Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (or CS:GO) is a game that has truly stood the test of time and is close to the heart of many. It started as just Counter-Strike as a custom version of the game Half-Life way back in 1999. Over the many years the game was changed and released entirely new versions until it settled on CS:GO which has remained the most stable and popular version. Throughout its life esports was at the core of the game featuring in not just widely watched games but also as a fan favourite at the grass roots level featuring in many LAN events which had hundreds of people gather in a single building to play. The game has remained as the go to choice when you’re talking about mastery of the first person shooter (FPS) genre.
CS:GO is a round based tactical FPS played as a team of 5. There are two sides that play the role of attacker and defender (who swap sides at the halfway point) with the attackers aiming to deploy an objective and defend it while the defenders try to stop them. Players can earn cash each round which allows them to obtain better weapons which adds another element of strategy. Teamwork is also essential especially at the highest level as small mistakes can take you out of the round entirely so communication and coordination are key. There is a small pool of maps which changes gameplay up each match though each one plays out with the same goals. The game is simple to understand so mastery of these aspects is the aim. With the game’s formula staying the same over the course of its life there are a vast number of extremely skilled and passionate players around the world.
CS:GO in Esports
CS:GO (and it’s predecessors) have been shaped around its esports nature. It blends the old school feel to the modern era where stadiums are filled. While older versions certainly had many tournaments and leagues of their own, CS:GO somehow took those numbers to the moon. After the game was released on Steam in 2012 each region began creating their own leagues from the casual level right to the top. Professional teams aimed their sights on the international events called Majors they had to qualify to even participate in to represent their region. Unlike many other esports, CS:GO prefers to hold multiple large international events rather than a single World Championship.
As an old school favourite that drove the grass roots of esports, CS:GO has a vast number of competitive leagues around each region. While the prize pools can be great here with most in the thousands and some reaching 5 figures, they are mostly pathways to the Major events that have grown from a humble $250,000USD for their prize pools to a massive $2,000,000. The Major events are a huge fan favourite that gets bigger every event with the most popular match being the PGL grand final in 2021 with peak viewers hitting 2,748,850 at one time.
In New Zealand CS:GO is a favourite of both old players and younger players who have only known the current version. It’s one of the more popular games at the tertiary esports level and just like around the world we have multiple leagues to compete in against (and sometimes with!) our aussies friends. We even have many international stars such as Gratisfaction who has played on several large international teams.
Information for Parents
CS:GO is mostly played in either casual or competitive mode with the main difference being the length of the rounds and how many rounds there are. With the winners needing to reach a certain number of round wins each match can vary quite a bit. A quick one sided casual game could be over in 10 minutes or a very close competitive game could take close to an hour especially if overtime is involved which will continue until a winner is decided. CS:GO will train many practical skills in particular hand eye-coordination, reaction speed, communication and planning.
The game becomes a different beast entirely when taken to the esports level. While casual play has all the benefits from above, when competing the teamwork elements are absolutely crucial as strategy becomes more important than ever. Passionate fans can also get involved in more ways than just playing such as coaching and managing a team but also extends well beyond to anything from commentating the game, refereeing a match or even being the “spectator” by controlling the in-game camera for the viewers.
CS:GO is an R16 game in New Zealand mostly due to the existence of firearms and a few real world elements. It features matchmaking where the game finds both opponents and any extra teammates you need for your match. This allows players to queue as a team of up to 5 together or play solo with 4 random players. As a fast paced yet tactical FPS CS:GO does rely on quick communication so while a player can get by with in-game chat or just listening, at the competitive levels voice communications become important. Though the game has built in voice features most players will opt to use a program called Discord.