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CS:GO - AWP guide 2018

A definitive guide to upping your AWP game.

In this article we explain what makes the AWP so deadly, what the role of an AWPer entails and how to get better with the AWP.

The AWP (full name: Arctic Warfare Police) is the most iconic weapon in Counter Strike history thanks to its laser-like accuracy and devastating damage output. Unlike every other weapon in the game, the AWP has the highest potential to kill an enemy in a single shot, making it lethal in the hands of an accurate shooter.

In this article, we aim to highlight exactly what it is that makes the AWP so deadly, the role of an AWPer in a team and how you can become a better AWPer overall.

This article comtains additional reporting by Christian Vaz.

AWP Basics

When it comes to CS:GO, newbies and the AWP seem to go together like a house on fire. There’s something about wielding an extremely powerful weapon that draws new players purchasing this absurdly pricey beast. This raises some issues though, and that's because CS:GO is a game that revolves around a team economy. Going ahead and splurging all your cash on an AWP needs to be a calculated decision, an investment, so to speak - not an impulse buy.

Weighing in at $4750, the AWP is one of the most expensive weapons in the game. Players who want to give this deadly sniper rifle a try will have to fork over at least one quarter of their total cash to do so. If one player spends most of their money on the AWP while the rest of the team is trying to save their cash, this makes it very likely for the AWPer to lose their weapon against an enemy team with much better weapons overall.

First things first, before you even attempt to buy an AWP you need to make sure that you know how to use it. Head into an aim map and practice firing off shots at a range of distances. For the most part you will be using the AWP at medium to long range distances, however, there will be occasions where aggressive players will attempt to rush you. Learn when to zoom in and out without putting yourself at risk.

The AWP is a high risk, high reward weapon. The risk comes from the amount of money you have to invest, but the reward of being able to kill enemies with a single bullet can make up for this. Whereas some weapons greatly reward you for killing enemies, the AWP’s kill award is a measly $100. Even if you manage to kill several enemies in a single round, the bulk of your future income will stem from winning rounds.

Equipping the AWP will make you move significantly slower than you would do when carrying an assault rifle or pistol. This means it’s important to make use of your pistol more than ever before reaching the usual sniper spots on maps. Never purchase a Desert Eagle alongside the AWP as it's an unforgiving pistol that's difficult to use in a pinch. Pick a sidearm with plenty of ammo as this will give you far more to work with when your AWP needs reloading.

The Role of an AWPer

With the AWP being such a powerful weapon, it's easy to get carried away and want to pick it every round, but a team of five AWPers puts you at a huge disadvantage. In eSports tournaments you’ll see an absolute maximum of two AWPers on each team, as at high level CS:GO, players will likely only get one shot with the AWP before getting picked off themselves. Choosing to become a main AWPer is not a decision one should take lightly, as your team will be depending on pinpoint precision from your shots. Losing an AWP will greatly impact your team’s economy, while simultaneously giving your opponents a huge advantage in the remainder of that round, and the next one if they win.

The role of an AWPer is a huge responsibility and in order to become a successful one, you need to understand exactly what’s expected of you. In some circumstances two AWPers on one team may work, however, it’s usually a better idea to stick to one main AWPer.

As an AWPer, you should have exceedingly quick reactions. If you’re a good AWPer, seeing a member of the enemy team should usually result in a quick elimination. For this reason, you’ll need to switch between two main styles of play: patiently remaining still or going aggressive. Knowing when to switch between these styles can be tricky, so you’ll need to pay attention to the kinds of strategies that the opposing team is running in the opening rounds of the game before you purchase an AWP.

Using the AWP defensively requires just as much of your attention as playing aggressively would. You’ll need to stay especially focused while holding an angle with the AWP on CT-side as it’s easy to glaze over if you haven’t spotted an enemy for a while. Equally, peeking and being aggressive shouldn’t mean that you’re pushing too far forward and putting yourself in unnecessarily risky situations. AWPers should be experienced in calculating the optimum time to peek, eliminate an enemy and then fall back. While being greedy with the AWP can lead to some spectacular moments, it can just as easily gift the other team this expensive sniper rifle.

While AWPers and Entry-Fraggers are often listed as two separate roles, there’s no reason why an AWPer cannot double-up as an Entry-Fragger too. It just makes perfect sense to have the person with a one-shot-kill weapon taking the first peek at the enemy team. Entry-Fragging AWPers should be in and out of sight before the enemy has a chance to react, particularly if you manage to get a pick. Again, you’ll need to be incredibly disciplined when resisting taking another peek if you happen to miss a shot. Sometimes a quick second peek can lead to victory, but peeking too soon may cost you and your team the round.

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Aim & Positioning

As an AWPer, you’ll want to ensure that you have decent cover to duck behind at all times. Being out in the open for too long can open you up to too many opponents and handling these kinds of situations is further worsened by the delay after taking a shot with the AWP. Remember that the AWP is a very heavy weapon which slows you down, so use it when stationary and switch to your pistol or knife if you need to get somewhere fast.

Unlike the majority of the other weapons in CS:GO, you should be aiming for body shots with the AWP, not headshots. Aiming for the torso will give you far more leeway than targeting the head, and as the AWP does lethal damage to the torso anyway, it’s a waste trying to opt for a headshot.

Each map has its own tried and tested sniping spots, often situated on the ‘Long’ parts of the map, as well as at Mid. As a CT you’ll often be expected to ‘camp’ (set up in a spot and wait for the enemy to come into view) whereas a more aggressive approach dependent on Entry-Frags is associated with being on T-side.

Team Tactics

As the team’s AWPer, most of the time you won’t have your teammates to fall back on as they will be either protecting or attacking the bomb sites. When sniping on your own, you are an important source of information as it’s your job to single handedly take charge of an area. Let your teammates know smoke grenades are blocking your line of sight or if you happen to spot someone. This will give your team an indication of what the enemy has left at their disposal and where they might decide to strike.

As with every role in CS:GO, you must learn how to smoke off areas as a way of protecting yourself. When AWPing, this is even more important as the area you are sniping towards will most likely have an enemy looking to snipe you. By learning one-way smokes, you can not only protect yourself but also force your opponent into retreat.

It’s important to consult your team before picking up an AWP. You need to take into consideration how much money the team has, whether or not someone else wants to buy the AWP and if it’s the right time to use it.

If you want to be the team’s dedicated AWPer then you’ll need to state this ahead of time. By doing this, you avoid a scenario where your team purchases several AWPs as soon as the round kicks off. If your team is a bit strapped for cash and still decides that it's best for you to buy an AWP on a force-buy, you can opt for the ‘Glass Cannon’ strategy. This means that you purchase an AWP but no armour to save some cash. This strategy is most suited to CT teams on rounds where you know the enemy team will have an AWP and AK-47s. As AKs do lethal damage on helmeted players (and the AWP can take out players with body shots), not buying armour shouldn’t make that much of a difference, so you may as well save the money for subsequent rounds.

Due to the AWP’s high price, you will need to alert your team when someone has taken you out. If the AWP gets into the hands of the enemy team, it can boost their economy as they’ve been given $4750 without having to spend a single dollar on it. By letting your team know you’ve died, they can attempt to pick up your weapon to prevent this from happening.

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