How to Learn from Demo Analysis



Thu 18th Jan 2018 - 10:46pm

Analysing demos is easily one of the best ways to better understand the competitive aspect of the game, learn new tricks you probably never even heard or seen before, and even improve your game. You can use a demo to analyse an entire team strategy, either defending or attacking or if you have a favourite professional player, you can use it to better understand how he plays or what he does in certain situations.

This will not be a guide on how to use the demo replay function of the game or even how to download demos. This will focus on some guidelines on what you should be looking for when watching and analysing them.

When Analysing a Team

When focusing on an entire squad, you should be looking out for positions - the way they set up themselves for pushes, trades and even default positions.

- Positioning: In a team, each player has its own role and his own positions. If you pay attention, when playing a certain map, its different spots are always occupied by the same player when using a default strategy.

Pushes and trades: Very rarely a team does something with the intent of fragging the adversary with a sole player. They always have someone backing up the entry player, allowing for trades to happen, eliminating any possible numerical advantage the opposing team could gain if the push does not work as intended. Sometimes there’s even a third player flashing the spot that is about to be pushed, so that the work of the entry fragger and his backup gets easier and safer.

- Set-ups: When preparing to attack a site, designated players of said team are going to throw several pieces of utility (Smoke Grenades, Flashbangs, Molotov/Incendiary or even Decoy grenades). By having them designated to each player, they always make sure that no crucial utility is forgotten during the attack. The same can be applied when defending a site – every player has set grenades and utility that they use to secure a site, although most of them will be improvised on the go during the attack of the adversary team. Understand that and how you can adapt each role to each member of your own team.

When Analysing a Single Player

When focusing on a single player, whether it is your favourite player or a role you want to improve, you should be looking out for the way he holds certain angles, the approach he has to certain situations, his positioning, and even the gap he fills in the team.

- Positioning: Let’s say you’re analysing someone who is the main AWPer of the team. There are more aggressive AWPers and then are those that play a more passive role. Aggressive ones tend to be more careless, focusing on the “high risk-high reward” game style. Check what positions they usually peek on each map and most importantly, how they approach that position to surprise their opponents. Maybe they use a Flashbang before peeking or maybe even nothing at all.

- Approaching different situations: The way he would a approach a 4v2 in favour of his team is most certainly not the same way that he would approach a 2v4. That’s where you can learn the most, in my opinion. Although every situation is different from one another, each player has their own style and if you analyse them enough, you start to see there is a pattern. He may always peek the same angles from time to time, throw the same one-way smoke from time to time, etc. Those are the things you should look out for and understand what is the reasoning behind them.

- Crosshair placement: Even if you know how to place your crosshair in the most effective way possible, sometimes there are spots that what you think you’re doing it is the best when in reality it is not. Although I’m not saying that what professional players do is always the best (because it is not), they tend to have a better knowledge of the game than the common player because of the vast amount of experience and hours they have in the game.

- Movement: One of the core aspects of the game and although easy to learn, it is very hard to master. Knowing how to get your way around the map and make the best use of the elements in it is a good way to reach chokepoints faster, allowing for an unpleasant surprise to your adversary. Study different players that play at different spots to know how to reach them. The best kind of players to watch for good movement are AWPers and Entry Fraggers. 

There are some known situations that happened recently where a professional player studied so much the adversary demos that it gave him the upper hand in almost every fight between them on a match (device, from Astralis had the upper hand over Fallen, from SK Gaming in their last Overpass LAN match to give an example). Although this is a kind of scenario that can only be achieved when you know your adversaries beforehand (which does not happen in the online Counter-Strike that most of us play), it is a very good example on how effective and useful studying demos can be.

The Demo Replay function is something that Valve needs to work on urgently, because it is severely outdated, and it is honestly hard to analyse a demo without having several issues, mainly lag when rewinding a round. But it is still usable, and you should use it to get your personal and team expertise to the next level. Choose the team you want to watch, learn how they play and how you can adapt their strategies to your team and to each player. 

Other very important point that I have not yet touched is using the demo replay function to analyse your own demos. While doing this, you should focus on your errors and understand what you should have made differently to avoid that death or lost round. Don’t overanalyse your opponent's position but instead your own. Understand how you could have played that situation better to avoid being killed from the possible positions your enemies could have been coming from. Of course, there are times where it is simply not possible to survive after killing one or even two opponents, but even those situations where you haven’t committed a mistake can have something to learn from. Maybe if you had thrown a certain Smoke Grenade, you could have avoided having so many confrontations at the same time or even a well-timed HE Grenade could have made an even bigger difference.

If you’re analysing demos from your own team, learn where your mistakes are. If possible you can even record your own communications and sync them with the gameplay. That way you can understand if you’re playing way too slow/fast, how fast are you reacting to crucial calls, and even if all the 5 players of the team are on the same page when reacting to calls being made.

As you will be able to see, demos are a useful tool to improve in Counter-Strike. And to get even better, every tool you can use is good to have. But above all, remember to have fun when doing it!

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