CS:GO Being An In Game Leader (IGL) Guide

CS:GO Being An In Game Leader (IGL) Guide by gatrcs

While some of this may be known to you, potentially everything. My ultimate goal is to provide content to players who are interested in taking up the role. A lot of this will be information I wish I was handed when I got into calling myself. One of my other goals is to have an open dialogue with others in this community as we all progress together. I don’t believe it’s a dog eat dog world where we have to only progress by our self. I want to provide the failures that I’ve had and what I’ve done to progress from those while I offer my techniques that I’ve used for success.

Understand the role:

  • While this seems basic, I would like to expand on it as much as I can. While it is the duty of the In game leader IGL to call the the shots or plays in the round, it is also the leader of the team. While it is every ones duties to put them self in the best position to win the round, it is the job of the IGL to recognize and utilize each individual so that they are in the best position for their own respective role. It’s better to have someone who feels comfortable playing aggressive in an aggressive position instead of a passive player who prefers playing off a teammate or supporting the teammate by nade usage.
  • Something that seems to be forgotten at the end of the day is that the IGL has to keep himself in check while keeping his teammates in check. If the IGL starts to rage or become heated, he will not be calling at his fullest potential. It may cause other players to become upset or heated over little plays, miscues or potential errors of the team. While not 100% true, it is best for the IGL to keep a level head and focus on the game as a 30 round procedure rather than one round or a series of plays within a round that may or may not affect the end result unless the players let it affect the outcome.

I want to become an IGL, how do I start?

Let’s talk about how I would get into the IGL role if I were to restart from scratch.

T Side:

I would start off by learning the basics to every map in the current competitive pool. Rather than learning a vast arsenal on each map for T side, I would focus on the bread and butter executes. For example, Standard CT, Jungle and Stairs smoke execute on Mirage, Outside smoke execute on Nuke, Catwalk, Backsite and Cross/Truck smoke execute on Cache, etc. If you want to challenge yourself, watch a demo and learn how and when certain professional IGL’s call these executes. Do they run these executes when nothing else works or when/if the IGL has a read for a setup that the CT side may be running? If you can get a basic understand when the top IGL’s calls basic executes, you can implement this into every level of CS you play against. Something that I’ll touch on now and focus on later on in this guide is learning a solid default. What your default is the standard strategy that involves taking map control, focusing on taking positional control that allows you to put your awp and lurk in good positions for both to be effective while being in positions to be find opening frags and looking for gaps and weaknesses in the defense. Something you need to be aware of is how rotates work and the likely positions that CT’s will be occupied throughout the round. If you are calling just based off of gut feeling rather than off the information you gathered by your team, you’re more likely to run into stacks or AWP’s trained on your position. This can easily be abused by a more experienced IGL who realizes that your calls are based with no information. If you realize this, something that I’ve done is focus more on mid round pushes. By positioning a player more aggresive on CT side, you can move your setup to be focused on the other site while still having an aggresive player who can either buy you time to rotate or shoot enemies in the side/head when they execute.

CT Side:

Learn the standard early round setups that allows for your team to be in the best position to stop early round aggresion and rushes. I’ll use mirage for this entire example for CT side. It’s second round after you won pistol round, if you put one player on B with 3 on A. You’re very vulnerable to fast B site hits. The B site player can be ran over and may not have support by rotates before th T side is in site and setting up post plant situations. After learning the very basic early round setups that puts your team in the best position to hold off early round plays, start to focus on mid round plays. While this is something that takes a lot of time to learn and something that I’m still progressing at. I still feel that I need to talk about this. This is where you focus on positioning for executes, watching for the lurk, awp and entry fragger to find opening into sites. This is where the IGL needs to figure out the vulnerable positions in your teams defense. What I personally do here is take the information I know, figure out what I would do if I had the control that the T side has and figure out what I need to call and do for my team to be in the best position to win the round. If I can see that middle is controlled by the T side, All split executes are more than an option to the T side while they can post their lurk up and use him as either bait or use him as an insurance policy when they hit the site. By either gathering information by pushing A ramp, A palace or B apps, you can use this information to eliminate potential plays that the T side can do while moving players around to stop the inevitable execute or push. Late round is basic. It plays off of Mid round and focuses on teamwork, nade usage and positional control. The inevitable is about to happen and you need to be in position to handle it. This is where teamwork and nade usage plays a large role rather than anything. If two site players do not know where one another is when the hit comes in, you can allow for the T side to get opening by playing 1vX situations where it’s better to play crossfire angles and play off one another than to position yourself to fight the world. As an IGL, if you are able to see that the two site players are out of position to help one another, this is where you come in and fix that. While this is something that is more likely seen in Demos afterhand, it can be a valuable asset to be able to see mispositions by your teammates in game.

Methods of improving as an IGL:

  • Scriming While this seems rather basic, I want to explain how I use my time in a scrim to the fullest I know of. Something that should be obvious is that the scrim shouldn’t be played to only win. If your team is struggling with a certain execute(s), it’s best to spend time focusing on these executes no matter the result of the actual. Same goes for CT side and setups that you want to focus on perfecting. If you spend the entire time just counter strating or focusing on plays that you will most likely not run in actual matches, you’re wasting potential time for working on your teams need. Have a game plan going into the scrim, focus on the game plan then realize where you went wrong and what you did right so you can edit that game plan going into the next scrim.
  • Demos This is something that is obvious to everyone. If you want to improve as an IGL, you need to watch your demos. Well, let’s talk about what to look for when you’re watching your demo from the point of the IGL. Something I will say right away, do not just focus on the rounds you’ve lost. Look at the rounds you won and figure out if the that was the best tactical from your point of view.

There is not only one correct way of playing a round. Do not think there is only one way of playing a situation. This is massively exploitable. If any team realizes this, they can and will use this to their advantage. Be flexible.

When watching the demo, realize the position that you are putting your team in and realize how the opposing team responds. I would pause at this moment and think of the best options for your team. Afterwards, unpause and see if you made any of the options you thought of. Use this so when you’re in this position again, use one of your options and see how they work.

Look for tendencies in your own calling. See the ways that you can abuse your own calling. If you can realize that you always do X, learn how to implement option Y and if neither works, have plan Z just in case. Running the same default or defaulting to the same execute in a certain situation can become predictable to the other teams IGL as you progress through the levels.

Always and I mean always be looking to improve your executes and setups. Never settle with what you have. If you come complacent in improving on certain executes and not looking to improve, teams can abuse the fact you always execute at this certain time, send X amount of players through here, have your awp watch this, plant the bomb here and set up post plant in the same positions over and over.

If you’re getting your shit stomped in, which everyone does at some point. Use those demos to see your absolute most vulnerable positions or the reasons why your executes or setups didn’t workout. Don’t settle for “We missed our shots” or “They played stupid/weird”. There is a larger picture you’re missing. Are you missing cohesion between teammates on site? Are you leaving gaps in your executes that opposing players can use to stop or weak an execute before or during an execute? Are your players not positioned to be trading frags? There is a lot more to be seen than you would think.

If you’re interested in looking into some Professional IGL’s, I would highly recommend watching Slemmy from Complexity, Daps from NRG, Stanislaw from Team Liquid and Seangares from Misfits for North American IGL’s. Gob B from B1G, MSL from North, Snappi from Heroic, Zeus from Gambit and someone who deserves a shit ton more credit for what he’s done to transform TSM/Astralis from a contender for the guys to beat in Astralis, Gla1ve.

The importance of the T side default:

  • This is something that is overlooked. Every team has a default for every map. The difference between the lower level teams of Open and IM and the higher level teams from Premier, Pro and World class is monumental. Having a rock solid default can have a lot larger impact on the game than people think.
  • Let’s start off slow and give a definition:
  • Default: Standard strategic play designed to take map control that puts your team in the best position to look for openings while giving insight into potential setups that the CT’s could be currently playing. The default should be connected to the vast majority of the T side playbook.

Let’s now breakdown how the default should look like in game. While every map is different, the core goal of the default is usually the same. Some teams start off by holding for early round aggresion before moving into the map control aspect of the default. Some more aggresive teams go straight into taking map control. I’ll use mirage for this example. A very standard default usually focuses middle control. A top middle smoke can be thrown from T spawn in which the players taking middle control can through a window and top connector smoke which blocks off vision into middle from the CT’s. From here, the T’s can move up and take connector, cat and ladder room control. At this point, it’s common for frags to be exchanged or map control taken by the CT’s in return. You can shift into multiple plays or executes. You can leave how many ever players around middle and shift players to either A or B and setup split hits on both sites. You can leave your lurk connector, ladder or window to either pinch or cut off rotates while the majority works into one site. You can completely fall off middle, have the CT’s constantly worried about middle and go into a full blown A or B executes. Something that makes the difference between lower level teams and higher level teams is the efficiency of how the default is handled. Better teams will handle the default is a fashion that limits the risks, lower percentage of deaths taken and increases the trade frag ability. If you are a team that is struggling with getting a default down for any map, look into the positions that your players are putting themself into. See if there is a way for that player to have a lower risk percentage while maximizing the results while still being able to trade a frag. Let’s wrap up the default. It can be used in a million different ways. You can change the fast paced actions and move into a slower paced action by slowing down the default. You can do the opposite if you’ve been playing slow. If nothing else is working, you can go back to the default and looking for openings and gap in the defense. The default is the most important part of the T side playbook. You can’t have a strong T side if you have a vulnerable or weak default.

Early – Mid – Late round plays on both sides.

Understanding how to play early, middle and late round is crucial. Knowing when to make certain plays and or knowing what to expect during the round is very vital. My goal is to breakdown each part of the round to help give you a better understanding of how it works. Something that is important in a team environment is to have an understanding as a team as to how you will and what you will call during each part of the round. If your team knows that you like to do certain executes or focus on certain plays during whatever part of that round, it can be a smoother transition into said play, execute or strategy than to spend time putting players into the position or by catching your own team off guard. While I advise you do not do everything at the same time or make the same plays around the same time since it can become predictable or easily readable to IGL’s with a greater understanding, it can be a foundation for any IGL looking to progress with his teammates and create some form of chemistry between the IGL and the rest.

Early round:

T side:

When calling early round for T side, it’s rather basic. You can fall into one of your defaults, you can focus on contact plays, fast executes or simplying using spawns and looking for very early picks. It plays really simply into mid round as long as every point is covered. If you’re allowing early aggression or getting picked early in the round, you have to shift your initial plan into something else. If you can be able to run an effective default or get early round picks, you can smoothly move into middle round. If the default isn’t working, you can fall into fast executes. For example, on train you can do outer smokes or an inner execute rather early round rather than spreading out and running a default based around looking for vulnerable positions or picks.

CT side:

Extremely basic. You can run your initial early round setup to stop early aggression, shut down any fast executes/rushes, be able to smoothly transition into middle round setups or plays. Something that can also be done is putting certain players into position to look for the opening frag and to be able to fall into 5v4 setups and force the opposing side to play down a man before any map control is taken.

Middle round and Late round: (I didn’t expect to write both combined but after writing it, it makes more sense to combine both to give a better understanding.)

T side: Multiple parts to middle round on T side. All consists of actions and counter actions. Let’s address the fact that most contact plays or get a pick and execute style plays are already into the post plant situation rather than middle round decision making part. If you fall into mid round play from usually a default of some sort as there is plenty of defaults you can run to be effective on a lot of maps. You need have a good understanding of the grenades your teammates have, the executes/plays available from that utility, understanding of the positional control you have and the positions vulnerable and ultimating some sort of end goal plan.

CT side: A lot of CT side mid round calling is based off of knowlegde of map control, vulnerable positions, and being able to react accordingly. While it takes time to learn how to react, have a basic understanding put you in the best position to succeed. Having set setups for situations can help you be effective. As I’ve said before, always be willing to improve on CT setups for all scenarios. If you like to position player(s) in certain situations (5v4, 3v4, 2v3 etc) or like to take control of certain positions of maps during a round, always be willing to learn more and always improve on those setups and decisions. By consistently doing the same, you leave you and your team vulnerable to teams counter strating very easily. Mid round play takes a lot of time to learn and ultimately master, watching demos is very vital for any team who struggles mid round as CT. My example below can show multiple options for multiple situations and gives you an insight into how I play. Late round is focused a lot of teamwork, nades usage and having your teammates in correct positions to react to all. If you can not realize that a certain player is out of position late in round, you can go a long time making a single mistake that can take 30 minutes to realize watching a single demo. Understanding that being able to improve as an IGL improves the entire team, not just yourself.

For this example, 5v5, Full M4/AK, 1AWP/team and full utility.

I’ll use cache for my middle round example to give a better understand and I’ll break it into detail to create a picture. The most common style default on Cache is to take middle control, for this example, let’s say that the CTs gave up middle. Effectively leaving this in a 5v5. Your action was taking middle control. In order to be in a good position to win the round, the CTs have to counter this. By either pushing Door, A Main, or B main they can gather information and effectively put themselves in a position to counter an action done by the T’s. For this example, I’ll say that the CTs took A main control while the Door/A main player put some contest. The CTs had a counteraction and now you’re in a position where you can do multiple actions. You can leave a player(s) middle and regroup to retake A main control with the intention of doing some sort of A play, you can quickly split B or you can use your B main or middle player look for a 1v1 battle. Let’s say that you decided upon regrouping to retake A main control while leaving a player middle and your lurk towards B main. By leaving a player middle with utility, you open up your playbook vastly. This player has multiple options. He can go quiet and wait for the CTs to go searching for information, he can use his utility alongside the B main player to create the imagine of a B split or he can become a player looking for an opening into either site while the group is regrouping to take A main control. You can use your B main player just like the middle player in this example but instead towards B. He can use his utility to create the imagine of a B split, hold off any information pushes/overextending by the CTs or simply look for an opening. To continue this example, you called for both the B main and middle player to stay quiet. You grouped to retake a main and traded evenly 1-1. It’s now a 4-4 with bomb being spotted A main. You have to make a split second call here. To be able to effectively make this call, take into consideration what the CTs is most likely setup in, the information gathered by the middle and B main player while looking at your options presented. You actually have more options available than you would think. You have control of A main, B main, and middle. You can leave a player A main and have the middle player made the imagine that this is now an A split while in reality, only the middle or A main player is committing to set the fake while the B main lurker begins to look for an opening while your team rotates to commit to the B hit. You can also pull your B main player back towards middle or a main and 2 highway 2 A main split or middle lurk 3 main split. While risky, you can go straight into the A hit and have the B main lurker commit to the full blown lurk flank while having the highway player get in position to either get an entry or pinch off rotates.

Now to including this example as a CT, let’s take some steps back to when you made the decision to have your AWP fall off middle and give it up. You decided upon a standard 2 A, 1 Mid, 2 B setup right off the start. Now you make the decision for the A players to group and take A main control. You’re contested by a single player but no frags are exchanged. You can safely make the assumption that they took middle control with 3 players while leaving a player towards A to see if any action was taken by CTs towards A while they most likely did the same towards B. You have a player post up towards A main and your AWP decides to cover highway from Quad site A. The other rifle on A should be positioned towards B as it’s likely the play ends up towards B with the agro control you have of A. Nothing happens and no information is gathered until the agro A main player is contested by 3 players in which he is traded 1-1. At this point, you have 2 towards B, a player playing rotator to both sites and an AWP posted towards quad. The player positioned now as the rotator now needs to understand that his job is stop any highway aggression in order to stop the AWP quad being pinched and the site becoming completely taken over. If he has a molly or smoke, they can be used to block off and buy time for the B players. Now let’s shift to the B main players. They have two options and either has to be done very quickly. The best option is look for information is to clear out B main and have a player posted in an aggresive position that puts him in a position where even if he is contested, he can buy a few seconds to have rotates come in. Rather than playing site, if the single dedicated B player dies on site, it can be immediately taken over while if he pushed B main and got very aggresive control, he gets information and gives 3-5 seconds to rotate in an attempt to salvage the round from a CT perspective. He can only play towards checkers or hide backchckers and sell the imagine that in case is does in fact happen to be a B play, he can buy time, give information and be in a position to get multiple frags and potentially shut down the round. With all that said, how does this have to do with an IGL? That’s basic. He needs to be able to have his team in position to cover or react to all. He needs to able to understand what is vulnerable and be able to have the playbook available to counter or react to what happens on both sides. If he doesn’t understand how rotates work or understand what is vulnerable, he can not put his team in the best position. While no one is perfect, being able to understand according is a huge positive to an IGL. If the IGL is unable to adjust, the team will have to rely on individual plays rather playing team plays. Adjusting is the key word and something that is very vital to being a successful IGL at any level. Understanding how to adjust, the options available to adjust is what makes the best IGLs stick out from one another.

This has been my first part of the my IGL guide. I want to remind you that this is help players who are interested in becoming an IGL that may have little to no experience and is wondering how to get into IGLing. It can also be used for all sorts of players to learn to have a better understanding of the game while playing their respective role. I’m not the best IGL and I’m far from it but to take advice and learn from one igl to another can help both progress. I’m completely open to all criticism to my own personal calling and always looking to improve as an IGL. This is the role I’m passionate about, being able to look at ones own mistakes and learn from it is very vital to all positions but most importantly to IGLs looking to succeed on all levels. As always, I’m more than open to all questions that anyone may have about anything at all CS:GO related, not just IGLing. I can and will answer all questions to the best of my ability.

You can contact me at: ESEA – Gatr Steam – Thegatrrr Reddit – Gatrcs

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