The Downfall of Lurking
The art of lurking is perhaps the most distinct role within Counter-Strike. Personally, I would describe the lurker as being the thorn in the enemy’s side. It is their job to apply pressure to the opposing team by being a constant distraction. These types of players commonly play based off of enemy grenade usage, sound cues, and information gathered by their team in order to catch the enemy off guard.
The most famous lurkers have truly ingenious instincts to play at such an incredibly high level. So let’s take a look at some of Global Offensive’s storied lurkers.
Cream of the Crop
Not only one of Counter-Strikes most famous lurkers, but one of its most famous players of all time is Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund. The Swede defined the role late in the 1.6 era and carried it through to Global Offensive. He joined the resurrected Ninjas in Pyjamas line up in 2012 and has stuck with them ever since.
GeT_RiGhT demonstrated the effect being a backstabber could have. Often, he waits for his team to secure the opposing bomb site, then, after he hears the enemies rotating, he comes in from behind and cleans up the remaining kills.
GeT_RiGhT made famous the position in apartments on Inferno where he is known to wait while his teammates attack B. This lurk, in particular, is extremely effective because it means the Counter-Terrorists have no knowledge of whether there are five terrorists ready to execute the A-bomb site or just one lurking. Once the terrorists have control of the apartments, it is usually too risky for the CT’s to take back.
Due to the dominance of Ninjas in Pyjamas from 2012 through 2014, opposing teams not only fear the physical lurk but also the mental presence. Just the idea that GeT_RiGhT ‘could’ be in apartments can sometimes be enough to crack teams.
A player who built on the legacy started by GeT_RiGhT is Vincent “Happy” Schopenhauer. Happy was a part of the LDLC/Team EnVyUs lineup that won two major tournaments amongst other premier LAN events. Much like GeT_RiGhT, Happy plays away from the team to create situations where he could kill enemies from behind. On the T side, he plays much farther removed from his team than GeT_RiGhT does, making it harder for the enemy to track him. However, it’s his daring flanks on the CT side where he times his push to perfection, executing the terrorists with deadly effect. On dust2, Happy waits for the exact right moment to push short or long, leading to a plethora of multi kills.
The final player is a North American: none other than Spencer “Hiko” Martin. This is a player who, similarly to our favourite Swede, helped define North America early on. He was on the Complexity roster that achieved legend status at two major tournaments.
One of Hiko’s trademarks is playing at the squeaky door on Cache. He not only hides out listening to enemy sound cues but creates his own. He repeatedly opens and closes the door as well as spraying through it. This prolongs enemy rotations if his team heads to the B bombsite due to the fear that Hiko can flank. Furthermore, if his team is coming A, he causes panic in the CT’s minds because he will continue playing with the door during the full execute. You just never know when he’s going to jump out.
Decline of Lurkers
In recent years, lurkers stats have dropped dramatically, leaving the likes of Happy and Hiko to miss out. Many people are skeptical of whether these players are past their time or not. Part of the problem is that the majority of players have become aware of lurkers and how to counter them. On the older maps, it has become increasingly difficult for GeT_RiGhT and Hiko to innovate new ways to lurk, meaning that lurking on maps such as Cache, Inferno, and Mirage has stagnated.
However, I think the larger problem is that the modern faster meta doesn’t favour them. Since the introduction of the Tec-9 and more recently the UMP, teams have been able to win rounds more easily with limited equipment. A style introduced by none other than Happy himself, players abuse the power of the pistols and UMP by holding close quarter angles to pick up a kill. This subsequently reduces the round to a series of one versus ones making it much easier for the limited team to win. This fast-paced style has created a movement in which teams are now choosing five fantastically skilled players over playing with more defined roles. It’s not to say that lurkers aren’t amazing riflers, it’s that they peak when they get the chance and use their brain to win the round.
Happy was a loser in the most recent French shuffle, missing out on the chance to play with Richard “shox” Papillon and Kenny “kennyS” Schrub. Hiko is currently teamless after a brief stint with OpTic Gaming where they publically stated that he didn’t fit their style. If some of the game’s best lurkers can’t stay atop, is there any hope for the up-and-comers?
What can they do?
Despite Hiko and Happy being unwilling to adapt to the changes, GeT_RiGhT has made efforts to try and recraft his artwork. In the current iteration of NiP, you can find him becoming the entry fragger on full executes. Since he is so fabled for playing away from the team, he has taken on this role to occasionally cause CT’s to wonder whether he is just lurking or whether there is a delayed execute of Ninjas behind him.
Another way lurkers could change their game is to essentially become support players similar to how Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth plays on Astralis. By doing this, the players would still be able to play from the clutch using their intuition to win. Consequently, it would mean that they wouldn’t take one of the star player spots and the resources of the team. In turn, they could recruit a younger superstar that’s more in line with the modern meta. That way they can funnel all their resources into the new star and bet all their money on them.
There is still hope for lurkers yet.