Astralis' Xyp9x, k0nfig talk ghosting and crowd impact on events

Nick J. December 11, 2019

Counter-Strike features a long history of excited fans cheering on players live. Several incidents with these excitable crowds over the years have brought one issue to the forefront of the CSGO community time and time again.

The problem is that fans like to see their team win. It's an understandable feeling, one that every sports fan can identify with. Unlike in most traditional sports, however, fan support in CSGO can have a major impact on some games.

The specific issues have ranged in severity from unfortunate, like the latest incident during the ESL Pro League semifinal matchup between Astralis and mousesports, to downright cheating from fans. 

Crowd gives away mousesports eco boost in EPL S10 semifinals

During last weekend's semifinals matchup that saw mousesports get the best of Astralis 2-1, it looked like Astralis' home field advantage was a real factor in at least one round during the series' second map, Overpass. In round six, mouz took an eco as in-game leader Finn "karrigan" Andersen called for a sneaky boost on the construction railing, hoping to catch Astralis off guard in connector. 

Unfortunately for mouz, the EPL finals were on Astralis' home turf in Odense, Denmark, and the fans wanted to see Astralis make a play. As Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth made his way down connector and cleared spools, the crowd grew louder and more frantic before quieting as he moved his crosshair away from the mouz player's silhouettes. When he panned back across Robin "ropz" Kool's and karrigan's outlines, the crowd roared again.

Like a man with a metal detector, Xyp9x utilized the crowd as his own personal CT detection. With this info, Xyp9x called Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander down the stairs for the easy kill.

Afterward, some in the Counter-Strike community blamed the fans for cluing Astralis in on the boost. Xyp9x, however, put the blame squarely on the tournament organizer's shoulders in a post on Twitlonger.

"From my perspective, no sound - whether from the crowd or other source - should have influence on the outcome of a round or a match and below I've tried to explain how I think this issue may be addressed and why I think this is an equipment/TO issue rather than a player or a crowd issue," Xyp9x said.

Xyp9x continue and said that there is a large difference between giving a team concrete information and getting excited about a potential play.

"Crowd and fan enthusiasm/excitement is really what this is all about," Xyp9x continued.

As for his reaction in-game, Xyp9x explained that when the crowd gets loud, every player in the server is worried about what could be around them.

But Xyp9x has a solution.

The Astralis rifler believes that tournament organizers need to build "a properly soundproofed booth which eliminates undue outside sound interference." He mentioned that organizers need to stop building booths that only look soundproof. This means that one of CSGO's top players is accusing organizers of resorting to half measures when it comes to competitive integrity.

ropz chimed in as well, telling all the "tricks" he's learned since he began playing on LAN.

"You can play clutches on a crowd, you can scan walls on a crowd, hell you can even throw grenades likes HEs and flashes because the sound from the stage is loud enough that you'll hear if they explode, which instantly means there is an enemy near you," Ropz tweeted.

Funnily enough, EPL observers caught Chris "ChrisJ" de Jong try the same trick that had helped Xyp9x seconds earlier as he attempted to save his rifle and armor at the end of that same round.

Complexity's K0nfig has idea to stop fans from ghosting

Kristian "k0nfig" Wienecke has his own idea. He says that tournament organizers shouldn't just make the booths soundproof, but make them so that players can't see out of them. k0nfig floated the idea on the HLTV Confirmed podcast.

The Complexity Gaming rifler suggested the idea of one-way glass that would prevent the players from gaining any information from the outside. The idea has merit.

Natus Vincere's Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev once famously paused a live tournament match because he could see the stadium screen reflection off the glass. s1mple believed the reflection gave him a competitive advantage.

"...if everyone had booths where the glass is black on [the player's] side so [the player] can't see out but [the fans] could see in, that would be the perfect solution," K0nfig said.

K0nifg also cites a tournament where fans were shouting out player positions to the opposing team, a move known in the gaming community as "ghosting." Why k0nfig won't mention the name of the tournament is anyone's guess, but he definitely remembers.

As a member of North, he was almost on the losing side of that exact situation.

At the ESL Pro League Season 5 grand finals in 2017, k0nfig nearly lost a two-versus-one post-plant against G2 Esports. During the clip, viewers can hear attendees shouting both the correct bomb site and the North players' positions to Kenny "kennyS" Schrub.

"You use it to your advantage all the time," k0nfig said about pro players using fan reactions and the noise in the arena to gain an edge.

"And... when you're sitting at home, you can't use it. And I don't think it should be a possible thing to use at tournaments as well."

Fans sometimes help teams cheat

In the LAN finals of the DreamHackOpen Bucharest Zowie 2016, Cloud9 faced off against Virtus.pro for the tournament title. It wasn't until after the match was over that someone noticed that a fan in the crowd was holding up a sign indicating which site the attacking team was heading to.

Flagrant help from the crowd has happened several times at CSGO tournaments

Not all ghosting incidents are as dramatic as Bucharest, but it illustrates the power that fans can wield over the outcomes of games. In reality, the responsibility is on both the tournament organizers and the fans to make sure that games are played clean.

Xyp9x closed his Twitlonger by telling fans that the Counter-Strike Professional Player's Association would discuss the issue further before reaching out to tournament organizers to work toward a solution.

Until then, fans may start to wonder how much of what the best players on LAN do is skill and how much is just them soaking up the noise.