CS:GO: How to Improve Your Demo Analysis
Wed 24th Jun 2020 - 8:13pm
While many players focus on using custom maps to improve their aim or to learn new utility, demo reviewing could be even more beneficial. This often overlooked aspect of CSGO training might not be the most exciting way to spend your time in the game, but it will give you much better and deeper gameplay insights. Many round are lost not because of better aim on the opponent's side. Rather, players make bad decisions and forfeit their advantage to the enemy team.
How to Download a Demo
First, let's delve into the technical aspects of demo reviews. If you already have your demo ready to go, you can safely skip to the next section. However, it might be useful to read about downloading demos from different platforms such as Faceit or HLTV. To efficiently review your demos, you will have to activate your console in-game. You can do this by going to game settings and enabling the developer console. Also, do not forget to go into your keybind settings and assign a key that will allow you to open the console in-game.
First of all, the easiest way to review demos is when you play competitive using the official Valve matchmaking service. On the main menu, simply go to 'matches', then select the tab that says 'your matches' and choose the game you want to review. In the bottom right corner, you will see the option to download the demo of that match. Once downloaded, the 'download' button will be replaced with a 'watch' button. Press it to start loading the demo.
Secondly, you might want to download the demo from a match you played on FaceIt. To download the demo, go to your profile by clicking on your name in the top right corner and select the 'stats' tab. Scroll down and you will find a list of the games you played. Click on the match you want to review, and then select the 'Overview' tab. You will see a big grey button in the middle of the screen that says 'watch demo'. Click it and a file will start downloading.
If you play on the ESEA-platform, you can easily download the demo by going to your profile on the website. Then, scroll down to find a list of your recent games. Click on the match you want to review and you will see a download button on the page. Click the download button and a file will start downloading.
Whether you want to view a demo from Faceit or ESEA, both of them will download a compressed file once. Open it with your software of choice, and extract the file contained therein in the 'csgo' folder inside the main folder called Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. You can easily access this folder by right-clicking CSGO in your Steam Library, going to properties, and then selecting the option 'Browse local files'. Just drop the file in the 'csgo' folder and rename to something easily memorizable such as 'demo1'.
Once that is done, launch CSGO and open the developer console. Type 'playdemo', followed by a space and the first letter of what you renamed the file to. If you did everything correctly, the name of your demo should pop up and you can simply press the tab key to autocomplete. Finally, press the enter key and the demo will start loading.
Once the demo starts, reopen the developer console and type 'demoui'. This will launch an admittedly rather outdated interface that allows you to pause the demo, skip a round or even change the playback speed. Sadly, the demo viewer is very janky. Pausing the demo and skipping a round usually does not lead to any issues but selecting a different point on the timeline is prone to crashing the game.
Let's get started! There are several aspects of gameplay that you should pay attention to during your demo review that are hard to detect in the heat of the moment. Preferably, you review a game in which you did not annihilate the other team, as there is usually more to learn from close games and even losses.
First of all, one of the most common mistakes that often goes undetected unless specifically looked out for during demo reviews is bad positioning on the map. Specifically, compare your positioning to that of your teammates and enemies and consider whether it makes sense. Even when you are queueing with incommunicative randoms, a lot of information can be gathered from the minimap alone. Positioning and movement encompass many different aspects and mistakes can be very basic as it is easy to get caught up in the game. For example, during a rush you might come to a stop to get a good shot at the enemy, blocking your teammates from pushing out with you and reducing your team to mere cannon fodder.
Secondly, be aware of the risks you take. Something very difficult to grasp in CSGO is knowing when to push and when to fall back. At the same time, this is a crucial gameplay aspect because your goal should be to take control of the map without overextending. To help you push, you can play together with at least one teammate that can refrag should you get killed. One particular example is holding an angle such as Banana on Inferno. Staying there by yourself with an AWP might not be the best idea if your whole team is pushing middle and apartments, as enemies can very easily rush you which leaves your team caught in the crossfire and gives the enemy crucial information. In that situation, it might be better to rejoin your teammates and quickly force yourself onto the site.
Thirdly, when you find yourself in a defensive position, look at the angles held by you and your teammates. Are you holding an angle that your teammate is already holding, and, consequently, leaving open another one? Especially when people queue solo, miscommunication (or absence of communication) often leads to gaps in defense which the enemy team is all too eager to exploit. This can be solved by better communication, and, more importantly, awareness. For example, if you are playing the triple box position as a counterterrorist on the A-side of Mirage and you see your teammate pushing middle or window from his stairs position, it might be a good idea to also fall back into CT-spawn for a more defensive position. Otherwise, you would have to cover two angles at once, ramp and palace.
Finally, for each death, look whether there was a reasonable way that you could have avoided being on the receiving end of a bullet. Maybe you went to grab a gun after killing an enemy when there was another one waiting for you to push. Or, you just might have been too aggressive or greedy to get the kill. Another common mistake is pushing out before a smoke or flash grenade lands. Of course, this shouldn't push you to be too careful. It is important to know when to act and when to wait. This also goes for every round that you lose. Figure out if there is any other way you could have played the round which would have made you win. However, it is generally not a good idea to discuss this with teammates immediately after the round. Arguing leads to demotivation and even more losses which eventually might even lead to frustration. You are not going to change any player's performance mid-game with feedback, so it is better to discuss these things after the game.
One particularly useful aspect of demo reviewing is that you can see the information that you were not aware of during the game by using the x-ray function. This can be a great way of testing whether your game sense is accurate, but, of course, you should not be too hard on yourself for not knowing unobtainable information.
Several things can point to good game sense. For example, whether you predict the enemies' movements well enough based on information that was shared with you. Normally, in the demo, if a player has good game sense you should see smart rotations as a counterterrorist and pushing at the right time as a terrorist. Especially when it comes to clutch rounds, game sense can completely turn around a seemingly hopeless round.
A simple way to gauge your general game sense is to question every action you took in a single round. If you decided to push somewhere, why did you push there? If you decided to throw a flash grenade, why did you throw it? If you decided to hold a certain angle, why did you hold it? While many actions will have perfectly reasonable explanations, you will also notice that some decisions have no apparent cause or follow-up that explain the choice you made. It is those decisions you will want to correct and which might make the difference between staying alive to clutch the round or dying early.
Depending on the rank you're in, it might also be good to see whether you can pre-aim common positions of your enemies. However, it is clear that every rank has adopted its own specific playstyle and usually, pre-aiming will work less well on lower ranks since enemies usually do not sit in these positions. Moreover, teammates usually fail to cover you well enough to watch your open angles, which makes it a lot harder to pre-aim one position.
Game sense also relates to predicting the enemies' economy. By remembering what weapons your enemies were equipped with and looking at their win or loss streak, you can quite accurately figure out what kind of weapons they will buy in the following rounds. If the enemy team just lost two rounds in a row with full equipment, you can assume they will do an eco-buy and perhaps even rush you. Consequently, you might want to pre-emptively throw a fire grenade if you expect them to rush the bombsite you are defending as a CT. This can also prove useful to predict whether the enemy team will have an AWP to defend a position such as the window position on Mirage. Depending on that, your strategy and utility usage might change.
Finally, another important thing you can review is effective utility usage. See whether the (pop) flashes you throw effectively blind people and whether your grenades land close enough to the enemy's position to do damage. If not, you might be throwing your utility wrong or just throw it at the wrong time. Also, make sure that your utility does not hinder your teammates. A frequently recurring mistake is that too many people throw flashes right after each other, blinding their teammates that pushed forward after the first flash. Chain-flashing can be an effective strategy, but make sure the whole team is on board and knows what to do.
In conclusion, there are many different aspects you can improve simply by reviewing your demos. Naturally, every player has a different playstyle and needs to improve more heavily on different aspects of the game than others. That said, this guide should give you a good foundation of the most important things to review on which you can build to personalize your demo review.