4 min read

How to Snowball in Counter-Strike

How to Snowball in Counter-Strike

Hello everyone. A brand new episode is here (yey!).

Before we begin, I would like to say thank you to all of you for reading - whether occasionally or every week - and a very special thank you to the subscribers. The newsletter recently hit 100+ subscribers. 🥳 Thank you very much for the support! I appreciate it a lot!
Seeing how the newsletter has grown over the past year and reaching this milestone has made me really happy. Let's keep it going! But now, let's hop into this week's episode.

Today, we're discussing how the early advantage of a team can snowball. More specifically, we will take a look at pistol rounds and kills in Counter-Strike, and how they impact the outcome - win percentage - of a team.

Highlights
Eco (money) in early rounds in Counter-Strike leads to better equipment, higher chance of winning the next round(s), and ultimately the match.
This can be initiated by first kills and/or pistol round wins.
The win percentage shifts drastically in favor of the team claiming victory in the first two rounds
When a team had won a pistol round (1st or 2nd), the win percentage changed to 62.6% and 60.5% respectively.
• Teams achieving first kills showed an almost 58% match win rate.
• Teams may change their strategies accordingly.
Being aware of those effects can help you and professionals to be more successful in-game.

Whenever we play or watch CS:GO, we are aware that factors such as skill, communication, and tactics are important in determining the winner of the match. In most CS:GO rounds, both teams have enough economy (money) to go for a "full buy" - meaning, utilities (grenades), good weapons, and armor. However, this isn't the case in the early "pistol rounds". Additionally, economy transfers over to the next rounds and can be generated by killing or assisting an enemy, planting/defusing the bomb, and winning a round. Because of these game mechanics, economy may be specifically important. The argument being that the earlier and more economy your team has, the better equipment you can buy, increasing your chance of winning a round and snowballing into later rounds.

"This [fact] is thought to give a team an advantage at the beginning of the match and to affect the outcome of the match [1]."

Similarly, whoever gets the first kill is immediately in an advantageous position. It enables the team to apply different tactics (more aggressive or defensive) and has additional firepower. "In other words, the team that gets the first kill starts the round ahead [1]."

I tell you all of this in order to spark the interest of looking at how those two things - winning the pistol rounds and getting the first kill - impact the outcome of a match. Besides being important for you and your teammates when playing CS, it's crucial for professional esports teams.

💽 Method

In order to investigate this, the authors took the data from six major CS:GO tournaments comprising 334 matches in total, with over $1 million in prize money.

🔫 Results

The first, and probably not shocking, result of the study is that indeed, winning both pistol rounds has a significant effect on winning the match. The interesting part, however, is the magnitude of this effect.

"[...] the winners of the first pistol round were 2.95 times more likely to win the match [...]. Meanwhile, the teams that won the second pistol round were 2.49 times more likely to win the match [...] [1]."

In terms of win percentage, the figure below shows the results for the 1st and 2nd half pistol round winners and losers. As you can see, the win percentage shifts drastically in favor of the team claiming victory in the first two rounds.

Overall, there was a 62.6% chance of winning the match when a team had won the 1st pistol round, leaving the losing team with just a 37.4% chance of success. For the 2nd pistol round, the numbers change to 60.5% and 39.5%, respectively.

The second, not so shocking, result was that achieving more kills as a team increases the win percentage. But by how much? Again, the study answered this question (see the figure below). Interestingly, the effect of pistol rounds and first kills on match wins is similarly strong.

🤔 Implications

Now, this makes it all so obvious why some matches are lost right from the start. Once a team gets in an advantageous position, it becomes hard for the other to bring it back. As a consequence, professional teams may adjust their strategies. They know when they're ahead or behind and play accordingly.

For instance, the team ahead may very well play more conservatively (as CT) or aggressively (as T), and vice versa for the team that is behind. When you're behind, you know you have to "force" mistakes or play more risky, whereas playing defensively and waiting for the other team to make a mistake is a valid approach.

The two key points to take away from this are: first, pistol rounds and first kills have a significant impact on the match outcome, potentially influencing the tactics of both teams, and second, being aware of a team's overall position can assist you in your next game of CS, as well as helping professional teams prepare and adapt their strategies accordingly.

What do you think? Let me hear your thoughts on Twitter (X) and LinkedIn.

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Thanks for reading, and I hope you all have a great week. Cheers,

Christian 😃

📜 References

[1] Yalciner, & Kilci, 2023

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