Interestingly enough, we’ve seen a lot of top CSGO pros move to low resolution play because it enhances their effectiveness in battle. Some snipers play in especially low resolutions because they feel it allows for easier head shots. Some of the pros that use either low resolutions for play, or the 4:3 ratio, are GeT_RiGhT and f0rest of NiP, as well as byali of Virtus.Pro. Others known for using low resolutions or 4:3 to dominate are flusha, NEO, DaZeD and tarik. Karrigan of the redoubtable FaZe Clan uses low resolution 4:3, while olofmeister actually goes for a low res stretched screen to maximize kills. This is such a phenomenon that we decided to give the matter a closer look to see just why a lower resolution can enhance play.
Why CSGO pros play in low resolution 4:3 ratio
The reason you find CSGO pros playing in this ratio is that an opponent looks closer. Stretch the screen in low resolution and everything looks bigger. This makes taking kills and head shots that much easier in lower resolutions. The head shot is a guaranteed kill, unlike body shots that just keep dropping a player’s health as he jumps out of sight. Stretching the screen makes target heads even bigger.
A second reason for low resolutions is the jump in frame-rates (fps). Higher frame rates allow for better reaction times. Lower resolutions are also very useful in LAN games, since playing in low resolution is the best way to get the smoothest performance from a given machine. Another advantage is that one can easily distinguish between the player and the environment. Even a player camouflaged with a skin can be detected in low res, as the details of the textures don’t stand out as much.
The disadvantages of playing in 4:3 ratio
Top CSGO pros like olofmeister have been known to not only drop resolutions and play in 4:3, but to also stretch the screen. This gives the widest possible view of an enemy character, allowing for the best head shots. However, there are disadvantages. When the screen is stretched, horizontal movements become much faster. However, vertical movements are proportionately slower. This means an enemy can jump or sit to dodge a player’s bullets. The 4:3 ratios do make a unit a bigger target because it appears closer. However, opponents also seem to move faster, especially in stretched mode. This make them harder to target, and you have to respond even faster to hit them. This mode also gives you lower peripheral vision. You might not see an enemy coming in or aiming at you, and this could make you an easy target. The low res 4:3 mode works best for pros that are part of a smooth team meta, and who can rely upon team-mates to ‘spot’ enemies continuously.
The ‘normal’ 16:9 ratio, and how it plays
The 16:9 ratio allows for better peripheral vision, units move at normal speeds, and the mouse works at equal speeds in all directions. On the other hand, head shots become that much more difficult. The mouse also has to move across large areas of the screen to center on a target. Camouflage also works better in high res, meaning that a player may not spot an enemy before the enemy fires. The size of the cross hair is also smaller in 16:9 than it is in 4:3.
Which is better?
It seems that the 4:3 ratio does allow for better play, since a lot of CSGO pros switched to 16:9 and suffered a serious drop in performance. Most of them then decided to switch back to 4:3. For those who would like to aim for pro play, the best advice is to go with what ‘feels’ best. Play a hundred matches each in 4:3 and 16:9 so that you can properly compare your performances in each. Never set your graphics settings to high, no matter what resolution you play in, as this drops frame-rates for mere aesthetic effects. Ultimately, remember that pro CSGO isn’t about pretty visual effects. It’s about the kill. Any pro player will tell you just that.