I'm a fairly low level North American Counter Strike: Global Offensive player. I'm looking to get better and want to join an amateur team to perhaps play brackets and that sort of thing in.

I'm therefore looking at ESEA and/or ESL. ESL seems to lean towards the European crowd (but they do have a NA subsidiary) so I've set them aside (and mention it only for completeness).

Anyway, I'm leaning towards ESEA as they seem more suited to an NA player. My question is as a low level player, is using this service worth my time and money at this point?

Is there a balancing system (whether like match making or not)? And am I likely to find games as a Solo player (I'm hoping to find a team to join while playing).

Update: I posted my first-hand experience with ESEA as an answer; my conclusion is there too.

  • One round of MM with griefers does not represent all other MM matches. Perhaps you had one bad experience, but this doesn't mean MM as a whole is bad.
    – childe
    Sep 23, 2014 at 17:00
  • I did not insinuate that all MM matches are like that. What I was trying to express is a desire for a source of generally higher quality matches... paid or otherwise.
    – Frank V
    Sep 23, 2014 at 18:41
  • so you're implying that MM matches are generally not "higher quality matches, paid or otherwise". I have had some bad experiences with MM, but those are often far fewer than the good ones.
    – childe
    Sep 24, 2014 at 1:49
  • Bear in mind that we probably play MM at different levels. I'm confident the higher rank you are the less this happens. My observations are about 1 in 4. If this is just par for the course, just let me know.
    – Frank V
    Sep 24, 2014 at 13:12
  • I have been Silver, I have been Gold Nova, I have been AKs, and I have been DMG. The experience across each tier has been around the same, with only the silver ranks being the slightest exception.
    – childe
    Sep 24, 2014 at 16:40

4 Answers 4


Honestly, while CEVO and AltPUG are great, the matchmaking algorithm seems much better in ESEA. Alt-PUG ranges from low skill to high skills players and doesn't do very well at matching you up.

Considering Alt-Pug is free, I would try this first and maybe use it to get used to playing on 128 tick.

I would really recommend trying them all and using your favourite platform. I would say ESEA is the best considering how long they have been around, be polite to people, don't be afraid to ask for help. You will get smashed by some players but use it as an opportunity to better yourself. Watch your pug demo's back, see what the other player did and what you could have done differently to change the outcome.

Putting yourself out of your own comfort zone against better players will force you to step up your game and ultimately become a better player.


  • Thank you. This is extremely helpful. And a very good point on getting used to the 128 tick servers. I'll try AltPug tonight as you suggest, but I'll probably just try a month of ESEA. I've been reading through the site and it seems like it's worth the money.
    – Frank V
    Sep 26, 2014 at 19:42

I think your best bet would be to go onto reddit and have a look at teams advertising for new players on there, or post on there yourself looking for a team.

Before joining a league get a few scrims from IRC, it is a more informal way of getting games against other teams.

Or just use match making with your new found 5 stack.

Once you've found yourself a team that you enjoy playing with and are willing to help you improve then that's the time to join ladders.

Especially when it comes to ladders you need to pay to use.

This site Pcw Finder has an embedded IRC client and will connect you straight to a scrim channel, unfortunately being an European player I wouldn't know which channels are good for picking up North American teams, although I guess it depends on time of day!

It is hit and miss as some high skill players will respond to low/mid.

With scrims it usually requires you to have your own passworded server but you can search for off games. i.e. de_dust2 low off

Would mean a game on de_dust2 low skill using their server.

  • Thank you for your reply. Could you elaborate just a touch on the IRC thing. That's text chat (to me) and I'm not entirely sure how I could use that to arrange scrims. +1 (at least) for the helpful reply.
    – Frank V
    Sep 22, 2014 at 17:48

If you are afraid of paying for something you might not enjoy you should try CEVO (finding the client isn't the easiest thing but it does exist).

It is free but doesn't provide as much as ESEA does (you might encounter afks or griefers).

Players are really trying to make things work as a team and it will give you an idea if you have the level to play with this kind of players (aimwise).

Most of them are actually very nice and will try to teach you a couple of things about teamplay and leading.

  • 1
    +1 for a helpful reply. I'm not afraid of the paying part -- the monthly cost is honestly insignificant to me -- I hesitate as I don't want to join and get annihilated or find out that it's pretty close to MM with regards to griefers. My biggest concern, I suppose, is that I join and I can't find games because nobody want a silver on their team.
    – Frank V
    Sep 23, 2014 at 14:33
  • 1
    @FrankV people don't see you rank, and they don't really care about rank of people joining them. You will find games for sure, no doubt about this, griefers you migt find too, games i have played were really differents, i have seen everything. But i would like to know why someone downvoted my answer :'(. Sep 23, 2014 at 19:17
  • Thanks for replying. I'd like to know why your answer was downvoted too. It's helpful and I found it relevant. I'm sorry someone did that.
    – Frank V
    Sep 23, 2014 at 19:19

I've gone ahead and signed up for ESEA for one month. I've played a few matches (and will continue for the duration of my membership month.)

Here's what I've found. The sportsmanship in either official MM or ESEA is about the same -- mostly good with some bad seeds. However, those that are unsportsmanlike manifest their discontent differently across the two systems.

So, the ultimate answer to my questions are the following:

My question is as a low level player, is using this service worth my time and money at this point?

Although subjective, I'd say that while quality of matches are higher there are an equal number of unsportsmanlike behavior in each and therefore makes little difference (for my perspective).

Is there a balancing system (whether like match making or not)? And am I likely to find games as a Solo player (I'm hoping to find a team to join while playing).

There does seem to be a balancing system however, the skill is much higher in ESEA.

I had no issue finding PUGs as a solo player, however I think it's fair to say I was alienated (by my team, every match) due to my skill level which made it that much more difficult to contribute.

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