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
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Graham Smith)

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game recommendations. One a day, every weekday of the year, perhaps for all time.>

Not the original mod. Not Global Offensive or Condition Zero. I’m talking about Counter-Strike: Source, the remake that brought terrorists and counter-terrorists to the Half-Life 2 engine – and for some reason, was never fully embraced by the audience.

… [visit site to read more]

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!

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (Joe Donnelly)

American media conglomerate Turner Broadcasting and talent agency WME/IMG plans to show 20 live Counter-Strike: Global Offensive [official site] events on US television next year as part of a league series after brokering a successful deal with Valve.

… [visit site to read more]

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!

PC Gamer
The Bayonet Crimson Web skin is worth thousands.

CS:GO s massive popularity eclipses its bizarre history. More than 8 million people play Counter-Strike every month. The average number of people playing CS:GO in August (357,535) was an incredible 14 times greater than it was two years ago (25,961). Even Team Fortress 2, at the peak of its popularity, drew less than one-fifth of the concurrent players that CS:GO does today.

But if you crane your neck around the massive conga line of people who have discovered Global Offensive, you ll remember that, oh right, it was born as a port—partly meant to put Counter-Strike onto the previous generation of consoles before the end of their lifespan. When Valve and Hidden Path brought CS:GO to PAX in 2011 they demoed it exclusively on Xbox 360 and talked up, no joke, cross-platform play between PC and PS3 as a major feature (which was cut before release).

In 2012 it wasn t especially clear that Valve, who did not reply to a request for comment for this story, intended to dedicate significant resources to Global Offensive post-launch (memes about the seemingly modest size of Valve s CS:GO team were still being kicked around six months ago). Most of the production of CS:GO was done by Hidden Path, also known for the Defense Grid series, who had about 30 people working on it before release. Valve's involvement grew continually during the final pre-launch phase, as Hidden Path CEO Jeff Pobst told me.

The Glock Fade skin is worth about $260.

When I reached out to Hidden Path talk about CS:GO s origins, Pobst shed light on an the biggest challenge that CS:GO faced before release: how to unify the deeply entrenched Source and CS 1.6 communities under a single game. Initially we started working with the Valve folks to bring CS:S to console. The project grew over time to become something much larger because the folks at Valve were really interested in exploring if there was anything that could be done to try to bring together the two existing groups of CS players, said Pobst.

Hidden Path and Valve faced a daunting task: making everyone happy. Appeasing not one, but two communities who are resistant to change is difficult enough without also having to woo people who didn t grow up on Counter-Strike. There were players who felt that CS 1.6 was a superior experience for their play style and there were other players who felt like CS:S was the best game for their play style, says Pobst. Sadly those two groups were very segmented and didn t play together. We started having a lot of discussions with Valve about what a product might look like—if it was even possible—that would become the favorite version of Counter-Strike for both existing player groups as well as for new players. And that was the main design focus behind most every decision that went into the development of CS:GO.

Fresh paint

Plenty of people did play CS:GO when it came out, but did not show hints of becoming the sensation that it is today for some time. For a year after release, CS:GO wasn t even the most popular version of Counter-Strike—some players were still actively debating the merits of GO against its thirteen- and nine-year-old predecessors. What changed?

Weapon skins.

Almost exactly a year after release, Valve introduced Team Fortress 2-style weapon drops to CS:GO, an event that coincides with the game permanently overtaking its older siblings. This design decision put CS:GO on the trajectory to being the most popular game on Steam that isn t Dota 2. As ex-pro Tomi lurppis Kovanen puts it, Without the item economy Counter-Strike would be smaller. We would likely be at a level slightly above that of late 2013, and one similar to the peak years of Counter-Strike 1.6. There would be less money, no Valve-sponsored majors, and no one-million-viewer grand finals, says Kovanen, who contributes to PC Gamer. In hindsight, the addition of the skins has been the most important development in CS:GO's history, bar none.

The addition of the skins has been the most important development in CS:GO's history.

But why? After all, plenty of other FPSes have booster pack-like item systems or weapon customization that you don t have to pay to unlock. How has the addition of ultra-rare knives and questionable anime guns lured so many people to Counter-Strike?

Part of the explanation lies in how elegantly these decorated guns and knives integrate with fundamental aspects of Counter-Strike despite being purely cosmetic things. Something mostly unique to Counter-Strike, for example, is how much time you spend watching others play it. Death comes easily, and once slain you re pushed into someone else s eye sockets, where you re forced to gaze upon the ballistic eye candy of their painted guns. 

Wooden replicas of some of CS:GO's most coveted virtual knives, by SeaNTea.

If that wasn't enough, Valve directly incentivized the act of watching CS:GO majors in-game or through Twitch with a linked Steam account: spectators of the biggest tournaments can win special edition Souvenir skins. Souvenir versions of rare weapons are some of the most valuable in the game—a Souvenir Cerebus Galil, the second-tier Terrorist rifle, might fetch $230.

Likewise, picking up other players guns is a strategically valuable move—grabbing a dropped AWP saves your team from spending those resources from their own virtual pockets. (Any primary or secondary weapon will be automatically forced into your hands if you aren t carrying one, even.) But after weapon skins were added, taking your opponent s AWP or AK-47 took on a new meaning: it became a visual trophy. Spectators could see, presented in the UI, the gun owner s name. Killing someone with their own, bedazzled rifle became the ultimate insult. Valve even added a command that plays a custom look at my fancy weapon animation. Checking out your gun mid-match became a kind of taunt, especially if it was an opponent s.

Read more on the next page.

Conspicuous Consumption-Strike

There s an even simpler explanation for the popularity that skins brought to Counter-Strike: they put money directly in the game. A lot of it. Not only did Counter-Strike have a persistent element for the first time, it had a form of progression that was worth real money. How much you d accumulated in CS:GO became a measure of how serious of a player you were.

Skins became status symbols, bling that says something about you as a player. Holding a $2100 Dragon Lore AWP, the CS:GO equivalent of a gold-plated Lamborghini, instantly validates you as a savvy or ultra-dedicated player—not only do you have taste, but you have the means or the passion to acquire something unavailable in stores —the Steam Market places a $400 limit on listings.

No one could have predicted what would happen when one of the world s most skill-driven FPSes made fashion a feature. But it has had a substantial impact on Counter-Strike s competitive scene. Several third-party sites that allow players to bet skins on CS:GO esports matches have sprung up, one among them claiming to draw a million visitors each day.

After weapon skins were added, taking your opponent s AWP or AK-47 took on a whole new meaning: it became a visual trophy.

Just as significantly, professional teams have gained a steady source of revenue outside of sponsors and tournament winnings. Teams that play in major tournaments (like the ESL One Cologne) receive a share of the sales of disposable in-game stickers associated with their team, and recently-added pro autograph stickers contribute even more to the pot. Making $150,000 in pure sticker money—more than the tournament itself—is currently possible, says Kovanen, who analysed these Stickernomics last year.

And despite match-fixing incidents made possible by item gambling, most people in the scene will tell you that the addition of weapon skins has been extremely positive. [Skins] have allowed for large betting companies and sites to be founded and existing ones to begin pouring money into the game, says Kovanen. Most importantly, beyond the visual improvements and the fun that is betting, it has made Counter-Strike incredibly much larger—it's been proven viewership grows exponentially when betting is available, and therefore the game as a whole would be a lot worse off without the item economy that has allowed for the game to flourish.

The combination of being the best FPS game and a purely cosmetic item economy was what pushed CS to where it is today. Change or take either of those away and you would mess with success, says Kyle Ksharp Miller, a veteran professional CS player and co-founder of Team 3D. The true hardcore fans would still be there because they grew up on Counter-Strike, but I don't know if it would have attracted the next generation of players.

The Hyperbeast skin for the M4A1-S.

If you got it, brandish it

When most people have something valuable, they want to flaunt it. They want to wear it out in public and have strangers ask about its origin or authenticity. Oh, this old thing? Owning a rare or expensive CS:GO skin became a status symbol, and an invitation to make videos, screenshots, or GIFs. CS:GO s most passionate skinthusiasts were, whether they knew it or not, highly-effective marketers.

A mundane round of CS:GO s deathmatch mode can draw hundreds of thousands of eyeballs if it showcases a hyper-rare variant of an already hyper-rare skin. Almost 3 million people have heard the inspirational tale of From Nothing to A Knife, one player s saga of turning a $0.16 skin to a sub-$100 blade (set to some choice motivational speeches). CS:GO even has its equivalent to the depressingly popular Kinder Egg opening videos: case opening videos. Millions of people, as it turns out, will vicariously operate a slot machine that spits out virtual guns. And if you want to experience the thrill of opening virtual boxes without spending $2.50 a pop, you can poke around in a crate-opening simulator. Real-life replicas of CS:GO are up for grabs on eBay or Etsy (and are cheaper than their in-game equivalents).

CS:GO went from being a mostly outsourced project meant to bring Valve s series to PS3 and Xbox 360 to the most popular competitive FPS of our generation. The money, popularity, and esports growth that skin mania has brought to Counter-Strike is immense, measurable, and will have long-lasting impact not only on CS but on other multiplayer games.

But even players who are indifferent, or even critical of the way skins have altered a once-pure competitive game have benefited from their introduction. The wave of attention has encouraged Valve to make significant improvements to CS:GO. An influx of new players brought more cheaters (even in the higher levels of competitive play), but Valve has done a lot more to mitigate and ban them. Classic maps like Train that were initially flawed in CS:GO have been reworked. And although CS:GO's tournaments don't yet reach the pomp and level of reward as The International, Valve puts up $250,000 for multiple majors throughout the year.

Even earlier this week Valve  rebuilt CS:GO s hitboxes, animations, and netcode work together, a seemingly mundane update that in fact addresses a long-standing complaint from hardcore players. Take or leave its luxury items, Counter-Strike has never been a better or more beloved game.


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

CS:GO skins and all other Steam Market items are subject to a $400 maximum listing price. Items are often sold for greater sums through key trades, a sub-currency of the CS:GO economy. A single CS:GO key costs $2.50 USD and can be sold on the Steam Marketplace. To break through the $400 ceiling, you convert your listing price to a key value. If you want to sell an item for $500, divide your listing price by the key value, 500 by 2.5: 200 keys. Most people use third-party trading websites to list CS:GO s rarest wares, but once a trade is made, those keys can be sold back into the Steam Marketplace.

There are some skins in our list that definitely break that cap, but due to both the extraordinary rarity of these items and their inconsistent prices in the key market, we ve pulled our best estimates from varying trading sites. These are subject to change on a whim, but remain impressive no matter how transitory.

[Updated 5/11/2016]

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!

Victoria, StatTrak, Factory New

The Arms Deal 3 Collection, February 2014

Like a tiny machine gun for a wee tiny person, the CZ75 is great for quickly getting rid of all those pesky bullets weighing you down. Hand-decorated with gold accents and a scroll pattern, it signifies the bearer is classy and refined, so remember to extend a pinkie while firing.

Hand Cannon, StatTrak, Factory New

The eSports 2014 Summer Collection, July 2014

Weave a deadly web of bullets and preteen regret with this premium Desert Eagle, available exclusively at Hot Topic. There s no other gun capable of ensnaring such a dangerous tableaux of tacky fashion memories while firing actual bullets. Be the talk of 2005 with Crimson Web.

Cobalt Quartz, Souvenir, Factory New

The Lake Collection, November 2013

For the terrorist on a budget, look to the affordable and mostly harmless dual Beretta. To really spend money, though, you've got to go for the Souvenir editions, which commemorate various CS:GO Championships. Covered in blue quartz and gold stickers, they'll look fantastic in the dirt next to your dead body.

Case Hardened, StatTrak, Factory New

The Arms Deal 2 Collection, November 2013

Case-hardening is a chemical and industrial process that requires ferritic nitrocarburizing, nitriding, cyaniding, or, in the case of CS:GO, painting something in a computer. Either way, it's an added expense, but if buyers stand still and squint closely, they can actually see the detail they paid for.

Fade, Factory New

The Assault Collection, August 2013

If you want a weapon skin that looks like it was created with a single click on a Photoshop gradient, look to the Fade for the Glock-18. Pricey due to its status as a default weapon (despite not having StatTrak), it still moves dozens of units a week, but its sheer ugliness makes it easy to understand why one poor dope sold his for $5.17 back in early May 2014.

Ocean Foam, StatTrak, Factory New

The Bravo Collection, September 2013

There's not much difference between the prices of the Factory New or Minimal Wear versions of the Ocean Foam skin for the P2000, so you might as well go with a new one. Or, maybe spend that money on gas and drive to the nearest beach to frolic in some real, actual ocean foam. (Note: if the ocean is suspiciously foamy, it's probably industrial waste.)

Asiimov, StatTrak, Minimal Wear

The Chroma 3 Collection, April 2016

Look close enough and you ll notice that the entirety of Asimov s Foundation series is actually inscribed on this P250 s trigger. It s a metaphor for the power of reading! Jokes. This was just as close to Mass Effect as they could get without tipping off the Andromeda.

Fade, StatTrak, Factory New

The Revolver Case Collection, December 2015

The thing about this revolver is that in some places it is orange and in some places it is pink. There are worse things to spend 40 bucks on that are orange and pink in places. $40 of grapefruit, for instance. No one wants that much grapefruit. Get real. Buy a gun skin.

Nuclear Threat, Souvenir, Minimal Wear

The Nuke Collection, August 2013

Great news if you love the Tec-9: the skins don t push high volumes, even with StatTrak, because absolutely no one wants them. The bad news: if no one wants them, there's probably a reason.

Kill Confirmed, StatTrak, Factory New

The Shadow Collection, September 2015

On this USP-S, Banksy somehow snuck into CS:GO and painted a bullet passing through a skull. The Plain Jane message and exaggerated, kitschy art style are meant to deemphasize the act of pulling a virtual trigger, and make you consider this: what if there was a Disneyland, but it was a bad Disneyland?

Fire Serpent, Factory New

The Bravo Collection, September 2013

If you want a Factory New Fire Serpent, a swim in the murky waters of third-party trading forums is your best bet. That said, some are fairly reputable and require building several layers of verification and trust before allowing you to spend over a grand on viewmodel texture.

Akihabara Accept, Factory New

The Rising Sun Collection, May 2015

What is the true price of anime? CS:GO has made the question less rhetorical and pointless by throwing an anime magazine cover on an AUG. Turns out, it s expensive enough to find a way into the key market. Good job, anime.

Dragon Lore, Factory New (Field Tested pictured)

The Cobblestone Collection, July 2014

When this skin first dropped, it was known to go for nearly $10,000. Over time, it settled down to a measly 500 or so key average. Pocket change, really. There are that many CS:GO keys between my couch cushions at any given moment.

Before you overspend, read our AWP guide.

Spitfire, Factory New

The Alpha Collection, September 2013

Painting a mouth on the front of a WWII fighter? Very cool. Painting one on the front of a rifle? Mm, doesn't really work. It basically looks like the gun was dropped in wet paint. There are plenty of better looking (and cheap) FAMAS skins, if you ask me.

The Executioner, StatTrak, Minimal Wear

The Revolver Case Collection, December 2015

The Executioner has been painted with a gruesome display of bone. Damn right it s gruesome. For 250 bucks of bone, the gruesome-per-capita better be sky high! Check out those two bones on the side, crossed over one another in an X gruesome.

Cerberus, Souvenir, Factory New

The Cache Collection, November 2014

If you re looking to maximize your dogs per skin, boy, do we have a deal for you! There s a three-headed demon beast emblazoned on the side of this gun, which is mighty cool. Maybe not 200 bucks cool, but that s the price you pay for triple the dog.

Chantico s Fire, StatTrak, Factory New

The Chroma 3 Collection, April 2016

This M4A1-S skin is a short story in absolutes. Chantico is the Aztec goddess of fires in hearths (cozy, pop down here, let s cuddle, etc.) and volcanos. She s also the goddess of precious things, which is extremely appropriate for such a unique CS:GO skin. Don t touch it. Mine.

Howl, StatTrak Factory New

The Huntsman Collection, May 2014

Your GUN won't be the ONLY thing howling if you drop that much cash on a Howl skin: your WALLET will ALSO be howling! Ha ha! But seriously, you could feed a family of five for like a while with that much money.

The Howl's extraordinary price is due to the unusual controversy that followed it after release, which included the gun's removal from distribution but not from owners' inventories. CS:GO stopped dropping new Howls long ago, so the lucky initial owners of this lion-faced piece of copyright infringement own one of the most coveted status symbols in the game.

Cardiac, StatTrak, Factory New

The Vanguard Collection, November 2014

Let s go, Broncos! is what the average Cardiac owner says at least four times a game. Or I like basic color theory in blockbuster films! again, four times minimum. Maybe My favorite colors are blue and orange in no particular order! but no more than twice. No one likes a boisterous color fan.

Ultraviolet, StatTrak, Factory New

The Arms Deal Collection, August 2013

If you can see the color of this skin, congratulations, you can see x-rays. If you can see a bunch of x-rays, I m sorry, that s probably very bad. At least you know your SG 553 is not just violet, but ultraviolet and that there s more to this life than meets the eye. 55 bucks well spent.

Blood in the Water, StatTrak, Factory New

The Arms Deal 2 Collection, November 2013

This gun has a shark on it, which makes you, the owner of said gun, a shark as well. I'm like a shark when I play, even without this gun. I immediately flop to the ground and die. In other news, good lord, that's a lot of money for a shark gun that doesn't launch actual sharks at players.

Graven, StatTrak, Factory New

The Bravo Collection, October 2013

It breaks two commandments at the same time might be the eternal peak for CS:GO gun skin flavor text. The Graven is worth the $100 just for the goofs. But which two commandments? We ll let you puzzle that one out on your lonesome.

Whiteout, Factory New

The Office Collection, August 2013

You can buy this skin for the MP7 that turns it completely white, which is coincidentally the color objects in games look when their skins don't load at all. So... money well spent, I'd say.

Bulldozer, Factory New

The Assault Collection, August 2013

This bone crusher is a devastator isn t the most colorful flavor text, even if the skin itself is a bright construction helmet yellow. Imagine a big dopey ogre or a massive tank-like robot saying it though, and all redundancy is forgiven.

Primal Saber, StatTrak, Factory New

The Chroma 3 Collection, April 2016

There s no shortage of skulls and stripes in CS:GO, thank goodness, and the Primal Saber fills an oft sought after bone niche: the prehistoric predator. If only the flavor text wasn t a wheel-spinning portentous prophecy. Every predator eventually meets their end. Well, sure. Death is a thing. Truly, this is a skin for the most melancholic of CS:GO players; those who prioritize poesy over precision.

Judgement of Anubis, StatTrak, Factory New

The Chroma 3 Collection, April 2016

For a game without respawns, invoking Anubis, an Egyptian god associated with mummification and rebirth, seems a bit off brand. But, phonetically, Anubis sounds like someone important and powerful, which is enough for some, but he s also a person with a dog head, and who doesn t love dogs? Or at least the head part of the dog? No?

Death By Kitty, StatTrak, Minimal Wear

The eSports 2013 Collection, August 2013

Also known mockingly as the "Pro 90," the significant amount of surface area is put to good use here by covering CS:GO's most powerful SMG in multicolored cat skulls. I'm not mad, just disappointed. I'm also not surprised you're both popular and expensive.

Hazard, Factory New

The Alpha Collection, September 2013

This mag-fed shotgun has a construction-themed paint job, which means you can yell PARDON OUR DUST after you kill someone. If you're on Dust at the time, it's a double-pun. Look, it's a shotgun with some yellow stripes on it, what the hell do you want from me?

Bloomstick, StatTrak, Factory New

The eSports 2014 Summer Collection, July 2014

The flowers on this gun s stock cancel out the violence. You can t put a price on peace. Buy today.

Orange DDPAT, StatTrak, Factory New

The eSports 2013 Collection, August 2013

By the time you re close enough to notice the pixels it s already too late. It s never too late to admire the orange Digital Disruptive Pattern on this skin. Little pixelated Cheetos, dancing in the wind.

Fallout Warning, Souvenir, Factory New

The Nuke Collection, August 2013

The only true thing we know at PC Gamer is that putting a sticker on something makes it unequivocally cooler. As an addendum, the more stickers placed on that thing, its coolness grows exponentially. This Souvenir XM1014 has three stickers on the side, which qualifies it as an honorary prom king or queen in at least 20 different countries.

Blizzard Marbleized, Factory New

The Office Collection, August 2013

Use this gun skin and go prone on CS:GO s many eternally blizzarding arctic maps for a huge camouflage advantage.

Anodized Navy, Factory New

The Assault Collection, August 2013

This Negev is navy blue in spots. Do you like navy blue? How many dollars deep is your love for navy blue?

Marketplace link

Valve introduced cosmetic stickers to CS:GO in February 2014. Normally these are some of the cheapest items on the market a referential image of a funny banana man might set you back $0.84, for example.

Although the Contraband Howling Dawn sticker goes for about $100, the first-edition esports stickers are by far the priciest. Among them, Team iBUYPOWER s holographic sticker reaches a whole other level, seemingly due to the fact that the team was banned by Valve and dissolved after the discovery that they fixed matches for their own benefit. Although no listings exist at the time we re publishing this, there are several auto-buy orders for this controversial digital logo at $400.

Crimson Web, StatTrak, Factory New (Field Tested pictured)

For now, the Crimson Web M9 Bayonet is the most expensive item in Counter-Strike. Knives are arguably the CS mascot, so it s not that surprising so much value gets placed a long, deadly implement stored on your pants that tracks the number of people you ve stabbed with it. Nothing weird about that at all, nope. If I m being honest, there are much cooler-looking knives that can be had for just a couple hundred, like the Huntsman Fade or one of the raptorlike Karambit skins.

...

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