Counter-Strike is one of the most popular and accessible esports titles out there. Its unique team-based gameplay blends visceral action with great strategic depth, truly making it a game that’s easy to learn but hard to master. Even a first-time viewer will appreciate the mechanical skill on display, but it’s the scholars of the game who will truly understand what makes one team triumph over another. It is perhaps the best esport to start out with if you’re new to the scene, and if betting is up your alley, it’s a great starting point for that as well. We’ve put together a short rundown of the basics of the game alongside some useful Counter-Strike betting tips as well so that you can gain an edge on the competition.

The basics of Counter-Strike

CS:GO – Counter-Strike: Global Offensive – is the latest entry to the long-running franchise and the one which cemented the series as a high-stakes esport. While many elements of the game changed across the different titles, the core gameplay always remained the same. Every CS match is made up of two fifteen-round halves. One team plays as the Counter-Terrorists and the other as the Terrorists before swapping sides at half-time. The goal is to win sixteen rounds overall. Bomb defusal is the main competitive mode: the goal of the Terrorist side is to plant a bomb at one of the two designated sites (marked “A” and “B”), then to protect it until it explodes. If the bomb explodes or they eliminate all CTs, they win the round. The Counter-Terrorists’ goal is to stop this from happening, either by killing all terrorists, defusing the bomb, or stopping them from planting it until the round timer runs out.

You can see why the core gameplay is so engaging: not only is it easy to understand, the teams’ roles also dynamically change from attack to defense over the course of a single round. No wonder it remained relevant in the gaming world for over two decades. Beyond the great mechanical skill required, Counter-Strike is also a highly strategic title. Since gunfights end in a blink of an eye, positioning is key. The game’s unique economy system also adds a lot of depth to the experience both for the player and the viewer.

If you manage to survive a round in Counter-Strike, you get to carry over your remaining equipment to the next one. Winning provides you with more money than losing a round, but consecutive loss bonuses slowly ramp up to a point where it’s almost but not quite enough to purchase proper equipment. You get small rewards for every kill and every bomb plant as well.

This creates many decision points. Suppose the terrorists managed to plant the bomb with an extra player alive. Should the other team try to fight back, or are they better off saving their equipment to fight another day? If you don’t have enough money to buy proper weapons, is the risk worth it to buy submachine guns and better pistols and try to make a “force buy” work?” It’s these moments which elevate CS:GO beyond a mere shooting gallery and what makes betting on Counter-Strike so much fun.

CS:GO betting tips

These are the basics of the game, but what about the esports side of things? How to bet on Counter-Strike in a way that you eventually turn a profit? It’s not an easy task – bookmakers know what they’re doing and even professional bettors hardly break the 60% margin – but there are few useful pointers to keep an eye out when you make your Counter-Strike betting decisions.

Every map is different – Unlike in some other esports, the playing field isn’t always the same, and much like how Nadal specializes on clay, certain teams have a tendency to favor specific maps. If you understand how the different teams’ “map pools” – the maps they’re comfortable on – line up against one another, you can make much better Counter-Strike betting predictions.

Rivalries are high risk, high reward bets – Much like in traditional sports, local derbies are special beasts. Everyone would like to take their country’s top team down a peg or two, and they usually have a plethora of material to analyze. Every “demo” of the games they’ve played will be pored over and scrutinized by the other teams’ coaches, and it’s quite likely the top team won’t be able – or willing – to do such due diligence against the local minnows. If you have a good understanding of the specific rivalries, they can provide fruitful Counter-Strike: Global Offensive betting opportunities.

What’s the format of the tournament? – The simpler it is – and the lower the prestige –, the more likely an upset will happen. If you only need to win a best-of-one as the underdog, you have a much better chance to come out winning than if you have to beat the better team two times out of three. How about the rest of the bracket? Is it a single-elimination event, a group stage with a Swiss format, a double-elimination bonanza or something else? These are all very different beasts.

Mentality matters – CS:GO matches are long and grueling affairs, and if you can’t pick yourself up after a six-round losing streak or a drubbing on the first map, you’re toast. As such, understanding which teams are prone to making big comebacks and who are the players who crumble under pressure can be a great betting edge. When teams of similar stature play against each other, it’s often not the raw aim or the depth of the strat book which predicts the victor: it’s the mental fortitude. Is Player X prone to tilt when things don’t go his way? Who can keep their poise under fire? Personality and mentality matter a lot in Counter-Strike, and a savvy bettor makes sure to research this aspect of the game as well.

Now that you’ve learned the basics, why not give CS:GO betting a try with Rivalry? Sign up with us and test the waters – we’ll refund your stake if your first bet doesn’t go as planned!