Macro strategies in Counter-Strike. Guide by SCOPE.GG
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Macro strategies in Counter-Strike. Guide by SCOPE.GG

Jay Rose
Jay Rose
8 min

What is macro in CS?

A lot of people are thinking about CS:GO/CS2 as a casual shooter where you just need to run and gun. This is a popular opinion from the guys who didn't play CS in teams or just playing for fun.

That`s what CS:GO looks like for a fair amount of casual gamers - just a bloody shooter

In reality, Counter-Strike is a really hard game. Besides aim you need to know a lot of things like nade lineups, strategies to use and counter them and many other things.

Strategies are a part of macro gameplay. Macro is a global understanding of the game, the abstract idea you team aimed for while doing something on the map.

Example: we are on Mirage, ct team decided to give up middle and get ramp control instead. It allows them to get the information about whether the opponents are preparing A execute or not. This information could be crucial because if you get it at the right time you can rotate the majority of your players to B and catch your opponents off guard.

Team BIG was taking ramp control in a lot of different ways

Here are some examples of how pros are taking ramp control. As you see, BIG players are using the same set of utility but sometimes they are not taking aggressive ramp control. This is the thing called conditioning - when you take ramp with some set of utility for a couple of times you can throw the same nades and your opponents will probably think that you took ramp again. As a result t team will spend an extra time and utility to clear this area because they would think it's been taken by cts.

Important thing is: when you play faceit or any other matchmaking (pugs) strategies won`t be the same as in teams because you won`t have the synergy between players and understanding what your teammates know in case of nades and tactics. It means that despite the fact that the whole idea will be the same, you have to do different moves to get to it.

Doing agressive moves together is the best thing to make it work

How to make better decisions?

There are some rules that might help you to make the right choices faster and feel yourself more comfortable while playing ranked games.

Key rules:

  • If you choose which spot you will play - you need to play it for the whole game. If you have a good spawn to do something aggressive on the other part of the map of course you can use this, but keep in mind that you have to ask your teammates if they could change you for 1 round.
  • If you are playing ct and you have man advantage (5x3, 4x2 etc.) you need to go passive and play in couples just to make sure everyone will be traded if the opponents come out. If you are playing t side you probably would group up together and execute one of the bombsites, even if ct team will gamble it you should be fine because you have man advantage on this execute regardless if they stack it or not.
  • If you are playing ct you should think carefully about which spot you want to take. The best spot is the one where you can find a kill and go to safety or you can make a multikill (offangles or unexpected spots).
  • Don`t forget about utility! For example, if you are playing under palace on Mirage be sure that you have the smoke just in case t side team molly you. If you don't have a smoke to extinguish - you will be a dead man.
Don`t forget about your utility. If you are playing from dark without a smoke to extinguish yourself - you might be in a huge trouble

These are just the basic rules that could help you be more consistent and make less mistakes than you did before. Just keep the rules in mind and don't forget about them :)

How to understand your strengths?

Every player is different. Some players prefer passive and rational playstyle, others would like to play explosive and aggressive. But how to understand which one fits you more?

When you will make a decision about which style fits you more you are going to utilise it the best possible way :)

Well, its quite easy. You need to play lots of pugs (faceit, matchmaking, esea, fastcup or anything else where you can play 5x5 solo) and try to do different moves - it will help you feel which ones are more comfortable for you to use and when you are getting the biggest impact. As a result you are going to get your own set of moves, your style.

When is it okay to play aggressively?

Where are some teams and players who like to play aggressively in almost every single game. If you have ever played in a team you must know how hard it might be to handle an opponent`s aggression. But sometimes you could be punished for it and overaggression could be a factor why you are losing the game. Alternating your gamestyle from being aggressive to playing safe setups is probably the best thing because it will be hard for your opponents to understand how are you playing and what to expect in the upcoming round.

FaZe is one of the unique teams - they don`t care who are they playing against, they are always agressive. Sometimes it helped them win important games

We must mention that sometimes you need to play aggressively to get chances in rounds when you have man disadvantage. For example, if you are playing ct side and the situation is 3x5 you have to try to find kills otherwise opponents will group up and it won't be winnable for your team (of course there is always a chance, but in this scenario winning is nearly impossible). Of course you have another option - you can just gamble A or B (stack it), so either you catch opponents off guard or save the weapons if they go to another site.

Gamble setups are common even in rounds without casualties. If your solo anchor won`t get a kill you can instantly save 4 guns and keep your economy strong

Aggressive style is also good if you are playing against weaker teams. It's commonly used by pro teams against amateur ones in open qualies and it makes sense: non-pro teams usually can`t find the solution against aggressive style - they just lose all their confidence and momentum.

FURIA players are well known because of their agressive plays. Even strongest teams in the world sometimes couldn`t find a solution to stop them

Examples of macro strategies

Let's talk about macro strategies and why you need them if you want to play decently. As an example we will talk about Mirage ones, because this map is very popular.

Imagine the situation: you are playing on t side and you don`t know anything about your opponent`s style. Obviously you would like to play default first couple of rounds to get the understanding how the opponent are playing.

Default is a type of round when you spend the first half of it to get map control and deny any ct aggression. Also cts will spend their utility so that's another positive factor - when the final execute comes ct team won`t have enough utility to stop it. If we talk about Mirage - classic default strategy is 1-3-1 (1 A, 3 middle, 1 B). The point of this default is to contest mid and get control of it. If you succeed it allows you to do almost anything you want - A or B splits or just move back and execute A or B without splitting. You must know that if you are playing against a decent team they won't give up so much control without a fight - you have to be prepared! Even if they won't challenge you in mid they might try to kill A or B lurker, that's why lurkers need to play very carefully and don't initiate first contact, because if they die - you are going to lose a lot of map control.

EliGE made a cool video about defauls and why are they important

Lurker is a player who needs to activate at the right time and get the space or kill the rotation. Usually it happens after the trades, for example if you are playing 1-3-1 and get a kill inside connector A lurker can try to activate and kill the opps A anker.

Lurker can also be a key factor at the end of the round - imagine the situation where you have 35 seconds left and you want to do an A execute, but you still have your lurker inside B apps. After throwing your nades on A when the execute starts lurker can find a crucial timing to kill the sole B anker and get full control of B, so if you still have like 25-28 seconds after the kill you can rotate to B and secure the round.

There are also some other interesting ideas you might use. Imagine: you played a couple of rounds just by doing your default with mid take. Next round you can throw exact the same nades and send 1 player to make noise on mid, so the opps will probably think that you are taking mid again. Meanwhile other 4 players can go B together and just run out after you have been spotted. Very simple strategy, but so effective because you will fight only 1 player on B in 90% of situations.

How to create strategies in CS?

The main question for the majority of players is - how to understand the game well to know when and what you need to do and make the best possible decisions? Well, it's not that hard - you just need to play a lot of pugs or team games to gain the experience. After hundreds of different moments you will have good understanding just because you already played them so next time you get into a similar situation you won't panic and you will probably have a plan on how to handle this scenario.

There are moments we need to get you through:

  • don't be scared of doing aggressive moves or playing actively on the map. If you let your opponents get too much control you will have to spend a lot of utility and time to check every possible angle where your opponent might be hiding after aggression. Try to make a plan how you want to approach defaults by taking all control you need before the minute since the round starts.
  • If you start to realise that you lost a lot of map control you need to regain it. So the best thing to do in this scenario is regroup and retake the point that's been taken by your opponents. Faster you do it - more chances to win the round!
  • buy properly. If you know how to count your economy and how to buy to get enough money for buying all utility - that`s super great, not just for your team, but for you. Every nade you have gives you the options and more tools to get the map control safely. Check this guide, there is a lot of information about how to buy and count your money better.
  • If you choose the position try to think about this spot as if you were your opponent who's trying to kill you. The hardest spots to kill - that's your choice!
Former professional player steel explained a lot about strategies and how to create them - check this out to get an understanding from pro`s perspective

Remember: your shooting skills are important, but you won`t be a good player without using your brain. Experience is also an important part, it will make you understand the situation faster and react to it doing the right move. Watch the demos and guides to improve yourself and you will outplay the guys with better mechanics than you have :) Good luck!