Playing Counter-Strike is like riding a bike. Sure, I haven’t really played in over a decade, and I was infinitely more familiar with the original Counter-Strike and Source. But it was all going to come back to me, and I was going to put up a decent fight, when I played a 1v1 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive match-up against Aussie world contenders Order.
These were the kind of untruths I was telling myself, very much in the spirit of fake confidence: y’know, the kind you hope leads to some sort of real confidence. Fresh off their narrow defeat against the Chiefs, Red Bull had kindly teed up a 1v1 showdown between me and Order’s Chris “emagine” Rowlands and then, very unexpectedly and separately (phew), Jordan “Hatz” Bajic.
Back in the day, I was never a Counter-Strike pro, nor a semi-pro, though I did play with some of the latter and I learnt a lot from them. I was definitely a public-server contender, though. You’d usually find me near the top of the table, and while my kill death ratio could have been better, I was a big fan of playing the objective as a Counter-Terrorist and, well, generally playing aggressively, regardless of the team. Camping was never my jam, unless I was defending a bomb plant or defusal, and I loved the high risk/reward adrenaline hit of rushing every round.
It’s amazing how those aggressive intentions fly out the window when you’re squaring off against a pro. While the basics did come back pretty fast (thankfully), my reaction time has understandably but unfortunately dulled in the decade that’s passed between CS rounds. Accuracy is important, for sure, and my aim wasn’t the worst (you can verify that in the replay at the bottom of this article), but I definitely lost some shootouts I didn’t even know I was involved in.
I clearly wasn’t up to the task of battling these pros on their terms, so I pushed to shift them to battle on mine. So, instead of keeping fights at longer ranges, I tried to keep the fight closer. Of course, this rarely worked, but my aim was to try to stop it from being a complete whitewash.
This started out with my rediscovery of the P90. Where the advice of Mel Gibson’s Benjamin Martin to his son in The Patriot was to aim small, miss small, the P90 has always been for me: aim high, spray high.
That’s what I did and, well, that’s how I scored my first kill. Given the high lethality of CS, there were some moments earlier on in my duelling that were close. But even when I know a pro player is on low health, I'm still scared. And that’s the thing: Counter-Strike has always had great moments of tension, but knowing that you’re perpetually the prey due to a the massive skill difference, ramps that tension up at all times. It didn’t help that I had a crowd of onlookers behind me (though, in fairness, they were more supportive than critical).
I fared better in my knife fights against emagine, even if I did try the cheesiest trick of pulling out my pistol during the first one (I still didn’t manage to score a kill). After I somehow managed to convince him that I actually wanted to have a fair knife fight (that’s not before he, understandably, took a few shots at me), I won both of them.
When emagine and Hatz switched spots, though, it became clear that my first Order opponent was going a lot easier on me than I had expected. There were some freakish shots that Hatz made, where I’m convinced there was nothing different I could have done to avoid death. That said, I managed a headshot in a Deagle shootout that felt like it lasted way longer than it had any right to.
I had hoped to record both perspectives but, alas, the video of my perspective corrupted. Still, being able to relive my trouncing from the pro POV made me feel better about my performance. Despite the fun of the 1v1, I haven’t been tempted out of CS retirement: I’ll stick to Battlefield and Siege, methinks. At least in those games I feel I’m in with more of a fighting chance, even in those rare moments when I do come up against pro players.