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A Different Side Of Gaming 2: CS:GO - The Dark Side

Welcome to part 2 of my series where I played CS:GO so you didn’t have to, on a journey that changed my mindset about gaming in unexpected ways.

I left off last time talking about my first matchmaking rank, Silver Elite Master, which, according to my friends, wasn’t a bad place to start.

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Today I’m going to diverge somewhat, and talk about some of the less encouraging elements of Counter Strike. Some of these things might put you off playing the game entirely, as it doubtlessly has with even some of the most dedicated players..

Prime Status

Prime Status is a feature of competitive matchmaking that, in my experience, makes it much less likely for one to encounter hackers (which I will talk about later) as it matches players with only other Prime Status players.

To obtain Prime, one has to either have bought CS:GO before it went Free To Play, or reach experience level 21 which takes a bit of time. It can also be bought for around the price the game used to cost.

This is meant to give the Prime Status player a much better matchmaking experience, but not always.

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The Hackers

There is a litany of hacks available for CS:GO. There is also an alarming number of players using various kinds of hacks that they either buy or code themselves to gain an advantage over other players.

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This is the dark side of Counter Strike. Aim hacks, giving the user superhuman aiming abilities, wall hacks giving the user X-Ray Vision, speedhacks allowing the user to move faster than other players, there seems to be no end. The new player without prime status can easily be discouraged when encountering someone who knows exactly where they are at all times, or never misses their shots.

Some hackers are very good at hiding their superhuman abilities. Some don’t care and will not even attempt to hide it. Some toggle only briefly in order to gain the upper hand in a situation. Hackers can be encountered at any level of play, even in the pro leagues, and all you can really do is report them.

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The Smurfs

No, not this kind of smurf
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Smurfing is not unique to Counter Strike, and can probably be found in just about any competitive game where rankings are involved.

For those who aren’t aware, smurfing is the act of playing on a lower-ranked account against significantly less skilled players. It’s highly contraversial within the CS:GO community as it likely is elsewhere. The motives are generally for the higher skilled player to retain his or her rank on their main account and have a relaxing “ez game” against a bunch of noobs. Added satisfaction if they are accused of hacking, which they often will be.

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Overwatch

Maybe he’s just having a good day?
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In an effort to combat the hacking problem plaguing CS:GO, Valve introduced the Overwatch feature to players with 150 or more competitive wins allowing the player to download and review game footage, termed “evidence”, and pass a verdict deciding whether, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the suspect has either vision assistance, aim assistance, other external assistance is griefing, or any combination of these.

As an incentive, players who pass accurate judgements are awarded with an amount of experience as well as the satisfaction that of knowing another hacker got their due punishment - a permanent VACation from competitive matchmaking.

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VAC

Image: reddit
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Valve Anti Cheat is not a perfect system, but performs it’s duty well enough that CS:GO is not entirely flooded with cheaters.

VAC bans are permanent and non-negotiable. Players with VAC bans cannot transfer any of their items, including, at times, valuable skins, or games to other accounts. Their accounts will also permanently display, in red, that they have received a VAC ban.

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Unfortunately there is nothing stopping a cheater from creating a new account and downloading the game again, but they will have to buy Prime or grind for level 21 to get it.


Playing against hackers and smurfs can be frustrating. Personally, I haven’t encountered it all that often with prime status, once in a while or if I take the risk of playing with one of my non-prime friends it’s almost guaranteed that we will face smurfs or hackers.

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I find some satisfaction in trying to beat them anyway.

If you didn’t catch the first part of my series, check it out below. As always, weigh in below if you feel like it.

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Next time, I will talk about how this game completely changed the way I looked at gaming.

Part 1

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