Valorant Guide to CS Style Gameplay
I’m not sure how many people will read this (or care about it), but if it reaches even a few people, that’s great. I’ve been playing competitive shooters for a very long time, over 15 years of CS, GM in Overwatch, COD, Battlefield, BRs. But CS is my pride and joy. I figured I’d whip up some really simple tips for those that might need to hear it.
You’re welcome to ask questions if you have it, I’ll respond to anything I can (and I’m sure others will answer questions you might have as well!)
Again: this guide is not for players that are experienced in CS already or for CS styled games. This is more for our Overwatch and League and whatever other players that might be experimenting with this style for the first time.
I know this guide is going to be long even before I start writing it, I am going to break it up as best as possible, skip to areas you feel you need if necessary.
Again, maybe no one will read this, or I’ll be downvoted for trying, or it’ll just be lost in the sea of highlights, or whatever else. But if it reaches a couple of people that find it helpful, I’ll be stoked about that.
I might add more sections to this if someone suggests something and the activity hasn’t tapered off. I will mark new sections with an asterisk (*) in this case, I just added the “Win Conditions” section.
Also; I really do enjoy teaching CS/CS Styled Games. If there’s a question you’re too embarrassed to ask in public, or you just want some friendly tips, my DMs are always open. If I get overwhelmed with messages, I might be slow to respond, but I’ll try and get to everything. I love CS (and Valorant is growing on me), and I love teaching it and talking about it. So if you want help, find me!
Edit: Learning to aim well, learn the gunplay, etc * I’m getting a LOT of questions from people looking for help learning how to aim, or improve their shooting mechanics. I’m going to post here what I’ve been telling a lot of them.
There really aren’t any “shortcuts” to learning how to aim. A guide like mine, or a video on YouTube might give you tips on controlling recoil, or counter-strafing, or lowering your sensitivity. But really, you just gotta PRACTICE. CS has existed in one form or another for over 20 years now, some of us have a LOT of experience and it’s ingrained into our muscle memory. You can’t expect to learn that type of thing over night. Run the bot training in the Practice Range until you can get 30 out of 30 every time. Practice controlling your spray. Practice burst firing and tap firing. Just hop in live games and do your best.
I promise, if you keep practicing, the aim will come. No one out there can give you some magic trick that will suddenly turn you into the best aimer in the world. You just have to keep on trying!
Edit #4: I added a few new terms to the Glossary towards the bottom, they are marked with an asterisk (*). If I think of more, I might tack them on.
WIN CONDITIONS *
Winning a round in CS is done one of 4 ways, I’m gonna name them, and give a brief explanation of how to maximize your chances of that happening.
Planting the bomb the Spike (or “Bomb” as CS players might call it) gets planted at one of the two (or three) bomb sites. If that bomb blows up, regardless of how many players are still alive on EITHER team, the Attackers win. The bomb timer is 45 seconds long, and once it’s down the timer begins. The most important thing to remember to win off a bomb plant is to, what we call, “playing the bomb”. Instead of leaving the site and trying to find the remaining Defenders, put yourself in a position where you can see the bomb, and are covered from as many angles as possible. Make the Defenders come to you! The more often you do this, the better chance of a detonation you have.
Eliminating all the enemies Even if the bomb is never planted, eliminating all the enemy Defenders wins you the round. Simple as that really, play your role on the team, and if you get 5 kills before they do, you win the round.
Defusing the bomb once the bomb has been planted, your only concern should be defusing it. I’m not sure exactly how long the defuse timer is in this game, someone can jump in with that information, but defusing the bomb successfully is a round won even if there are still Attackers left alive. “Retaking” the bomb site if all the defenders from that position are dead is your best bet. Wait for your team mates to be close enough, and push in together. (At this point, basically pretend YOU’RE the attacker and play the same way you would on the Attack side of the game.) Push in togehter, check your corners, and make your way to the bomb. If you’re last alive and you can’t find the remaining Attacker(s), something you can do to try and draw them out is called Fake Defusing. You walk up to the bomb and press 4 (or whatever you’re defuse bind is), this will make a sound that notifies enemy players that you’ve begun defusing. At that point you can immediately release 4 and watch to see where they come from to attack you.
This is a bit of a mini-game within the game. Good players know about faking a defuse, so they might not peek straight away. So you might be able to get away with holding the defuse even when theres an enemy lurking about. (Colloquially you might hear a CS player say something like “PROS DONT FAKE” which is a bit of a CS meme. The implication that Pro players don’t ever fake defusing a bomb, they just hold it, so you have to peek THEM.)
A BIG TIP about fake defusing here: if you fake defuse and then make a foot step sound, the enemies will know you are not still defusing. You can’t walk and defuse at the same time, so if you fake defuse and want to adjust your position, WALK. Use shift and readjust while you wait for them to come out!
Eliminating all the enemies Just like on Attack, if you eliminate all the enemies before the bomb is planted, you win the round. BUT REMEMBER unlike the Attacker side, if the bomb has been planted, and you kill all the enemies, you still need to defuse it. If there isn’t enough time left, and the bomb blows up, the Attackers still win the round even if they’re all dead. So either kill ’em quick, or don’t forget about that bomb!
Time running out the Defenders have an additional win condition of the round clock. If the timer hits 0 and the bomb has not been planted, the Defenders win. Even if all 5 members of the enemy team are still alive. Even if the bomb is planted JUST AFTER the clock hits 0, the Defenders win. This is where “stalling” comes in to play. If you’re holding a bomb site and it’s late in the round and an Attacker tries to sneak in and get a plant, stall him. Shoot at him and make him stop the plant animation. If you can stall him long enough to either A: get your team mates there, or B: run out of time, you can win the round without even needing to kill him. Stalling is huge.
One of the big things to remember is to pick a site to defend, and stay there for the whole game. When you’re on the Defender side (or CT as some CS players might refer to it), whatever site you’re assigned, or have chosen, or are playing, it’s important to not suddenly switch to another site without saying anything.
If you aren’t comfortable with the site, ask if someone is willing to swap with you. If you think you can’t play a site alone, ask for someone to back you up.
Sometimes someone might suggest stacking a site, or playing more than the usual number there, that’s fine. If YOU feel like they might come A, let people know you’re giving up B site to stack A. But don’t just leave your spot without saying anything, it can leave sites open if people are unaware, or force people to defend from unoptimal positions.
Rotating is when the bomb is seen or a push of one site is called by a team mate. Knowing when to rotate (and how to rotate) is crucial to good CT sided defense. One important thing to be aware of is whether or not the bomb has been seen or called. If you’re at B and one of the A players calls that three are pushing into A, but they haven’t seen the bomb yet, it might be good to hang back at B and “lurk” until bomb is spotted.
It might leave your team with one less player to defend A, but it prevents a bomb site from being left completely open. If you lurk at the opposite site when bomb isn’t spotted, even if you cant kill the enemies coming in, you can relay the information to your team that the bomb is coming to THAT site instead of A.
By the same token, if the bomb is called as seen on A, even if you know someone is at B, as long as you’re not in an active fight with him, it might be better to just leave him there and move to A to defend the bomb. Inform your team that someone was at B, and they might come from the flank, but the Attackers can’t win without the Spike, so it’s better for you to defend from the bomb instead.
If you’re playing a bomb site with a team mate, and one of you needs to rotate to defend a bomb site, communicate it. Tell them you’re leaving them to back up B (or C), and that you think they should lurk until the bomb is spotted. Don’t just up and leave without letting them know.
Learning the pacing of rotations is one of the harder skills of CS to master, not over-rotating or under-rotating can often be the difference between winning and losing a round. Don’t fret if you’re not grasping it immediately, it will take some time!
Playing a site with a team mate
Some bomb sites are going to be defended by only one player (maps where mid is very important, or Haven where it’s better to have 2 at B/mid than 2 at C.) But if you’re defending with another player, it’s important to work together.
Have a “default setup” to defend from, one person watches long, the other watches short, stay at that spot unless it’s discussed between you and your partner that you’re going to be off position. Don’t leave someones blind side open without telling them that you’re not there.
Sometimes you two might decide to push together, either both of you pushing from the same angle, or both pushing from separate sides to pinch potential attackers. Sometimes you might want to play further back a more passive angle and let them get in before contact.
Where to attack/play/watch
Attacker (or T side as CS players might call it), is a much more complex and dynamic side than the defenders. Different maps, diffrent opponents, different economy situations will call for different types of attack.
Some of the basic styles that you might hear called by a team mate:
Rush – this ones pretty simple, someone is suggesting that the entire attacker team (or at least most of them) fully rush into the site and over whelm the defenders with numbers. This can often mean rushing THROUGH smokes or flashbangs. A rush only works if everyone gets into the site and no one is left alone on site, or lingering behind a smoke. If a rush is called, just do your best to get in site with your team mates, find the enemy, and do what you can.
(I don’t want to get any grief for this, so I’m adding a little editors note here: pushing through a smoke is not ALWAYS the play, even on a rush. Sometimes it’s the right thing, other times it’s not, but it’s very situational. But it’s important to remember that smokes are not impenetrable walls that can never be walked through. Sometimes the smartest play is the one that seems dumbest, walking (or even running) through a smoke might seem dumb, but sometimes it’s going to catch the enemy off guard. So basicaly, don’t always rush through smokes, but don’t always be afraid to rush through smokes either.)
Split – a “split” attack is performed at a site that has more than one entrance. Say A Site on Haven, you might send 3 players to long and 2 players short and attack from both sides. Whether or not you push a smoke or not will depend on the situation, but the idea here is to attack a limited defense from multiple sides before they can call a rotation from their team mates.
Playing for Picks – when a team mate suggests playing for picks, this means that you separate to different areas of the map, and play a slightly more passive role while waiting for a Defender to get aggressive and give up a kill. You might send 2 to A, 1 to mid, and 2 to B, no body pushes in, everyone communicates where they are spotting (or hearing) enemies, and you wait for someone to make a move.
Once someone GETS a pick, your team will have to collectively decide if you want to “push off the pick”, which means you start pushing into the site you got the pick on. Or if you want to “play for the rotate”, which means you guys will assume the Defenders are going to rotate to make up for the dead CT, and the Attackers move to the opposite bomb site.
Contact – a “contact” play is a slower take of a bomb site. The majority of the team will group up at one bomb site, and move slowly. Everyone will walk, you won’t throw smokes or flashes or any utility until you’ve seen an enemy. Once you’ve seen an enemy, or (more importantly an enemy has seen you), then you fully commit. Get smokes down, flash in, take the site. The goal here is to get as close to the site as possible before the enemy can call that you’re there and ask for backup from his team. But once you’re spotted, no more time for lurking, push into the site as fast as possible, cover up the entrances, and get the bomb down.
Set Take – a set take is going to be a scenario where your team mates drop smokes (and other utility) at predetermined positions to cut off the enemy team. Typically it goes as follows: the team will set up outside of, say, B site, a specific time on the clock will be agreed to (say 45 seconds), at which time characters with smokes (in this case namely Brimstone) will drop his smokes in key spots to cut off defender visibility and rotations, and you’ll all rush in together. Set takes can be very powerful if you know the defenders play from passive positions. And with all the different types of utility in the game, you can smoke angles out, and then use one of the AOE attacks (fire, freeze, grenade) to flush enemies out of corners.
Planting “safe” vs planting “open”
There are two main types of plants for the bomb. If you’re unaware of where the enemy is, especially if theres only 2 or 3 Attackers left, you might plant “safe”. Planting in a corner that covers you from as many angles as possible, on B site Bind, planting inside the tube for example. This is to minimize risk of you dying while planting.
But planting OPEN is usually a much better alternative. If you have full control of the site (you’ve taken it with 3 or 4 of your team mates still alive), try to plant in the open. Somewhere that you can defend it from multiple angles. Rely on your team mates to cover your open angles and not get shot while planting.
Regardless of which type you plant, try to call where you’re planting for your team mates. Just say “planting safe” and they’ll know the bomb is going to be tucked in a corner. “Planted for Long” would mean that one of your team mates can defend from the “long” entrance to the bombsite and still be able to see the CT when they try to defuse.
As the game progresses, bomb sites will organically develop a “default” plant. This is the spot that you plant in that is reasonably safe, but you’re not sure if you’re safe or not. Saying “planted default” will immediately let team mates know exactly where the bomb is.
Strategies can get a lot more complex, “fakes” are when you draw a lot of attention to one site with utility, gunshots, visible angles, wait for CTs to start rotating, and then you fall back and take the now empty (or weaker) site. At more advanced levels, there might be decoy plays, where 4 players rush a site and 1 lone player with bomb tries to sneak in the other side and get a plant. (Useful on Eco or Save rounds.)
Good communication is perhaps the most important thing to a successful game of Valorant. It’s a very complex issue, and rather than dragging it out too long, I’m just going to touch on a few key topics.
As a defender try to be precise with your calls. Instead of “they’re coming A”, try to say HOW MANY are coming A when possible. “3 A”, or “I hear multiple Long A” is better than just “they’re here”.
Remember to call the bomb if it’s seen if you’ve seen the bomb, either on an Attacker or just down on the ground, relay this information to your team. Your team mates can then start to safely leave their bomb sites and make their way to you to defend.
Try not to talk after you’re dead in most cases, once you die, you should just let the other players play. If you saw someone or heard someone that you REALLY think the person you’re spectating didn’t see, then tell them quickly, and then quiet down again. “You saw him behind the box”, something along those lines is concise and if the player you’re watching was unaware, they’ll work off that information.
Short reminders are helpful, even after you’re dead but be quick, and don’t try to micro manage. If you’re on Attack, and only one of your team mates is alive, he is going to want to keep his eyes only on his crosshair and what’s in front of him. If he is low on time, typically just saying “time” will remind him that he has to speed it up a little bit, or decide to save his gun. Reminding him he still has utility left if he may have forgotten is also usually okay, but again, don’t micro manage, don’t tell him how to use them, just remind him and let him focus on his game.
Once freeze time has ended, non-game related chatter should end, during buy time if you’re laughing about the previous round, or just shooting the breeze, great, but once buy time ends, trail off the conversation and focus on listening for enemies, and hearing the calls of your team mates.
Be quick about calls try to be as concise with them as you possibly can. “3 Long A” is enough information, you don’t need to tell your team exactly what guns they have, where they’re positioned, what they are wearing, how they’ve styled their hair. If someone asks for additional information (“have you seen bomb?”) answer of course, but getting the call out fast is more important than up to the minute information.
Calling places you’re unfamiliar with everyones new to this game, even the CS players. Sometimes you’re not going to know the “official” name for a location, or even what it’s been colloquially referred to as. But getting out something is better than nothing. On Haven, most people will understand what you mean if you say they are “C Hall”, most people will get it if you refer to A long on Bind as either “bathrooms” or “long”, or “showers” or “toilets” for you Europeans. Terms like “behind you” and “to your right” only work if people know exactly where you are/were playing and who you’re referring to. Using generic terms for locations is the better choice if you don’t know or can’t remember what its called.
Most importantly however is to find the right flow with your team. Some types of teams function better with more information, some want every little thing called. Some teams will want as little as possible called. Some players/teams don’t mind if everyones chatting while playing, some do. CS/Valorant styled games are often considered more “serious” than some other shooters, but it still should be fun. Find the right times to talk and laugh and be silly while also letting those that want to “try hard” do so.
TRADING AND BAITING
This section could fit in all the other sections, so I’m going to give it it’s own.
Trading is the act of responding to a kill from the enemy team with a kill from YOUR team. So say you and a partner are entering a bombsite that hasn’t been cleared yet. Even if you time things perfectly, chances are one of you will be seen before the other. Sometimes that first person isn’t going to get the kill, it is important for you to be in position to return the kill.
Trading is HUGELY important. Having a man advantage in Valorant can make all the difference, and no player is going to survive every round, everyone will die their share of times in the game, so it’s very important to be in position to “trade” the kill and keep the numbers even.
The keys to doing this are to just work with your team mates. Push in with them, don’t leave them stranded on their own, and if they die, try to kill their attacker.
Baiting on the other hand, is sort of a modified form of a trade. Baiting can be very negative (willfully letting your team mate die so that you can get the kill instead of them), but baiting can also be used intelligently. If your team mate is already on extremely low health, he might say something like “bait me”. Which means you will play very slowly behind him while he rushes into the site, his job is to find the enemy, do any damage (if possible) and tell you where he is so you can immediately peek out and take the kill without taking any damage yourself.
The difference between “good baiting” and “bad baiting” is usually as simple as communication. If you’re not telling your team mate you’re playing back, and you let them die just so you can get the kill, thats a bad bait.
But if you inform your team mate that you’re going to bait him for information, usually they won’t mind, especially if they are low on health, or perhaps don’t have a gun.
There’s lots of terms that you might not be familiar with coming from other games, I know there have already been other guides and videos on this stuff, but I figured I’d add in a few, and repeat a couple of them. These are terms that CS players are accustomed to using, and might instinctively call, especially in the heat of the moment.
AK – AK is the Vandal
M4 – That’s the Phantom.
MP5 – Would be the Spectre.
Deagle – The Sheriff.
Scout – The Marshall
CZ – The Frenzy.
A-W-P – The Operator. (Some people, namely Europeans, call it by it’s initials A-W-P instead of “Awp”, for Americans Riot preemptively negated this issue by naming the AWP an “Operator” which is easily shortened to the AWP homonym “Op”.
Bomb – The Spike itself.
Save – This can have two meanings. 1: a save round, your team is short on money and you should avoid spending a lot. A pistol, maybe a couple of your abilities. You want to keep at least 3900 for the next round (visible on the Buy menu). 2: saving your guns, sometimes as either attacker or defender, a round is deemed unwinnable. Maybe you’re last alive with 5 Attackers having already planted the bomb, if your teams money is low, you might choose to save your gun. Typically you’ll find a place far away on the map to hide, be silent, and hope you dont get found. Save the gun for your next round.
Eco – Same as a “save round” detailed above.
D-Eco (pronounced dee-coh) – Just a save round where you all buy the powerful Sheriff (Deagle) for hopes of one shot kills against armored enemies.
Long (bombsite) or Short (bombsite) – A lot of the bombsites in this game will have multiple entrance. Usually one being a longer “straighter” path, and the second being a shorter and more “cluttered” path. Long, and short respectively.
Mid – * Mid refers literally to the “middle” of the map. The area between A and B (on a two site map). On most maps, having mid control is very important as it allows you to attack a bomb site from an additional area. On Split for example. The B bombsite only has one “natural” entrance, the garage tunnel. The other entrance to B is the upper walkway that connects to mid. If the Attackers can gain control of mid by killing Defenders, they can attack B from two sides instead of just one.
(Note: the maps in Valorant seem less reliant on having a normal CS styled mid. In CS, mid is typically a very pronounced “lane” to steal a moba term. But in Valorant, a lot of the mids (even on the 2 site maps) are kind of split. Bind for example, both the area connecting Attacker spawn to Hookah could be considered a mid, as well as potentially the area from Attacker spawn to “short A”.Neither are really your typical mid, normally a mid has access to BOTH bomb sites equally. The Attacker spawn to Hookah does not have fast rotation to A, only to B. Meanwhile, the Attacker spawn to Portal side DOES have a fast rotation to both A AND B, but it’s also directly connected to an exposed A bomb site, which makes it more of a “short A” than a mid.
Which area of a map is determined as “mid” will happen organically by players as we move forward.
Heaven – * Heaven is a term you might hear a lot from CS players. It typically refers to any designated upper area on a bomb site. I’m not talking just a box in the middle of the site that a Jett or Raze may have boosted onto, but areas specificly elevated. On Bind, there is an upper ledge at the back of A, this would typically be referred to as a “Heaven”. (Note, if an enemy is standing directly underneath this walkway, they are often referred to as being “under heaven” or “hell”.
DD – * “D-D” will refer to “double doors”, right now this is only present on Haven, but it’s something you might hear called. Just a faster way of calling that someone is playing in, at or around the double doors near B.
Window – * Someone calling that someone is in “window” would be an area LIKE a “heaven” spot, except covered a little bit better. What Americans have begun calling “Hookah” on Bind is an example of a “Window” spot. It’s elevated, and has more cover than a Heaven-named spot does (compare it to “heaven” on A site).
Default – another one with multiple meanings. 1: A default hold is all 5 Defenders playing from their usual positions, no stacks, no weird positioning or doubling up, just your normal. 2: A default TAKE is all 5 attackers running a pre-determined strategy. Usually it has all 5 players spreading out and playing for picks (each of you at a predetermined spot, similar to on Defense). and 3: the “default plant”, I mentioned this above, but basically as the game progresses, players will organically determine which the “default plant” spot is. This is a spot that is a little bit open, but also a little bit safe in case there are enemies lurking unknown.
Execute – as sort of detailed above, an execute is just the take of a bombsite. “We’re executing A” usually means they’re putting their smokes and AOE down, and moving in. This is a warning to players that might be lurking at other sites or mid to either listen for rotations from enemies, or start making their way over to A to help defend the planted bomb.
Boosted – * A player being “boosted” means they are on top of a box or other area of the map that they couldn’t normally get to solo. Jett, Raze, Omen and Sage can get to some of these locations by themselves, and there have been various methods for boosting team mates on top of your head. So if someone calls “boosted on A site” it probably means they are up on top of a box or other object on the bomb site.
I think that’s all I got for now. Again, this is meant just to include some really basic information for players new to a CS style game. I didn’t include anything overly advanced, nor did I include every potential “basic” thing about the game, I’m sure there are already plenty of guides on exactly when to buy and save and force buy and all that.
If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them if I’m capable of doing so. Others that are knowledgeable are welcome to do the same.
If this helps you at all, I’m a happy camper.
Good luck out there, and have fun!