How to Get Better at CS2: The Ultimate Guide to Developing Your Full Potential

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Published: Feb 2, 2023 - Last Updated: Feb 26, 2024

Counter-Strike has been around for more than 20 years. Many video games have come and gone, and CS2 will probably see more. It has taken many forms, from being a Half-Life mod in 2000 to becoming Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), and now CS2 or Counter-Strike 2 – one of the most established esports titles today. If you want to know how to get better at CS2, there are two decades of history and development to unpack. Sure, a lot has changed, and no one will mistake the CS2 now for the Half-Life mod in 2000, but the fundamentals have remained for the most part.

And today, we’re going to talk about them. We’ve gathered the most relevant aspects of CS2 to equip you with the knowledge you need to succeed.

How to Get Better at CS2 for Beginners: Understanding the Mechanics

Ask most players how to get better at CS2, and they’ll probably tell you to just “play the game.” It’s a good answer, but if you’re an absolute newbie, chances are you don’t even know how the “game” works.

The first thing, then—for both beginners and new bettors learning how to make money from CS2—is to understand the game’s mechanics.

1. Team Objectives

CS2 is played by two opposing teams, the Terrorists (Ts) and the Counter-Terrorists (CTs).

  1. The Ts’ main objective is to plant the CS2 bomb in one of the map’s bombsites and let it explode.
  2. The CT’s main objective is to defend the sites and defuse the bomb if it gets planted.
  3. Killing everyone on the other team is also another way to win.

Everything you do in the game is done to fulfill one of these objectives.

get better at csgo

Credit: Valve

2. Managing Your Economy

The economy is all about managing your money. You start the map with $800 and can collect up to $16,000 until the second half begins, in which case the economy resets, and you’re back with $800.

We won’t go into the details here, but essentially, you earn money when you win, lose, get a kill, plant the bomb, and defuse the bomb. As a rookie, you want to be a team player early on and know what to buy and when.

Here are some CS economic terms you should become familiar with:

If you watch or bet live on CS2, you will learn how the pros handle their economy. (More on pro matches later).

3. Mastering the Aim

Aiming is how you point and shoot in a first-person shooter game (the keyword is “shooter”). This makes it the most fundamental aspect of Counter-Strike 2 and any other FPS titles.

But how to get better at CS2 aiming, exactly? We suggest the following five ways:

a. Mouse Sensitivity

How to get better at CS2 for beginners? Start with getting comfortable with your mouse sensitivity. It’s what determines how fast or slow you move your gun. By default, hip-fire sensitivity (the one you use with almost all weapons) is set to 2.50, while zoom sensitivity (the one you use with guns with scopes like the AWP and AUG) is set to 1.00.

Adjust it accordingly, play some games, and when you find the sweet spot, stick with it. Some pros have very slow sensitivity. Others have insanely high sensitivity. There’s no wrong number.

b. Crosshair Placement

Good crosshair placement means keeping your crosshair at head level at all times. This allows you to peek at an angle and headshot your enemy before they kill you. Of course, having a profound knowledge of the map you’re playing is required. You can’t know where to put your crosshair if you don’t know the layout.

Improving on this aspect is what will probably elevate you to a higher rank than Silver, the rank you start with as a beginner (you should learn more about the CS2 ranking system).

To practice, create an empty lobby and just walk around the map, peeking at angles with your crosshair positioned at the correct height. You can add bots or play deathmatch once you get the hang of it.

getting better at csgo - aim training

Credit: Valve

c. CS2 Workshop Maps and Aim Trainers

Some players believe in them, and some players don’t, which is confusing because the jury is already out: aim training applications work. They improve your aim by offering aim-simulating challenges that help reinforce muscle memory. Aim Lab (free) and KovaaK’s ($10) are Steam’s most widely-used aim trainers.

If you’re learning how to get better at aiming in CS2, you can also practice with workshop maps like training_aim_csgo2 and Aim Botz. Most CS2 players prefer this because everything is in one game.

Experiment with these platforms and maps and integrate them into your practice as you see fit.

d. Spray Control

Most of the time, you will be in a situation where you have to spray your bullets (spraying means holding the fire button and firing multiple bullets). The longer you spray, the more recoil becomes a problem. The barrel doesn’t just go up. It goes side to side, then back again.

You handle this by controlling your gun while holding the fire button, so the bullets stay on your target, not the wall. You adjust your crosshair to negate the effect of the recoil.

Fortunately, there are workshop maps you can subscribe to (see Steam Workshop) that will help you master this aspect, the most famous one being Recoil Master. Whether you want to know how to get better at CS2 now or in a decade, spray control will always be a part of your practice as long as recoil is part of the game.

e. Counter-Strafing

Once you’re comfortable with your sensitivity, the next aiming aspect to tackle is counter-strafing. If strafing is going left (A) or right (D), counter-strafing is going to the opposite, canceling the movement to a full stop, where your gun is most accurate.

This can be frustrating for beginners as it takes a lot of time to master, but the benefit of counter-strafing is that you get to shoot your gun accurately while still seemingly on the move, which you’re pretty much doing all the time.

Practice with the workshop maps we’ve mentioned, and play deathmatch games. You can even add firing error to your crosshair to easily see the exact point your gun is accurate when counter-strafing.

4. Honing the Game Sense

Aim is technical whilst game sense is intuitive. It’s the skill you use when you’re not aiming but listening, feeling, and reading between the lines. When a thick coat of unknown variables is floating in the air, and nothing is obvious, game sense points you in the right direction and gives you the way.

If you’re asking how to get better at CS2 even when you’ve knocked down the basics, the next step is honing your game sense.

a. Play, Play, Play

The best CS2 players will witness have spent thousands of hours playing the game. For example, Ilya “m0NESY” Osipov (the 17-year-old BLAST Premier: World Final recent winner and MVP) has tweeted putting in an astonishing 15,000 hours of CS2. That’s one year and 260 days without taking a break.

To improve your game sense, putting in hours is what you, like everyone else, have to do. Always make sure you’re ingraining repeating patterns and situations in your head. You can read a thousand books and remember none of them if you don’t make an effort.

b. Watch CS2 Pro Matches

Watching and analyzing matches from professional CS2 tournaments is one of the best ways to study how to get better at CS2 for beginners and advanced players. By tuning in, you can witness years of experience compressed into a single match. You get to see how the elites act in certain situations, how they take and retake a site, where they place their crosshairs, and many more, all performed with top-level prowess.

get better at csgo - watchin matches

Image credit: BLAST

And the best part is it’s free. There’s YouTube with archives of matches that happened from years ago to yesterday. Twitch offers live coverage of the events. Watching CS2 streamers is also a good idea since they often share their thoughts with their viewers.

c. Game Sense Activated

Here’s a tip and a scenario where game sense can be seen at work.

When learning how to get better at Counter-Strike, Reddit also has a lot of knowledge to impart. You’ll find many good opinions and educational videos in there (along with some memes). CS2 betting tips from Reddit should also interest aspiring CS2 bettors.

Audio Cue Sorcery

You can avoid giving away your position by walking slowly (Left Shift), but you can’t hide pretty much everything else. Shooting, reloading, running, jumping, planting the bomb, defusing the bomb, throwing a flashbang, breaking a window, opening a door—all these actions emit sound. And they can be manipulated.

If you’re playing against experts, you will hear fake reload, fake footsteps, fake plant, fake defuse, a gun firing off out of nowhere to cover the sound of feet landing on the ground, and so on. Some even throw a grenade and defuse the moment the grenade pops off to conceal the defuse sound.

There are lots of tricks and gimmicks that you can both use or fall prey to. Keep your ears pricked up and your head right.

Getting Info with Angles

Imagine seeing an enemy holding an angle with his back somewhat exposed. It’s 1v2, and you’re not seeing one of them. So, you shoot him down with your godlike aim and, because you have good game sense, deduce that someone must be watching the area behind him. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be confident to expose his rear.

It’s a classic scenario that happened to former CS2 pro player Oscar “mixwell” Cañellas in 2017 in Dust 2. The bomb was stuck in mid, seemingly secured by 2 CTs from T Spawn and Upper Mid, until he showed up from Outside Long and picked apart their “cover-me-I-cover-you” setup. Watch it.

5. Working With the Team

CS2 is a game you can’t win alone, no matter how good your aim or game sense is. This section will mention aspects that make a good team player.

a. Communication

Learning how to get better at CS2 is, in large part, learning how to communicate efficiently with your team. Exchanging information as the match unfolds ensures that your team operates like a well-oiled machine, with parts moving toward a common goal. Of course, a functioning mic and headphones are needed for this.

What you should communicate to your teammates? Everything that increases your chance of success. This frequently boils down to enemy locations and strategies. More specifically, you can talk about your economy and enemy team adjustments. You can even boost your team’s morale by motivating them and saying positive things. If you know how to bet on CS2 as a beginner, you probably know how low morale can sink at highly competitive matches).

b. Callouts

We mentioned that calling out enemy positions is what most of your conversations will be about. How do you exactly do that? By understanding the callouts of the map.

A callout is simply the name of a particular part of a map. For example, the starting area where CTs begin the round is called “CT Spawn,” while the callout “T Spawn” is used for that of the Ts.

Because all CS2 maps are different, many callouts will be unique. A lot of them are repeated, though, such as “long,” “short,” “mid,” “default,” “tunnel,” and “vent,” among many others. There’s some “banana,” “donut,” and “sandwich” somewhere in there too.

c. Line-ups

A lineup refers to a setup a player makes when throwing a utility. When done correctly early in the round, a lineup enables a team to control some parts of the map by blocking angles with smokes, blinding enemies with flashbangs, and pushing and holding off enemies with grenades and mollies.

There are a ton of lineups you can learn for each map, some straightforward and some complex. You can even create your lineup. But as a beginner, start with the simple ones and give your team the early advantage.

how to get better at csgo

Credit: Valve

d. In-Game Leadership

“A Rush,” “B Rush,” “Mid Control,” whatever the plan is, it’s executed by five people with someone giving orders at the helm. That someone is fulfilling a role called the “in-game leader” or “IGL.”

In lower ranks, the players (unless they’re smurfing) still lack the experience for anyone to take on this role, which is fine. Just talk about the enemy’s whereabouts and the timing of your smokes and flashes to avoid blinding your teammates.

But as you progress, you will gain familiarity and an intuitive feel about some situations. That’s when you can consider calling the shots.

How to Get Better at CS2: Round Up

Again, there’s no easy answer to the question, “How to get better at CS2 in 2023?” It’s a complex game that can be studied for a lifetime, so it’s impossible to include everything here.

We suggest starting for the sake of fun. Just play some deathmatch games and walk around with guns blazing. Once you’re comfortable enough to play competitively, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Just climb that learning curve slowly and consistently.

Talk to your team, and devise some strategies you think will work. If no one listens, it’s fine. Just keep playing.

As you spend more and more hours, you’ll see your aim, movement, and crosshair placement improve, giving your brain more room to focus on what you’re not seeing. This third eye is your game sense and will take you far.

Ultimately, having a precise aim, a cunning game sense, and being a team player are what make a great CS2 player.

Khein Gutierrez

Since: January 31, 2023

Khein became an esports journalist in 2021. He grew up playing a variety of GBA, PS, DS, and PSP games, finally moving to PC after learning about Dota 1.

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