Player Tendencies, Patterns, and Predictability

Human Nature: Patterns and Tendencies

Humans are naturally instinctual and predictable; prone to developing tendencies and repetitive patterns. In the professional Counter-Strike scene, there are players that fit this description very often. Other players, in light of this knowledge, are able to take advantage of player tendencies and patterns to predict their oppositions’ play. However, when these players that have developed patterns and tendencies decide to go against their norm, they are able to throw an audible and outsmart or outmaneuver their opponent who is predicting them to do what their tendencies portray. Mind games are consistently played by many professional Counter-Strike players to interrupt their opponent’s ability to predict.

n0thing’s Thoughts on the Matter

In Cloud 9 Jordan ‘n0thing’ Gilbert’s Q & A Car Vlog, he is asked a question about keeping player and team tendencies in mind when playing on LAN. Jordan explain’s that at such a high level of play, the range of players becomes smaller, so tendencies become something that is easier to keep track of. He also mentions that teams have styles of play, defaults, and set plays they are known for and you are able to use that information to your advantage.

“With GeT_RiGhT or Happy or those kind of players, you could tell that they’re probably going to be lurking, so if you kill them, maybe the rest of their team was in a different area or something like that. And then they change it sometimes and try to sneak on it. What’s really important is that you know the other teams’ tendencies, but if you overplay them that’s how they get you. It’s a fine line.” Jordan says.

The not so s1mple Solution

Now, the solution to countering this might be a hard one to execute, but a truly world-class player is able to push these tendencies and patterns aside and get back to that precise level of focus, giving them that ‘killer instinct’ that allows them to succeed. The ability to do this consistently is something that often sets tier 1 and tier 2 teams apart. This isn’t to say that good players, for instance s1mple, will always ignore tendencies and just play their game. The fact of the matter is that they will always have in mind which exact player they are up against and what they are most likely to do in any given situation. These exceptionally outstanding players will analyze their opponents play within the specific game, looking at various elements of play to try and anticipate their opponents.

Round to Round Adjustments: CT vs T

The beauty of Counter Strike is that early in the game, players have multiple rounds to work with to try and gauge their opponents play style. This is evident on both CT and T sides, but depending on the map, changing styles of play usually favors the CT side. You might notice in lower elo games that players will consistently play the same defensive positions as a Counter-Terrorist, which makes it easy to predict where that player will be next round, most likely in that same position, holding that same angle. In professional play however, CTs will usually stick to a setup that proves to be winning them rounds, but will often change minor things to throw their opponents off and give themselves the upper hand. They might incorporate a variation of angles, play more aggressive or more passive, or simply change their weapons and use of utility. These small changes can keep the Ts guessing as to what is on the other side of that angle. Making slightly bigger changes, such as stacking bombsites or changing positions entirely can also throw off the Ts, but these changes can sometimes prove to be a gamble and backfire. CTs are often are able to deprive their opponents from any chance of getting back into a game just by making simple changes to keep versatile and convert their adjustments to repetitive round wins.

The Terrorists, on the other hand, can change pace and timing, executes, and various other site take strategies, but with the CTs keeping in mind to cover all possibilities whilst changing little details about their defense round by round, it is difficult for the Ts to break through. When two teams are able to do this on both sides, it all comes down to hitting the shots, trading, and situational play. For Ts, it is often worth it to trade kills because a pick for the Ts usually means an advantage because there are less CTs to cover two bombsites on the map.

Versatility is Key

So, it seems that not only is it important to know the tendencies and patterns of opponents in general, but it is also advantageous to gauge how they are playing in that specific game. It is also imperative to keep in mind that the other team is aware that their tendencies can be predicted, and will throw audibles purposely to throw off the opposition.

This goes to show why highly-skilled and versatile players like s1mple, coldzera, or K0nfig are much harder to deal with because they can adapt to situations and consistently vary their style of play to limit the amount of anticipation their opponents will have against them. These are the players with the ‘killer instinct’.

This article will serve as an introduction to a series of articles called ‘The Killer Instinct’, which will consist of player-specific articles on the subject of tendencies, patterns, and predictability.

Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @didz_NA with suggestions.

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Dylan "didz" Didiano is a young esports enthusiast and gamer from Toronto, Ontario. He is the founder of Serious Esports and is a Community Manager, Content Strategist and SEO Analyst at Northern Arena.