Almost a decade ago, I found a gamemode for Counter-Strike called KZ - short for ‘Kreedz Climbing’. A few months ago I stumbled upon it again, this time in CS:GO, and I instantly fell in love with it. Players compete to climb increasingly complex level geometry, testing their understanding of Counter-Strike’s movement mechanics. The more I played the more intrigued I became and it only felt natural to dig a little deeper into the competitive aspect of KZ. To that end I spoke to Kenneth, founder of kz-climb.com, and ruben - one of the most prominent climbers in the scene.
"KZ is a custom game mode for Counter-Strike that involves difficult jumps and hard obstacles. The goal is to traverse through the map with the fastest time. However, for many maps, even reaching the finish point is a challenge in itself" Kenneth tells me.
As ruben puts it: “it's basically like parkour for CS:GO."
The ultimate goal for a climber is to beat world records. To hold a global record for an official map carries prestige and takes a lot of practice. If you put in a lot of hours, blood, sweat and tears you might find yourself on top of the map crowned the new champion of the world. One of those champions is ruben, a humble guy from Sweden.
A technique that allows you to pick up speed by chaining together multiple crouch-jumps to bunny hop.
PCG: You hold some global records. Which ones are you most proud of and why?
ruben: I do. I'd say i'm most proud of my kz_haki_v2 run. It took me weeks if not months to get it down below seven minutes. Unfortunately Valve changed crouched bhops in a patch a while ago. As it is right now, it might not be beaten any time soon. Other than that, I think my kz_gigablock_go record is solid.
PCG: What does it take to get good at KZ?
ruben: I have played kz for about eight years and still have some issues. For example, people make fun of my long-jumps all the time. It definitely takes a lot of practice to get good at it. And a lot of patience... records won't come easy these days.
More than jumping
The basic idea of a long-jump is to manipulate the physics of the game in order to be able to jump further than you normally can. You do it by strafing before you jump and while you're still in the air. I don't claim to be an expert (or even good, for that matter) but here's an example of the technique:
"There is a lot more depth to KZ than simply jumping onto blocks until you make it to the end.” Kenneth says. “In many cases, players will need to make use of advanced movement techniques such as strafing, long-jumps, bunnyhops, and much more to complete the map. To add even another layer of difficulty, some players choose to do PRO runs, which are runs done without the use of any checkpoints."
"My personal favorite part about KZ is the competition” he continues. “There are currently hundreds of maps released for KZ, and each one has a global leaderboard. Players compete with other players from all around the world and new global records are set daily. This, along with weekly released maps, means that there's always something exciting going on in the KZ community."
We talked a little about Kenneth's website, kz-climb.com. "It's an internet forum where players can gather and discuss the game mode. There is a whole array of active members, ranging from beginners who would like to get better, to KZ veterans who want to prove their skill."
It's also a good resource for players who wants to improve their game. "In the forum, you can find tutorials on how to execute specific movement techniques, discuss the official released maps, watch the latest world record runs, or just talk about anything related to KZ” Kenneth says. “People who are new might be intimidated by the whole competitive aspect of KZ, but the KZ-Climb forum provides a friendly place where players can chat about their favorite game."
As the founder of a large KZ community, Kenneth has seen a lot of record runs over the years. I asked him which record he finds the most impressive.
"The most insane run is inarguably eightbO's PRO run of kz_cursedjourney in 20:43.25” he says. “kz_cursedjourney is a famous map known for its unparalleled difficulty. The majority of players who attempt it cannot even reach a quarter of the map, and those that do finish take an average of over two hours. What makes this run especially impressive is that eightbO manages to complete it without using a single checkpoint."
Advice for new players
Here are some climb servers in both North America and Europe.
Kenneth: Definitely start with the easy maps. I recommend the maps kz_beginnerblock_go, kz_frozen_go, kz_summercliff2_go, and kz_j2s_westbl0ck. These maps are all designed to give beginners a good feel of what KZ is and help you practice jumping and positioning. Learning how to airstrafe correctly is also very important. Airstrafing lets you control your movement while in the air and is useful to jump around corners. There are many tutorials online for it.
ruben: Don't be afraid to ask for help. There are always admins online and even better players often help people through the voice coms in-game. And you need patience. Lots of it.
I would strongly recommend climbing a few maps. Not only is it great fun, but it also helps you in normal games: being able to maneuver your character smoothly will help you win a lot of duels. Also, there are some really cool jumps on the competitive maps that you won't be able to land unless you learn some of these techniques. Have fun and see you at the top!
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