Transitioning from PUGs to Playing in a Team - Essential Tips



Mon 9th Oct 2017 - 2:43pm

Some players play purely and solely for fun. Others play for the challenge the game gives them. And others play to be the best, to prove themselves and to other people and maybe, just maybe, someday get on a good enough team that will lead them to greatness.

Everyone starts playing casually, slowly crawling their way into competitive matches and learning new things about CS:GO every day. But most people don’t play with a full party of five players all the time. In fact, most play alone - solo queueing. When playing solo – or mostly solo – for long periods of time, it’s normal to get some habits that can be detrimental if you were to play in a real team.

But why do players get those habits? Mostly because solo queuing forces them to sometimes forget about the “team play” aspect of the game and act alone to win the round/game. It can be because teammates are not communicating, they may be giving wrong calls, or simply being mean to each other.

Talking from personal experience, learning to control and suppress those kind of habits is one of the hardest aspects in shifting from “pugging” to playing real competitive Counter-Strike. Although I will give you some very important tips to get better in that aspect, remember that the very best way to learn is from experience - play, play, and play even more.

Play for the Team

The most basic and important tip that I can give you is to do what would benefit your team the most and not yourself alone. If something you can do have the chance to hurt the team in any way, it is better to not do it (there are exceptions of course, which I will talk about later).

Remember you’re playing to win rounds and, eventually, the match. You do not want to risk your team’s economy by risking more than you should, when there is no need. When playing with a team, your money is everyone’s money. If you lose something that could be avoided, everyone is losing. And losing weapons can damage your team more than you think.


Trust Your Teammates

Because you’re used to playing so many PUGs, you’re also used to doubting the calls you receive to some extent. Your random teammate may say “last guy in B site”, yet you still approach other parts of the map with care because you’re still afraid that call me be wrong. That lack of confidence cannot exist in competitive play. In a team, you must trust your teammates’ calls. Not trusting them can mean you lose a lot of time rotating or even lose some opportunities where you could have gotten a kill or a bomb plant/defuse.

Think of yourselves as a single unit, not as five different players. You’re working together to achieve a single goal. Trust comes with time, which means you can relax if it is not working in the first or second week.

Support Your Teammates

You’re in the server to help and support your teammates as much as possible, and so are they. Avoid doing those crazy pushes with the hopes of surprising your opponent alone. Instead, push with a teammate so he can trade the kill in case something goes wrong and keep the number of players alive on each team equal. Just remember your opponents might do the same.

Have utility ready to help each other. If you’re teammate is going for a quick peek, why not throw a flash yourself to the same spot to blind any possible opponents just as your teammate peeks? Sure, he can throw it himself, but that comes with serious disadvantages. He may get peeked with the flashbang or smoke grenade in his hand, making him an easy target. And if you throw the utility instead of him, he can peek as soon as it goes off, instead of waiting that fraction of a second for his weapon to be ready to shoot after switching back from the utility.

You should always be ready to throw something your teammate needs and calls for, and the same applies to them. If you’re stuck somewhere and can’t run away, ask for a flashbang or a molotov. It may give you the edge needed to get away or even give you a kill to obtain the numerical advantage. It all depends on the situation and experience will tell what’s the best way to approach the situation.

Trade Kills

You should always cooperate with your team to avoid being killed without trading the kill. Trading means getting a kill after losing a teammate, more specifically killing the opponent that killed your teammate. To achieve that, you need to be coordinated during your pushes or while defending positions and/or sites.

This is especially important if you’re playing as a CT. Having to defend two bomb sites with five players and having at least one watch the central part of the map means that you will always have the disadvantage in numbers if the other team decides to push together. That’s why you need to set up crossfires that will allow easy trades – which means that wherever way an opponent push, he may only see one of you at a time while both of you can see him. This can easily be achieved by positioning yourself in opposite positions of a choke point, like shown in the image below.

If you can’t get a trade, don’t risk too much or you may end up with a two-player deficit instead of just one. Analyse the situation and decide what is best for you and your team depending on the situation. In case of doubt, most of the time it is best to play safe.

Sometimes It Is Better to Just “Go for It”.

Although I said in a previous topic to always play for the team and with the team, CS:GO is a game where risks can sometimes bring big rewards. Sometimes it’s better to risk a play where common sense would say “don’t do it”. It’s up to you to try to understand if it has a bigger chance to succeed than failing. Always have in account the state of the current game, score, money, etc. If your team has a big advantage, being in rounds or number of players alive, most of the times it is not worth to risk what could be a huge play or a huge failure. Save it for another round.

Play, experiment new things, try to surprise your opponents… find your game style while fitting it inside the team mentality. Also, always call your team what you’re doing in case something goes wrong. That way, they can adjust accordingly with losing too much time or positioning advantage.

Practice Makes Perfect

The more you play and practice together the better you will get. Improving as a team is just as important as improving individually. But don’t go into team practices with the goal to improve aim – that just won’t do it. That part of training is a job you must endure alone, outside practice. In team practices ,you must not focus on winning or losing, but on applying strategies you developed and see what could make them even better.

Also, it is always better to practice against other teams and avoid mixes. Don’t practice with your team in Matchmaking, Faceit or ESEA (or any other PUG service, to be honest). You’ll get matched up with mixes most of the time that play without the structure of a team and most of the time aren’t the best opponents to check if a strategy is good enough to be used against a team. Remember the randomness in plays you might find in a PUG that I talked about. Those will disrupt your training more than you imagine.

Build your team chemistry, participate in as many tournaments and cups as you can (even if you’re just beginning, they’re very good to earn experience in a real competitive environment), and above all, have fun. You may find yourself getting really good at CS if you’re focused and just have that natural talent that some players seem to have.

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