Here’s what tick rate means and which games have the highest

By Kenneth Williams

|

Sep 30, 2021

Reading time: 2 min

Heard a teammate complaining about his whiffed one-taps? They were probably stressing out over tick rate.

In online games, a tick is an update between the server and the connected computers. Tick rate refers to how many times information is updated a second, usually measured in hertz. A 64-tick server will update info 64 times a second. Tick rate can affect gameplay in any video game that isn’t turn-based, though first-person shooters are the most affected.

Tick rate can affect gameplay in a variety of ways. Since Dota 2 runs at 64hz, players have just 1/64th of a second to execute tick-perfect commands.

Developers can also make gameplay decisions based on ticks. It’s fairly common in Halo for two players to kill each other with melee attacks. Compare that to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, where it’s impossible for two players to kill each other on the same tick. Since tick rate varies, the difficulty of perfectly-timed actions varies across titles.

Esports with the highest tick rate

Overwatch drew controversy upon release for its allegedly 20hz servers, but that number only refers to some server-side information updates. In actuality, Overwatch servers run at a consistent 63 ticks-per-second.

League of Legends has a tick rate of 30, which is one of the lowest among esports titles. It’s much easier to execute tick-perfect spells in LoL compared to other games, but that still means 1,800 updates every minute. Dota 2 has the standard tick rate of 64, which is mostly consistent with Source-powered games. The key word there is “mostly.”

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is an interesting case because the tick rate varies depending on the server. In Valve’s official CSGO servers, the tick rate is set to 64hz. On third-party matchmakers like ESEA and FACEIT, 128-tick servers are the standard. Rival shooter Valorant runs exclusively on a tick rate of 63. Many players claim that a higher tick rate makes aiming and moving more consistent, but there isn’t any way to test high tick rates in Valorant. 

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On official, CSGO has the highest tick rate of any major esports. That lead increases significantly when third-party 128-tick servers are considered. However, one other popular Valve title just barely beats it out. Official Team Fortress 2 servers run at 66hz, just a hair above CSGO and Dota 2. It’s difficult to call TF2 a real esport, but any player desperate for ticks should give the game a try.

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