Today is the first day of the largest tournament in Counter-Strike history: MLG Columbus 2016. The first Major with a $1 million dollar prize pool will, without a doubt, produce no shortage of highlight clips and incredible plays. Later, once the dust has settled, these plays will live on forever in the form of fragmovies.
See, when I go to the gym, I usually watch whatever CS:GO match happens to be on at the time. And if there aren’t any official matches or interesting streams up on Twitch, I’ll go back and watch VODs of old tournaments. (I’ve taken no-lifing Counter-Strike to a whole new level–judge away.) But sometimes, late at night, when it’s just me, my feeble body, and the elliptical, I’ll open up YouTube and watch frag movies for an hour.
Frag movies are truly the junk food of Counter-Strike: like eating a Taco Bell burrito, a good frag movie is always a delicious treat. But you don’t learn anything or become a better player from watching these videos. (Unlike eating a Taco Bell burrito, a good frag movie doesn’t require you to make an advance reservation for one at the nearest toilet.)
In fact, watching lots of highlight clips might even make you a worse player. The types of plays that produce fragmovie-worthy moments are usually incredibly risky–aggressive flanking, pushing unexpected areas, repeeking in dangerous situations, or refusing to back down from an aim duel. If a player doesn’t succeed despite taking these kinds of risks, the round easily becomes the exact opposite of a highlight.
While there are some frag movie makers who are at the front of the pack as far as delivering consistently high-quality content–I’m looking at you, Tweeday–there’s a virtual army of content creators out there who are overlooked. If you’ve never edited a demo in CS:GO before, it’s important to understand the immense amount of time and effort that can go into producing a fragmovie that’s barely a minute long. There’s a wide variety of editing styles, of course, and some techniques–especially anything that requires animating models using Source Filmmaker–are far more time-intensive than others.
I’ve gone through the entire catalog of most popular CS:GO YouTubers, but the thing about the internet is that there’s always more content out there. Plenty of YouTuber-hopefuls put out frag movies that are downright terrible, but every now and then, you stumble across a beautifully made edit that has far less views than it deserves.
Well, gentle reader, don’t worry–today, we’re going to be looking at a carefully curated collection of the dankest frag movies, taken straight out of my “Dank Frag Movies” bookmark folder.
“THINK 2” (EDW)
Look, this video is probably the most overproduced thing I’ve ever seen. Count how many different effects are used in the first 30 seconds alone–you can’t, can you? But somehow, and I’m blaming the music choice for this, it doesn’t matter. The filters and effects aren’t distracting or irritating, even though they should be. It’s hypnotizing.
Any video that opens with Semmler shouting “FRIIIBEERGGGG” is a winner in my book, and this fragmovie doesn’t fail to deliver. The music choice is perfect, and pushes an edit that, while far less flashy than others, to the top of the list. “Legendary” sends chills down my spine every time I watch it. I’ve got goosebumps right now. Spooky.
“Spirit of the Warrior: Na’Vi” (Spike)
Natus Vincere surged to the front of the pack towards the end of 2015, and are now sitting at the #2 position on HLTV.org’s world rankings. I’ll be honest, I like this video for sentimental reasons–it shows you how a team fought their way back to the top after experiencing a slew of disappointing losses. Also, GuardiaN. I could watch GuardiaN fragmovies all day.
As someone who often finds themselves having to explain what my job is to friends, family members, and other people from outside of the eSports world, I usually rely on showing videos to demonstrate what elite-level gameplay looks like. For that reason only, I don’t love the fully animated decapitation at Double Doors–my aunt doesn’t need to see that. Plus, Patrik “f0rest” Lindberg would never do that–he’s too chill.
Other than that, this video is excellent–the music is synced to the clips, the animated parts look as close to natural as possible, and the style, while unique and flashy, doesn’t fall victim to the trap of overproduction.
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Not only does this video have a clean, polished look without being edited into oblivion with flashy effects, but it’s also a history lesson. “Breathtaking” was released in January of 2014, and it’s an excellent showcase of what the professional scene looked like before Counter-Strike began to rise to the top of the eSports world. At the time, there were less tournaments, less matches, less players, and less video makers–even the maps were different. For example, at 1:13, you get to see an old–and very visually different–version of Mirage. This a high-quality edit, and should be required viewing for anyone who started following the professional scene after 2013.
This isn’t a frag video exactly, but more of an exercise in creative and innovative video editing techniques. “Invasion” is the most impressive edit I’ve ever seen–I can’t even begin to fathom how long it took to animate the found-footage-esque sequence at 1:35. The sheer amount of time involved in creating this video–not to mention the bizarre and hallucinatory visuals–are a testament MARO’s unquestionably unique approach to editing.
Want more? Did I miss something? Shoot me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with your favorite frag movies.