The ESL One Cologne 2014 CS:GO championship went down as the most-watched Counter-Strike event in history, with over 400,000 combined viewers watching live in-game or through the ESL stream over the weekend. There were plenty of memorable frags, clutches, and comebacks during the 16-team, four-day event, the best of which I ve collected here.
Every ace (one player notching five kills) from the tournament
The final moments of the last in the three-match series between Cloud9 and NiP
LDLC s apEX notches a 3K on a terrific eco round
Dignitas dupreeh walks through smoke and is rewarded for a moment
A disgusting jump-USP headshot at the end of this clip
Semphis with an amazing stealth retake on de_dust2 s bombsite B
One of our favorite matches of the tournament, an incredible double-OT comeback
The moment of victory for Swedish team Ninjas In Pajamas
Source is certainly showing some wrinkles in comparison to, say, UE4, but CS:GO remains the premier competitive shooter on PC today. Even after a decade half of history with the franchise, we still love the look and feel of its classic maps and their modern iterations: Mirage's A bombsite, Inferno's "banana" path, or Dust 2's dim tunnel.
Firing up CS:GO on LPC, I decided not to go with a triple-wide monitor setup, so I arranged our three 27" monitors in portrait configuration. This gave us a combined resolution of 4320x2560 or 25 percent/3 million more pixels than we'd get at 4K.
.@wesleyfenlon has fired up Next Car Game on our ludicrous 3x27" portrait setup. https://t.co/JYOJGYvSdr— Evan Lahti (@ELahti) May 9, 2014
Click each preview image to view the uncropped, uncompressed PNG.
Have you played every single game in your Steam library? No? Neither have I and that accomplishment is apparently just a small sand grain in the over 288 million games in Steam collections that have never felt a press of the Play button. That's a surprising figure from a new report by Ars Technica researching the most active and popular games on Steam straight from the recorded statistics of some of the platform's 75-million-strong community.
Ars' method for its number flood involves sampling registered games and their played hours via profiles and their unique Steam IDs. With the help of a server for computational muscle, Ars randomly polled more than 100,000 profiles daily for two months to pull together an idea of which games see the most time on everyone's monitors. In other words, your Backlog of Shame (don't deny it, everyone has one) probably took part in some SCIENCE at some point. Exciting.
Some caveats exist, though. The data Ars looked at for its research only extends back to 2009, when Steam brought in its "hours played" tracking system. Owned and played/unplayed games are thus slightly skewed to not account for older releases from the early noughties, and any length of time spent in offline mode wouldn't get picked up by Steam either. Still, Ars claims its results deliver a good picture of Steam gaming trends for the past five years albeit with some imperfections.
Predictably, Valve's personal products stack high on the list in terms of ownership and most played hours. Dota 2 takes the crown with an estimated 26 million players who ganked faces at some point in the MOBA, but free-to-play FPS Team Fortress 2 follows closely behind with a little over 20 million users. Counter-Strike: Source rounds out the top three with nearly 9 million players, but it's also collecting dust in over 3 million libraries.
As for non-Valve games, Skyrim wins in activity, barely edging out Counter-Strike: Global Offensive with 5.7 million estimated active owners. Civilization V kept 5.4 million players hooked for Just One More Turn, and Garry's Mod boasts 4.6 million budding physics artists.
Want to know what the most unplayed Steam game is? It's Half-Life 2: Lost Coast, the Source tech demo given free to pretty much everyone on Steam who bought or fired up Half-Life 2. It hasn't been touched by an approximate 10.7 million players. I guess that old fisherman is feeling pretty lonely right now.
My favorite stat is the total of played hours divided by game mode, more specifically the separate multiplayer clients of the Steam versions of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Black Ops. The single-player campaigns for each respective title sits modestly within the mid-20-hour range, but the multiplayer side balloons well into the hundreds of hours. It's a pretty obvious indicator of where the biggest chunk of popularity resides in FPS gaming, but it's not like you wouldn't get weird looks for claiming you play Call of Duty for the story anyway.
See more of Ars' results in both number and pretty orange graph form in its report.
Opportunities for misdirection maneuvers are less common in multiplayer shooters, so I'm compelled to highlight this absurdly creative flashbang feint I spotted on the ESEA YouTube channel from last weekend's ESEA S13 LAN in Dallas.
The setup: two teams whittle each other down to a one-on-one scenario around bomb site A on de_dust2. Watch how Swag (Team Dynamic) handles KennyS (VERYGAMES) after the bomb plant.
Valve has sent out a patch for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive that focuses on tweaking Hostage Rescue rules for stronger balance and to entice players away from the long-favored Bomb Defusal. Most notably, CTs have now adopted the tactical doctrine of draping hostages across their shoulders like a squishy scarf, and only a single rescue is needed to secure a win for the good guys.
You'll need to interact with a hostage for a lengthy four seconds to get him to hop on for a ride, and a new "rescue kit" shortens pickup time to a single second by presumably wowing hostages with attractively padded and comfortable-looking shoulder guards to rest on. Taking a note of influence from community-made maps such as cs_motel, hostage spawns are now randomized per match.
Valve is also continuing to stock GO's maps with updated versions of classic Counter-Strike levels, with cs_militia being the latest addition. It's structured similarly to cs_assault, where Ts benefit from an entrenched interior location to bunker in while CTs attempt rescue through multiple points of entry.
Defusing bombs got a small but significant change as well: turning too far away from a bomb while defusing it will cancel the process, a jump in risk and exposure for CTs trying for the win while Ts yet linger to guard the bomb. They could sure use one of those hostage-capes for extra protection.
Oh, and the rumored Support Pass for a community map rotation on official servers isn't happening. Valve even pokes fun at earlier reports of the pass with a new data string, "CSGO_Ticket_CommunitySeasonOneSpring2013_Leak," and its single-word description: "lol." Oh, Valve. Don't ever change.
The CS community took out their knives and eagerly sprinted forward to the hundreds of user-made maps filling Global Offensive's Workshop since last month. We've got a nice stack of them running on our own server, and Valve is evidently looking to copy that setup on its own servers. Data-divers of reddit have found mention of a "Support Pass" in the next patch for players to purchase and access a pool of community maps soon to join the official server rotation.
A list of new data strings found in the patch mentions a "Community Support Pass Season One" to "grant access to Season One's featured community maps on official servers." The proceeds are distributed evenly to map contributors in what's likely an incentive to encourage an increasingly large selection of maps to feature.
The data doesn't mention a price, but Valve has a similar system in place with Team Fortress 2's co-op Mann vs. Machine mode, where players access multi-map sessions by purchasing $0.99 tickets. Assuming GO's passes carry a similar cost, it should result in a relatively simple way to jump into high-quality custom battles for little effort. The patch is expected to hit this week, so we'll have a clearer understanding of Valve's plans soon enough.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has a lot of custom maps. Seriously, browse its Steam Workshop page and see for yourself. We've talked about some of our favorites (all of which appear in our CS:GO sessions on our server), but a classic map layout we've yet to see a worthy update for is de_rats' bomb-defusal play in an oversized kitchen. DJ PC820 and TastySlopsicle's de_dolls_csgo is perhaps the best spiritual iteration we've spotted yet.
Instead of a kitchen, de_dolls_csgo takes us into a heavily pink bedroom which I assume is the property of a little girl, but the power of pink is genderless. Just like in rats, the jumbo furniture provides multiple nooks and alcoves for plinking across the map, including a doll house with furniture and a duct passage for moving around without exposing yourself to the AWPer's paradise of the main bedroom floor.
The map supports both classic and deathmatch play as well as bots for offline practice. You can easily download it by hitting the green "subscribe" button on its Workshop page.
Valve boss Gabe Newell stepped up to the stage during last week's BAFTA awards to receive the prestigious Academy Fellowship for his contributions to gaming. Presumably momentarily distracted by accepting a trophy modeled after a smirking face, a bewhiskered Newell fielded some interview questions over the normally airtight subject of Valve's business performance that hinted at the monumental scale of the studio's prosperity.
Newell chalked up Valve's successes largely to user-generated content on open platforms such as Steam Workshop before sharing some jaw-dropping numbers. "There's sort of an insatiable demand for gaming right now," Newell said. "I think our business has grown by about 50 percent on the back of opportunities created by having these open platforms.
"And just so people understand how big this sort of scale is getting, we were generating 3.5 terabits per second during the last Dota 2 update," he added. "That's about 2 percent of all the mobile- and land-based Internet activity."
Wait, what? We're not exactly sure what Newell meant when he dropped that bombshell of data info, apart from maybe claiming responsibility for all those times my connection speeds chugged while browsing these past few months. Still, it seems entirely plausible—Dota 2 has a lot of players, and the MOBA recently took the crown for the highest concurrent user amount of any Steam game ever. If any Steam game can feasibly take a bite out of the entire Internet, Dota 2 holds the best chance.
Beginning tonight, we're hosting daily Counter-Strike: GO events on our server. Because why the hell not?
Our weeks-old, St. Louis-based CS:GO server has hosted lively Steam events about twice a week. We run custom maps exclusively because the community has somehow produced 1,000 of them for CS:GO since adding Steam Workshop support last month. I earmarked my early favorites in February, but new favorites have already emerged, like the cs_sauna remake.
How to join, in four extremely simple steps
Join the PC Gamer Steam Group to be notified of events Subscribe to our CS:GO Steam Workshop map collection (this will auto-download and auto-update the maps we run on our server through Steam—MAXIMUM CONVENIENCE!) Join the server ("PC Gamer | The Psychedelic Den of Map Experimentation," IP: 18.104.22.168:27015) around 7 PM PST / 10 PM EST Have fun; be the kind of person you'd like to play games with
Thanks to GameServers for being a darn good server provider. If there's a config setting you'd like changed or a map you'd like to see in the rotation, just let me know or leave a comment on the Steam Workshop collection. Messages sent to firstname.lastname@example.org stir my spinal community antennae implant.
And yes, we know CS:GO isn't the only game in the universe. But we've got a good thing going there, and I'd rather do a slow roll-out of community funtimes than expand things too quickly. Look for more games and events to pop up throughout the year.