiaN' Kovacs

Slovakia | Natus Vincere

The lone Slovakian player—but the fourth main AWPer—on this list has been among the world s best since 2012, but aside from the brief period when his Virtus.pro team took down NiP, he did not enjoy the kind of success or fanfare that he likely deserved until Na`Vi broke through as a top tier squad in May 2014. Since then he has probably been the biggest carry in a top five team. Simply put, Na`Vi often lived and died with GuardiaN s performances. Lately he has gotten more help with the addition of flamie, but make no mistake—GuardiaN has been the most important player, on a team that was recently ranked second-best in the world, for a long time.

Photo via HLTV.org

2. Nicolai 'device' Reedtz

Denmark | Team SoloMid

It s safe to say that device has finally arrived. The Dane was championed as the next generation s f0rest or GeT_RiGhT by Thorin a long time ago, and it seemed only his nerves were holding him back from becoming an absolute force in the Counter-Strike world. Well, now he is one—device has been the best player on TSM while the squad has racked up multiple international wins and even more top three finishes. Much like peak-f0rest, he can both AWP and rifle at an elite level. No longer is he the player who goes MIA in big games and needs to be pulled across the finish line. The best player in the world s second-best team, device deserves the second spot in this ranking, and could easily edge his way to the top in the future.

Photo via HLTV.org

1. Olof 'olofm' Kajbjer

Sweden | Fnatic

This should come as no surprise to anyone who has been actively following the scene. Currently—and for a while now—the king of Counter-Strike has been fnatic s olofm, the player who has been the brightest star in the world s best team—ever—and has effectively broken through as perhaps the game s only superstar despite having three other incredibly skilled teammates. olofm has lived up to all the promises, and more, of the LGB days. Often he has been the difference between a top-three finish and another championship, and there is no player as scary in CS:GO currently as olofm having a good game—and other teams can surely testify to that. He is probably the game s most versatile player—able to play both passively and aggressively on both halves, and handle every weapon, both rifles and snipers, at an elite level. Enjoy it while it lasts, because we do not get to enjoy players like this too often.


Pcgp Logo Red Small PC Gamer Pro is a new channel dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!

PC Gamer
Happy looking happy after Juan good round. Photo credit: DreamHack/Adela Szjnader.

When it comes down to a final between two top-tier heavyweights, you expect all of your players to be on form—but when no less than four out of ten finalists close out rounds by killing every member of the enemy team by themselves, you ve found something special.

The climax of this weekend s DreamHack London was one such occasion, as French team EnVyUs edged out Danish rivals Team SoloMid in a 2-0 stormer. The pair were the two most-highly seeded squads at the two-day event, so there was little surprise that they found their way to opposite sides of the final bracket. Resistance along the way came in the form of Copenhagen Wolves new roster, their old roster (now belonging to Team Dignitas with few modifications), SK Gaming, the Australian upstarts Renegade and—owing to the London location—two British teams: Gamers2 and EZSkins.

The British are leaving: KennyS' amazing AWP triple

As the final attests, resistance was futile—particularly for the ailing UK CS scene. Admirable though it is to feature the once-great nation s brightest hopes alongside previous DreamHack winners and ESL One contenders like TSM, the effect was akin to leaving lions to babysit lambs. Even former CS 1.6 and Source legends such as EZSkins Sam RattlesnK Gawn were no match for the inhuman AWPing skills of EnVy s latest addition Kenny KennyS Schrub.

Assassin's creed: twist's acrobatic Glock headshot

One team proving to at least resemble a thorn in both finalists sides was Copenhagen Wolves, managing to take second in TSM s group and coming up against EnVy in the semifinals. It s not much consolation for the squad, who lost convincingly to both teams, but CW s Simon twist Eliasson can be proud of what was the most unexpected play of the Sunday before the final began. Hopping off the B-site balcony on Mirage and showing some air control worthy of any Surf practice maps, the Swede lands a headshot on poor unsuspecting Nathan NBK- Schmitt to prove that the Wolves still have some bite.

Down to the wire: Kio's almost-flawless victory

However, after the lights dimmed and the final teams got serious on the Copper Box Arena s main stage, much of the weekend s action seemed to pale in comparison. The first indicator of which was EnVy s second round win on Dust II, having lost the pistol round. Halting TSM s early economic lead by wiping them out and taking their hard-earned guns prevented the usual snowball scenario of the pistol-round winner taking two or three more in a row. As such, the entire first half was kept incredibly close, with EnVy finishing ahead at 9-6. Heading into the second half pistol round with EnVy on the Counter-Terrorist side, the magic began as Fabien 'Kioshima' Fiey pulled off the first ace of the proceedings, only to lose the round as he ran out of time to defuse.

Stay cool: Kioshima's burning sacrifice

A mistake Kio made sure to rectify a mere 11 rounds later, to put EnVy into a strong match-point position. Having worked his way masterfully onto the A-site again, dispatching cajunB and safe in the knowledge that Karrigan was too low on health to risk a peek, he sets about defusing. Karrigan s elegant solution was to molotov the entire bomb area from safety. But Kio simply wasn t about to leave a job half done again and gives his life for the cause, as the final tick of burn damage kills him a fraction of a second after the defuse finishes.

Swarm of bullets: Karrigan's revenge ace

Having sent a strong statement by closing out Dust II 16-13, EnVy went about leaving their mark on Inferno too in the second map of the best-of-three. This time, winning the pistol round and following through with a natural economic advantage on the next two left them with a healthy 3-0 lead. Stepping up to the plate—and making up for not cooking a hot enough molotov in the last map—Finn 'Karrigan' Andersen threw down the second ace of the finals, mopping up the mess left on mid by teammate cajunB s perfectly timed grenade.

Juan in a million: Happy's Desert Eagle rampage

Match balance restored by Karrigan's ace, things remained square until well into the second half as EnVy took up defensive positions as Counter-Terrorists. Having let TSM back into the game and lost the second pistol round, they were struggling to find purchase and embarked on an 'eco' round to save money for later. Completely undeterred by this situation, and with Desert Eagle in hand, Vincent 'Happy' Schopenhauer landed an impossible ace, with four near-perfect 'Juan Deag' single-tap headshots.

Oh, snap: KennyS' lightning AWP reactions

Spurred on by the heroics of his team-mate, and despite a losing streak after Happy s rampage, KennyS found the fourth ace of the night for EnVy to regain momentum. Not sated by that, he then went on an extremely aggressive push up into apartments with the AWP in order to land a snapshot so fast he may need a wrist splint for the next week.

The 2-0 final score to EnVy belies how incredibly close and tense each map was, and the extent to which TSM stepped up to the plate. EnVy, however, have proven that their new roster—which prevented them appearing at the last DreamHack event, where TSM prevailed—is nothing short of terrifying. The teams won t need to wait long for a rematch, however, as DreamHack Stockholm begins this week and if both keep up this level of tense competition the Swedish crowd will only need the edge of their seats. And possibly a cardiologist.


Pcgp Logo Red Small PC Gamer Pro is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!

PC Gamer

TRIGGERNOMETRY

We write about FPSes each week in Triggernometry, a mixture of tips, esports, and a celebration of virtual marksmanship.

Beneath Counter-Strike s skin is a skeleton of interconnected systems: movement, location-specific damage modeling, and weapon behavior, to name a few. In last week s major patch release Valve swapped out some significant bones in that skeleton. With a foundation built on a decades-old legacy favoring tradition over radical change, CS:GO s community has appraised this update as nothing short of historic. Beyond bug fixes, the meat of the patch delivers significant adjustments to CS:GO s steadfast core: hitboxes, animations, and weapon behavior. Here s how these changes affect the game—for casuals, pros, and skin-conomists alike—and why they re important milestones in one of PC gaming s most storied shooters.

Hitbox comparison image by imgur user whats0n

Hitboxes

CS:GO s long-lasting cuboid hitboxes—the invisible, body-hugging shapes critically governing bullet hit detection—has morphed into a capsule set with a more cylindrical configuration that better covers each part of the CT and T model. Each cylinder conforms to the body model s shape more closely than the hard edges of a cube, and the entire set provides a higher degree of overlap for accordingly increased precision in determining where incoming bullets should land (and, subsequently, how much damage is meted out). Valve also fixed inconsistent hitbox alignment that tended to crop up during certain movements such as jumping or hanging on ladders by forcing hitbox rigs to continuously shape to whatever motion the model is performing at all times: running, standing still, climbing, planting the bomb, and so on.

Why it matters: At long last Valve has repaired CS:GO s an issue that s plagued the community for years. Dozens of demonstrations of misaligned hitboxes filled forum threads and Reddit posts. Some examples were hilariously blatant, some were more analytical, but they all pointed to a harmful obstacle of CS:GO s layers of strategy and skill. The now-continually synchronized hitboxes ensures shots will land precisely where they re sent to, and we can finally send a farewell salute to the unwelcome immortal bomb-planter.

One interesting phenomenon to note is how the development and proliferation of the professional scene flourished in the face of faulty hitboxes. Pro teams, by virtue of their intimate knowledge of each minute aspect of the game, were acutely aware of how hit detection affected performance; they simply adapted and got used to it. Teams with star-led rosters such as Fnatic and EnVyUs will re-adapt in short time, but it ll be interesting to observe the process of unlearning years of habits.

In theory, position control should turn even more rewarding for quick multi-frags with steady spray. Given the heightened payoff for shooting accuracy, 1v1 encounters will swing towards whoever is on the draw the fastest for tapping shots into the larger head hit-bubble. No longer is jump-peeking a safeguarded method for gathering intel, as it s now an exposing move with a heavy risk of a blink-and-gone reflex kill.

Animations

New and improved animations for the worldview character model (the models of teammates and enemy players seen from your view) smooths out walking/running cycles and gives more natural physical behavior to the weapons and equipment adorning each model. In particular, full draw animations replace the former, jerky ones for guns and grenades, and switching items plays a neat holster sequence for whatever s being put away.  Ladder climbing looks better but still hasn t lost the comedic awkwardness of watching someone sprinting up a vertical surface while gripping a rifle with both hands.

Player and weapon models will also cull when up against a thin wall or doorway. That means any portion of the model that would stick out is automatically cut away to avoid erroneous clipping and unintentional giveaways from simply standing too close.

Why it matters: Though mostly cosmetic, the new animations better represent what a spotted player is doing moment to moment. Stronger-colored defusal kits are easier to pick out on the model, and cleaner-looking transitions to secondaries impart an important sign that an opponent s primary has run dry. Reports of distorted models and players flopping on the ground have also surfaced in the days following the update.

Model culling is a pretty significant boon for ambush-oriented players parking up against high-traffic chokepoints such as Nuke s squeaky and Dust 2 s double doors. It doesn t completely cover all angles—the tight corners of Inferno s banana still occasionally betray a popped-out barrel or two, for instance—but it does add fair variability to close-quarter positions typically avoided for wonky clipping. In a way it s more of a buff for the Terrorists, who now have to worry less about their barrels sticking through a door and signaling their attack.

Defusals

Many a round of CS:GO ends end with a solitary CT crouching over the beeping bomb. The patch majorly modifies that intimate man-on-explosive encounter by placing a multimeter in the defuser s hands with clearly visible cables running into the bomb while it s being defused. That s probably the most obvious Hey, I m interacting with this sign Valve could apply without breaking realism—defusers now look like military Spider-Men.

Why it matters: Ninja and fake-out defusals are integral to strategic CS:GO play. The inclusion of the cables huge visual marker lowers the effectiveness of baiting bomb-guarding Ts into a surprise riposte. (One pro player even suggests cables be a spectator-side feature only.) Ts can now check for cables on a shoulder-peek to determine if the defuse is true or not, but savvy CTs can set up for the next peek knowing that brandishing cables will likely draw out an opponent for a 1v1. A sneaky CT swooping in for the ninja defuse is still possible, but it ll be much harder to pull off with Ts having more concrete information on when an actual defuse is happening.

M4A1-S

The silenced M4A1-S, a CT staple, has seen its fire rate reduced to a flat 600 RPM along with a slight increase to base bullet spread. Its price has dropped $100 to $3,100, a reversal of the cost hike implemented in the March 31 patch. Its armor penetration value has also shrunk by roughly 10 percent, but plenty posters have indicated the old value still accidentally exists in the live version.

Why it matters: Many players consider these changes as the M4A1-S death-knell, but the rifle s true fate isn t so cut-and-dried. Indeed, pro player input is predictably divisive. The M4A1-S now fires at the same rate as the AK, a noticeable dip in damage output for close-range combat. Interestingly, the slower fire provides a higher amount of recoil decay in between each shot which leads to tighter handling at farther distances. It s easy to assume the M4A4, the unsilenced high-ammo brother to the M4A1-S, will claim the go-to CT gun crown, but the A1 will find use as an easily controllable brain-tapper at range.

Pistols

The flashy dual Berettas got a boost to armor penetration and range, both understandable buffs to bring the rarely glimpsed pistol choice in line with common handcannons. The Zeus taser has had its cost reduced to a miniscule $100 as a value buy for instant kills up close.

Why it matters: Pistol changes invariably carry an economic ripple effect into later rounds of a match via shakeups in the eco meta. Although the likelihood of a drilled team adopting dualies over the reliability of the Tec-9, Five-Seven, or P250 is low, these modifications make the Berettas a safe buy during pistol rounds. Its extra armor penetration is good insurance against early round armor as they ll dome an unhelmeted player in one hit. We ll see the Zeus show up more often in loadouts due to its cheap price, but its usefulness still stays niche as a silly method for taking out a solitary player. Zeus skins are inevitable.


Pcgp Logo Red Small PC Gamer Pro is a new channel dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!

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