Very simple but really effective Dust 2 A bombsite execute

Hey guys, I recently produced this video for http://www.youtube.com/faceitcom showing how to do a wall of smokes A execute through the eyes of NiP.

This is a play that EVERY team should have in their repertoire. Not only is it really easy to perform, but you can do it in a very wide array of circumstances, even if you’re down to 3 players– assuming you still have 3 smokes left.

This kind of execute is the scariest play that a CT team can face on Dust 2’s A bombsite at the moment in the current meta. The other scariest play is a very fast B split that’s not telegraphed. But the beauty of both of these plays is that, even if you’ve not understood their setup completely, even if you haven’t gotten a pick or some information, if you have taken catwalk properly you will be able to throw a strong play at your opponents. Catwalk control should almost always be your goal as your standard play on Dust 2 as well, it’s hard for the CTs to deny it, they would have to take risky engagements where they expend a lot of resources in the way of smokes and flashes early on, which if it comes up short (lol puns), will hinder their ability to find information or defend pushes much later into the round. As far as the Ts go, it’s pretty easy and cheap to clear it with proper team play and well placed flashes. One thing you have to always remember is that, someone can always take a risk and go huge with some catwalk push– it happens. But don’t be outcome oriented and think that either his play is good, or overprepare for something that’s risky and only works a small percentage of the time.

The player roles are quite self-explanatory, I covered pretty much everything in less than 3 minutes in the video.

A few things I didn’t note in the video though:

  • GeT_RiGhT throws a super nifty pop flash upon entry fragging into A Long
  • GeT_RiGhT’s smoke allows him to pass the most dangerous angle safely, and the pop flash is then designed for the remaining positions (pit/close)
  • Allu’s crossover smoke creates a situation where the AWP player cannot get an angle onto the A site, whilst the long smoke also prevents him from properly helping long– he’s screwed basically

How to deal with it as the CTs:

  • You cannot let the plant go down for short super fast. The best way to do this is in making sure your site guy stays alive. What a lot of top teams do is put their site guy on the goose position just aiming towards the planting spot ready to spam through the smoke to get the planter. If you can delay the bomb from going down and buy time for the smokes to go away, this will create a lot of opportunities to hold or allow your reinforcements to come in.
  • Holding down long is another important factor, however if the T who is attacking plays it smart, it can be quite difficult, as he just needs to delay and provide a threat and allow his teammates to over run the site whilst distracting attention away from defending A.
  • Don’t over commit your defense on long, trust in your long man to win the 1on1 or 1on2, or just get the delay in, this will allow the crossover player to flash into the smokes for the CT on goose to have a better chance in getting frags and delaying the plant whilst your rotation comes in. Again, delaying the plant is the most important thing or even being able to deny it altogether.And that concludes my final thoughts on this execute, cheers guys!
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Structure in Quake 4v4 and why it’s important.

[I wrote this years ago and never released it, upon the rebirth of my site, I felt like it may as well go up for those interested!]

With this piece I wanted to address the fallacy of balanced items and game mechanics, how it is imbalance that creates interesting game-play through a structure that is created through synergy of game mechanics and map design.

To understand what structure is and how it is created, we can look at QuakeWorld 4v4 which has very structured game-play despite it’s chaotic nature. It achieves structure by having items and areas which create an almost overwhelming advantage when obtained by a team. Teams will naturally gravitate to these areas and items, and with good co-ordination be rewarded with item and map control. There is an inherent problem with control however, we must make sure it is not too easy to obtain and that it has multiple stages which grant less or more frags depending on the stage. This makes the game very tense and interesting for players because you can recover big frag deficits with a great series of plays that emphasise team and individual strength. It is interesting for spectators as it is much easier to follow important players when the game takes on such a structure.

We need to consider map design to create mitigating factors to control to allow the team which is in the worse position to have options. In the interest of creating diverse game-play the options must allow for individual actions as well as team actions to be viable in helping to reverse control. Taking QuakeWorld’s dm3 as example, the mitigating factors are created by game mechanics as well as map design. On dm3 the RL and LG are in a room full of water, where a fully stacked player can be instantly killed by an LG discharge – giving the out of control team a chance to at least get the very powerful weapons. This means that whilst a team can get a lot of control, if they become too greedy, the potential for them to be instantly killed and to lose control is there. The Pentagram is a power-up that grants health invulnerability for 30 seconds, it spawns in a location that is accessible and positionally difficult to protect, giving the down team a chance to steal it and turn around control or equalise things.

One of the interesting contrasts is in the difference between QuakeLive’s MG against QuakeWorld’s Boomstick as starting weapons. The boomstick helps to create structured game-play because it is extremely weak against a player with a weapon as it cannot be used to deal damage reliably at range as well as the main weapons being much stronger against spawners. But due to the large splash damage of the RL, the movement in QuakeWorld and the close-range damage potential of the boomstick, flooding as a team off of the spawn is a strong situational option – and because of the impact of killing one enemy weapon it emphasises individual vs team game-play. When we look at the MG and how it functions in QL TDM it becomes apparent that it serves to detract from structure and remove options instead of adding them. It does this by being as strong at mid-range/stronger than the majority of weapons except the LG. It also means that the already weak armours have less value as well as the weapon pick-ups having less value, effectively removing options from players who control items through good team play and co-ordination. The damage the MG does can be mitigated by map-design by making areas less open, but it is an undesirable concept to do this as it removes options from the game. The only thing I can think of to lessen the undesirable effects without removing it, is to put spawning health down to 100.

Based on what we’ve established so far, we look at modern TDM in QL and find a lack of structure that causes gameplay that is “team FFA” and less interesting as the emphasis shifts away from team co-ordination, team-play and objective based strategy. There are no items in QuakeLive that give one team an overwhelming advantage, shifting the game-play towards a more individual style that’s based on timing items and moving on. Good mapping will help to fix some of these issues, but the game-play will still lack diversity and interest compared to a game that has more structure due to item strength and game-mechanics such as QuakeWorld 4v4.

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CS:GO Pro Plays #5 Titan’s reactive pistol opening on nuke

As per most pistol rounds, it’s a pretty chaotic start. To some extent by Titan’s design as they decide to take a reactive approach. Some would argue there is generally more merit to going with a more “swarm” like approach with T pistol as the glock is so over-powering on the rush. It tends to perform better against armour than the starting CT pistols and it also has more accuracy on the move. This is often why we see only one to three players picking the USP-S for the CT side these days, as it performs terribly close-up in these situations (on nuke it’s generally great to have 3 as the ranges are so huge). It’s a pistol that only has advantage over other pistols at distance, reliably at least. Of course, in this instance as we see with f0rest, if you just want to go for the quick close range peak shot it actually works quite well too if you have that easy escape from the angle.

There’s nothing wrong with Titan’s slow approach though, on nuke you can be quite vulnerable to pre-nades as the choke points, even outside, can be quite severe. They are also by doing this mostly staying out of the range advantage that the USP-S has over the glocks of Titan.

They decide to try to go for a pick on ramp and get shut down. Pretty awesome stuff from f0rest, which although is a slight risk, we can see it pays off heavily. These are the kinds of plays you need to go for, not only for information but also for the pick opportunities. His friend could even try attempt a trade if he was to get in trouble there, but he can fall back so easily that it would be pretty unlucky for him to die with such a quick peak. As such we can weigh that this was a great play for f0rest to go for.

After this loss, NiP know the bomb is down, that’s a pretty huge deal. It means that they want to wrap around the area where the bomb is (lobby), not only to limit the options of Titan, but to be able to play closer together on the objective (locking down the bomb), or eliminate the options to 1 or 2 things for the remaining Titan players.

Good play from NBK and Screamz stops this though, and gives them an opportunity to win the round again solely based off of shox’s ability to move unhindered outside/lower. At this point he HAS to give an option to NBK who is pinned down in lobby, the smartest thing, which he went for, was the 1on1 at ramp to open that up. As it’s most likely that NiP will only commit 1 of the 3 remaining players there, he gets his best possible chance with a 1on1 which he wins. The reason to only put one player there is that, upper is harder to hold alone and it allows a very quick rotation using the vents down to the lower site, so this is even something shox could have reasonably expected.

After this it’s just about pure execution off of the plant, which couldn’t be closer.

This wasn’t the most detailed write-up in the world, but as you can see, like most pistol rounds the concepts at play are very simple and mostly execution based. I will take rounds like this from time to time to mix in, as CS:GO isn’t all about the well put together rushes, fakes or defences! Check out the post for Episode 4 if you missed it, that one covers some great concepts, ones which I plan to explore properly in the near future.

Hope you enjoy it, look forward to the feedback and expect another episode sometime this week. I’m trying to make up for last week which was ridiculous with how busy I was, I made the video as soon as I could.

Alright, see ya next time guys!

 

 

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CS:GO Pro Plays #4 – Some deeper thoughts and general musings

(read down for my general thoughts, below that there is the embedded video of episode 4, below that is my thoughts on the episode itself)

Hey guys,

First off, it’s been a long time since I’ve created a post here, but as many of you who follow me know, I’m still making content on my youtube channel and also for FACEIT.

Let’s talk about my new CS:GO series.

So I’m finally on the fourth episode of the CS:GO pro plays, and I wanted to do a little write-up not only to bore you, but to inform you as to the goals with this series as I’ve come to realise there is a lot of potential for the format. Oh and, the feedback has been great all around too so it’s something I know you guys are enjoying, which is always absolutely fantastic to hear.

In the course of creating this series, since episode 1, it’s really tested my editing skills and I’ve had to learn a lot with Photoshop and Vegas, with help from my friend ZeRoQL (of flukkz media, and content producer for FACEIT). And I finally feel confident in creating something that can look well produced, something simple at least like this series. Episode 3 took me 8 hrs, and this last one took me around 6-7hrs.

I believe it has a lot of potential, but the primary idea is to create an accessible and clear break down of well executed rounds from the professional teams. Not only to show how it’s done so people can re-create it- but more importantly to elucidate on the simple logic at play on the high level, to show in the most accessible way the beauty of the game as an esport.

I actually have a lot of really good ideas for similar content, it’s just finding the right way to execute them and the time for it. For now I’ll just focus on creating what I have to my best ability, and when I’m happy with that I will branch out. I’m thinking of also creating more blogs like this one not only to create a write-up for those interested in some slightly deeper thoughts or musings, but to give a place more visibility for myself regardless of what I’m doing or where I am– and also to generate a “go-to” place for all content that comes from me. Plus I need to practise my writing badly as I feel as if it’s been slipping lately. If you don’t use it, you lose it ‘n all that.

So without further ado, here is the fourth episode of the CS:GO Pro Plays:

So, first thing– Let’s talk about the bad. NiP really had a horrible round here. The point of these episodes is to focus on a few points, so the most important information is understood without dilution. In this write-up I can focus on the other things, woo! To go in a little detail here, f0rest miss executed in apartments missing a very easy kill. He proceeded to back off, push short through Fifflaren’s smoke on quad (!!! with a rush starting) and without support he was killed by Byali. Now this is one of those things which some people would call very dumb, but on a high level it can be due to the meta-game. It’s huge risk that can reward well, but honestly I would never advocate a play like this. Ever. He was completely flashed, the flashes were thrown and designed to flash a player defending from that position so Byali could make the frag. So, yeah.

*slaps f0rest on the wrist*

We can talk about how things would go with a perfect setup from NiP on the defense, but that comes down to the information Fifflaren has as the caller, and the decision he decides to go for. As CT the biggest principle is- work out the play of the T side and create the perfect setup with correct smokes and flashes (or incendiaries). This is another video concept I will develop in the future, as it’s a must to my collection of CS:GO analysis!

So it does look like a “perfect” round from Virtus.Pro and the idea behind the rush was fantasic, but at the same time NiP had a lot of poor play. Once Fifflaren was backed into the site, he wasn’t able to execute well either, trapped alone there, with no support from pit he was completely pinned in. It’s a situation which is okay if you execute really well, but as people who are familiar with my Quake videos will know, the big focus is always on consistency. Execution is not consistent, but decision making always will be– the best decision making gives you the best chance to win. Once Fifflaren and f0rest are taken out without any losses or delays on Virtus.Pro’s side, it’s over.

If we talk about the good, I’d like to discuss the merit of having clear roles in a strategy like this, but there’s also another principle we didn’t see at play, dynamic roles, because Virtus were able to keep all their players alive. Clear roles create a very clear idea of EXACTLY where you need to look and what you need to do, with rehearsal this creates a very strong situation psychologically for Virtus. This lets them play ‘brainlessly’ as all the brain work was done in the creation of the strategy and the during the rehearsals of it. There is this famous idea, “you win the game the night before during practise”.

The second idea I want to talk about which had no bearing on this game is dynamic roles. This is the idea that, certain roles have priority and must be maintained even if the player initially playing that role is lost. So if you lose the bomb carrier or key supporting players, strategies may still work if the role with least priority switches into a role with more priority.

If Byali dies for example, or perhaps if Snax dies. Playing dynamically is an absolute must, as things will not always go so perfectly as they did in this instance for Virtus. To do this, you need a clear understanding of priorities and of role, and the caller needs to quickly adjust the play if too many players are lost and a contingency must be initiated. This is something that again can be practised and prepared for in rehearsal, as strategies especially against good teams, are not always going to go well. So for example, if Byali dies and Neo doesn’t get the trade on f0rest, the strategy falls a part because Pasza may be too far behind and the bomb is down on short. If Byali dies and Neo does make the trade, it’s down to the players in apartments to quickly clear pit, and Pasza has to go with Neo to help him plant as that’s more important than flanking, etc. This is also a concept for another video, how to assign priority or value to certain roles or positions, but I’ll leave the point there for now.

So as you can see, roles, priority, contingencies and dynamic play are all important concepts to think about when we look at a round like this. And I could write a lot more, but I think I’ve covered some interesting points that weren’t in the video, which was my aim.

Thanks for watching, thanks for reading. Let me know your thoughts.

If you feel more comfortable discussing it on reddit instead of my site, here’s the link

Until next time! 🙂

Cheers

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Vods uploaded from the CPM Duel Masters 2013!

I don’t often do my own streams but I did manage to kick it oldskewl some weekends back to provide some coverage for the CPM Duel Masters where $1400 was up for grabs!

You can check the games on my youtube channel.

It was great to go back and check CPM out after a long hiatus from the scene. The games were even better than I remembered and I was really sad not to be able to stream past the Winner Bracket Final between Gaiia and Memphis.

Either way, I uploaded all the matches I covered with Nekon as my casting partner for the duration of the stream, who carried the torch when I had to go, so if you liked his casting check him out!

I gotta say, something that surprised me is that one of my first CPM 1v1 uploads was HAL_9000 vs Lunokhod, where I specifically asked HAL not to send a “rape game” but he did anyway. Seems like he did us all a favour as it’s my most popular video right now with just over 11k views. Due to this interesting fact, I decided to do a test- will a similar game (not quite as rapey though) from HAL_9000 yield something similar with the numbers?

You can catch the game here:

I plan to be covering the other matches I missed from the CPM Duel Masters cup as well as some QuakeWorld content when I go home for Christmas in a few weeks, so look forward to that!

Cheers!

/ddk

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Competition is one of the greatest life cheats, but it also has its costs.

So I was walking down the cold streets of Milan the other day and it popped into my head how easy it was to invest a huge amount of time into something very difficult that often didn’t give many returns– then I realised…

Competition is one of the greatest life cheats, but it also has its costs.

I was always a naturally competitive person, which was helpful as the mindset came easily to me. I loved to acquire new skills and see myself grow through the reference points I had around me, eg. the kid who was the best at football versus the kids who were the worst. In life we’re often surrounded by such comparisons and it allows us to know where we fit and gives us a sense of purpose, but it also becomes a great motivator for improvement. Typically improvement in any skill is tough and arduous, the rewards not immediately apparent. Psychologists would call this deep gratification. The thing about deep gratification is that the rewards are something we need to put faith into, we need convince ourselves that the work we are doing now is creating a better us in the future. From my experience the easiest way to motivate ourselves through the struggle and tribulation of training for the promise of a better us is found in competition. Here we have visible reference points, we can see the people who are worse than us and we can easily recall when we were as bad which validates our efforts. Another way validation is provided is how we stand witness to those that are better than us, it also provides faith that we too can achieve such greatness if we just work a bit more, that we can become the thing that we admire so much.

The first thing that I find interesting about this is that, having your value depend upon how you stack up against others is an intrinsically damaging way of thinking. It inflates your ego if you do well and if you do badly you feel it under attack; an experience of inner turmoil when results are below expectation. This is because your value has become rooted in how you perceive others around you, and their perception of you. Your reality has become reactive in nature, thus it is chaotic and unpredictable equalling to the many uncontrollable circumstances in your environment. That is the grand cost that often comes with skill based pursuits. It’s something I experienced in a very real way, I often couldn’t understand why the results would be bad some times but good in others, it would cause a lot of bad emotions to surface because I couldn’t understand why my performances were fluctuating so much, “So much work and effort and for what? Sometimes the question that I would ask myself.

The second particularly interesting thing is that, this mindset can encourage the idea that results are the metric on which you judge skill and hence your own improvements or progression. This actively discourages the idea and practice of analysis, in which the end aim is to create the highest percentage plays to play “correctly”, which operates under the acceptance that sometimes you will fail regardless, and let this be your metric instead. And if you are having a bad time with your results, it tends to make you play even more as you strive for good emotions– good results. This mentality is referred to in poker as “chasing your losses” which as the poker players amongst you will realise, almost never ends well. “We can’t end it on a loss” is something I’ve heard many times at the end of a night of practising. Why is it such an important factor that we were either the winner or the loser? What grand purpose does it serve? The answer is: none.

I’m going to get really nerdy here, because I often like to view life in a way that you’ll be familiar with. Positioning. We talk about this constantly in esports but of course it’s a universal constant. Achieving the best results requires strong positioning and as such the understanding to put yourself in a position of strength. To break it down a bit, good positioning is acheived by first understanding your environment and the rules at play, this allows you to then pick what is in theory the best spot or state which will help you have advantage across the broadest range of possibilities that come your way.

But in this case, your mentality finds itself in a position of weakness, unable to be steady throughout all situations; as your emotional state and self-worth are tied into unreliable elements that could fail you at any time. So we have to remove the behaviour that was initially conditioned in by copious competitive pursuits, and train ourselves to rely on more predictable elements.

Now, some players who are more analytical in nature will find that a by-product of that behaviour is less investment into outcome and more into what is “correct”. This in itself becomes its own motivator, as the games richness starts to become more evident you become rewarded in an entirely different way.

This is my proposed solution! I am known as a huge advocate of analysis already, and perhaps it seems a bit like I’m preaching to the choir here, but it’s a great antidote to the mindset of results oriented behaviour. And if you want to become a great player, this is something you must definitely consider.

The value or good emotion switches from:

Did I win or did I lose?

To:

Did I make the correct decision or the wrong one?

 And if you’re asking yourself the second question, then that means instead of feeling bad emotions, you become excited at the realisation that you have an area to focus your next improvements on, or if you made the correct decision you can be happy that you couldn’t have played it better. I think we call this a win-win scenario. 🙂

If you liked the discussion on this topic, I talk about similar principles in a past article about results oriented behaviour and competitive mindsets here.

/ddk

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QuakeLive Plays Ep #1 Evil vs Tox – Furious Heights

Hey guys!

I hope you’re enjoying the heat wherever you are, I’m certainly melting under the 34c that we had today, daaaamn.

Welcome to a new series I’m creating:

QuakeLive Plays!

The first episode features Evil vs Tox from the 10th Sunday Cup of the Spring Season. The point of this series is just to analyse games I enjoyed or found interesting from the previous weekend of casting.

I hope you guys enjoy the content and feel free to shoot me any feedback as to how I can improve it. I think that I’ll make it shorter next time and try to go a little more in depth, I also think I can really improve on these so watch this space for more.

Peace!

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