Let's start this guide by being honest. You're probably reading this because you're stuck in Gold Nova, most likely juggling between Nova I and Nova II, with no obvious way to rank up, and playing a lot just doesn't seem to do it.
So, what could be the problem? Perhaps you just haven’t found your way yet, and you need someone to point out your mistakes. It doesn’t mean you’re bad.
Now, let's be realistic. The path from the first to the third column on the image above consists of a load of sweat and blood. It's painful, and requires a lot of dedication and will power.
Let’s start with the most obvious thing, your skill as a marksman. Everyone who ever played CS:GO had to say one of these things at some point:
“But I shot him directly in the head!”
“I emptied my magazine on him, and he shot me only once, and I died”
“Why can’t I hit anyone?”
Before we move on with what you’re probably doing wrong, and how to get better, there’s one key line to remember: one good shot is better than thirty missed shots. Don’t panic too much if you’re in a 1v1 situation. First aim, then fire. The time difference between aiming and firing is what distinguishes amateurs and pros. But enough smart talk, let’s start with the first lesson.
Master your weapon
Now, at this point you probably know that the AK47 and AWP are the two most popular, and hence most notorious guns in the game. But what makes them so powerful? Well, the main difference between them and most of the other weapons is that the helmet won’t protect you from those. This means that a headshot will result in an instant death.
Does this mean that you should focus on buying AK47 and AWP whenever possible? Well … yes and no. One of the main factors in making that choice is your team economy, but we’ll get back to that later.
No matter which weapon you play with, each of them is defined by these attributes:
- Kill award
- Movement rate
A more expensive weapon does not necessarily imply a better weapon. Thousands of rounds have been won by guys wielding the correct pistols in the eco round versus guys with full armour and the “best” weapons.
Take your time, and try out all the weapons, or the weapons you like to play most. If you don’t like playing against bots, there’s a lot of practice maps in the Steam workshops where you can, well, practice on.
Regardless of in which field you want to make improvements for yourself, there’s almost certainly a training map for it. Some of the more popular maps include:
Recoil Master is a map which lets you shoot at a static (or moving) target, allowing you to play around with any weapon, and most importantly teaching you about spray patterns. Every automatic weapon in the game has a spray pattern, and the sooner you learn them, the faster you will reach your highly desired ranks. For start, at least try to learn the spray pattern for the AK-47 and M4-A4, and how to counter it in game.
If you’re unfamiliar of how to find the custom maps, open your Steam client and find the CS:GO workshop, and simply search for the maps you want to get, and then hit “Subscribe”. Those maps will then show up in your Workshop tab within the “Find a game” screen.
Prefire practice maps
We can categorise the CS:GO competitive community into three types of people:
- Those who queue for every available map
- Those who queue for a couple of handpicked maps
- Those who queue for Dust 2 only (all the bloody time)
Well, you can’t really say that any of them are wrong with their approach, but let’s say that option two is the best. Why, you ask? You’ll learn enough about the selected set of maps, and focus only on mastering your movement on those, while still not being bored to death by always queueing the same map. Playing a rotating set of maps will keep you entertained during your long rank-up process.
Learning about the maps is a core part of your rank-up journey. Knowing where to hide, how much time you have to run from A to B during a rotation attempt, or where to expect your enemies camping is something so simple but still essential to winning the round.
To avoid further divergence from the title of this section, you can search the Steam workshop for prefire maps. They are constructed in a way that in each round they will have bots randomly placed in most common camping spots. Some of them will be smart enough to shoot you on sight, while others will have very slow reactions. To complete the round, you must kill every bot on the map. Don’t worry, the maps are small wall-bounded areas so you won’t have to search the whole area of Dust 2 to find that one camping ***** ** **** hiding in T spawn.
To add to the fun, after every round you will be able to see how much time you needed to kill everyone, so you can track your progress.
After you’ve reached a certain level of understanding of your weapons, you should try out some aim maps. You can of course play these offline with bots, but playing online against actual people will help you assess more easily how far you’ve gotten with your skills.
These are mostly very small area maps that have an imaginary wall in the middle stopping you from ganking your enemies. In some game modes, these will be set to headshot-only.
In deathmatch maps, you are not restricted by being part of a team. EVERYONE is an enemy and it’s a hot mess when the server is full. People will be randomly spawning next to you, and shooting you in the head. Now, where’s the fun in that? Well, you’ll spawn randomly to someone and shoot him in the head.
Jokes aside, these maps are perfect for your aim practice, especially since they also come in the form of a headshot-only mode.
Now that we’ve covered that, there’s that one sentence that tickles your mind “I’d rather play the actual match”. Well, nobody is stopping you doing that. However, setting up a daily or weekly routine of 30 minutes playing the practice maps is sure to get you a rank up.
This game is not only about shooting people. It’s about strategy, coordination, and money management. Buying the $2700 AK when you had $3000 while your team is broke may get you that one or two kills but is very likely to cause you to lose the round, and not able to buy anything in the next round.
So, what mistakes were made in that scenario?
a) failed to look around to see that the team has no money, and that they’re probably saving for the next round
b) lost the round and $2.7k in the process for your team
c) didn’t coordinate with your team
Notice how I bolded the team part above? This is a team game. Your money is not only your money. It’s the team’s money and if you accept that now, you’re one step closer to being a pro player.
Managing the money in the first few rounds of the match can determine the outcome of the whole match. If you just lost the pistol round, there are two approaches you can take, and from this point, when I say “you” I mean “your team”. You can continue to eco the second and possibly the third round, all depending on whether or not you lose the second round. Given that the foe probably has SMGs at this point, it’s the most likely outcome. The other approach is that you force buy the UMPs in the second round, and try to win the initial lead back.
Again, coordinate with your team.
On the other hand, in the scenario of your team having a lot of money, you’ll most likely buy the best weapons money can get in order to win the round. Keep in mind that if you lose, the enemy will get your weapons. Avoid having more than one AWP as a terrorist team, or two as a CT team. Yes, they’re noob weapons that can bring you the match, but can also cause your downfall from a 13:2 lead.
Yeah, I said it – noob weapons. Even though I hate to say this, there are in fact no noob weapons. The SCAR is in the game for a reason, same as AWP or P90 or the noob shotgun. These weapons can be a huge advantage for your team, but they come at a high risk if you should lose the round.
Finally, think ahead! Try to predict the outcome of the next round and see if it’s worth spending the $4000 on your weapons and gear. Don’t buy an AK or M4 if you can’t afford a Kevlar at least. Should you buy all the bombs, the helmet, the Zeus? It’s all situational, and it’s something you’ll have to decide in the very moment. Perhaps buying the helmet is pointless if the whole enemy team has AK’s and AWP’s that result in a death from headshot anyway?
Preparing for the match
We already covered the warm up part, but is that enough? After all, gamers are humans (most of us), and we need to be both physically and mentally prepared for a match. Eat, do some exercise (remember, you are using your muscles), listen to some music, pump up your mood and concentration. Don’t prepare by sitting 24 hours behind the PC and then playing. You’ll die. Don’t die. It’s a stupid thing to do.
Watch some pro matches in your free time. You’ll pick up an idea or two from there as well. Also, having a full team to queue with will make your life easier. If you don’t have any mates that play the game, add people on Steam, invite them to your matches if you played with them before and you know they can contribute to your match.
Work on your attitude
Remember, you’re part of a team. Even if you don’t think so, your actions and your words are affecting someone out there. You lost a round? No big deal, you’ll win the next one. Tell your mate that failed to clutch that it was a nice try and that he’ll get them next time. Keeping the mood up in your team can be essential to bringing you the victory. Don’t yell at your mate if he tried his best.
Lastly, but most importantly: git gud.