So, you’re tired of getting your butt kicked by xxxhardcoregamer69 in CS GO, and you’ve finally decided that you want to git gud. But how? There is plenty of content out there, everything from articles and educational videos to Twitch streams of pro players.
Where do you start? Well, I wrote this article to give you an idea of what actually makes you a better player. I know guys who have received coaching, played the game for years, watched plenty of educational content, and their skill level has barely budged from where it was 2 years ago.
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Ask Yourself “Why Do I Want To Get Better?”
This is probably the most important point I can make, and a lot of gamers who are trying to get better often tend to forget why they want to get better. The more you think about how important getting better is to you, the more it’s going to help with deciding which route you should take in order to improve.
Are you playing with hopes of becoming a streamer on Twitch someday? Or perhaps you just like the game more than the average person and are willing to put in several hours of time on a regular basis. Maybe you even have aspirations of going pro.
If you’re trying to go pro, you need to put in a lot more time and effort than some guy who just wishes to rank up faster than their friends. And if you want to reach a “respectable” rank but not the elite tier, you shouldn’t be pouring in 7+ hours each day because you can achieve the same goal with a lot less effort if you train smart.
Some people only care about in-game skill, others want to develop their skills and behavior simultaneously. Some only care about learning one-off cheesy tricks from some Youtube videos to look cool in front of their friends.
While others wish to consistently play at a higher level even when nobody’s watching (so they need to learn the game on a conceptual basis). Take a few minutes, relax, and think about what the game really means to you. How much you’re willing to invest (in terms of time, focus, patience, etc.), and what you expect in return for it.
Playing casually for fun? That’s fine, I believe even casual players should strive to improve if they put 7+ hours a week into a single game. Playing at a higher level automatically feels better, outplaying others who are just as skilled as you will feel great. At least that’s how I look at it, but I know that everyone isn’t focused on gaining ranks. Some people just game to pass the time.
Learn To Focus And Pay Attention
While trying to improve at anything, what is the first thing you need to do? That’s right- learning. And how do you learn stuff? By focusing.
I am not just talking about focusing and paying attention while watching educational content for some game on Youtube, but also within the game itself. In order to actually improve, you must apply the concepts you learn from some video or tutorial.
Observing closely will allow you to see whether your techniques are actually working out as intended.
You will also be able to understand the psyche of other players within the game, both on your team and the enemy team. How they react to certain movements, which spots you can use to trick them in, etc. And, the basic concept of paying attention applies even within single-player games.
For example- in a boss fight, you need to focus on the boss and learn its patterns. Which attacks it uses, when it uses them, and how you can trigger certain reactions from specific enemy types. All of this will allow you to exploit the enemy AI, and take advantage of their predictability.
Play With A Consistent Setup
If you play with 800dpi today, 1200dpi tomorrow, and 2000dpi the next day, you will never be able to improve. It is good to experiment from time to time, trying to find which settings suit your style the best. But don’t overdo it, pick a config that feels good and practice with it.
Get used to it, practice your moves with a specific set of key bindings and mouse dpi. Everyone has their own preferences on how they want the game to look and feel, that’s exactly why we love PC so much because it lets you customize pretty much everything.
Turn off glare and ultra-high textures, set custom resolutions, particle effects, etc. to tune the game for a more competitive feel.
I know you can’t do a lot of this stuff if you’re on console, or at least it depends on the game you’re playing and the controller you’re using. Some controllers like the Microsoft Xbox One Elite allow you to set trigger locks and different sensitivities.
I also recommend you check out my article on the best gaming controllers for PC, since a lot of fighting games and platformers on PC are better played with controllers instead of keyboard and mouse
I see a lot of guys in the comments section of Youtube videos and Reddit asking for settings used by their favorite pro player. That’s nice, but you shouldn’t be using the same settings like a pro if it doesn’t feel natural. Yeah, any setting won’t feel natural right from the start which is why I suggest you give it at least 5 to 10 hours of game time before making a decision.
Just because a pro plays CS GO with 400 dpi doesn’t mean you HAVE to do the same. He might have a mousepad that’s twice as large, or he might be playing at 800 x 600 instead of 1280 x 720. Lower resolutions benefit more from a lower dpi, and vice versa. If you’re playing on a small table with a laptop, your mousepad can’t be as large as that of the pros so a higher dpi setting might benefit you.
Your 15.6” 60Hz screen might not look so good with black bars (if you use an older aspect ratio like what we had in CRT monitors), but the pros use 24 or 27-inch monitors on their desks so black bars on the side won’t affect them as much.
Some people like 90° FOV, others want it maxed out (120°). Too much FOV can cause dizziness and information overload, but it also lets you gain greater peripheral vision. Some games benefit from an ultrawide monitor (Dota 2), others not so much (CS GO).
In the end, it all comes down to your personal preferences and playstyle. But choose a setup, and stick with it. Buy a good mousepad, a good gaming mouse (doesn’t have to be super expensive), and a decent set of headphones (highly recommend the HyperX Cloud series). I might write an article focused on gaming gear and settings in the future, to provide some more in-depth info on this very important topic.
Watch The Pros And Learn From Them
One of the best ways to improve at something is to simply watch people who are better than you. They’ve already gone through the process, and have come up with techniques that would take you weeks or months to create by yourself. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
But in this case, I don’t suggest that you copy them to a tee. Instead, use them as a template or foundation for what you want to be in the future. Take inspiration from their gameplay, try to reverse engineer a play to understand why or how a certain pro did something.
Keep in mind, this advice is intended for those among you who are a lot more serious about gaining ranks in whatever competitive game you play- CS GO, Dota 2, League of Legends, Fortnite, etc. It isn’t a must-do for people who just want to have a good time with friends after an exhausting day of work at the office.
Watching a couple of clips of some pros on Youtube doesn’t have to take much time. Anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes of spectating a pro game can teach you so many things, and make you look at the game in ways you would never have even though of before. Pros have learned to think out of the box and understand the game’s concepts thoroughly.
Get A Good Stable Internet Connection
Just yesterday, I played a game of Dota 2. Within the span of 3 matches, I counted 4 different occasions in which someone DC’d (disconnected). And when I asked why, the answer was either mobile internet or a scrappy wi-fi connection.
Someone knocks over the router, or the plug gets disconnected, and you just leave 4 of your teammates stranded in the middle of a game-deciding fight.
I understand that not all of you reading this article have access to fiber-optic internet. Maybe you live in a rural area, maybe your choice of ISPs is between “bad” and “really bad”. But connecting to the router via a LAN cable instead of Wi-Fi guarantees a much more stable connection than what you’d normally have.
Keyword being “stable”, so even if you’re forced to play CS GO at 100ms ping, it will be 100ms ping for the entire game instead of jumping between 100 and 200.
You can also lookup ways to optimize your router settings for gaming. And if there are 4 people using the internet at the same time you game, well, tough luck. I know there are a lot of you who play on old laptops with Wi-Fi, but try to take whatever steps you can to improve your internet because it has a huge impact on your skill over time.
Practice, Practice And Practice Some More
Practice makes perfect. It is better to experiment and make mistakes while practicing instead of doing the same in a live ranked match with other players on your team.
Whether you play MOBAs, Battle Royales, or FPS, practice your techniques in a private lobby or custom map before you implement them in an actual game.
Practice also encompasses all the time you spend playing matches daily. I don’t know where I read this, but there’s this thing called the “10,000-hour rule” which states that you need 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become world-class at something.
I don’t know how much truth this holds, but I bet you all the pros in mature esports like Dota 2, League, CS GO, etc. have at least 10k hours in the game.
Have A Positive Mental Attitude
If you aren’t going into the game with a positive mindset, you are already putting yourself at a disadvantage from the start. Not only that, but your actions and communications will also affect how your team plays. In a solo game, you’ll ruin your own potential. In a team game, you will demoralize the whole team.
Act mature, communicate in a way that instills confidence within the team, and always try to look at the bright side of things (even though some matches may make it really hard for you to do so).
I don’t believe that having a positive mental attitude will suddenly increase your rank by 20 percent or something, but it sure helps you perform consistently, at 100 percent of your existing potential.
When you don’t tilt, statistically speaking there is a lower chance that one of your teammates will tilt. Even if you tilt once out of 10 games, you might be losing 10 percent of your games to reasons under your own control.
Do something to lighten up the mood when one guy is raging- crack a joke, reassure your team that you’ve got this, etc. And distance yourself from the extremely toxic elements within a game, whether it is your teammate or your enemy. Mute the guy who just won’t listen to reason.
It’s Not The Team Fault, It’s Yours
One common saying among online matches is “my team played badly”. Well, guess what, you can’t control your team. But you can improve your own skills, you can lead them through example.
The matchmaking system in a competitive game like Dota 2 or CS GO will match you with and against opponents of equal skill, so maybe they are doing something that you don’t.
Maybe you are better than them in some aspects, but they beat you in others. The guy you’re calling bad might have a worse aim, but better game sense.
Who knows, the point is that you are simply wasting time and energy by blaming others. Of course, there are tilting games, games in which you genuinely feel powerless. But that’s only 20 to 40 percent of them.
A very wise player once said that all matches can be divided into 3 categories- free wins, unwinnable, and impact dependent. To explain it- 40 percent of the time you win just by not playing bad, 40 percent of the time you can’t win no matter what, and 20 percent of the time whether you win or not actually depends on your personal impact within the game. That final 20 percent is what you are targeting.
I assume a lot of the that concepts spill over to in all matchmaking games. Besides, you only remember those games in which you lost because your teammates played badly. You rarely remember the games in which you got carried, because it hurts to accept that you played bad and were carried.
Selective memory is a thing. Most of the time if there is one doofus in your team, you can bet your bottom dollar there is one on the enemy team as well.
Stay Updated On The Meta
Read the patch notes, look at what high-rank players are doing, watch Youtube regularly to understand the latest stats, all of this helps you stay in touch with the meta.
Meta is short for metagame and it basically describes the general strategy, actions, or methods used by players of the game. Meta is the most effective tactic/ way of playing the game based on the current ruleset.
Every patch a new meta may rise based on certain weapons/ items/ characters getting nerfed or buffed. If you’re a casual player, this doesn’t really matter all that much since you most likely aren’t even familiar with basic concepts entirely and you don’t push your limits.
But for hardcore players who like maximizing their efficiency and impact in each game, learning patch-specific strategies is very important.
Find A Game You Love
You can’t force yourself to play a game for several hours each day if you don’t enjoy it. Find a game you enjoy, and you’ll have a higher chance of improving at that game.
You’ll want to improve, you’ll go looking for educational content, coaching, tutorials, etc. all by yourself. You won’t have to be told; you might even become competitive after a while. But on the other hand, if you are only playing a game out of habit and have lost interest, your skill will either plateau or go down.
Don’t force yourself to improve in something you don’t care that much about, it should come naturally.
Try Improving Your Critical Thinking Skills
Improving at most competitive online games is like trying to solve a really long maths problem- it requires critical thought and a pragmatic approach. Train smart, not hard.
Understand things at more than just the surface level, don’t take everything at face value. Dig deep, learn the concepts first. Most games have rules, and then there are exceptions to those rules.
I see a lot of people who copy tricks and cheesy strategies from Youtube videos but end up failing spectacularly when they apply the same stuff in their own matches. You see, every game is dynamic, and the situation shifts within seconds.
Unless you understand the rule, you won’t know when to apply the exception. Critical thinking is all about absorbing and then analyzing information from multiple sources.
Think about the why’s, who’s, how’s, and when’s. Don’t assume stuff, decide for yourself based on logical arguments and analysis.
Pay Attention To Detail And Start Analyzing Stuff
This ties into my previous point regarding critical thinking. In order to think critically, you must first observe and acquire information from your surroundings. And that requires a keen eye which is constantly on the lookout for every shift in the game environment, every little change is shown on your screen.
Our brains only absorb a fraction of the information that our eyes “see”. Train yourself to focus on the little details that most people miss. This will reveal to you game mechanics that were previously hiding in plain sight because you never bothered to pay attention. Keep a calm, yet alert mind at all times.
Keep Your Body and Mind Healthy
Just because you play video games for several hours a day doesn’t mean you can’t stay fit. Do simple exercises at home, get a gym membership if you can, eat healthy whenever possible, learn to cook, there are plenty of ways to stay fit. A healthy body is accompanied by a healthy mind.
Being in good physical shape will increase your confidence, and some even claim that it boosts reaction speed within games. Maintain a good sleep schedule, and don’t guzzle up too many cans of energy drink.
Stay hydrated while gaming, and don’t forget to flex your hands, wrists, joints, etc. after each match. Otherwise, you’ll end up with all sorts of syndromes later in your life, one of which is the dreaded carpal tunnel.
Stay healthy, sleep well, drink plenty of water, and rank up.
Stop Playing When You’re On A Losing Spree
I have a personal rule that I make sure to follow whenever I am grinding ranked matches Whenever I lose 2 in a row, I take a break. Go outside, stretch my limbs, drink a beverage, you get the idea.
Maybe I will come back later in the day for more games, but losing 2 games automatically puts me in a negative mental state and I need some time to reset.
I don’t want to play at a disadvantage, even though I don’t get tilted easily. Maybe there isn’t a wide pool of players for the matchmaker to choose from, maybe I am committing a silly mistake that is easy to rectify once I take a look at the replay. Either way, I won’t take the chance.
I found out that most deranks happen when you tilt and lose 8 or 10 in a row, not when you win 2 and lose 3 in a normal day.
Don’t Let Emotions Cloud Over Logic
One trend I noticed is that new players often make wrong decisions based on outcomes. For example, I saw one guy lose a fight and get blamed by his team, and then he decided that maybe he shouldn’t have been in that part of the map.
That’s not the correct way to look at things. Be goal-oriented, not outcome-oriented. If your team flames you, you might feel bad. But that doesn’t necessarily mean your play was wrong. People often make the wrong decisions in the heat of the moment, due to peer pressure or the pain of a loss/ bad match.
Let it all reset, look at the evidence, facts, and logically arrive at a conclusion. Don’t make hasty emotion-fueled judgments.
Study Strategies And Come Up With Your Own
I might have touched on this topic in some previous points, but you can’t just copy what the pros do and expect to win games. Every game is different, and what works in some might not work in others.
People change their playstyles from game to game, and even within the same game. A strategy might be good vs certain kinds of playstyles but not against others.
You can’t do the same thing every game and expect to go up in rank unless you’ve come up with a genius strategy that applies in all situations (in which case you would be a pro and not reading this article).
Take inspiration from pro games, copy certain aspects, but not the whole thing. Inspect their plays, try to understand why they did it and you will get the underlying concept. Once you get the formula, you can apply it to various problems and come up with your own solutions.
Copying blatantly is like memorizing the solution, if the problem is different, you will fail. What you want to do is get the formula instead, by analyzing strategies of better players.
Train Your Reflexes – Especially Important For FPS Players
Practice until common actions become muscle memory. If you play shooters, your brain will automatically know where to put the crosshair in order to hold an angle.
Reactions are game and even map specific, so make sure you practice multiple different scenarios to get proper speed. Some games require reactive input whereas in other games you have to be proactive.
For example, in CS GO you see a guy as soon as you turn a corner. You “react” by immediately moving your crosshair towards his head. On the other hand in Dota 2, most of the reflexes come from simulating what MIGHT happen to your hero.
Depending on what the enemy heroes are and what items they have made, you will have a set of instructions pre-programmed into your brain to execute as soon as the prerequisite events take place.
Like you are puck mid with 300hp, and the enemy lion is missing. As soon as he shows up near you, you have to either jaunt away or phase shift his finger. That is in your mind for at least 20 to 30 seconds before the lion arrives.
Different games require different types of reflexes, and you should spend 30 minutes to 1hr daily in shooters training your aim and reflexes. For MOBAs, reflex training isn’t that important. But it still matters.
Check out some of those reaction trainer websites which have minigames designed to train your reflexes. I don’t think they help THAT much, but they improve your reaction speed in general.
Within the game, you are trying to detect and react to very specific impulses that can’t be replicated in some browser minigame. So practice within your game first.
Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself
Remember- it’s just a game. I’ve seen plenty of keyboard smashes and rage quits to understand that some people might take death in a game way too seriously in real life. Chill out, sit back, and take a deep breath.
You are only making it harder for yourself by raging. And there are others who push themselves too hard, to the point where they are just playing for the sake of playing.
Their brains aren’t even in the state to actually absorb any information. Don’t push yourself too hard, be pragmatic, and cool-headed at all times.
Having A Good PC Helps A Lot
This one is sort of iffy, I didn’t really want to put it in because I know many of you can’t afford. But this point is intended for those who aren’t sure how much of an impact their gaming setup has on their skills.
For certain games like Dota 2 and League of Legends, you can get away with 4 or 5-year-old hardware, as long as it was decent at the time of its release.
I personally don’t have the latest hardware and I can run Dota 2 just fine at 150+ fps. If you are serious about shooters like Call of Duty, Fortnite, PUBG, CS GO, Rainbow 6 Siege, etc.
I highly recommend you invest in a setup with a 144hz display or higher since it makes a world of difference in terms of smoothness and reaction speeds. You also need hardware capable of pushing those kinds of frame rates.
If you absolutely can’t afford a proper PC, try optimizing your current hardware. Shut unnecessary background tasks like torrents, antivirus, downloads, video players, etc.
Invest in an SSD for loading times, clean up all the gunk from the fans, repaste your CPU and GPU if you haven’t done so in more than 4 or 5 years.
Make sure your case is getting proper airflow. Defragment disks, and perform general maintenance. Free up RAM by closing browser tabs. Run discord on your phone instead of the PC if you have 4 cores or less.
It Is Going To Take Time, Lots Of Time
Hey, did I even have to tell you this? Don’t assume you’ll get up there without spending hundreds or even thousands of hours in the game. Practice and dedication is the key to success.
The guy owning you in COD didn’t do it overnight, he spent countless days practicing. And no, it’s not his fancy skins that are making his aim perfect.
What did you think of my list? I drew all these points from my personal experience training students in Dota 2. I know a lot of these concepts carry over to other competitive games, and gaming in general because I have also played FPS and Battle Royales.
If you have any secret techniques for getting better faster, please share them with me. I promise I won’t publish them in the article (or I might).
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