Counter-Strike: Seven Years and Still Going Strong

You may not have heard of it, but Counter-Strike has been around for over seven years now, and as of May 2006 it’s still the number 1 on-line first person shooter ever. But its got a whole different side to it than your average PC FPS (first person shooter).
Recently the CPL (Cyberathlete Professional League) held its world championships in Dallas, Texas. Players from all over the world were in attendance. Many different games (Quake III for PC, FEAR for PC, Guitar Hero for PS2, and more) where played, but the major one, still at the top after seven years, was Counter-Strike, now in version 1.6. Sixty-Four teams of five competed for a $100,000 cash prize pot. The 1st place winner, Swedish team Fnatic, won $30,000. I was fortunate enough to spectate this tournament. Being there with 1000’s of international gamers, the atmosphere was absolutely electric.

These tournaments (sometimes referred to as LAN tournaments) happen all over the US and the world, with winnings ranging from small cash and/or computer hardware prizes to larger cash sums ($5,000-50,000). This competitive side to Counter-Strike (and other games) is fairly unknown to the general public; but to gamers, the popular players are like celebrities, the best teams are looked up to by millions.

Counter-Strike is quite difficult; you have to build your skills (and the skills of your team) just like any other sport. Players get scrims (a 5v5 match between two teams) via IRC (the gamesurge network or US, quakenet for EU). Scrim after scrim, day after day, it generally takes years to hone one’s skills. It’s played on computer screens instead of basketball courts or football fields, but does that mean it’s not a sport? It takes practice, dedication, and patience. It also takes coordination and team strategy.

Many of those at the top now have been playing since the beginning, and those who want to stay at the top must keep their game sharp; new teams are trying to move up every day. In fact as I write this article there are 103,421 people playing CS version 1.6. There are two newer versions of Counter-Strike, one called CS:Condition Zero and the other CS:Source. They lack certain gameplay aspects of 1.6, which is why are not as good for competition or in general (that’s this author’s opinion though, Source and Condition Zero also have strong competitive communities).

The Rules of a Counter-Strike scrim:
First to 16 rounds wins

Two 15 round halves

One team is Counter-Terrorist for the 1st half; the other team is Terrorist for the 1st half

Each map has two bomb sites

The CT’s win a round by killing all the T’s, by diffusing the bomb if it’s been planted, or causing the T’s to run out of time (they only have a certain amout of time to plant the bomb, usually around 1 min. 45 seconds).

The T’s win the round if they kill all the CT’s or if they plant the bomb and the CT’s fail to disarm within 35 seconds.

Once the 1st half of 15 rounds is complete, the teams switch sides. Possible 1st half scores are 8-7, 9-6, 10-5, etc.

The Terrorists will have to call strategies to reach one of the two bombsites.

NOTE: These rules apply only to de_maps (bomb diffusal maps), which are the only ones used in competitive play.

Just like any other sport, there are the favorite teams, the favorite players, the upsets, the action, it’s all very exciting. I hope you can see Counter-Strike and competitive gaming in a whole new light!

Up next on the blog: A Review onĀ amazon tactical flashlight!

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