PC Gamer
One of the added community maps, de_zoo.

Valve deployed an update to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive this evening that adds Operation Bloodhound, a fresh set of community maps and weapon skins that you can pay $7 for the chance to play and earn.

Rails, Resort, Zoo, Log, and re-released versions of Agency and Season are included in the Bloodhound Access Pass, which also opens up two new campaigns, a continuation of the web of challenges players can complete to earn weapon skins or unlockable crates.

New maps are welcome, but the packaged metagame content is the least interesting aspect of CS:GO to me—I d much rather weapon unlocks be attached to an enhanced stats system that helps me understand where I m at as a player. Instead, Valve has added another layer of profile progression, Profile Rank. As you increase your Profile Rank, not only will your CS:GO profile evolve to show off your new title and icon; but the first time you rank up each week will earn you a weapon drop. It s weird that player profiles will have two pseudo-military ranks—one to measure their competitive skill, and another to measure how much they ve played across all modes.

Other than map tweaks, there are no stated changes to weapon balance or other aspects of CS:GO. I do like that the match timer for casual has been cut by 45 seconds to a more respectful 2:15, but otherwise the focus of this update is squarely on shoving more maps, monetized missions, and weapon skins into the game. But hey, the new Falchion knife (already listing at about $400 at the time of this post) has a cool animation, I guess.

PC Gamer
Photos courtesy ESL.
TRIGGERNOMETRY

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

To witness greatness in real-time is a rare gift. From Michael Jordan's second three-peat run with the Bulls to Gretzky's titles with the Oilers, many wish they could be transported back to see such feats unfold in their moment of taking place. The greatest lineup in CS:GO history may very well be the current FNATIC lineup, and it's far from done yet.

This five man FNATIC squad, completed late last June, has amassed a record which gives them a legitimate claim to the throne of the great Ninjas in Pyjamas, which seemed impossible to even approach. FNATIC has won 10 offline titles, made 13 finals and reached the top four in 17 out of 18 tournaments. Teams like LDLC (now EnVyUs) and TSM have had their moments, the latter perhaps still on-going, where they appeared to be the best team in the world, but the FNATIC train keeps rolling along and consistently gets deep in tournaments and then out-paces its rivals by being better against the field.

The personnel to dominate

The easy way to describe a historically dominant line-up like this would be to say that they're simply 'too good,' but in a sense that's accurate. FNATIC's success has come first and foremost as a result of having a line-up which is too good in terms of talent and the roles they can perform at a world class level in. In the early days of their initial run of dominance, beginning in October, they were led by the impeccable fundamentals of KRiMZ, locking down bombsites entirely and helping define a meta of CT-side dominance, which would sweep the entire top end of the CS:GO scene.

The sidekick at that time was JW, the impossible-to-predict and supremely explosive AWPer/rifler hybrid. With KRiMZ's providing a solid backbone to the team and the others being excellent team-players, JW was freed up to be the ultimate wild-card player, going where he pleased and finding the right moments from which to explode into opposing teams. While those two have had their moments and tournaments since, the new star of the team has been olofmeister, whose skill level is ridiculous. Olof is an all-around package player the likes of which has probably never been seen before in CS:GO, as he is one of the world's elite riflers and yet can also AWP as well as almost every primary sniper in the game.

Spurred on by olof's individual peak, FNATIC have been able to supplement his play with much-improved form by Flusha, the man whose dip in form late last year and early into this year partially accounted for FNATIC's brief drop-off. Flusha is not just the reliable clutch round player he built his career upon being but has recently also been topping scoreboards and even bringing some sniping into his game, successfully. FNATIC take the cliche "embarrassment of riches" and make it seem only apt to describe the luxuries they possess in terms of players. Take any other top five side in CS:GO and switch around which players will carry the team and you'll likely find yourself with a significantly worse team, while FNATIC are again winning titles and reaching finals again and again, even winning their major in the post-KRiMZ era.

Gods of Inferno

In two of FNATIC's early big international offline competitions they found key losses on inferno contributing to their elimination. That map would become both the home ground for FNATIC in the coming months and one of the most dominant maps of any team in the game's history. A team mastering a specific map is an often overlooked aspect of dominance. Ideally, it should be one that other elite teams play, ensuring it won't be banned, and then forces respect bans from lesser teams, opening the map pool even more for the dominant team. FNATIC's Inferno is the perfect example of such a scenario in CS:GO.

FNATIC have lost less than 10 times offline on inferno with this lineup, despite having played it at least 32 times. This was the map which both put all of the FNATIC players in their ideal positions, but also took advantage of the massively CT-sided meta of late 2014. Today, FNATIC still maintain their dominance in the map, despite the meta having shifted and teams racking up many more T-side rounds in a time when the Tec-9 is particularly strong.

Still going

While the great NiP lineup is long gone and they seek to establish a new championship team, FNATIC is still very much in the flow of their run of greatness. Winning their last two events and having made the final of four of their last five offline events, FNATIC are still the best team in the world and the best against the overall field of teams. Their last title came after a brutal 3:0 victory over Virtus.pro, a great CS:GO line-up in their own right, in the final of Gfinity Spring Masters II. FNATIC have more in the tank, so tune into their greatness at an upcoming CS:GO tournament.

PC Gamer

TRIGGERNOMETRY

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

When I launch CS:GO and my eyes wander over my ever-growing pile of Hours Played, a thought often eats away at me. I ve put hundreds of hours into Terrorisming and Counter-Terrorisming—thousands if you include Source and 1.6. I spend more time playing CS:GO than I do interacting with my loved ones. How the hell am I not a Counter-Strike master yet?

The truth is that getting better at Counter-Strike by only playing Counter-Strike can be a really slow, ineffective way to get better at Counter-Strike. Especially if you aren t taking the time to watch and analyze your own matches, it s possible to spend months or years making the same mistakes.

Fundamental parts of Counter-Strike are opaque. Which surfaces can and can t be penetrated, and by which weapons?  How do flashes work? Can a player that loses the first two rounds of a match afford an AWP? You have to be willing to do some homework and take in raw facts about the game, information that drives deeper realizations about how it can be played.

For me, that learning has opened up a better appreciation of CS. When I embraced it a long time ago, the game went from being about motor skills to being a chess match about money and clock management, scouting, feints, morale, reading audio cues, and play calling.

That said, there s an infinite amount of information you can lay eyes on to study. Below, I ve gathered a set of recommended videos for players who want to gain the confidence to play competitively or get over some of their existing matchmaking hurdles.

Rifle spray patterns, techniques

Rifles are the bread and butter of Counter-Strike at all levels, and understanding how they work (and their key differences) is equivalent to a basketball player working on their free-throws. CS:GO pro adreN is really direct in his advice ( Never crouch, it has no effect on your recoil ; You should never start off with a spray at this range ) and talks about how to manage shooting while moving.

Money management

The second of three videos in a series about CS:GO s economy, TheWarOwl digs into the mentality around buying and saving in CS in the early stages of a match, when adhering to certain guidelines is especially important. I like the way he compares the practice of predicting your opponent s economy to counting cards in blackjack.

Chokepoint timings

Counter-Strike is carefully tuned so that CTs and Ts have to rush out of their spawn points in order to establish map control. Playing with the timings (by, say, throwing a grenade at a certain spot to stop a rush) at these meeting points between is central to succeeding at CS.

Mouse sensitivity

The advice I give to everyone is to make your sensitivity as low as possible while still being able to turn 180 degrees consistently.

Flashbangs

For my money, flashbangs are the least-practiced, most misunderstood aspect of CS. So many players simply go through the motions of buying and carelessly throwing flashbangs without knowing whether (or how) effective they are against an opponent. My video from earlier this year touches on two basic techniques for flashbanging and breaks down the geometric rules that determine whether someone gets blinded by one.

PC Gamer

Every highly-specific hobby you can imagine has a dedicated home on YouTube. Backyard metallurgy46-minute marathon Kinder Egg openingsChildren in suits evaluating junk food. YouTuber ZaziNombies makes Lego game guns, and he's pieced together everything from the Scout's Force-A-Nature to a whole series of zappers from Destiny.

Joining that armory this week is Counter-Strike's iconic long gun: the AWP. ZaziNombies used about 1100 Lego pieces to put together a four-foot-long facsimile, including a convincing reconstruction of the AWP's optics that's mostly tires. You can tell he's done this before. The color is more mint than the AWP's classic olive drab, the plastic rounds seem smaller than the .338 Lapua that AWPs allegedly shoot, and the trivia ZaziNombies rattles off is clearly from a Wiki, but otherwise the resemblance is striking.

PC Gamer
TRIGGERNOMETRY

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

The Counter-Strike community, and modders in general, have a long history of remaking film and TV settings as maps. Years ago I gunned through everything from the Batcave to the island from Lost in Counter-Strike: Source and CS 1.6. That tradition continues in de_peachtrees by Nipper, a recreation of the massive apartment tower that Karl Urban fights his way up over the course of Dredd (which, its borrowing of The Raid's concept notwithstanding, is one of my favorite action movies of the past few years).

How well does this homage hold up as a casual or competitive CS map, though? I take a look at de_peachtrees along with de_resort and de_sub in the video above.

PC Gamer

For the past few Junes, right before one of the busiest gaming weeks of the year, we ve taken a moment to imagine the E3 press conference that PC Gamers deserve. It s become one of our tiny traditions (along with Chris questionable behavior in survival games). Mostly it s an excuse for us to publish something entirely detached from reality before we fly to Los Angeles and publish every scrap of gaming news and opinion that our bodies will allow. It s therapeutic to daydream about Gabe Newell materializing atop a unicorn through a fog of theater-grade dry ice to announce Half-Life 3.

We get valuable stories, videos, and interviews out of E3—you can imagine how handy it is to have almost every game-maker gathered under one roof for a few days. But it s no secret that the PC doesn t have a formal, organized presence during E3. Generally speaking it s the time of year when Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo jostle for position about who can create the most buzz. Despite being a mostly exciting few days of announcements, E3 has never given the biggest gaming platform in the world an equal place at the table.

That s our collective fault, not E3 s. One of our hobby s greatest strengths is the fact that there isn t a single owner. The PC has no marketing arm, no legal department, no CEO to dictate what should be announced or advertised. And thank Zeus for that. The fundamentally open nature of our hobby is what allows for GOG, Origin, Steam, and others to compete for our benefit, for the variety of technologies and experiences we have access to—everything from netbook gaming to 8K flight simulation to VR.

Everyone involved in PC gaming has shared ownership over its identity. One of the few downsides of that, though, is that there isn t really a single time and place for PC gaming to get together and hang out. We love BlizzCon, QuakeCon, DreamHack, Extra Life, The International, and the ever-increasing number of PAXes. But there s something special about the pageantry of E3 week, its over-the-top showmanship, its surprises, its proximity to Hollywood. And each June, even as we ve jokingly painted a picture of PC game developers locking arms in a musical number, we ve wanted something wholly by, for, and about PC gaming.

Well, hell, let s do it.

For the past few months we ve been organizing the first ever live event for PC gaming during E3, The PC Gaming Show. Tune into our Twitch channel on Tuesday, June 16 on 5 PM and you ll see a spectrum of PC gaming represented on stage: a showcase of conversations, announcements, hardware, trailers, and other stuff that makes PC gaming great. We ve been talking to everyone we know, big and small—if there s a game or developer you want to see—tell us! So far, Blizzard, AMD, Bohemia Interactive, Boss Key Productions, Paradox, Dean Hall, Tripwire, and more have signed up to be a part of this inaugural PC gaming potluck (Paradox has promised to bring nachos), and we ll be announcing more participants as we lead up to June 16. And hey, the endlessly friendly Day[9] is hosting. We love that guy.

We re sincerely, stupidly excited about this. The PC gaming renaissance we re all living in deserves a moment of recognition during the biggest gaming expo of the year—it s about time! Listen in on Twitter and on our Facebook page as we share more details leading up to June.

PC Gamer

ESL and ESEA have teamed up to form the ESL ESEA Pro League, the biggest Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament in the history of the game. The league will consist of two divisions, one in North America and one in Europe, with 12 invited teams per division battling for their share of a $1 million prize pool.

ESL started out with Counter-Strike more than fifteen years ago," ESL Managing Director Ralf Reichert said. "Now, many years later, we are extremely excited to be in a position where we can take the industry to the next level with the first regular US$500,000 Counter-Strike league together with ESEA."

Pro league seasons will be scheduled around Valve-supported majors, with weekly online matches that "aim to consolidate the Counter-Strike market by providing consistent high quality content to the global esports audience." Full travel support will also be extended to teams taking part in the four-day offline finals that will be held in Burbank, California, and Cologne, Germany

The North American lineup has not yet been announced, but the European division will consist of the following teams:

Team Dignitas

Team EnVyUs

FlipSid3 Tactics

fnatic

HellRaisers

mousesports

Natus Vincere

Ninjas In Pyjamas

PENTA Sports

Team SoloMid

Titan

Virtus.Pro

It's not known how this jibes with reports from earlier this month that the ESL was negotiating with Twitch to create a new CS:GO league independent of Valve. No mention of Twitch was made in the announcement, and while it's a reasonable bet that this is somehow related to those talks—especially given the intent to "schedule around" Valve-sponsored events—it may also be a sort of "Plan B" instead. Whatever the case, Ulrich Schulze, ESL's managing director of pro gaming, made it clear that the new league is not exclusive.

"There is no exclusivity attached to ESL ESEA Pro League," he wrote on Twitter. "Teams can play whatever tournaments they want on the side."

ESL ESEA Pro League action will begin on May 4. Details are up at pro.eslgaming.com.

PC Gamer

Shawn FMPONE Snelling is a modder and mapmaker for CS:GO. His work on CS:GO includes de_cache, de_crown, and the recent de_season remake. Shawn s currently working on de_santorini.

First things first: for me, this isn t about taking sides . I like Valve. And as for the community, well, I m part of that.

I m a modder, and I deserve compensation. Or, to be exact, I deserve the option to ask for compensation if I feel that s reasonable.

Let s talk about what that looks like for a second. Is it 25% of a sale on a Steam item? Should Valve and Bethesda get 30% and 45% respectively of any item I sell? Actually, I m not sure. If I m selling one trillion units, I m not minding that cut really. If I m selling six units and I m eating ramen noodles under a bridge somewhere in Detroit, I m minding that cut a lot.

Steam is a huge platform, and when Valve promotes your stuff as a modder, you re in the territory of making huge money. Huge money, for doing what you love. You can t really get that elsewhere, and that s a credit to Valve and how great Steam generally is and has been. So that cut, I m not sure I mind it as much as you might think. But let s go ahead and agree Valve needed to put more thought into their plan, or at least into explaining and executing their plan. There are real considerations here that just don t feel like they were addressed at all (did you know that some Skyrim mods can completely break your game?)

Here s my real question: just how effective is this system going to be at rewarding modders?

Well, if everyone is pissed off at Valve and refusing to purchase stuff, not very; in that situation, modders won t get paid.

The de_season remake, one of FMPONE's recent projects.

So let s talk a little bit about this, shall we? Let s agree that modders deserve to get paid. That s right, I said it. Those people who put their time and effort into something that provides you with countless hours of entertainment. Let s start the discussion right there—those people deserve to get paid. But only if they dig the idea.

This is the trajectory of most mods historically: a small team of people works very hard to make something they feel is special and unique, and very often it is. Many of them have no interest in professional game development. Many do, and their mods serve as their resume when they look for a job in the industry. These hardworking individuals have an intense and productive relationship with the community, only to be shuffled off and placed into cubicles where their artistic voice is diluted and stifled churning out sequels for giant publishers. Instead of earning money doing what they love, they re earning money so that they can someday do what they love once again. Compensating modders is one potential answer to this thoroughly broken dynamic producing lousy games for all of us.

People immediately identified serious and troubling issues with Skryim s paid-modding plan.

Speaking personally, the Steam Workshop has gotten to a point where it s netting me a real salary and I feel rewarded and compensated for my work. I love what I do, and Valve has created a system which enables me to do it full-time, and to learn and improve every single day. Explain to me again why I secretly want to go develop the gaming equivalent of a TPS report?

However, even if the industry was a wonderful utopia, I actually kind of like working from home and not having a boss. Is that wrong? Am I bad person? Nah. I ve got a pretty sweet gig. And that s thanks to Valve and Gabe.

That s right, I said it! COME AT ME, INTERNET, LET S RUMBL—no I already regret saying that please do not come at nor rumble me.

To me, Gabe is still the same good guy he always was. But we need to realize a few things about Valve.

First and definitely foremost, they suck at communication. There are legitimate reasons for this that I could get into, but I won t bother. We know they suck at communicating. And that recently hurt modders. Because Valve communicated their plan ineffectively, it turned people off completely, which meant hey, modders might not get paid at all! As a modder, that makes me sad. Actually, it makes me worry about eating. Which is more scary than it is sad.

Secondly, and let s be honest, Valve s plan kinda sucked. If you re going to announce a bold new initiative, you should probably avoid mentioning that part where you re not going to pay people a majority of what their sale earns. Even if a handful of Skyrim modders could quite plausibly make hundreds of thousands of dollars in the near future, the revenue splits we ve all seen just don t look great. And that big uproar Valve faced is proof that Bad Marketing leads to Bad Stuff.

I admit, the community response was surprising and worrying.  Seeing Gabe downvoted on Reddit is, uh… spooky! But I m also deeply impressed with how legitimate the community s gripes have been. I hope Valve reads some of the discussions on Reddit, because they re precisely not whiny entitled gamers crying about having to pay for stuff. People immediately identified serious and troubling issues with Skryim s paid-modding plan.

I do think there are solutions to the current situation. If people are opening their wallet, they want to get something great as a result. The idea that anyone, regardless of curation or objective criteria, can simply charge $100 for an Extra Apple, isn t alright. There should be some level of subjective, human-level curation. I believe that 3rd party DLC works well. You have to put in time and effort as a developer, but customers like knowing that they re getting quality content. After all, customer happiness should be what matters, even if Valve hates the idea of bottlenecks.

The next glaring issue is paid mods ceasing to function or breaking your game. Obviously, that is unacceptable, and a 24-hour refund policy is inadequate.

Perhaps most importantly, gamers do not want to pay for bugfixes on a product they ve already purchased. The workshop should have a clear promise to customers (a rule, if you will): bugfixes and bugfixing mods will be FREE for customers, even if that means bugfixing contributors have to settle for donations. Incentivizing people to fix bugs in AAA games is wrong -- that s the developer s job. The community isn t here to clean up after major corporations, and rules are necessary when the alternative is exploitation and unethical business practices.

Talented hobbyists are beginning to become talented pros. As a gamer, I want that.

I believe these are important steps forward. Talented hobbyists are beginning to become talented pros, people more capable of delivering high-quality mods to you. As a gamer, I want that. I believe that modders could soon have the opportunity to pursue their own path and explore interesting ideas with totally unprecedented creative and financial freedom—I don t believe that s bad for modding culture . Quite the opposite.

Valve, please put together a plan that sucks less; or at least, seems to suck less. But, most importantly, please continue to support modders. Like you ve done. Like no one else really does. As a modder, I appreciate it more than I could possibly tell you in this short article.

Over the past three years, you guys have literally changed my life for the better, and an internet mob will not deter me from saying it.

Read more of Shawn's thoughts on the issue of paid modding and Valve's announcement on this Reddit discussion.

PC Gamer

The ESL is negotiating a deal with Twitch, Vulcun, and top Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams to establish a new CS:GO league independent of Valve. What's particularly interesting (and potentially alarming) about the plan is that according to the Daily Dot, the new league would be exclusive, meaning that teams playing under its auspices would not be allowed to play anywhere else. The ESL, however, says it's not seeking to prevent teams attending tournaments put on by other organizations.

The plan is being backed by Vulcun, which earlier this week announced that it had raised $12 million in new financing through investors including Sequoia Capital, Universal Music Group, Mark Pincus of Zynga, and other "angel investors." Sources say the total value of the package offered by ESL and Vulcun runs around $18 million, a "hefty chunk of which" will be paid to teams in exchange for the exclusivity agreement. The deal will also reportedly see exclusive online broadcasting rights granted to Twitch.

The exclusivity angle was challenged by Managing Director of Pro Gaming Ulrich Schuzle, however, who tweeted a link to an ESL post on Reddit shortly after reports of the negotiations came out. "There is only one thing to say about this: ESL is not interested in locking out any tournament organizers from running CS:GO events, nor teams from attending them," it states.

Either way, as the Daily Dot points out, it seems clear that the ESL would like to distance itself from Valve. The CS:GO tournament at ESL One Cologne announced earlier this year is billed as the largest in the world, with a $250,000 prize pool, but unlike previous tournaments that were "community funded" in conjunction with Valve, this year's event is being covered entirely by the ESL. The change struck me as odd at the time—why say "no" if somebody else wants to foot the bill?—but now it's making a little more sense.

An awful lot of questions remain unanswered, including how the new league would handle Valve-imposed bans on players involved in the recent match-fixing scandal. It's not yet a done deal, and the report says other CS:GO organizations are trying to reach Valve, which is apparently in the midst of its annual employee holiday in Hawaii, in hopes that it will intervene. If they can't, or if Valve decides to stay hands-off, it will mean some very big changes to the pro CS:GO scene.

PC Gamer
GeT_RiGhT, Ninjas In Pyjamas' consummate lurker. Photo via HLTV.org.
TRIGGERNOMETRY

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

Veteran Counter-Striker GeT_RiGhT did an AMA on the Global Offensive subreddit today, giving his take on the state of CS:GO and how his team, NiP, prepares for tournaments. Below are Mr. RiGhT's most interesting responses.

He doesn't mind the AWP nerf

Question: "What do you think about the new AWP update?"

"I'm fine with it, nothing that affects me in the whole to be honest - Even tho it sucks abit with the autosniper ;)"

Question: "Do you think Valve i heading towards the right direction with the last update and former updates?"

"Yes."

Question: "When you can change one thing (only one) in CS:GO what would it be?"

"I have no idea, I like how it is now.. Pistols could be nerfed tho?"

Question: "What do you think is the most blatant problem currently in CS:GO?"

"I don't know to be honest, there has been alot of different updates since the beg nning of GO - Some has been good, some bad - But in the whole general point of view, I think the most updates are fine. Like, I do like the new update even tho alot of people complains, but sometimes u have to just "adapt" on how the things are and be 'fine' with it if you ask me.

I'd love to get back when you could actually run'n'spray update tho.. ;)"

Cobblestone is his favorite map

Question: "What do you think about the current status of the competitive map pool? What is your favourite map, and your least favourite, and why?"

"I'm actually 'kinda' okay how it is now, even tho they have removed (train - best map before) and now nuke (my other favorite map) :((( But I'm really looking forward to see how the new train will be played, going to be cool.

My favorite map before was cbble/cpl_fire and nowadays cobblestone! And the least one, Not sure to be honest. I don't like dust2 time to time!"

NiP's newest player brings "calmness" to the team

Question: "What does Allu bring to NiP that allowed you to finally take down Fnatic?"

"We actually won over fnatic before we played with allu, so that wasn't the problem if you ask me. What allu brings is alot of laughter, more calmness (can you write that?) ideas that you thought of but thought it was not fit to us as a group and more understanding on how he/we want to play the game.. Basically, a great team player! There is more that could be added, but there is so many more questions that I need to answer so I hope this is fine for now! :)"

...and playing calmly matters

Question: "Did you have to work on keeping your cool?"

"We have forced ourself to become more relax and get a better understanding that if we want to become better as a team and feel more calm. We have to be calm."

His match prep is simple

Question: "Do you have any routines before you play a big match?"

"Take it easy, listen to music - Go volume 0 on the knife round - get a good grip/understanding on how You want to play the game. Nothing more."

Question: "What do you do in preparation for a major tournament?"

"Play play play play play play play play demos play play play play play play demos play play play play play play etc ;D"

He plays MOBAs

Question: "Do you actively play any other games than CS?"

"Alot of League of Legends at the moment.. But I'd love to play some Doto [sic] time to time and other mobile games on my phone (at the moment I'm playing Geometry Dash)"

...

Search news
Archive
2015
May   Apr   Mar   Feb   Jan  
Archives By Year
2015   2014   2013   2012   2011  
2010   2009   2008   2007   2006  
2005   2004   2003   2002