Inside the Mind of an Advanced AWPer

June 20, 2020
Interview and writing by: Remington “R700” Rossignol

As players, we all like to think that we know what we’re doing. We think that we understand the game we play. However, Counter Strike is not a game of definites. What works for you, may not work for me. The fundamentally sound play may fail you, while your teammate runs through a smoke to kill both site players. But when playing at a high enough level, some things just won't fly. The same wide-peeks that got you 100 ADR in Open will be punished by any average Main team. If your utility usage isn’t thought out, you can find yourself losing matches based on your opponent's utility usage alone. Think twice about wasting those flashes. A competent AWPer can have a field day against teams that don’t have the spare utility to flush him out of his angle. Luckily for me, I had a few flashes and a mid-window smoke ready for this week's interview. I sat down with two Advanced division AWPers to try and help gain some insight for you up-and-coming AWPers. It became very clear to me that Advanced isn’t just aimers. Or rather, it’s all aimers--but aimers who have a very tuned understanding of the game on both a macro and micro level. Aside from being able to outright beat the average plebeian in an aim duel, there is a certain level of team based Counter Strike understanding that is mandatory at that level. Hopefully, these players' testimony can help you understand. Players envy and VolcaN, both Advanced AWPers, ran the interview gauntlet with me this weekend. Here is what they had to say:

Q: How many of your opening duels are chosen by you / designated by your IGL?

envy: That’s a good one. I’d say around 80-90% of my opening duels are dictated by me, but that’s different between every type of AWPer. It depends on how passive or aggressive they like to play. But for me personally, I like to dictate which fights I want to take and when I want to take those fights.

VolcaN: I choose to take pretty much all my fights. The only times I don’t actually choose what I do is when he calls a “rush B” or whatever. Like, when he calls a strat where I have a specific role is the only time I don’t do whatever I want--but I’m pretty free to do whatever I want on any round.

Q: What is the value of positioning as an AWPer compared to lower levels of play?

envy: Well, in Advanced, pretty much everyone has the ability to hit shots--everyone’s an aimer at this level. It’s about what’s gonna separate you as an individual: being able to position yourself correctly to be able to win fights and get multiple frags. Because if you have the aim, but you don’t have the positioning to go along with it, you can get the kill. But you’ll be traded instantly.

VolcaN: Alright, so positioning depends because compared to lower levels there are fewer mistakes. So given a man-down early round because of bad positioning or bad rotates; it can cost you rounds. It can also hurt your economy quite a lot. Especially as an AWPer, you’re going to cost quite a lot if you’re dying often and causing mistakes from stupid positioning. It’ll bite you in the ass in the long run if you can’t afford your AWP on a map like Train or Nuke where it’s pretty useful then, well your role is pretty much useless. You gotta be just a regular rifler. 

Q: Aside from pure mechanics, what separates a good AWPer from a bad AWPer in your eyes?

envy: What I’ve noticed is a lot of good AWPers know how to abuse the other team's default. Let’s say we’re playing Mirage for example. And they do a 1-3-1 default [1 A, 3 mid, 1 B]. That AWPer can either go for an early mid pick, a palace pick, or he can go for a B pick. And it’s about knowing when to take fights, when to rotate, when to reposition. All while being self-conscious of what you’re doing around the map and what sort of impact you’re having in the game.

VolcaN: Well, over-peaking. Confidence is actually a big point. Like if you have a confident AWPer it really shows compared to someone who just whiffs and it gets to him and he doesn’t hit a shot for the rest of the game. So, of course you’ve got to be confident. Of course you have got to play with your team, call for flashes. Because dry peeking another AWPer, that’s the biggest mistake you can make. Peeking a rifler is much easier than an AWPer. So you need your teammates to flash for you and stuff like that. Overextending, yeah, that’s probably the biggest mistake that’s going to show you if he’s good or not.

Q: What are some good training techniques for up and coming AWPers?

envy: Let’s see, for overall aim there’s the typical answer: DM, Aim_Botz. Those sort of routines can help with aim. Just getting everything warm, practicing your flicks. For overall, if you really want to improve, I feel like aim can sort of be worked on constantly. But game sense, I’d say the best way to improve your overall game knowledge is to just watch demos and actually understand the demos. Like, take notes: see why they’re doing this, what the time is that they’re doing this. How they’re reacting, what their protocols are to certain sorts of aggression. I think that’s the overall best way to improve.

VolcaN: Well you can go in Aim_Botz and do ten flicks--well, from every direction. So ten from left to right, and then ten right to left, then go up and down, then diagonals. So you get about sixty kills or so then you can do whatever for the remaining kills. Of course there’s DM, you gotta try and shoot them as fast as you can. Because that’s what you usually do in a game. You don’t take your time to flick and hope for the best. You go as fast as you can when you see somebody peek you because every second counts. So when you go in DM it’s the same thing. Don’t care about deaths. If you light someone you just keep sniping--you’re not trying to train your pistols. And that’s pretty much it.

Q: Thoughts on the M4A1-S price change, and do you see it having any larger implications in game?

envy: I think that price drop heavily affects the way second rounds can be played on the CT side. Let’s say you lose pistol but you get a 3k, you have enough money to buy an M4A1-S, to drop it. So I think that price change has potential to be very sort of dictating in how the game is gonna flow now. It’s just about what teams are going to implement that as a staple. In like, we lose this round but someone has enough money, they can drop this. It’s sort of like T-side, you lose pistol but you get bomb plant. You can buy two AK’s, two or three AK’s, and drop the other people deagles. So I think that has potential to become a "meta" so to speak on the CT-side as well.

VolcaN: Well when the price was reduced I switched to the M4A1-S cause of the cheaper price. It happens quite often that I’m just a few dollars short of my AWP--like $50 or $100. And just taking that M4 over the other can give me just a little money that I was missing for my AWP. Like when I drop teammates or when I’m just regular buying and then a few rounds later I die and I want to buy my AWP, I’m missing a few dollars, well of course the M4A1-S changes that. But I had to switch back because my teammates couldn’t use it.

[mutual chuckling ensues]

Q: Do you worry more about playing against good riflers or a good AWPer?

envy: Strong AWPers, definitely. Because if a good AWPer knows what they’re doing: they have the aim, they have the game sense. They can heavily impact how the game plays. Say like especially if they’re hitting the shots as well as their positioning and rotations are good. That player can single handedly win games in my opinion. An AWPer is a very lethal presence on the map, especially if they are a good one. So in my opinion, I’d hate going against a better AWPer more than good rifles.

VolcaN: I’d say good riflers. Because good riflers are so unpredictable, like they’re gonna pop in your face. Compared to the AWPer that is just going to hold you. I’m not really worried about that. But when a rifler that runs around or just crouches through a smoke--these good riflers are a bigger issue than a good AWPer, that’s for sure.

At the end of our interviews I gave the players the opportunity to speak freely to anything they think should be addressed. I gave them the opportunity to plug anything they had in the works; as well as just leave any parting words of note. VolcaN chuckled and told me he didn’t have anything to plug and we decided to leave it where it stood. Envy decided to shoutout his twitter and twitch, links to both will be provided below. Be sure to send him a follow. 

Twitter: @envyxoxo_
Twitch: envyxoxo 

A big thank you to both players for taking time out of their day to sit down for an interview. I hope the wisdom in these answers can help all you up and comers improve your game. Be sure to stay tuned to Counter Nature for more player driven content in the future.

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