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A Beginner’s Guide to CS:GO Maps

Zakaria Almughrabi  | 
CS:GO

CS:GO maps may look simple, but they all have incredible depth. (Photo courtesy Valve)

One of the most important aspects of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is the map pool. Since the core mechanics are the same for every player in the game, the variety in CS:GO comes from the ways each player and team approach each map.

The competitive CS:GO pool consists of seven maps. All of them have gone through changes and sometimes even full reworks throughout the years. Each one is unique, yet they all manage to take advantage of the CS:GO mechanics to deliver an amazing experience.

While every map is complex enough for a complete guide of their own, this will be a beginner’s guide to playing and watching CS:GO Maps.

Mirage

CS:GO Mirage

Mirage as a map follows all of the standard conventions of CS:GO maps. It has four main areas of contact with one being an open Mid. The map is Counter-Terrorist sided, but not by much. Mirage is the only original Counter-Strike map to not be full reworked.

Mid is Mirage’s most defining feature. By controlling Mid, a team controls the flow of the entire map. Instant access to Cat, Connector, Underpass, and Window allows for countless plays and rotations to be made. The spawn locations of the CT side are slightly favorable, meaning an AWPer can peek window or connector quicker than the T side. Because of this, the T side needs to use smoke grenades to block off Window or Cat. Even then, fighting can happen at any time from anywhere.

The A bombsite contains two entrances, Ramp and Palace. Both are easily defendable from multiple angles on site. The T side can throw smoke grenades from their spawn to block off the standard CT holds. Once they get in, they can flush out the remaining defenders with Molotov grenades. Most of the T attacks end up here, but the CT side can still defend with off-angles and counter utility, making this site take one of the most explosive.

Apartments and the B bombsite is the preferred rush location on the map. It’s further away from CT spawn than A, but they can still get there quick enough to get set up. Terrorists can opt to use a smoke to extinguish the Molotov, or wait it out for a delayed burst from Apartments. In normal rounds, taking Mid control can lead to a forked attack from Apartments and Cat. The B site can be difficult to take, but it’s just as difficult for CT’s to retake.

Inferno

CS:GO Inferno

Inferno is a classic map in CS:GO. The corridor-based gameplay has made for a very interesting evolution over the years. Inferno has received a rework which opened the chokes up slightly, but its reputation as a heavy utility map is still intact. The map is historically CT sided, but has recently come closer to even.

Banana is the most iconic point on the map. Both the CT and T sides are in a constant battle to control the powerful location. Everything from early HE grenades to Molotov sandwiches to deep smoke retakes can happen. The CT side have the defender’s advantage, but the Half Wall ensures that T’s have ways to dislodge them. Both teams can waste loads of utility here, so managing your grenades is crucial.

Once Banana is taken by the T’s, a full-on assault onto the B bombsite ensues. Smoke grenades are used to block CT spawn and Coffins, but defenders can risk pushing past them.

Molotovs are used to get CT’s out from the back of the site. Because of the telegraphed nature of the push, the CT’s can rotate early for the defense. There are boosts that can be used to see over the CT smoke, as well as grenade angles to kill bomb planters.

cs:go inferno

The A bombsite plays out much slower. The T side can walk up Alt Mid to take control of Apartments and Mid. Since the CT’s have the defensive angles, flashbangs are crucial to forcing them back. The T side can them opt to smoke off Arches and Library to split the A site, or smoke Speedway and Balcony for a one-sided explosion. The A site’s anchor plays in Pit. This position is extremely important, as his life dictates whether or not the Ts can cross to the bombsite.

Train

CS:GO Train

Train is one of the more unique CS:GO maps. Its incredibly long sightlines make the map an AWP playground. Additionally, all but one of the T entrances to the bombsites are on low ground past chokes. This results in the map being heavily CT sided, although the recent advent of the SG 553 has given the T’s long-range options.

All of Train’s pushes come from drastically different spots. Because of this, CT’s often play very spread out. On the A bombsite, they need to cover their angles well. Otherwise their teammates will likely have their back turned to a potential threat. One player almost always holds Pop Dog/EBox and Ivy each. The last can either play on the Mid Trains, Bomb Train, or Connector. There are countless strategies to take any one of the chokes, such as Pop Dog grenades and Ivy flashbang peeks.

The B bombsite is pretty straightforward. There are two small doors for the T’s to flood out of Brown Halls. The CT’s can throw Molotovs on their entrances, hold behind any number of Trains, and receive reinforcements from A quickly. If the T’s do get the bomb planted, they have to deal with retake utility and unfavorable sightlines. However, if the initial take is quick, the Ts can turn the tables by pushing into the far side of the site.

Terrorists on Train have a much different approach to attacking. Since there is no true Mid on the map, they spend most of their time playing for information and picks. Their staging locations of T Connector and Brown Halls can be taken and held relatively easily. The hard part comes with actually entering a bombsite. The vast majority of T deaths on the map come inside or exiting the brutal choke points.

Overpass

CS:GO Overpass

Overpass is unique, in that it is the only competitive CS:GO map that wasn’t introduced prior to Global Offensive. The uniqueness continues, as Overpass has the CT’s spawn on the inside of the A bombsite. Because of this, rotations are fast and efficient. The map is fairly CT sided, as the T’s have to take multiple areas on the map before they can actually push a bombsite.

The A bombsite is at the end of two long stretches of space, Long and Bathrooms. Since CT’s spawn on it, they will always push forward to take control of space. The timings make it so CT’s have the advantage of peeking and taking any fight early. The T side’s job is to push them back using flashbangs and coordination to gain access to the staging areas. Once they have ground, they still have to worry about the Bank, Dumpster and Truck angles.

The B site differs slightly, as the T’s can take Water and then stage from there. Standing in their way is multiple boosts, wall bangs, and flashbang retakes that the defenders can perform.

Once the attack is ready, flashbangs over Monster and smokes into Heaven and Graffiti allow for crossing to site. From there, T’s must clear out defenders in Barrels and Site. B is also home to the T rush strategies, which can catch defenders off guard.

Overpass’s Connector allows for both teams to have a strong rotation point. Whoever controls Connector can dictate how fast the round goes. Both sides can get to their end of Connector in reasonable time, but the CT’s have an angle advantage. Grenades can be used to take control of the space, but teams still must be ready to call rotations based on Connector control.

Dust2

A CS:GO classic, Dust2 has also seen a major rework. Still, the iconic Mid area makes it so both teams are fighting from the first second every round. Since the T’s spawn with a sightline on the door, they have much more agency than on most maps. Dust2 is the most T sided map in the active competitive pool.

Mid is the most dynamic part of the map. As previously mentioned, the T side spawns with control of the angle. During gun rounds, the CT’s use a smoke grenade to safely cross players to B. Players can play close to the door to watch and listen for pushes. An AWPer can also hold at the base of the door to spot the Cat to A push. Since Mid connects Cat and Lower Tunnels, control of it is imperative so the T’s can’t rotate for free.

The A bombsite is home to Long, a spawn-based angle which can be extremely explosive. Both teams can use utility to try and force control of the area. The T’s can flashbang over the top and throw smokes on the corners to get the better peek, but the CT’s can throw HE grenade and Molotovs to dissuade them. A Long take can be accompanied by a Cat take. A smoke on Xbox allows the T’s to cross over to Cat and attack the site from another angle.

Dust2 B site is the home of the rush. Low economy T’s can throw themselves at the tiny Tunnel exit to brute force their way into the site. They get caught more often then not, so a two-pronged attack is the favored B take strategy. If the T’s have Mid control, they can smoke off CT Spawn and hit the B site.

B is a fortress that is difficult to take. However, if the T’s get it, its just as hard to retake.

Nuke

Nuke has been through tons of iterations in Valve’s attempt to balance it. Despite this, it’s still the most one-sided map in CS:GO competitive play. The advantageous defensive angles and tight choke points around the map make sites hell to take. Additionally, the Outside half of the map is inaccessible without a wall of smoke grenades.

All of this makes Nuke extremely CT sided.

The stacked nature of the map makes it so that no rotation is a secret. The multitude of breakable objects such as the Doors and Vents make every move and shot incredibly pronounced. As such, there have been strategies found around them. The glass in the roof can be shot out, allowing for grenades into the A bombsite.

Speaking of A, it’s a deathtrap. The CT’s can position anywhere in Heaven, on Hut, or by the Vents to lock the T’s out. The Hut and Squeaky are easily held, requiring good grenades and fast trades. The other options are Mini and Heaven, which are both accessed from Outside. T’s must use smoke walls to get ground, making the move telegraphed. From there, the T’s can go for multiple angles of attack.

They could also use the Outside control to go down Secret. Secret is the T’s primary access to the B bombsite, as Ramp is a single small choke. T’s need to move as a team to trade and clear out the bombsite, then find good after-plant positions. Since the CT’s rotations can be heard, retake fights are all about aim and reaction time.

Vertigo

As the newest addition to the CS:GO competitive map pool, Vertigo has undergone quite a bit of scrutiny. After countless updates, the map has finally started to be accepted. Vertigo is a slightly T sided map. It also has a double layered format, but the structure is very different from Nuke.

The majority of action on Vertigo takes place on the A bombsite. The covered walk up Ramp allows for the T’s to stage an assault. They must use utility to push would-be defenders off of the corners. The new Alley allows for a multi-threat attack. CT’s have to try and defend from the site, or far back in the Spawn Connectors. There are tons of headshot angles on the site, making crosshair placement incredibly important.

Mid on Vertigo plays in a unique way. It’s not nearly as valuable as Mid on other maps. Because of this, most teams choose to just passively watch it and only sometimes play off it. The Window is valuable for the CT side, so they must keep some control. The T’s can also hold it to stop rotations to A.

The B site is attacked much less than A. The walk up the Stairs is brutal and is easily grenade. There is cover all over the site that defenders can used to duck and dodge. Without Mid control, T’s also have to worry about being flanked. On top of that, once the T’s do plant, their after-plant angles aren’t great. It’s a hard site to take, but the T’s can still use it well if they bait CT rotations.

Zakaria is a former professional TF2 player turned caster and analyst. He has had a passion for gaming and esports for years and hopes to use his skills and experience to convey why gaming is so great. His specialty games are League of Legends, CS:GO, Overwatch, Super Smash Bros, and PUBG.