Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s best players are more than just good aimers. While both esports pros and talented casual players understand CSGO inside and out, the game often comes down the smallest noises that decide the winners.
CSGO is full of sounds. For new players, sound is usually one of the last things they think about. Between trying to master the game’s complicated movement mechanics and spray patterns, it’s easy to see why sound isn’t at the top of the list for new players. But sound is where new players should start to learn CSGO. A soon as a player realizes the game often comes down to brains before bullets, a proper understanding of CSGO’s sounds and their power gives players the ability to use them to their advantage.
We’re not only talking about listening for footsteps, although that does play a large part. Sounds impact a match in two ways. It’s almost better to think of sounds players make and the ones they don’t as another weapon that a player can use to get the round win.
Most players can understand that sounds like footsteps and reloading a weapon can give away positions. For example. Call of Duty players rely on footstep sounds just like CSGO players do. But CSGO is different from other shooters in one impactful way. While a game of CSGO can be just as loud and as action-packed as one in Call of Duty, CSGO can also be a very quiet game.
It comes down to movement. CSGO’s movement comes in two types: slow and loud, and slow and quiet. CSGO doesn’t have any way for players to sprint. The game’s lack of a sprint means that players can’t get in or out of a fight as they can in CoD. Instead, they have to rely on other things, such as sound, more than they might have to in faster-paced shooters.
Just because players can’t sprint doesn’t mean they don’t make noise. In fact, it is knowing exactly where on a map a player can move quickly without fear and where they should walk and stay quiet separates good players from great ones. Take this clip from ESL One Cologne 2017 between Cloud9 and Natus Vincere. As the final C9 player alive, former C9 rifler Jordan “n0thing” Gilbert showcased that knowledge in the game-winning one-versus-one.
n0thing stops just before he crosses the connector entrance on Overpass, knowing that if he continued to run, there was a chance that the Na`Vi player could hear the noise it made. Choosing not to make any noise is the easiest way players can manipulate sound in CSGO to gain an advantage. Even though players technically don’t make any sound at all, n0thing’s flank showed that no noise is sometimes the best option.
Players can’t literally use the sound of a footstep or a fake reload to take out an enemy. But what they can do is use footsteps or the sound of a dropped bomb to trick an enemy into thinking they have the upper hand. In this example from BLAST Premier Fall Series, mousesports’ Aurimas “Bymas” Pipiras and Robin “ropz” Kool managed to bait in Heroic’s René “TeSeS” Madsen into an early death using only sound and a few fake footsteps.
TeSeS took the bait and paid for it. Both ropz and Bymas are familiar with how aggressively TeSeS likes to play the ladder spot in competitions, so they designed to make a play they knew he couldn’t refuse.
Players won’t know who they’re queuing up against online, but most haven’t started to think about how they can use sound to toy with or trick an enemy. Here, mousesports used a combination of the two examples. While Bymas made a ton of noise before moving toward Train’s B site, ropz never made any. So when TeSeS thought that he heard the one player move away, that’s when he walked into ropz.
CSGO can be overwhelming enough as it is, but simply changing the way players think about sounds can change how they play for the better. Understanding and reacting to enemy sounds takes time and hundreds of hours of gameplay to fully master. It takes even more practice to get the hang of using noise on purpose to gain an advantage over someone who’s never considered noise’s role in the FPS. Just like an M4A4 or an AWP, sound is just another one of CSGO’s tools ready to be used.