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.
Overwatch drew controversy upon release for its allegedly 20hz servers, but that number only ref 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.
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.