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Column: The eternal life of Counter-Strike – Part 1

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July 26, 2019 1:07 pm

Column: The eternal life of Counter-Strike - Part 1

Counter-Strike celebrated its 20th birthday last month. In a time that is characterized by short-termism, transience and the new, this game has proven itself and developed over the years.

The passion for CS of professionals, players and the public remains high. How is this possible after all these years? That is a question whose answer is as obvious to me as it is complicated. I’ve been breathing and living CS since I was eleven years old; all I have to do is follow my heart to understand why our favourite FPS seems to live forever. Everything I tell or do about CS happens automatically, almost unconsciously, because the tens of thousands of hours I have dedicated to this game have integrated it into my identity.

In this column, I would like to try to explain some aspects of Counter-Strike that I think have made it one of the crown jewels of eSports. There is so much to say that I have decided to deal with this topic in three parts. The first part below focuses on the individual experience of the game. The second will focus on the collaborative aspect and the team spirit, and finally, the last step will focus on the historical and social aspect of the sport. Let me take you on a journey of rediscovery of Counter-Strike.

First, on an individual level, Counter-Strike’s game mechanics and physics engine give a sense of freedom and power that is unique. At any moment when I’m faster, more precise or perhaps more creative, I can outdo my opponent. There are many points to keep in mind during a round. The accuracy of the weapons is designed so that a millimetre to the left or right, or a millisecond delay, can make the difference between victory or defeat in a duel.

Above all, it is a physical challenge to overcome. You have to be precise, fast and explosive to take your opponents by surprise. Learning and mastering this style of play can be frustrating, but the feeling you feel when you make it is the chemical equivalent of a dopamine avalanche – pure enjoyment.

However, not everything happens physically in the wrist, because a CS game is an endless chain of micro-decisions that, like a chess game, can create a situation that is easier to win than others. How do I use my utility grenades? Should I risk going through this smoke? Should I play more passively and defensively or is the other way around the solution in aggressiveness and proactivity? The strategic component of Counter-Strike is an infinite wealth and understanding the game logic is like learning a new language with unlimited vocabulary.

It is possible to have a conversation with a few words, but poetry only begins when you have a solid background. Once you have trained your tactical mind, psychological warfare can begin with your opponent. You must foresee your movements, your decisions and act accordingly. To be able to set a trap for your opponent, which then also works, is a feeling that is unparalleled.

From my experience, CS has managed to master the almost impossible challenge of being a difficult but intuitive, mechanical and strategic game. And even if the main principles are very easy to understand, the victory lies in the details and a finesse that can only be acquired over time.

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