A good sniper can turn the tide of a game. There are lots of different styles and each one helps the team in its own way. An aggressive peek that results in an entry kill can open up a site and make it a whole lot easier to win the round. With a more passive approach you can hold down a key area on the map and make sure your team is in control. In this article I’ll try my best to introduce you to a few different styles and how they function within a team. In my previous guides to roles in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive I’ve covered support, entry fragger and lurker.
What is an AWPer supposed to do?
Like I mentioned above, there are a lot of different styles when it comes to AWPing. Because of that it’s difficult to say what a good AWPer is ‘supposed’ to do. Ultimately, your goal is to win the game. In order to do so you need to understand a few things. First of all: your weapon costs $4750. That’s $2050 more than an AK-47. Let’s say you have full armor, an AWP, a smoke and two flashes and you’re facing a guy with an AK-47 and the same equipment. If he kills you that’s $6450 plus the bonus $300 he gets for the kill. Unless one of your teammates manages to salvage your AWP for the next round, it’s a disaster for your team’s economy.
For the AWP to be a good investment you need to either kill the other team’s AWPer or two riflers. Of course that’s not always the case: you can get a one-for-one trade that opens up a bombsite and wins your team the round, but you get the point. In the long run, it’s crucial that you don’t throw away those precious rounds when you have the one shot-one kill beast in your hands. The AWPer should always try to stay alive for as long as possible.
It’s difficult to balance prioritizing survival and having an impact on the game. Therefore the AWPer needs to carefully plan their every move. Usually it’s not wise to go and peek long on Dust2 without help from a teammate. Get your support player to flash you in and make sure they’re there to trade the kill and pick up your weapon if you die. An AW:er should also have a backup plan. Choose the angles you peek carefully and make sure you have a way out in case you miss your shot. You should try to know your next move before you have to relocate. Like this:
If you want success with the AWP, you need to try to find advantageous peeks. Especially if you suspect that the other team can’t afford proper weapons. They might try to run you down with pistols in an attempt to do some serious damage to your economy.
Another big part of being an AWPer is to know when to actually buy the AWP. A few players, like Josh ‘JDM64’ Marzano, buy the AWP almost every single time they can. Generally that’s a weakness. Sometimes it’s better to buy a rifle and play the long game. With experience, however, you’ll learn what’s right for you.
Who should be an AWPer?
You want a player who’s highly accurate and who has fast reactions. Those traits will come in handy in duels against the other team’s AWPer. Many games have been won or lost depending on the outcome of such a battle.
If you’ve watched aggressive AWPers like Jesper ‘JW’ Wecksell or Kenny ‘KennyS’ Schrub go for insane peeks from positions they ‘shouldn’t’ play from it’s easy to think that you need to be a little crazy to be a successful sniper. On the surface it may look like they don’t know what they’re doing, which of course isn’t the case. If you’re the AWPer on your team you need to be able to weigh the risk and the potential reward.
Your sniper player should be a person who can stay calm in all situations. Being an AWPer means that you’re going to be under a lot of pressure at times. One hit and you get the kill and put your team in a great position. A missed shot on the other hand can lead to your team losing the round, and in the worst case force you to go for an eco the following round.
Don’t be afraid to communicate your ideas. If you think that you can kill the other team’s AWPer in mid if someone flashes you in, ask for the flash. Be confident and define your own fate.
Example of pro play
Here’s a clip from the ESL Pro League Season 3 final between Luminosity and G2. Marcelo ‘coldzera’ David displays great awareness, precision, reactions and he has a plan. He knows what he’s going to do. In other words, all the qualities you want a good AWPer to have. Now that Ladislav ‘GuardiaN’ Kovács and Olof ‘Olofmeister’ Kajbjer both have been struggling with wrist injuries for a while I’d say that coldzera is the best player in the world. He’s had some insane performances as of late and shown a level of consistency that you’d only expect from a true superstar.
coldzera positions himself below the ladder next to the bomb train. From this position he’s ready to assist his teammates wherever he’s needed. As it turned out, Fernando ‘fer’ Alvarenga got killed by Edouard ‘SmithZz’ Dubourdeaux behind the green train. At this point coldzera knew that Gabriel ‘FalleN’ Toledo had control over alley and that SmithZz was likely to peek as he had to pick up the bomb.
Marcelo managed to pick up the kill, and immediately after the shot had been fired he climbed the ladder to make it harder for G2 to trade. As he climbed Adil ‘ScreaM’ Benrlitom sprayed down one of coldzera’s teammates. Because of that, coldzera knew exactly where ScreaM was and as a consequence went for an aggressive peek that paid off due to his pinpoint accuracy and fast reaction time.
After that kill, G2’s Richard ‘shox’ Papillon found himself in a very tricky 1-on-3 situation. He had 13 seconds to retrieve the bomb, plant it and at same time stay alive. Knowing this, coldzera just stayed put in his hiding place. shox killed both FalleN and Tacio ‘TACO’ Filho. After that he had no time to go for the bomb. He had to either save his weapon or pick up the last kill. Because of coldzera’s smart positioning, the only way for shox to win the round was by climbing the ladder, which is practically a suicide mission. He probably should have saved his rifle instead.
So, what did coldzera do? He killed the bomb carrier, he put his team in a 3-on-1 situation by going for the aggressive peek towards the bomb train and he survived the round with his AWP. Plays like that can change the outcome of a game. Remember that an AWPer who’s still alive poses a great threat and limits the options that their enemies have.
How to practice
First off all you want to be a competent rifler even if your main job is to snipe. I’d recommend that you spend some time on deathmatch servers with both the AWP and assault rifles as often as you can. Get to know your weapons.
A more specific way to practice your AWP is to study the maps. Go on an empty server and try to pre-aim all the common spots as you go around corners. Remember that your scoped in movement speed is significantly slower than when you’re not scoped in. Scope just as you get around the corner, or else you’ll be a whole lot easier to kill. Like this:
If you learn how to do this properly you’ll have a greater chance of winning those duels.
As you might already know, you can’t move and shoot accurately at the same time. What does this mean? It means you’ll need to learn how to come to a halt as fast as possible. Let’s say you’re strafing left to get around a corner. At that point you’re holding A (default keys are used in this example). If you then let go of A, you’ll “slide” for a short distance. What you want to do instead is to let go of A, press D to counter that movement and then hold both A and D to make sure you stand absolutely still. Practice this move and in time it’ll become second nature to you.
Let’s get back to those deathmatch sessions. There are different ways to approach your practice, but here’s what’s worked for me: try to practice only one aspect of your game at a time. In one session that might be “shoot as quickly as you possibly can when you see an enemy”. In another session it can be “whatever happens I’m not going to miss my shot”. A third option can be that you focus on switching to your pistol as fast as possible to try to finish off enemies every time you miss a shot with the AWP. I usually focus on one thing for ten minutes, another for ten more minutes and then I’ll just play for ten. That’s some good all around practice in thirty minutes.
Watch the pros play
It’s always a good idea to watch better players play the game and try to learn from what they’re doing. Go to HLTV.org and download a few demos. Focus on their positioning and crosshair placement. Ask yourself “why is this guy doing what he’s doing?”
When it comes to AWP:ers there are lots of good players with various styles to watch. On the more explosive side of things you have players such as JW from fnatic and Oleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostylev. s1mple is one of those rare players with extreme talent. If he can learn how to control his emotions he’s bound to become a real superstar one day.
Then you have those AWP:ers who play a more passive style and who are great at holding down angles. Tyler ‘skadoodle’ Latham from Cloud9 is one. Admittedly he’s fallen off a bit from his old level of play. The fourth player I’ll recommend is GuardiaN. Before his wrist injury he was considered a top two player in the world and for good reason. He’s just a great player overall. I’d say his greatest strength is his insane map knowledge. He can peek specific spots to perfection through smokes and he probably gets more wallbang kills than any other pro player in the scene.
A bonus clip
Every now and again something special happens in pro matches. The magic moments that we all love to watch. One of those moments were when Luminosity faced off against Liquid in the semifinals of the MLG Columbus major and coldzera did this:
Valve even decided to make some permanent changes to Mirage in memory of that glorious moment. Never forget.
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