Adapting to your opponent’s strategy: a CSGO guide featuring DIG Friberg



Mon 10th Aug 2020 - 2:00pm

How many times do you start a match and get an amazing lead just to end up winning or losing by 16-14? How could that happen if you started the match by winning 9-0? The truth is - it's happened to everyone. But why is that?

CS:GO is a game where a large advantage may not be as large as it seems due to the economic factor. Losing a couple of rounds means you won’t have enough money in the next one, which makes it almost guaranteed that all of a sudden you lose at least 3 rounds in a row. Lose the next buy round and there you are, getting stomped on the exact same match that you were winning 9-0. Something must have suddenly changed for the opponents to be able to do that, right?

Right! Your opponents were able to adapt to the game strategy you were implementing, it’s as simple as that. And the same applies the other way around. Losing a streak of rounds at the beginning of a match does not mean you already lost it and should just forfeit - you just have to look at what your opponents are doing and try to counter it. But how can you do that? I’ve talked with Friberg, one of the legendary players from the Dignitas CS:GO team, about this very same topic and ask him a few pointers that may help on that specific topic.

What are the priorities to change as CT when unable to counter the opponent's attacks?

Imagine you’re playing as CT and you just can’t handle the attacks the opposing team is throwing at you. What can you do to adapt to it and change your game in a way that make you find success? Friberg has a few tips on that:

“I think the main thing to do if you have a good read on what your opponents are doing as CT is trying to maybe gamble stack or up the grenade usage - how to use your grenades to eventually stop a set execute. You can learn a lot as a CT by looking at grenade usage or simply by adding an extra player there.”

There are a lot of times that your opponents find that attacking one site is easier than the other, so they keep exploiting it - making a gamble stack with 4, or even 5, players can be the key to make them see that you’re noticing their tendencies, get around on the board and make them shift to a playstyle that suits your defense better.

Using utility differently can also be pivotal in finding success. Are they rushing a lot? Use Incendiaries. Are they slow peeking? Use smokes and play near them. Use Flashbangs to surprise and force them back. You can even use them to try and push the fight towards them!

But what if even with all that… it still does not work?

“If your utility does not work, I think the key is to set up crossfire or one guy standing anti-flash. You can also get both players on the site to avoid being blinded, hold opposing angles so that no player can kill both at the same time and you get the trade.”

Unless the aim-skill of both teams has a big disparity, there’s always something you can do to make the opponents lose rounds. If the previous tips don’t work, focus more on the shooting aspect. As Friberg said, you can try and defend more passively on the site, setting up crossfires that allow for guaranteed trades and play on the numbers advantage.

Focus on how your opponents are getting control of the site and what utility they use - that way you know where to place yourself to avoid being flashed or taken out of combat with a well-placed Smoke Grenade.

And what about the T-side?

One rather common situation that may happen when you’re facing better opponents is the inability to attack bombsites. Given that that is the goal of the attacking side… well, you’re in a bad situation.

“The main thing you could try to do is maybe try to loosen it up a bit, play a bit more default, get a pick or two before trying to execute on the bombsites.”

Let’s be honest here, if you’re playing Matchmaking or PUGs, it’s almost certain you’re playing already loose enough for your own good. But just in case you’re actually playing with a structured plan, one of the things that Friberg recommends doing when facing difficulties to loosen up a bit and try to play for picks. Get one or two and then decide where to go. Again, remember the utility you’re seeing being used by your opponents so you can get a feeling on what they might have on later portions of the round. But let’s say you’re playing majorly with defaults - you should do something different every now and then to catch your opponents off-guard, like rushing and do a set-execute in one site early in the round.

But let’s say you’re on the other end of the spectrum and you’re actually the team dominating and your opponents can’t really catch a break with you. Should you change what you’re doing to avoid being caught unaware of an adaptation?

“A lot of the time you can keep on doing the same, it depends on how good your opponents are at adapting to what you are doing. You might have, let's say, an 8:0 lead on CT, the Ts might have a good idea on what they should do to counter you, so sometimes it's good to stop them on their tracks. If they take a timeout, it can be a good idea to do an aggressive round to disrupt whatever their plan was. Then again, if what you're doing is working you might not need to change, it's a thin line between changing strategies or keep doing the same.”

Friberg said everything you need to know. It really depends on the situation at hand and it’s up to you what’s better. You can always sacrifice a round just trying to mix things up and then going back to what worked.

When asked about small tips for the readers of this article regarding this theme, Friberg said the following:

“I think it's important to listen to everyone in the team, even if you're playing matchmaking. Just talk with everyone, make everyone understand what needs to be done if it's not working to see if they have an idea - let's say you're playing default and spread around across the map, it's not easy for the IGL to know everything you're seeing, so talk with your teammates to find out some weak spots you can exploit.”

Remember, CS:GO is a team game and the more you’re able to interact with each other, the easier will be to get the upper hand over your opponents and win those matches and rank ups. By looking and analyzing at the way your opponents play, you’ll hopefully find some weaknesses that you can exploit in the following rounds.

I’d like to thank you for reading the article and hopefully, you’ll take something from these tips that will improve your game! You can reach out to me for feedback or suggestions via Twitter.


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