And unlike S1mple’s double no-scope, I have no plans to immortalise this feat with a gigantic tattoo across my shoulder. That’s because while impressive in retrospect, the fact that my introduction to the most competitive shooter in the world came via the cracked trackpad of a second-hand Macbook is not something I remember fondly.
Looking for some CS:GO tips that might actually improve your game? Check out our guide on how to get better at Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
If you’re struggling to come to terms with just how idiotic an idea playing CS:GO with a trackpad really is, here’s a breakdown of how it affects gameplay. Imagine all the accuracy conferred to you through the joints and muscles of an arm moving across a mousemat, versus a fingertip moving around a space that’s roughly the size of the original iPhone. How about trying to maintain any semblance of recoil control when you’re shooting with the inconsistent click of a mouse button that’s built into the trackpad? Then there’s the keyboard layout: jump is above the trackpad, there’s a constant battle between your left and right hand for the ctrl and shift keys and you can’t change weapons by scrolling. Cobble all of that together in a game where speed and precision reign supreme and you’ve got a particularly sub-optimal gaming setup.
But at the time that second-hand Macbook was my only gaming setup outside of console land - it was all I knew. And seeing as I hadn’t yet experienced just how ruthlessly efficient a pairing the mouse and keyboard could be for FPS games, the fact that I wasn’t holding a gamepad led me to believe that I was in the same boat as everyone else. I was asking myself how other players weren’t losing their place on the keyboard and accidentally throwing their guns like I was every other game. What I should have been questioning was how other players were managing to move, aim and shoot at the same time.
Still, I persevered through the noise of angry teammates and the shameful K/D ratio, and began developing some tactics that allowed me to at least climb above last place in the average match (NB: not every match) and even managed to scrape a positive K/D ratio by camping with the AWP on Train.
For example, one of the biggest challenges facing trackpad CS:GO pros is personal hygiene; that’s not a dig at nerd stereotypes. Skin is one of the body’s more inconsistent organs, it’s always changing in tackiness, excreting oils and sweating - a finger on a trackpad will slip and get stuck all the time unless the user has thoroughly washed their hands. Don’t think for a second that antibacterial soap will do the trick - only abrasive, skin-drying dish soap is good enough to rid your skin of any oils. Do the same for the trackpad, making sure to allow plenty of time for it to dry. Of course I’m aware of how mad this all sounds, but it really does make a difference.
Making sure you can shoot just by tapping the trackpad is also a must. Thankfully, the majority of weapons in CS:GO are at their most effective when firing single shots, which means a tap or three is all you need to down an enemy. This means you can largely ignore the left and right mouse buttons at the bottom of the trackpad with the caveat that you can’t aim and fire at the same time. Somehow, that’s still an improvement on trying to click-shoot with the side of your thumb and using a constrained finger to do the aiming. It’s also doubly important that your hands are clean when employing this tactic as getting stuck on the trackpad will almost certainly mean firing when you don’t mean to.
It was after waiting half an hour for my trackpad to reach a sufficiently arid degree of dryness that I began to ponder whether my difficulties with CS:GO were stemming from the trackpad rather than the lack of a gamepad. I tried reaching out to Reddit and CS:GO forums for advice at the time, but the community’s greatest minds could only tell me what I had already figured out for myself: I really needed to get a mouse.
By the end of the week I’d managed to eke out a few more kills per every twenty or thirty deaths I’d endure during the average casual game. The following week I got a mouse, a solid and reliable Logitech G500, and in my first matches with it I managed to secure an immediate run of positive K/D games. Compared to the majority of CS:GO players I still sucked, something that hasn’t changed since then, but with each subsequent match I faired just a little bit better.
The revelation of being able to shoot, aim and move seamlessly was akin to discovering I could lock onto targets in the Souls series. Everything just clicked, I could see the code. However unlike Neo, I couldn’t stop bullets mid-air and fling them back at my enemies, but I could now do some very poor bunny hopping. Headshots were now possible whereas previously I considered any shot that connected with its intended target a moment worth celebrating. Most importantly I could game with sweaty palms. Hell, I could even game with recently moisturised hands, which was important after the eroding effects of all that dish soap. A few hours after making the switch from trackpad to mouse revealed one unfortunate truth however, there’s a lot more to being good at CS:GO than moving, aiming and shooting, and I found that disparaging after spending a week not being able to do all three at the same time.
I got bored of CS:GO pretty soon afterwards. Not because I thought I’d mastered it, but because it was now apparent just how many tricks, map knowledge and pissing about with settings was required to get any better than my basic hand-eye coordination skills had already allowed. The practice of ensuring your mouse sensitivity is adequately low by measuring how many centimeters of mouse movement it takes to turn a full circle in the game is something I will never care about, and if I wasn’t willing to adopt tricks like that I was wasting my time. Recently, I’ve embraced CS:GO as a backup for Rainbow Six Siege, only to be played on those rare lunch breaks when Ubi’s servers are down.
Regardless, I like to think I could 1v1 most players if we were both using trackpads. Of course that would never happen because nobody would ever inflict that very specific form of torture upon themselves; I certainly wish I hadn’t.
What’s the worst bit of kit you’ve tried to game with? Let us know in the comments below.