The best tips for getting started in Counter-Strike 2 from CS:GO pros

Counter-Strike 2
(Image credit: Valve)

Counter-Strike 2 is here for everyone and it is unsurprisingly proving very popular, with over 1.4 million people playing it at the same time on launch day, forcing Valve to add more servers to play on. With so many people jumping in and trying to get their CS Rating as high as possible you are going to need every trick in the book to go on a winning streak and, fortunately, the best players in the world have already done all the hard work for you. 

With CS2 being more of an evolution of Counter-Strike rather than a complete overhaul, almost everything you know from CS:GO still transfers over. The spray patterns are effectively the same, although some top players claim it feels different, and the general strategies are the same, as well as positioning remaining similar on most maps.

But there are a few key features in CS2 that are either intentionally very different or have ended up feeling just a little off due to some of the upgrades. After playing the Limited Test for months, some top players have already mastered these new systems, and these are the best strategies they have discovered so far that will help you get ahead.

Use grenades to disperse smokes, not bullets

The biggest—and flashiest—change in CS2 is the new-look smoke grenade and how it interacts with the world. No longer are smokes perfectly uniform shapes that will always act in the same way—now they are capable of filling up space naturally, and more importantly, the clouds can be moved.

While you can make holes through the edges of smokes with bullets, and no doubt we will see some incredible plays with this eventually, it hasn’t proven all that effective so far. It reveals your position and the vision you get from it is pretty tiny. However, throw a HE grenade into the smoke, and suddenly everyone hiding behind it looks like a complete idiot standing out in the open.

If you are playing with communicative teammates then you can sync this process up, with someone throwing a grenade into a smoke as you swing out to shoot down the fools stupid enough to be standing on the other side. But, as proven by the best players, if your teammates aren’t up to scratch you can just do it yourself and take a tiny bit of damage in the process, which may not be ideal, but it does look way cooler.

Stand back from angles and pre-fire if you can’t

Some of the concepts of holding angles and swinging out have transferred over to CS2, but with the new sub-tick servers that speed things up a bit, it can feel a bit unnatural at times, especially when you get shot by someone you haven’t even seen.

With the minuscule delay that CS:GO had between server ticks, many players became accustomed to a very small delay in their actions when shooting, but with the new servers that is gone, and it's most noticeable when playing around an angle, as demonstrated by Erik "fl0m" Flom in the video above.

If you find yourself in a fight where one of you is going to have to move out from an angle, then you will want to play with the distance you are away from it. If you aren’t going to move then you’ll want to be as far back as possible, but if you are forced to swing out, most of the time you’ll need to get closer to the wall or cover you are behind.

While I don’t claim to be anywhere near the pro level, I’ve found so far that swinging out further on angles instead of jiggle-peeking works way better in CS2 than in CS:GO, and I’ve had a bit of success from pre-firing round an angle when faced with an AWP user (the one-shot sniper rifle) holding it. Obviously, at high levels, the AWPer will be good enough to kill you, but for those of us not towards the top of the leaderboards, it seems to work a fair amount of the time.

Bait with your shadow (but don’t blame me if you die)

This is a play that doesn't comes off every time, but when it does you are going to destroy the morale of the other player and feel like an absolute god.

With the fancy new lighting effects in CS2 player shadows can easily be mistaken for an actual player in the heat of a battle. So, if you learn where there are good spots to hide where your shadow will be slightly more visible, you can potentially trick players into shooting your shadow, leaving you to jump out and surprise them. When it works it looks like the greatest CS play of all time.

But on the flip side, when it doesn’t then you're the one left with egg on your face. Putting your shadow in an obvious position means a good player will likely spot it before putting themselves in danger, allowing them to force you out of your cover with utility and making you look a bit silly. Some Reddit users have also discovered that being in smoke does not block your shadow, which is surely a bug, but for now, is another thing to look out for when it comes to spotting enemies.

I suppose the actual tip should be to look out for obvious shadows of hiding enemies, but just imagine if you can pull off a shadow bait intentionally, it would be incredible.