Dust II Strategy Guide: Get Map Control like a Pro!
Lets look at how Professional Players on various teams work with Map Control on CT & T sides of Dust II.
Dust II is the most iconic map in Counter-Strike history. After decades of competitive play, and various changes, it has thoroughly established itself in the Competitive Map Pool for CS:GO. In this guide, we'll examine how to gain map control on this historic map, using the strategies from professional teams as examples.
Map Control: What and Why?
Map control is to contest and take over sections of the Counter-Strike Map, with the end goal of players stationed in potent positions denying opponents important locations and lines of sight. This allows you have to effectively control where and what your opponent does on the map. You lock down areas of the map by denying them access to important parts of the map, and obtain information and intel in return, along with strong positions that can snowball into round wins. Map control is an extremely fundamental tenet of high-level Counter-Strike, and learning to obtain and exploit it efficiently is one of the most important aspects of a high level Macro gameplay.
An important part of understanding good map control is fluidity. Understanding when to give up, and when to take map control, and being able to take those decisions in cohesion with your team, without any hesitation and second guessing is what will separate you from the other players at your level.
Having strong map control results in not only you and your team being able to play your A game, but also puts the enemy team in complete discomfort. This leads to situations where the opponents feel like they're hitting their shots, getting onto sites, and winning the required amount of duels and still somehow losing. They often tilt due to built up frustration after losing rounds which they feel they deserved to win. This comes down to superior macro decisions and gameplay.
The Philosophy of Dust II
Dust II is a classic three lane Counter-Strike map, with two entrances to the larger bombsite A and one compact entrance for the B bombsite.
Map overview provided by Simple Radar.
If we had to divide this map into its constituent parts which are contested for map control by CTs and Ts, a fair division would be: Long A, Short A, Middle, Tunnels.
Generally speaking, Long A & Short A are of the most highly contested areas on the Map Dust II, due to the unbelievable amount of pressure they exert on the A defenders when one or both are lost. This leads to massive skirmishes on Long A and Short A. Middle and Tunnels respectively fall into the control of the Ts fairly easily due to quicker access for the Ts, and better vantage points to defend these locations from CTs.
It is important to know that it is unrealistic and impractical to try and run both Short A and Long A controlling setups at the same time. To take one, you will have to play passively or spend lesser utility and players on the other one. A good way to compensate is to aggressively shut down either Long or Short early game, conditioning the Ts not to fight for that position and anymore leading to you getting that position later rounds for a lot cheaper, and maybe even for free, allowing you to focus on the other position this time.
CT-side map control decisions are distinctly two major ones
Aggressive Contact Heavy Setups:
This setup emphasises contact with the Ts pushing Long A, and may lead to gunfights that you simply have to win. You can use it to establish Pit control and gain man advantages early. Three players go toward Long A. The first player dodges flashes and molotovs long A. This player can push further into pit. Pit allows you to take a strong angle toward pushing Ts and is hard to molly out and fully clear. With a couple of good counter-flashes from your teammates, your presence could become an extreme nuisance in the T-side gameplan and throw them off. (Any flash right above Pit should work!)
The second player can follow up with a nade into Long A to dismantle an AWPer tanking the molotov or rifler trying to push the molly. He can also molotov off Long A into Blue Box to clear out the position and get a free pick on a player that pushed the first molotov.
The third player in this setup functions as a utility support, and secondarily as the player who will hold Catwalk for early aggression if the mid player communicates an early A Short push. He could be the AWPer in the setup and hold Catwalk passively. Primarily, he will throw flashes for the two Long A players to get setup like these:
Teams like Team Liquid with great individually skilled players like Twistzz and Elige like to run setups of this type. It is important to have either of the two players taking fights on Long play anti-flash. Its really easy to be flashed and picked off on Long A, and doing this will effectively lower the risk, especially when there's already a player in Pit. One of the players at the Long A corner could also push through the Long A corner smoke if there is one 1-2 rounds a half, to catch the Ts off-guard. Tyloo have been seen doing this a lot, and it has worked at a respectful level for them.
The player at Mid should generally AWP mid doors and try to win the AWP duel on mid if he can. He can hold the Catwalk push early round, but he will have to fall off to safer angles later. He could rotate to B Window or B Doors. He could also play the position with a rifle and get pop flashes to peek pushing Ts on mid. He could smoke off doors if faced with heavy pressure, and try to create time for rotations. The job of the Mid player is to support the B anchor. He must be ready at any time to drop off to the B site and stop any fast rushes. He can throw flashes like these to support his B anchor:
The B player has to molotov B Tunnels every round to stop any B rush. He can then smoke off B tunnels at his own discretion and feeling. The most important part of being a B anchor is staying alive. An aggressive play to make at B could be to push Tunnels. It's important to call this only when you are sure of it working as the risk is very high and the reward not so much. Pushing Tunnels helps you get free information and possibly a flank, but teams generally have a player watching the push. You can take control of B Tunnels, which will deny them strong postplants. This will also weaken their hit overall by, hopefully killing the Tunnels players and having to deal with the hit only from one side.
Another interesting way to play a round is to setup on Short A and Middle to get picks. This setup requires preferably a double-AWP buy but can be done with one AWP as well. The main AWPer is generally stationed toward Mid Doors watching Catwalk aggressively.
Two more players play A Short, and can be setup in various ways. One of the ways is to boost one player, preferably an AWPer up on Short to look into Lower Tunnels and find an early pick on the T defaulting there. You can also do this with a rifle. The Mid player could be scoped in Mid with an AWP and fall off to B doors if there's heavy pressure as mentioned earlier. Danish team Astralis constantly runs this setup where they find free picks on defaulting players Lower Tunnels. This is especially effective as they have two extremely solid AWP players in dev1ce and dupreeh.
If the Ts constantly smoke X-box, it would be more effective to boost up one or two players into A Short quickly, and post up your AWPer on top-mid. This type of play has been popularized by ex-Mousesports player oskar who was infamous for taking these duels Mid. If a second player does not go Short, you could cheat an extra player Mid to run a double Mid setup. This is more effective against teams that like to play a fast Cat setup or strat. You could also setup an AWP on site to watch Long A to get a pick or two and then reset and play for a retake from Short A.
Passive Laid Back Setups:
A passive setup commonly run by CTs on Dust 2 is where they play 3 A, while denying a Short push and stationing up an AWP on to the Pit-cross from A-site. The Mid player plays passively from B-site or B-doors as a 2 B setup while watching Mid passively. The Mid player can also play Window and watch Mid from there.
If the Ts run mid-to-B or B hits more often than not, you can play 3 on B in a passive setup. You can give up Mid, and play 2 on B site, while 1 of them hides at Ninja or Back, and plays off their contact and tries to deny plant. You could also play 2 at Ninja and try to sneak in a cheeky round.
There isn't a lot of depth to passive setups and it makes you quite easy to read so these setups are usually only run with a significant man advantage or to completely catch your opponents off guard. These are fairly effective in late rounds where playing the time is important. It also works well against teams that take map control extremely aggressively, expending their utility early.
As A hard site to hold, you will still need either Long A or Short A in a passive setup. Most teams prefer Short A in a setup like shown:
One peeks into the players who can push Short while the other one is sits anti-flash in positions like the close wall, behind stairs, Short A wall, etc. The other player can be an AWPer, or a rifler and can just hold the angle for any dry peeks. Team EnVy popularised this setup under the lead of the infamous Happy, who took the anti-flash/second contact spot in these setups.
The third A player can just hold Long A with an AWP or play something like Elevator. He can also play site, and help the Short players with flashes and utility. It is important that this player not die, as he is the main site anchor and if he dies the Short players are exposed to a Long A flank.
Relevant T-side map control decisions are:
T-side Dust II is all about denying map control to the CTs. Every site on D2 is viable and thus having presence everywhere and choking out any attempts of CTs to gain information is vital. Just like either Long A or Short A are necessary for a CT round, either one, or both are necessary for a strong T round. B Tunnels is fairly easy to get and Mid is also T-side territory.
Regardless of where the Ts take a hit, a player on B will go Tunnels. He will try to apply some pressure on the CTs playing B and salvage whatever information he can get. This player's most important responsibility is to make sure the B players don't get too confident and start pushing, and to keep them in place. He can scale up to Lower Tunnels to help with the Mid take later in the round if need be. You can throw a smoke like this to make a play on B and apply a LOT of pressure:
This smoke allows you to jump on the boxes without being spotted, which allows you lurk around it. Another use of it is you can group behind it and explode on site as soon as it fades.
Regardless of whether you go Short A or Long A, it is essential to push CTs off Close Mid. Close Mid lets them listen in all of the footsteps/utility thrown on Short, Tunnels, and more. The Mid or B defaulter must consciously work to make the CT-Mid player as uncomfortable as possible. You can also molly behind doors like this: (run throw)
The rest of the setup is heavily dependent on if you choose to take either Long A or Short A. Both have their merits, but taking both is not realistic. You can take one and then take the other later in the round if you choose to though.
Long A Control
You can get Long A control with a fairly simple setup. The CTs will more often than not contest it, and you might have to shoot some heads, but when gained, you can use to burst onto site immediately or put the CTs in an uncomfortable position without any information of A Long.
Spawns are extremely important when it comes to taking a position like Long A, so its better to have your best spawns try to take it.
The player with the first spawn should get there before the CTs and preferably get till blue box. The second player will smoke off the Long A corner. This is very useful as it blocks out the AWP angle. This smoke also allows the CTs to push into Pit easier or make plays through it, so it's important to be wary of it. The smoke is thrown as shown: (Align yourself at the end of the ledge at T spawn, jumpthrow)
This player can then follow the first player into Long A and spam the smoke for any CTs trying to push into Long A, and then flash the corner above the smoke to allow the first player to progress into Pit. The third player can throw flashes as shown: (First one is a jumpthrow)
The last player (other than the B lurker) can either play Mid or choose to push out Long A if you need more firepower. Mid can then be watched by the B lurker who will push into Lower earlier preferably and cut off any Mid/Short A push. Otherwise, this player could setup AWP on Mid Doors or watch the Short A push. He could also work in synergy with the B player to apply pressure on Mid and push the CTs back onto site or draw a rotation. A flash like this pops perfectly and could allow your B lurker to get a free kill on a player Close Mid:
Short A Control
This setup can be run either after taking Long or completely separately. If run separately, one player must be sent toward Long A at least. You can either fake Long presence or just hold passively for a push during a Short A default round.
You will need at least 2 players Mid to take Short A, preferably 3. To start out with, you will need a player to smoke X-box as shown: (Jump throw)
2 players can then go Mid, or Suicide, if you want to run a fast Cat setup. If you go Suicide, you are vulnerable to a Mid player peeking onto you, but you gain the advantage in terms of reaching Short A earlier. It is wise to spam flashes through doors to allow you to pass into Short A if you want to rush Short A and take control.
If you want to take the slower, more methodical approach, you can go Mid from Top Mid and then slowly push Catwalk. A player can then molotov this:
A player can then flash Short A like this: (Ignore the CT on X-box)
This will blind most of Short A, but watch out for players hiding behind the stairs/or playing anti-flash. You can then peek with the flash and try to take out any CTs contesting short. Once you gain access of Short A, you can then smoke off the ledge and use it either as a lurk smoke or use it to jump into CT, or to cross into site without getting AWPed:
Once you take control of Short, you have the option to force A site or just fall off, leaving a lurker behind. You have an option to also sandwich CT, with a player dropping from Short and multiple players from Mid Doors.
Another interesting tidbit you could add is to smoke entrance of Short A early to make taking control a lot easier, with the trade off of losing a smoke and early vision into site.
This smoke is very strong as it isolates the Short A players and forces them to make a decision of either committing to Short A or giving it up rather cheaply. The smoke is thrown as shown: (Walking jump throw)
Running a passive setup on T-side Dust II isn't the most common way of playing the map. It is definitely not recommended for most rounds, but it has its peculiar uses. This passive setup is most often run on anti-ecos and/or against an over-aggressive CT-side team. There is hardly any depth or replayability in running a passive setup, but it can be run as shown:
This setup starts out with one player going outside Long A and holding for any CT-side aggression. You would want to hold the cross to behind the Long doors, as that's a common position CTs like to go to. If you play against CTs that push through all the way, you could just post up with an AWP on Long Doors or just sit behind car or doors. You could also get boosted into boxes inside Long A if you have a teammate with you.
The second player could go mid with an AWP and catch the Mid Doors push. This player could also passively hold for a Mid push from Top Mid passively. Another option is to sit T-base and try to catch players on the cross. You can remain holding the angle for any crazy pushes, and maybe pick off a peeking CT AWPer.
Another player could make it down Suicide and self-boost on to the box, to allow him to pick off anyone pushing Short with an advantageous angle.
The B player can either play B standard, or even hold an off angle outside tunnels to catch an unsuspecting pushing CT. T You can even boost at Lower Tunnels to try and get a pick on pushing Short A player. You should try and take Long A or Short A, preferably Long A due to long range duels, later into the round as shown before, because playing passive as Ts for the whole round won't get you anywhere.
Those were a few interesting setups you could run to take and deny map control, along with how and when to run them. The most important of them being the 'when'.
Sometimes, you might mess up a flash, or a smoke, but that won't do as much damage as making a decision to push Upper B, without any information or utility and so on and getting punished for it. The second is a Macro decision and affects your game a lot more than the messed up smoke or the flash, which can be easily fixed and simply aren't as influential. A missed flash is better than being a man down in an important round for no gain!
It is important to do things right, but more important to do the right things. Good luck and have fun!
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