Playing Dust II Like A Pro

Toby Marshall
2 March 2022
Playing Dust II Like A Pro

One of the most iconic maps in Counter-Strike history is Dust II. It has enjoyed decades of competitive games, made numerous changes and has now completely established itself in the CS:GO Competitive Map Pool. CSGO gambling fans and players will be familiar with it – and will certainly want to have the skills to play like a pro. Here, we will look at how players can take control of this map, and make use of strategies to get the upper hand.

Why You Need to Get Map Control in Dust II

Map control is when a player contests to take over areas of the Dust II Map. The end goal being team players to be positioned in important locations that would deny opponents access to important areas and lines of sight. This then allows the player to effectively be able to control where their opponent goes and what their opponent can do on the map. 

When in control, a player can lock down different areas of the map, denying opponents access to some of the most important areas, whilst getting intelligence and information in return they can obtain intelligence and information – as well as strong positions. All this can lead to more round wins.

As such, map control is a vital part of playing Counter-Strike at the highest level.  Learning to gain map control and exploit it is one of the most important aspects of playing a high-level game.

One vital part of understanding map control is all about fluidity. Players need to understand when to take map control and when to give it up. Being able to make those decisions with the team, with no second-guessing and no hesitation is what will set the team apart from others playing on the same level.

The ability to gain strong map control means that not only can a player and their team reach their A-game, but it will also put the enemy out of their comfort zone. This can lead to situations where the opposition feel as though they are getting into sites, hitting shots and winning enough duels – but still losing. The frustration of losing rounds that they felt they deserved to win can affect their mental game. 

About the Dust II Map

Dust II is a classic example of a three-lane Counter-Strike map. The largest bombsite A has two entrances, whilst the smaller bombsite B has one more compact entrance.

If we break down the map into its constituent parts – those contested by the Ts and the CTs, it can be divided as follows: Lang A, Short A, Tunnels and Middle.

In general, Short A and Long A are the areas that are most hotly contested on Dust II because they place a huge amount of pressure on the A defenders if one or both of them are lost. This can lead to huge skirmishes on Short A and Long A. The Tunnels and Middle both fall under the control of the Terrorist team quite easily because they have quicker access and better vantage points allowing them to defend the locations from the Counter-Terrorists.

It is vital to understand that it is both impractical and unrealistic to try and play for controlling setups for both Short A and Long A at the same time. In order to control one, players will need to play passively – or place fewer players and utility on the other one. One of the ways to compensate for this is by aggressively shutting down either Short or Long near the start of the game – and conditioning the Ts not to fight for that area. This means you can get that position in later rounds – a lot more cheaply. This allows you to focus on the other position at one time.

However, Counter-Terrorist map control decisions are two big ones…

Aggressive Contact Heavy Setups

This first setup emphasises contact with the Terrorists pushing Long A. This move could lead to must-win gunfights. Players can then use it to establish Pit control, which would mean gaining man advantage early. Three players head towards Long A. The first of these players will dodge flashed and Molotov Long A. That player can then push deeper into the pit. Pit allows players to take a strong angle towards the pushing Terrorists – and is difficult to molly out and fully clear. With a few decent counter-flashes from teammates, a player’s presence could start becoming a nuisance in the Terrorist game plan and throw them off course. A flash directly above the Pit normally works wonders.

The second player can then follow this up with a grenade into Long A, which should dismantle an AWPer tanking the Molotov or rifler, trying to push the Molotov. That player can also Molotov off Long A into Blue Box, which will clear the position and give a free pick on the player that pushed the first molly.

The third of the players in the setup is used as utility support and the player that will hold Catwalk in case of early aggression if the mid-player communicated an early push on Short-A. He might be the AWPer in the setup and passively hold the Catwalk. He will primarily throw flashes for the two Long A players and get a setup like these. Teams such as Team Liquid generally opts for this type of setup.

Passive Laid Back Setups

One of the more passive setups that is most commonly run in Dust II by Counter-Terrorists in playing 3 A whilst denying a Short push then station up an AWP on the Pit-cross from the A-site. The Mid player will play passively from B-doors or B-site as a 2 B setup, whilst passively watching Mid. The Mid player could also play Window and watch Mid from that point.

If the Terrorists run mid-to-B, or B hits more often than not, then a team can play three on B whilst in a passive setup. They can then give up Mid and play 2 on the B Site, with the other hiding out at Back or Ninja and playing off contact, attempting to deny plant. Another option is playing 2 at Ninja and then trying to sneak in a round.

Really, there isn’t a great deal of depth with a passive setup, which makes it quite easy to read them. As such, these setups are usually only run with a decent man advantage – or to catch your opposition off guard. These can thus be fairly effective in the later rounds, where playing time is important. These can also work well against opposing teams that take map control very aggressively and expend their utility early on.

With A being a hard site to hold, a team would need to either Short A or Long A in a passive setup. Often a team will prefer Short A in a set up like this…

One will peek into the players that can push Short. Meanwhile, the other sits in anti-flash positions like the close wall, Short A wall, behind stairs etc. The other player can then be an AWPer or rifler. They can simply hold the angle for dry peeks. This setup was popularised by Team EnVy.

The third player cab then just hold Long A with an AWP or play something like Elevator. That player can also play the site, helping the Short players with utility and flashes. It is vital that the player does not die as he will be the main site anchor. If this player does then the Short players will be exposed to a Long A flank.

Meanwhile, here are the relevant T-side map control decisions.

Terrorist Aggressive Dust II Setups

The terrorist side Dust II is simply about denying the Counter-Terrorists map control. Every single site on Dust II is viable – so having a presence everywhere and being able to choke out any attempts made by CTs to get information is very important. Just like either Short A or Long A is vital for a CT round, control over one or both are also vital for a strong T round. B Tunnels are fairly easy to control and Mid is alsoT-side territory.

No matter where the terrorists take a hit, a player on B will head to the Tunnels. That player will then apply pressure on the opposition playing B, salvaging whatever information they can get. This player’s main responsibility is to ensure that B players don’t get too confident and start pushing – keeping them in place. They can scale up to the Lower Tunnels to help with the Mid take later in the round if necessary. Players can throw a smoke and make a play on B, applying lots of pressure. The smoke will allow the player to jump on boxes without being seen, which means they can lurk around. Another use is that you can gather behind it and explode onto the site when it fades.

Whether going Short A or Long A, it is vital to push CTs off Close Mid. Close Mid allows the opposition to listen to all footsteps or utility thrown os Tunnels, Shorts etc. The Mid or B defaulter will need to consciously work to make the CT-Mid player as uncomfortable as is possible.

The rest of the setup depends heavily on whether the players choose to take either Short A or Long A. Both would be ideal but is not realistic. You can take one first and then try for the other later on in the round.

Long A Control

It’s possible to get control of Long A with a pretty siple setup. Often, the CTs will contest it and there might be the need for headshots. However, when gained it can be used to burst onti the site straight away or put the Counter-Terrorists in an uncomfortable position with no information on A Long.

When it comes to taking a position such as Long A, Spawns are hugely important, so it’s important to have your best spawn trying to take it.

The player that has the first spawn should reach there before the CTs and ideally get to the blue box. Then, the second player should smoke off the Long A corner. This is extremely useful because it blocks the AWP angle. The smoke also lets CTS push into the Pit easier or make a play through it. So, it’s important to be aware of it.

The smoke is thrown and then this player can follow the first player into Long A and spam the smoke at any of the CTs that are trying to push into Long A. They can then flash the corner above the smoke, allowing the first player to progress into the Pit. The third player can then throw flashes.

The last player (other than the B lurker) can then either choose to play Mid or push out Long A if more firepower is needed. The B Lurker can then watch the Mid, who will push into Lower earlier, preferably cutting off any Short A/Mid push. The player can then also work together with the B player to pressurise Mid and push the CTs back onto the side or else draw a rotation. A flash will pop perfectly and could then allow your B lurker to get an easy kill on a player Close Mid.

Short A Control

This is a setup that can be run either after taking Long A – or as a completely separate setup. If you do it separately then a player at least needs to be sent toward Long A. A Long presence could either be faked or just passively held for a push during a Short A default round.

To take Short A, it requires at least 2 players – but preferably 3. To start with, a player will need to smoke X-box. Two players can then go Suicide or Mid if looking to run a fast Cat setup. If Suicide is the option then it leaves players vulnerable to a Mid player peeling onto them. However, an advantage will be gained in terms of reaching Short A early. It is a good idea to spam flashes through doors which will allow players to pass through into Short A if the plan is to rush Short A and take control.

For those looking to take a slower and more methodical approach then there’s the option to go Mid from Top Mid and slowly push Catwalk. A player can then Molotov. A player can then flash Short A, which will blind most of the area. However, watch out for players that hide behind the stairs or are playing anti-flash. It will then be possible to peek with flash and try to eradicate any CT that is contesting Short. As soon as access to Short A is gained, the player can then smoke off the ledge and use it either as a lurk smoke or to jump into CT or to cross into the site whilst avoiding being AWPed.

As soon as the team has gained control of Short, then there is the option to force A Site – or just fall off, leaving a lurker there. There is also the option to sandwich CT with a player dropping from Short and several players from Mid Doors.

Another interesting tip is to smoke the entrance of Short A early on, which will make taking control even easier. However, this is traded off by losing a smoke and early vision.

The smoke will be super strong as it will isolate the Short A players and force them to decide whether to commit to Short A or give it up cheaply.

Passive Setup

Choosing to run a passive setup in the Terrorist side of Dust II isn’t a common way to play the map and is certainly not recommended for most rounds. However, it does have some uses. This passive setup is used against an over-aggressive Counter-Terrorist side. There is barely any depth or replayability in running this passive setup.

This setup begins with one player going outside of Long A and then holding for any CT aggression. Ideally, a team would look to hold the cross behind the Long doors as that would be a common position that CTs like to go to. If playing against CTs that push through the whole way then it’s possible to just post up with an AWP on Long Doors – or simply sit behind doors or cars. Another option is to get boosted into boxes inside Long A if there are two players.

The second player can then go mid with an AWP and catch the Mid Doors push. That same player could also passively hold for a Mid push from Top Mid. An alternative option is to sit T-base and attempt to catch players on the cross. The player can then stay holding the angle for crazy pushes – possibly picking off a peeking CT AWPer.

Then, another player could head to Suicide and self-boost onto the box. This would allow them to pick off any player pushing Short with an advantageous angle. The B player could then either play B standard or hold an off-angle outside Tunnels, catching an unsuspecting pushing CT. It is even possible to boost at Lower Tunnels, trying to get a pick on a pushing Short A player. It is also a good idea to try and take Long A or Short A (preferably Long A due to long-range duels) later on in the round given that playing passive as Ts for the entire round is a road to nowhere.

Dust II Conqueror – Conclusion

So, there are a few interesting setups you could run to either take control of the map or deny map control – along with when and how you should run… most importantly ‘when’.

There might be times when you mess up a smoke or flash, but that won’t hurt too much compared to making the decision to push Upper B without having any utility or information  – and getting punished for it. The second decision will ultimately affect your game a lot more than simply messing up a smoke or flash. A missed flash is better than losing a player in an important round with no gain.

So, it’s time to start bossing the Dust II map like a pro… control and conquer!

Author Toby Marshall