What is CS:GO? How does it work?
What is CS:GO? From the biggest leagues to the best players, our guide explains all.
What is CS:GO?
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, widely known as CS:GO, is a competitive first-person shooting game.
CS:GO is the latest release in the Counter Strike series, and has attracted an average of 11 million users per month since its launch in 2012.
CS:GO was released on Windows, OS X, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, but all professionals play the game on PC.
How does CS:GO work?
The game pits two teams of five players against each other, with each team having to complete certain objectives to win.
One team takes on the role of the Terrorists (Ts), while the other team are the Counter-Terrorists (CTs).
There are several game modes available, but professional esports matches are always played in five-on-five Competitive mode (5on5).
In this mode, the attacking Ts must plant and detonate a bomb in a specific location - site A or B - or take out all five of the CTs to win a round.
The CTs must defuse the bomb when it is planted, or take out all five of the Ts to win the round.
Each match comprises of 30 rounds in total, with rounds lasting a maximum of one minute and 55 seconds. The first team to win 16 rounds wins in the match.
CS:GO also incorporates an in-game currency system, which rewards players for winning rounds, killing enemies and successfully using certain weapons.
Players can then spend their dollars on new guns and grenades between rounds, increasing their chances of winning later rounds.
How do CS:GO skins work?
Skins are a cosmetic item that change the appearance of weapons in CS:GO. Although they make the weapons look different, they do not actually improve their stats.
Players can acquire skins by purchasing keys to open cases that occasionally drop in-game.
When a case is opened, the player will receive a skin at random. Each case contains different skins for different weapons.
Despite not improving the stats of weapons, some skins are graded higher than others - essentially, some skins are very common and easy to acquire, while others are extremely rare.
Skins range from Industrial Grade (Light blue) to Covert (Red).
Knife and Glove skins are even more rare than Covert skins, and it is very unlikely for a player to acquire them from a case.
Each skin has real-world value, with players able to trade and sell them on the Steam marketplace. Some of the rarest skins have been sold for tens of thousands of dollars.
How do CS:GO rankings work?
When playing CS:GO competitively, the game will match players with opponents of a similar skill level.
Every player who has won 10 competitive matches is assigned a rank, and then matched against other players of the same or similar rank.
CS:GO rankings range from Silver 1 (lowest) to Global Elite (highest).
What are the biggest CS:GO events?
The two biggest CS:GO events each year are the CS:GO Major Championships.
Similar to major tournaments in sports such as golf and tennis, these are the most prestigious events on the CS:GO calendar.
The CS:GO Majors are sponsored by Valve, the company that created CS:GO.
The first CS:GO Major took place in 2013 in Jonkoping, Sweden, featuring 16 teams with a total prize pool of $250,000.
The Majors have developed massively in the seven years since, with 24 teams now taking part in each tournament, competing for a prize pool of $1,000,000.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, there will be just one Major taking place in 2020, in Rio de Janeiro.
Originally scheduled for May, the Rio event has been pushed back to 19 November, with the final taking place on 22 November.
The combination of two Majors into one means that this is the first CS:GO Major to carry a prize pool of $2,000,000, the biggest prize fund of any CS:GO event in history.
Other than the Majors, ESL One Cologne and IEM Katowice are also prestigious CS:GO events.
ESL One Cologne takes place at the Lanxess Arena, known as the Cathedral of Counter-Strike, and pits 16 teams against each other for a prize pool of $300,000.
The Intel Extreme Masters Katowice, shortened to IEM Katowice, is the longest-running tier 1 CS:GO tournament, taking place every year at the Spodek Arena.
It also sees 16 teams compete, with a total prize fund of $500,000.
Which team have won the most CS:GO Majors?
Astralis, from Denmark, are the most successful esports team in CS:GO Majors history with four championships.
They have won each of the last three Majors, in London, Katowice and Berlin, adding to their 2017 title won in Atlanta.
Swedish team Fnatic, who won the very first Major in Jonkoping, have won three Major championships.
Who is the best CS:GO player?
The best player of 2019 was ZywOo from France, who plays for team Vitality.
He won Most Valuable Player at five tournaments, including ESL One Cologne 2019, while also winning Exceptionally Valuable Player – essentially a runner-up – at another five.
The best CS:GO player of all time is s1mple from Ukraine, who players for Natus Vincere, also known as Na’Vi.
The 22-year-old finished as the top CS:GO player in 2018, and ended 2019 in second place behind ZywOo.
He currently ranks second behind ZywOo in the all-time CS:GO world rankings, but has played twice the amount of matches in his career.
What are the biggest CS:GO leagues?
There are many CS:GO leagues that take place throughout the year, with most staging a final at the end of the season to determine a champion.
The ESL Pro League is the biggest CS:GO league, with the best teams taking part and a huge amount of fans tuning in to watch - the 2019 tournament attracted a peak audience of 389,784 concurrent viewers.
The ESL Pro League also features a promotion and relegation system, with the bottom-ranked team automatically relegated to the ESEA Premier League, and the two teams above them competing in a promotion/relegation play-off.
Other prominent leagues on the CS:GO circuit are Blast Premier and Flashpoint.
Where can I watch CS:GO?
Most CS:GO fans watch live on Twitch – a live-streaming platform for esports and gaming.
While Twitch is the best place to watch CS:GO live as it happens, YouTube is the best place to watch CS:GO video content.
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