Professional Counter-Strike (CS) can be an incredibly alluring sight. The best players get to travel the world every year, competing in massive tournaments in front of thousands of fans. They sign autographs, live in luxurious team houses, and are paid salaries over six figures for playing a video game.
As the popularity of esports grows each year, thousands of people end up captivated by this dream. However, it is important to understand that life at the top is not an easy one. Professional players are subjected to more stress, pressure, and emotional drain than in almost any other field.
Competing for fame or to make money only results in poor mental health. Passion for the game itself is what is most important. If a player’s passion for the game is vibrant enough to overcome these challenges, a career in Counter-Strike is not out of reach.
Professional CS, as well as any other esport, should be looked at exactly like traditional sports. An athlete’s mindset is an absolute necessity. Getting good requires dedicating their life to the game and strenuous daily commitment.
There are hundreds of players attempting to become pros and many of them put in 40-50 hours of gameplay every week. Matching this effort is imperative to avoid being left behind. This kind of rigorous routine can leave little opportunity for other hobbies and interests in life.
An often overlooked fact about esports is how much the competitive grind can push and teach players. Counter-Strike has always been an incredibly social game. Players encounter hundreds of different teammates and are forced to cooperate with all kinds of personalities. Life skills such as networking and fostering healthy community relationships are necessary for finding competitive success.
Whether it be in matchmaking or team play, losing streaks and frustration are all unavoidable parts of the process. Becoming a pro requires developing and nurturing a humble mindset that can avoid tilt, learn from failures, and put the success of a team before anything else.
Practice routines and mechanics
Every aspiring pro’s first priority is a high level of individual skill. Something that is expected out of competitors at this level. Jumping on the computer every day and loading up a random game of CS every day is not going to cut it. Practice can be sorted into two types:
Mechanics: This term refers to the physical movements a player makes, such as aim and movement. These concepts can constantly be improved upon no matter what level a player is at. Watching tutorials can help understand what movements help a player become harder to hit and make shots easier. Deathmatch servers will bring level of aim and consistency up as well.
Gamesense: This term refers to a player’s understanding of why and how things are occurring within their game. This includes concepts such as positioning, how to hold bombsites, rotations, utility usage, and many more. In addition to tutorials, studying the game and watching professional POVs can help immensely with this.
The best thing an aspiring pro can do is incorporate a structured practice routine into their life. Working on these skills becomes much easier when there is a set schedule to follow every day. Assign time every day dedicated to improving on each of these concepts in addition to setting time aside for matchmaking. Doing so will bring grant much higher levels of consistency.
Matchmaking (MM) is the best resource for new players and allows them to put the concepts they learned in practice to the test. There are different types of MM, all with their own levels of skill and communities.
The one most people are familiar with is Valve’s in-game MM. This environment provides a place to get used to general team play and helps practice engagements in actual games. Players are forced to learn a variety of different skills in order to become good enough to climb through the ranks.
At the higher end of the ranks, ideally somewhere past Legendary Eagle Master, in-game MM becomes much less beneficial. At this point, it is time to move elsewhere.
ESEA (primarily NA players) and FACEIT (primarily EU players) are third party communities that offer paid matchmaking services called pick up games (PUGs). Paying this small monthly fee grants access to higher quality matchmaking filled with much higher levels of competition.
Players here are more serious and teamplay begins to get complex. The games are played in an environment that is fair, trustworthy, and consistent. This is due to anti-cheat clients and 128 tick servers.
At the top of these ladders is Rank S (ESEA) or FACEIT Pro League (FPL) which are exclusive PUGs current professional players and top-ranked PUG players actively play in.
MM and PUGs do more than just teach the game, they also act as an opportunity for players to make names for themselves. The community notices people who perform well consistently and actively scout these “PUGstars” for real teams.
League play and networking.
Being on a team is the single most important thing a competitive CS player can do. It teaches advanced coordination, efficient communication, and how to build chemistry with teammates. ESEA and FACEIT provide leagues for teams of various skill levels to compete in.
Their websites also provide forums to help players find teams. The lowest division, the Open division, is available for anyone to join. Placing highly in a division allows a team to move up to the one above it and compete at a higher level.
Teams that compete with each other often become familiar with one another and start to form smaller communities. These communities are environments for players to network and create better teams. This opens the door for large organizations to sign teams and provide them with financial support.
However, this happens when teams become good enough for the upper echelons of a league. These teams are referred to as Tier 2 teams and their players are paid the equivalent of a full-time job.
This allows them to dedicate themselves completely to the game and make the push for Tier 1. Tier 1 teams are the ultimate goal for most players. At this point, teams are highly paid and attend majors and all kinds of other tournaments.
The lifestyle of a high caliber CS:GO player is more than simply playing the game and getting paid out after tournaments. The title of a Tier 1 player is earned through discipline, sacrifice, and a lifetime of commitment to the game and its countless intricacies.
This lifestyle only intensifies once the Tier 1 status is attained due to the ever-evolving strategy, gameplay, and talent that they face. It’s no wonder why these esports athletes are so riveting to watch at their craft.
Written By Jash Rai