Five Tips for Analyzing Player Demos



Sun 13th May 2018 - 1:13pm

In any sport or activity, reflecting upon past mistakes is essential to improving. It is this reflection that allows us to fix issues, prevent future mistakes, and gain insight. The art of playing Counter-Strike is no different. While it may seem as if all you need to succeed is good aim, solid decision-making is also a key determinant of skill. You can hone this skill by reviewing demos. But, just watching them isn't enough. To truly absorb the information and apply it to your gamesense, you need to focus and consciously address the content of the demo. For many, this can be a daunting task, especially for a computer game. So, here are Five Tips for Analyzing Player Demos.

Tip #1: Take notes. Please, take notes! You won't be able to remember every little detail. In fact, the Association for Psychological Science even reports that taking notes by hand improves memory and cognition. On top of the memory benefits, taking notes will force you to look deeper into situations and notice more things, for fear of not writing enough. And for those who think taking notes is "too much work," it's not. Notes are supposed to help you remember things, so you can do them your way. But you still have to do them. If pros like Astralis still need to take notes to remember, you do to.

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Tip #2: If you're watching your own demos, find something positive from your demos. Unless you're an AI-perfected DoTA robot, you're bound to make mistakes. A lot of them. It is so easy to get sucked into the abyss of self-deprecation, where the number of silly, stupid, and even round-costing mistakes pile up. So, to combat this, when you make a great play, try to find out why. This gives you a pat on the back and valuable information for you to possibly emulate it in a future game. It also reinforces the positive gamesense you already have and strengthens your skills.

Tip #3: If you're watching a professional's demos, imagine what you would do in the given scenario and compare it to what the professional did. There is the old adage, "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." This is how so many professional CS:GO players, such as Nicolai "dev1ce" Reedtz, improve: they learn from other, better pros. They are all copying and counter-stratting a successful metagame, which is why many top teams find it hard to stay at the top. So, to help yourself apply professional tactics into your own gameplay, you need to find out how flawed your decision-making actually is. Compare and contrast your decisions with pros' and find out why. After all, learning from the best will make you improve exponentially faster.

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Tip #4: Look into the context of your actions. For example, even if you're carefully analyzing your own actions, it'll still be easy for you to brush off a death. But, if that death was in a 2v1 post-plant in double OT, there are definite holes in your gamesense you need to be patching. So, look into the contextual situation. Try thinking back to what was going on in your head at the time. Was there a miscommunication? Did you think you could out-flank the last player? Did you get impatient to close out the game? These clues can provide obscure details that you'll be able to identify in a match later on. If you're a newer player, it'll also help you understand the consequences of your actions, such as a team reset, instead of casually dismissing your deaths. In hindsight, little mistakes can serve you a bitter defeat. Just take a look at Team Astralis' heart-breaking loss at IEM Sydney 2018.

Tip #5: Don't just reflect on deaths, but also on missed opportunities. Although reflecting your deaths is a great way to prevent future round losses, the aim of CS:GO is to win rounds. And in many cases, an early pick or a quick 2-kill can turn the tide of a round. So, instead of skipping over most of the demo and focusing only on the split-second decisions before you die, watch and absorb it all. Maybe your rollout was a bit slow and you could've positioned yourself for a great spraydown in a banana rush. But hey, you'll never know. You missed the opportunity, after all. Don't sweat it though, there's always next time. That is, if you put these tips into practice!

And that's it! Watching demos is about patience and focus. It's not a difficult task if you put in the effort and can even be quite fun. If you've never reviewed a demo before, take a look at this article. Also, if you're short on time, check out YouTube channels that are dedicated to reviewing demos, such as Elmapuddy and seangares, for key takeaways and lessons. And on a final note, this article was dedicated to reviewing indvidual player demos. If you're interested in how to analyze team demos to improve communication and teamplay, spam F5 for a future article focused on just that!

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