March 1, 2015
by Jason Roman

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Counter-Strike  esports  GameSense  Half-Life


GamesSensed: The Importance of the First Frag

Originally published on on July 4, 2005, highlighting the importance of striking early in Counter-Strike matches.

This is the first of many articles (once every week or two) which will use GameSense as a statistical basis for revealing important and interesting information about competitive Counter-Strike. The visible part of GameSense on the GotFrag website is just a glimpse of the system's capabilities, and you will see this in the upcoming months. In the meantime, these articles should whet your appetite.

Today I am analyzing how often a team wins when they get the first frag in a round. I asked a few people around the community how often a team wins when they score the first frag. The responses I received were anywhere from 50-80% of the time, and judging by the number of 50-60% guesses, many players thought it wasn't very important at all.


The team that gets the first frag in a round wins 75% of those rounds. Seventy-five percent! Simply put, if your team is better at striking first, then odds are you're going to win the match. Period. We've got 15,000 Rounds of CS in GameSense to back this up. It is also staggering how consistent that 75% mark is. I took several random samples of 10, 50, and 100 rounds at a time, and that percentage never deviated by more than a couple percent. Now, the first frag statistic is alarming by itself, but there is a lot more we can reveal.

How strong is your position to win the round if you get the first 2, 3, or 4 frags? It's almost a guarantee. Get the first 2 frags and your chance of winning the round jumps drastically to 90%. Even more telling is teams that get the first 3 frags win 98% of the those rounds. Incredible. The other team might as well type kill in console and save everyone time. Given these staggering numbers, you may ask, "Has any team ever won a round after the other team got the first 4 frags?" Yes, but it's happened literally just a handful of times - 7 out of 2839 to be exact - a 99.8% success rate for the team getting the first four. That's almost as good as a pregnancy test (not that I have any experience with that). If there is enough interest I will do a follow-up article on those seven of the greatest clutch (or choke) rounds of all time. It's technically possible to win the round if all 5 of your players were fragged without once fragging the other team, but it's never happened. Let's summarize our results with a chart.

% of Times Winning the Round When Getting the First X Frags

First X FragsRound Win %
174.8 %
290.7 %
397.8 %
499.8 %
5100.0 %

I affectionately refer to this as the '75/90 Rule' or the '75/90/98 Rule.' Now we can break this data down into several more interesting points, so let's start with how the First Frag data is affected by round time. The results may surprise you.

While gathering information for this article I was asked a relevant question: how does your data change when comparing the old 3-minute round timer to the current 1:45? The general consensus was that the first frag would have more of an impact with the shortened round time in determining which team won the round, since the game is (theoretically) played at a faster pace. So I checked the numbers and not surprisingly, the general consensus was correct...sort of. The difference was less than one percent, both around the 75% range - ultimately insignificant. The same insignificance held true for teams getting the first 2 or 3 frags - a 1-2% change at most. I'm busting out full chart mode today so here are the actual numbers.

By Round Time, % of Times Winning the Round When Getting the First X Frags

First X Frags1:45 Round Win %3:00 Round Win %
175.8 %74.4 %
291.3 %90.0 %
398.2 %96.8 %

The conclusion here is that the shortened round time had no significant impact on the importance of striking first.

The other main point to test was comparing this data specifically for CTs and Ts. These results were finally significant. If a CT gets the first frag, the CT team has an 80% chance of winning the round, while for Ts the number clocks in around 70%. This still shows that striking first is important for both sides, but it reveals another logical point. That is, it is easier to collapse on defense and win shorthanded, whereas it is much more difficult to win shorthanded on offense. This also explains why CTs win an average of 54% of rounds overall while Ts win 46%.

The fact that the defensive team has an overall edge in competitive CS is the subject of another article, so I will leave those details for another day.

The final element tested was specific to each map. Each map followed the 75% rule, but the CT / T split was not always 80 / 70. Below is an ordered chart (by the T side) listing the CT / T ratios, showing the order in which the maps are most difficult to win shorthanded.

By Map and Side, % of Times Winning the Round When Getting the First Frag

MapSideRound Win %
de_aztecCT76.9 %
T61.5 %
de_cbbleCT82.6 %
T63.6 %
de_cpl_fireCT78.6 %
T66.9 %
de_infernoCT81.3 %
T68.6 %
de_trainCT77.7 %
T70.0 %
de_cpl_millCT76.7 %
T70.3 %
de_cpl_strikeCT78.5 %
T71.7 %
de_dust2CT78.9 %
T72.8 %
de_nukeCT76.0 %
T74.0 %

Here we see that de_aztec, de_cbble, and de_cpl_fire and are extraordinarily difficult to win shorthanded, while de_nuke stands out as the most balanced map which is what most people in the competitive community have believed since the early days of CS. A common theme that probably makes it so difficult to win shorthanded on aztec and cbble is the distance between the bombsites, along with the narrowness of several chokepoints on each map.

That about wraps it up, so I hope you've enjoyed this article and found the information useful. It might be difficult to even formulate a strategy based on striking first in a round to play the odds, given the nature of the game and the fact that teams are always looking to strike first anyway. However, it might be worth a shot to try some new strategies based on this concept - perhaps stacking one side to get the first frag before spreading out. I could speculate all day on those different scenarios, but my competitive days have long passed, so I will leave that up to you. I'll stick to the numerical analysis, as the stats don't lie. :)

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