After almost a decade of waiting, the latest entry of the long-running first-person shooter franchise is finally here with us. There are many reasons why Counter-Strike is considered to be the most cerebral of these games, and its emphasis on tactics and theory makes it a surprisingly good fit for chess players. There has never been a better time to give it a go – and here’s why you might find yourself having a good time hopping from the black-and-white jungle to Inferno and Mirage.
Counter-Strike is fabled for its quick and visceral gunplay, where it takes just a bullet or two to finish off an enemy. While this does mean that accuracy and speed are at a premium once the battle lines are drawn, there are so many ways to twist the odds in an intelligent way that cerebral players can more than compensate for downsides in this regard. Catch your opponent by surprise, blind them with a flashbang, set up a 2v1 encounter, bait out their sniper shot: even if the other player is faster and more precise, you can still prove that you are made of sterner stuff.
Otherwise, it’s the same exhilaration as bullet chess: speedy, instant, chaotic and endlessly satisfying battles over and over again.
Much like in chess, CS2 matches also offer an uneasy equilibrium of tactics and strategy. Yes, a royal fork may spell immediate devastation in your match, just as three quick headshots will turn the tide by themselves in a Counter-Strike game, but as the margins get smaller, so will the cerebral side of things come more into play. Who has map control? Which side has the information advantage? How much utility is still available as the clock begins to tick down? Speaking of which, time management also plays a key part in every round – something chess players should be all too familiar with…
The subtle differences between the two sides and the way they play may very well remind you of the two different colors on the chessboard. Attack and defense, action and reaction – White and Black, CT and T.
Better still, there isn’t an objectively better side, as the characteristics of a map (and, to some extent, your playstyle) makes a significant difference is CS. Sometimes, you want to start things off on the CT side, and in other cases, you’d kill for the opportunity for a guaranteed AK-47.
Just like in chess, you can get a significant advantage over your peers if you take the time to practice some opening theory. In the case of Counter-Strike, this manifests in the form of specific grenade throws. Be it early smokes to lock off sightlines or Molotovs to limit the available space before a site take, knowing what to throw where and when can make or break a gunfight, and this is exactly the sort of knowledge you’re better of accruing in your study room – and it can be just as explosive as an opening novelty.
Better still, CS2 makes it easier than ever to practice these lineups, with a preview camera showing where your throw will land.
Just like how you can rely on Stockfish to rattle off the best possible moves for you, there are certain unsavory ways to get a game-breaking advantage in Counter-Strike. Wallhacks, aimbots, all that good stuff – just don’t be surprised if you get banned. And unlike in chess, you don’t need to hide your mobile phone in the bathroom or jam something up your ass to get an illegal thing going!
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