CS:GO Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors

by Lomiei

The concept of Rock-Paper-Scissors is quite simple, 1 style will work against 1 other style, but do particularly worse against another. This principle can be applied to CSGO with the exact same words. However because of the nature of counterstrike, nothing is ever 100% consistent. With that being said, this piece will highlight the theoretical counters to each generalized type of style that most teams employ.

T Side:

Hyper-Aggressive: Utility
A hyper-aggressive CT style usually entails multiple players pushing a key position with brute force and utility, but can also include coordinated pushes all across the map.

When CTs switch the roles and put you on the defensive side, they’re naturally faced with the same problems that the T side endures regularly. That being the fact that they’re pushing through choke points with very little information for the players on the other side. With that, the Ts obviously have the upper hand in that they’re relatively closer to any given choke point. For example; Dust2’s Long doors, Overpass’s connector, Train’s upper B, and Mirage’s palace. Notice how control of these spots is naturally given to the T side by proximity to their spawn. These are also the most common spots that are pushed by CTs to gain map control, information, and the occasional cheap frag. Theoretically, the most effective way to nullify aggression is with utility. Its the same principle of stopping a T rush on the CT side; use damaging utility or pepper flashes to dissuade fast paced plays and/or disorient the aggressors, making the counter-aggression simple and productive.

Early Aggressive: Trade Frag->regroup
Sometimes whenever CTs are in low economy situations, desperate for frags or map control, or just want to switch up the pace, they can put 1 or 2 players in advanced positions to get an early pick and fall off. If they are successful in getting a pick, its important that you get the trade frag as soon as possible. If the CT successfully gets a frag and falls back, you’re now in a 4v5 with relatively little map control.

The counter to this would be to group up and focus on multi-peeking those aggressive angles. If the CT does get the kill despite the multiple players holding his angle, they’re much more likely to get the trade kill very quickly as opposed to if the T side were more spread out. Its commonly said that even trades will always be in the favor of the T side because if they group up they will outnumber the CTs in any given situation. And that’s exactly what you should do; after you get the trade, regroup and make a play based on how the IGL reads is reading the situation at that moment.

Overly passive: Execute
This style of play is very rarely seen outside of eco rounds and gimmick plays. If you notice that the CT side is playing close to the sites very defensively, the best counter is to just wait and take whatever map control they let you. This style of defense is easily exploitable with an execute. The closer CTs play to the inner portions of the map, the more map control you get for free and the more space you have to setup an execute. When you force them off the site with utility they only have the option to run straight into you or out to the extremities where retakes are less effective.

Heavy Utility: Probing
When the CT side is using large amounts of utility, this is very beneficial for the T side. CT sides that use disproportionate amounts of utility with relation to the presence that Ts show have much less resources to deal with a late round push or even just to support fellow players, you can draw out some of the CTs utility with a tactic called probing.

Probing is where you show minimal amounts of presence to draw out some CT utility and in the most extreme cases, a rotation from the other side of the map. Showing presence is as simple as throwing some nades, spamming a wall, or even just jumping up and down. After a while if the CTs are gullible enough, they will start to throw nades at your position, which is beneficial for the reasons I previously mentioned. This also has the secondary benefit of broadcasting the positions of the CTs, which gives you the extra advantage of knowing where to pre-aim and pre-fire if you actually do choose to hit that site. 2 important things to Keep in mind though; just because there is no response to your probing, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t anyone in the site, it just means they aren’t fooled or don’t have enough utility to use recklessly. Secondly, if they do throw some utility, its possible that they will move to another position, knowing that you can see the trajectory of their grenade(s).

CT Side:

Hyper-Aggressive: Utility
The explanation for this one is the same thing for the T and CT side.

Early Aggressive: Crossfires
A common T side play consists of getting an early pick and falling back. As CT, this is the worst case scenario for obvious reasons. If this is the play that you see them running, the most efficient counter is to play crossfires. 2 CTs at opposite sides of a wall/entrance point can cover each other and confidently trade any kills, although it is incredibly easy to secure a kill without losing a player because of the fact that the T is peeking 2 players who are trained on that angle.

Overly passive: Aggression
This is also a very rare occasion, but sometimes Ts will hold back their pushes and play reactively. In this instance, it is in the CTs best interest to make a play forward with some coordinated aggression. While it would be very disadvantageous to lose a player in this fashion, the information, map control, and cheap frag could be well worth the risk. It all just depends on how your IGL views the risk and reward ratio. You might notice how this play is the same thing I mentioned earlier; In order to minimize the downsides of CT aggression, you have to make sure you use it at the right times. Its usually not necessary to go aggressive in the early parts of a round, and doing so at the wrong times can result in the T side punishing your team in the ways I listed above. Also, even if you do it at the correct times, you cant make those plays too often because the Ts can read that and adjust their plays accordingly.

Now if you’re like me you’ll be thinking “What about defaults?”. At the higher levels, a solid default is not only a necessity but also a win condition.
But because of the very wide variety of defaults and the ability to change minor parts of it in each and every round, there is no polar opposite to this style and therefore comes down to the individual players. If this is what you’re seeing from the enemy team, the individual players need to be communicative and make sure the IGL knows the tenancies of the enemy at certain spots so they can get a good read of the enemy style and make an efficient calls.

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