The Ultimate Esports Glossary


Holly Cowley
Holly Cowley

August 12th, 2021

Learn the lingo!

On the 26th May, Tell hosted their second Esports tournament between the teams Flight vs Unity. This was a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive ‘winner stays on’ tournament. Now, already, in just two sentences I’ve used terminology and phrases that to some could resemble an alien language. As I tuned in to support my teammates working on the production, I realised just how specialised the language used within esports is and how, if you aren't in the know (as I wasn't), you can miss out on some really valuable information. So, with the help of our resident esports genius Alex, I’ve compiled a glossary of some of the key terms and phrases that pop up throughout the esports world. With the help of this handy guide, your viewing experience will be taken to the next level, no matter how much exposure you’ve previously had.


Now, I do have to give a disclaimer here that this collection of terms is from my limited esports viewing and is CS:GO specific. Like traditional sports, each esport is different and has a different dictionary. However, a lot of the concepts carry over from game to game, with a simple change of the name or slight differences in function.


Counter Strike; Global Offensive is the fourth game in the Counter Strike franchise and features two sides, the Terrorist side and Counter-Terrorist side. The rounds of the game are characterised by objectives such as rescuing hostages or prevention of a bomb being planted. There are more terms used in CS:GO than just the ones below, but these are some you will almost definitely hear our casters (commentators) use!


A/B Fake
An ‘A’ or ‘B’ Fake is when the ‘Terrorist’ side pretends to be pushing onto Bombsite A or Bombsite B (the two map locations the Terrorists are trying to reach), but in reality are going to the other location. This is intended to move the Counter-Terrorists away from the site the Terrorists want to take. Very sneaky!


ADR
ADR is an acronym for ‘Average Damage per Round’. This refers to how much HP a player has taken off the opposing team per round. P.S. ‘HP’ means Hit Points and refers to the health of a player.


CT/T-side
This is short for 'Counter-Terrorist side' and 'Terrorist side' and refers to which side the teams are playing on. Keep an eye out though as both teams switch sides at halftime (after 15 rounds)!


Eco
CS:GO has an in-game economy which rewards teams for doing well. Those winning rounds and getting kills will be able to afford better weapons consistently. Eco is a round where teams purchase very little.


Gameplay
The gameplay is the action itself that takes place from the start to the end of the match.


Map
Each has its own name such as ‘Mirage’ or ‘Vertigo’. Maps are in-game locations where the gameplay takes place. CS:GO has an 'active duty pool' of maps, which rotate approximately once every 18 months. This rotation keeps players on their toes with a change of layout and terrain.


Market/Church/Ramp
These are examples of 'callouts' or locations on the map. If a player is telling his team '1 Market', they mean there is one enemy player in Market. ‘5 Banana’ can be a healthy diet, but in CS:GO, it means you should prepare for action towards B Site on Inferno.


Middle
Refers to the middle of the map, and is often called "Mid".


Observer
The observer is the in-game spectator who controls the POV that we see the action from. CS:GO observers need to have a thorough, in-depth understanding of the game and be able to react to unexpected situations.


OT
Short for ‘Overtime’, referring to when the scoreline has reached 15-15. If the score in the game reaches 15-15, it is considered a draw under standard competitive matchmaking. However, in most tournaments a 15-15 score usually carries the game into overtime.


Pick up
The term 'pick up' can mean several things. A player may 'pick up' some kills or a player could ‘pick up’ a dropped weapon.


Rounds (Knife round/pistol round)
Competitive CS:GO is played in a 'best of 30 rounds' format, each round lasting approximately 90-120 seconds. ‘Pistol rounds’ are the first round of each half when, due to the low economy, players can only afford to buy armour or upgrade their starter pistols. A ‘knife round’ is not always played depending on the event or situation, but this is where players are only equipped with a knife, and is used before the match to determine who starts on which side of the map.


Rotate
This is when the Terrorists change plans and make moves to try and take the alternative bombsite. For example, if the Terrorists move towards A Site, but see there are 4 (out of a possible 5) Counter-Terrorists there, they may decide to rotate to B Site, where they know there will only be 1 Counter-Terrorist. ‘A rotate’ can take time, and if CTs realise what is happening, they can quickly adapt to it.


Spawns
The spawns are where on the map the two teams begin at the start of each round. These are commonly referred to as 'CT spawn' and 'T spawn' for Counter-Terrorists and Terrorists respectively.


Timeout/Pause
Either team can call for tactical timeouts during the game. This gives teams the chance to discuss tactics, slow down another team's momentum, or simply take a breather. The length and number of timeouts each team gets per game varies by tournament, but 4x 30 second timeouts per team is typically allocated. Tactical timeouts are different to technical pauses, which can be any length of time and are used to resolve technical issues.


Trick plays
A trick play is a deliberately fancy or off-piste bit of action. For example, one player dropping their pistol in front of an enemy as a fake flashbang, which would cause a fooled enemy to look away from them.


Utility
Utility refers to the grenades players can buy.


'4 vs 4' / '2 vs 2'
This represents how many players are still alive, and is typically said in a 'CT vs T' format. So, a 1 vs 3 would be 1 live Counter-Terrorist versus 3 live Terrorists.


As you can probably tell by now, Esports have their own specific vocabularies and so it's important to be able to translate them to get a full picture of the action. At Tell, we think Esports is an incredible medium for entertainment and we fully encourage as many people as possible to get involved; Be that as a player, producer, investor or spectator! However, we also know it can be daunting to enter into a culture you know little about, and that's why we are here to make it as simple and easy to understand as possible.