Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is the world’s hottest competitive video game, boasting a player base of more than a million concurrent players active at any one time and stacking the Esports world full of lucrative tournaments worth hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time.
To help you master your skills and hone your craft on the server, here’s our guide to the three most popular maps in the competitive circuit right now.
One of the most famous maps in all of Esports and gaming history, Dust II has become the real poster boy of the CS: GO community. Set out in the Middle East like its predecessor, the map borrows a lot of its look and design from early Team Fortress games and has since gone onto be replicated and remade on everything from Minecraft to Fortnite.
Despite dropping out of the competitive pool for a time, Dust II has always been one of the most hotly played picks in the game and actually sits in its very own server when players attempt to play a competitive game of matchmaking or deathmatch.
The go-to default competitive map from the active-duty pool is now Mirage.
As a map itself, Dust II is extremely easy to pick up and work out, essentially being divided into three straight lines that will lead players to either bombsites or the middle ground between the two. There are a couple of side paths at Tunnels and Catwalk that make these journeys much safer, however, they don’t quite promise the same powerful rewards as the riskier moves.
Newcomers to the game will also note the strange habit both Ts and CTs have at the start of a round on Dust II where they position someone right at the top and bottom of the middle of the map and get them to start firing dead ahead. It’s one of the hardest shots in the game, but if you’re able to find one of the crossing opponents out the gates, the results can be a truly big swing for a round’s eventual outcome.
Set in a small picturesque village somewhere in Italy, Inferno is another map that pits CT forces against Ts attempting to destroy one of two gas lines that run through the area. In a design that is classic for bomb defusals right across the gaming world, Inferno has both sides at diagonally opposed ends of the map and has its two sites in the two corners remaining.
Inferno is home to arguably the most hotly contested spot in all of Counter-Strike with its long curved Banana ramp leading up to bombsite B. Every round on Inferno opens with at least two or three of the five-man teams racing to Banana and throwing every bit of utility they have to try and wrestle control. A keen understanding of each type of utility’s specific throws is required to make the most of this pivotal position.
There’s also cramped apartments and tight defensive positions around bombsite A to contend with, giving both bombsites very different feels to one another.
Offering moments of intense strategy, cunning placements, and sudden frantic bursts of energy, Inferno is a perfectly balanced map that allows all kinds of approaches and playstyles to flourish. In terms of competitive play, most professional players and teams are happily playing on Inferno, and as such it is usually leftover as the deciding map in CSGO betting parlays and event matches.
One of the most heavily one-sided maps in the current competitive pool, Train is also one of the most popular picks at serious S-Tier pro competitions. Set in an old, abandoned Soviet trainyard Train has one of the highest skill ceilings in the game and has proven to be one of those maps that teams can really hone in on and master.
Mousesports’ rise to second place in the HLTV World rankings and victory at ESL Pro League Season 10 was built around their mastery of Train, a map that hadn’t been seen a whole lot at tournaments before. Since Mouse’s dominance, the map has seen a huge revival of fortunes in both competitive and casual play, with the meta of the map being constantly shifting.
The map features plenty of long narrow stretches that make sniping an absolute dream. The huge train carriages present the odd frantic moment, but by and large this is a map that really rewards good positioning and ice-cold reaction times. AUGs really find a home here too, and it’s perhaps the only map where it’s a more viable rifle than the standard M4A4 for CTs.