Vertigo Match Breakdown

DreamHack Open Rio de Janeiro 2019 was the first CS:GO event for DreamHack of the year. Its lineup wasn’t particularly interesting, it had no teams from the top 10. But, it was an important event for those who follow the CS:GO scene, because it was the first LAN tournament put on by a prestigious organizer to feature Vertigo in its map pool. It was played just twice, but these matches showed us another way to play the CT side on that map. It was FURIA who demonstrated a style that was heavily based on retakes both times they had to play Vertigo — in the semifinal against Sharks and in the final against AVANGAR.


Just like the first time Vertigo was played online, one team  prepared for that map much better than the others, and that team was Furia. It was clear that Sharks had nothing to show on it, which is weird, considering that they picked it. In the finals, FURIA picked Vertigo themselves, and AVANGAR tried to execute a few strats, but in general they weren’t prepared either. Both maps were blowouts, 16:4 and 16:2. FURIA had a clear idea of how to approach that map and showed a lot of cool stuff there.


Both times, FURIA started on the CT side, and both times they played the sites passively. The defense played from deep positions and used a lot of utility to slow down attacks. They gave away control of the site and tons of opportunities to plant. That was their general plan for the game as the CTs — stall a bit, relent a bit under pressure, and retake the site with deep flanks and heavy support from mid.


Unlike Nordavind, a team that played in the first official match on Vertigo, FURIA didn’t try anything fancy on A. They didn’t set up any wallbangs, use incendiaries on the ramp, or boosts on white boxes. For them, A was a retake site only. On B they fought more, but in general they were willing to fall back, wait, and attack after the plant. The stats tell the story; FURIA won by defusing the bomb in 5 out of 11 rounds in the first half against Sharks. In the finals against AVANGAR, they defused the bomb even more, 8 times out of 13 rounds that they won on Vertigo as the CTs.


Their strategy was heavily based on retakes, and mid control was a crucial part of it. In that area, the FURIA players were aggressive, most of the time not giving even an inch to the terrorists. In almost every round, they blocked off the corridor leading to the elevator with multiple smokes, threw a lot of HE grenades, used incendiaries – everything to stop the terrorists from taking mid.




One of the ways a mid player can support the B site



Sharks tried to fight for mid a few times but lost it again and again because they didn’t use enough grenades. So, after few tries, they mainly focused on the sites, primarily B. The AVANGAR players tried to contest mid more, but weren’t able to win fights against a strong CT setup. They had better raw skill than Sharks but had issues with utility as well. FURIA were prepared for pushes and were quick to respond.


So why was mid so important for FURIA? First of all, the players in that area had great opportunities to support the sites with utility, especially B. They damaged their opponents with HE grenades, flashed the pushing players, cut off the routes of attack with incendiaries, and blanketed areas with smokes. It was effective throughout the round, not just in the beginning, and helped the defenders stall, get to cover, kill the entry fraggers, clear the site, and retake control.




How FURIA forced opponents to play on catwalk


If CT has mid control, they have great opportunities to flank and attack from multiple angles. On B, they mainly used hole to attack, and on A, they rotated through upper connector and side. That helped a lot with pushing the terrorists into one area — ramp on A and catwalk or stars on B. When you have all your opponents in one place, it much easier to retake. One player can even simply run to the bomb and stick the defuse, while the others fight off the  attackers and defend him. That’s exactly how FURIA won some of the rounds.





Another way of using mid control to defend the sites, mainly A, is the elevator shaft. You can drop a player there and he can attack terrorists from behind. FURIA used it only two or three times, and one time it lead to a great round. They managed to win a round with only one FAMAS and two SMGs — all thanks to that really quick drop which gave the CTs two easy kills.






Most important grenades from these matches



Terrorists who attack site A have to smoke off the path that leads to CT spawn. When this way is covered, it’s much easier to get onto the site and plant the bomb without losing players. You can also cover upper connector with a smoke or Molotov. You just have to stand on the ramp next to sandboxes and throw a grenade in the right steel beam above you.




AVANGAR had some idea how to execute on A. It was one of the two rounds they won on Vertigo.



CTs can use smokes to cover the defusing player. Due to the structure of the map, one smoke can fully cover the defusing player from the ramp. And, in many of cases, that’s the only dangerous direction on the site. The other players have to protect him and play aggressively to pull the Ts attention away. Another way you can play with this smoke is to get on the blue boxes. You will be able to see almost everything, while the players from ramp won’t always notice you in that one-way smoke. It’s a really important smoke if you want to retake A.




Once again, you can see how one player fights while another defuses the bomb.



Ts can help with attacks on B from spawn. If you plan to attack B, you have to have a smoke next to stairs, otherwise it’s much easier for the CTs to prevent you from getting to the site. One of the ways to throw this smoke is from spawn. Your teammate in that position can also throw flashes to assist with your pushes, but for that, you have to have great coordination. Otherwise, your attacking players will get flashed too, and that can lead to failure.





If you want to defend mid, you have to use smokes or incendiaries in the elevator corridor. Without them, it’s much easier for the terrorists to push you. But, be careful with your timings, or the attackers could catch you in the middle of the throw. Basically, that’s what happened in this clip:





Mid sandbox is an extremely important position, and there are many ways to burn it. The small hole in the elevator corridor ceiling is one of the options, you could also cover the elevator room with a smoke and throw it from there. Another sneakier option, is to have a player throw through the hole from under the stairs leading to B.





A player from mid can get into the mid hole and help defend the B site. One of the ways he can do that is by throwing flashes down the stairs. You just have to line up the left angle of the hole and steel beam next to stairs. Peeking afterward is optional, and it depends on how aggressively you want to play from this position. You can even peek with a teammate who is playing on the site.





Terrorists can cover one of the corridors in upper connector to get to A from mid with less risk. Get to the wall, aim at the boost box, jump and throw. It’s better if you have a teammate who can control squeaky while you are doing this.




This time it backfired a bit for Sharks.



Why the games were so one-sided



At first glance, Vertigo might look unbalanced from these results. The Counter-terrorists won the first half both times by a large margin. But, in reality, the main reason for that wasn’t map balance, most teams were simply unprepared. Sharks attacked B a lot but didn’t try to fight for mid that much. It’s really hard to win rounds on B if you don’t control mid; it gives the CTs too many options. AVANGAR contested mid much more but weren’t using enough utility to win fights there. When it was FURIA’s turn to attack, they demonstrated a much better understanding. They always had at least one, or more often, two or three players attacking mid at the beginning of the round.




You can see how many grenades FURIA players used to fight for mid.



And when you have mid, you have options; you can drop into the elevator shaft and join the players on A ramp, go through the hole on B, go to the upper connector and support an attack on A. Even going through squeaky to B is an option.




One of the examples of how to attack B from FURIA



Attacks on the A site weren’t ideal either. The terrorists often lost players to a sniper sitting on the tower, even though you can easily smoke that position. No one tried to plant in the spot closest to the ramp and control the bomb from there. It would have prevented the issue of FURIA funneling their opponents to the ramp and defusing the bomb. It’s harder to smoke for CTs, and even if you go down to the ramp under pressure, you can still control the bomb while being protected from the players on the rest of the site. It’s possible that the Ts were stuck in that mindset that you can only plant around blue boxes because they give cover and it’s the most obvious plant position on A. But, they could have been a little bit more creative.




Why you have to keep mid control while retaking the A site



Judging from online play, Vertigo is a quite balanced map. Numbers from HLTV.org show that Counter-Terrorists won 50,3% of the rounds played there. Most of the other maps have much worse results with a 1-3% difference for one side or the nother, while having a bigger sample size. So, most likely, the issue in Rio was how the map was approached by the teams and not how it’s balanced.



What’s next for Vertigo?



DreamHack Open Rio de Janeiro 2019 was the first LAN-tournament from prestigious tournament organizers that featured Vertigo in its map pool, but there is more to come. The next DreamHack will likely use it in the map pool (May 17-19), it will be featured in the final part of ESL One Pro League (June 18-23) and also will be played at ESL One Cologne 2019 (July 2-7). We can only hope the time that TOs gave the teams will be enough for them to prepare, and we will see some great Vertigo matches at these events.



FMPONE, the creator of Cache, recently posted on Twitter a picture that implies that the Cache rework is around 50-60% done. Only Valve can say if the reworked map will replace Vertigo when it’s ready, but most likely Vertigo is here to stay. First of all, it’s unlikely that the developers would add a new map into the active pool just to remove it and forget about it few months later. They’ve changed and improved it a lot, and all that hard work would go to waste in that case. Vertigo is also played a bit differently than other maps, and it could make competitive Counter-Strike a bit more interesting, especially for those who think that the game has become a bit stale in the Astralis era.



Valve might also dodge the whole issue of choosing a map to rework and simply add Cache with another map to the active pool, increasing the total to 9. But, forcing teams to learn two maps at once might lead to chaos and instability in the competitive scene, and it’s unlikely that Valve wants to deal with the horde of outraged professional players that would likely follow.



Finally, Mirage has been in the active pool without reworks longer than the other maps. It got a small facelift but was never fully reworked in the same sense that Valve has changed other maps. So, it’s more likely that the new Cache will replace Mirage or at least Overpass and not Vertigo.



If you want to be successful in CS:GO and have flexibility in your choice of maps, you have to learn them all. This article is a good start, but if you want to read more from how pros have played this map, check out our first article on Vertigo.

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