Counter-Strike is a complex game that requires skill, tactics, teamwork, positioning, timing, experience and a multitude of other factors to succeed at the pro level. The intricacies only deepen the more you delve into it. But no matter the complexity, all roads — all models of being good — lead back to this one maxim: Hit your shots.
The greatest tactics, positioning, reads and timings don’t matter if the player cannot hit the shot. Once I understood this maxim and unpacked it for all of its significance and how it affects other dynamics of gameplay, I came to understand the importance of consistency.
To understand what I mean by consistency, we have to first understand what makes CS:GO different from the other esports. CS:GO is the most iterative and anti-snowball game on the market right now. The economy has a built-in mechanic that allows the losing team to eventually play on even terms with the winning team. No matter how many consecutive rounds a team loses, it can (if it wishes) save enough money to get a full buy going, which can flip the outcome of the map. This doesn’t happen in other popular games. League of Legends has always had problems with snowballing, which is why world famous coaches like Jeong “NoFe” No-chul and Kim “kkOma” Jung-gyun focus on the importance of the early game. Dota 2 has a comeback mechanic built in, but that doesn’t create a clear reset like it does in CS:GO. In Starcraft 2, having the superior build order usually ends in instant victory, and few players in history have shown the ability to consistently make comebacks from such deficits.
Additionally, gameplay is sequestered by the round system. Every map is split into two halves, each half into 15 rounds. Teams play anywhere between 16-30 rounds per game with five generally accepted types of rounds: pistol, anti-eco, eco, rifle and force buys. This is where consistency comes in.
When modeling CS:GO, I’ve come to use the electron cloud as a metaphor for consistent skill. The model is used in quantum physics to describe where an electron is at any given time relative to the nucleus of an atom. We cannot know the precise location of an electron at any point in time, but we can know where it will likely be at said time; we can also reasonably guess where it won’t be. Skill in CS:GO works on a similar plane. We can’t know the exact form of a single player on any given day, but after watching multiple tournaments, we can start to guess the likely probabilities of when a player will show up and in what situations they will likely hit their shots.
If you look at it that way, then you understand why people believe so strongly in momentum and confidence in this scene (even relative to other games). The accuracy and precision involved in maintaining great aim round after round is at the very core of this game. Without those two aspects, players psychologically struggle to get rolling.
Following that order of logic, consistency may be the ultimate virtue of CS:GO players. Consistent players don’t rely on things like momentum or confidence because they show up all day every day. Stars like Nicolai “dev1ce” Reedtz and Marcelo “coldzera” David are regarded so highly in the scene because of their perpetually good form. They almost never give a bad performance, and fans almost always know what kind of shots they can hit. Dev1ce is the mobile AWPer who dominates by finding critical kills early in the round and falling back to leave his team in a power play position. Coldzera is the most efficient mechanical monster in the game. He always finds — or creates — the highest percentage opportunities to win a given game. He is nearly flawless when it comes to positioning and decision making, and he’s the engine of SK Gaming.
In a game where the ultimate truth is to “hit your shots,” consistency is king.
Cover photo by Jesse Arroyo/FaceIt