A complete guide to counter strafing in VALORANT

"Left foot up, right foot slide."

Image via Riot Games

Shooting games can look simple to the eye, but each member of the genre features unique mechanics that increase a game’s overall skill ceiling. VALORANT is no exception to this, and the game carries characteristics that CS:GO players can already be familiar with.

Counter strafing is one of the best ways to use VALORANT’s first-shot accuracy to your advantage. The first-shot accuracy refers to the fact that your first bullet will always land on where you’re aiming if you’re standing still. This mechanic also existed in CS:GO, and it basically allows you to shoot back-to-back, 100-percent accurate shots when you master it. 

Once you first hear about it, the mechanic can sound useless since you’d become an easier target since you’d theoretically stop moving. This is where strafing comes in. 

Imagine a scenario where you’re moving toward the right with “D,” and you press “A” to move left. It looks like your character just starts moving in the opposite direction without any loss of velocity, but it actually stops for a brief moment. Counter strafing refers to the action of using those small stopping points to land accurate shots, and it’s one of the more natural tricks after getting used to it.

How to get the hang of counter strafing in VALORANT?

If you never played CS:GO or a game with a counter-strafing mechanic, you’ll need to get familiar with counter strafing before taking it to the next level.

Load into the practice range and pick up an automatic weapon. Move briefly in one direction, stop, and shoot. You’ll quickly notice the accuracy of your bullet.

To grasp the basics, do a drill by moving left and right but stop by not pressing any movement keys before making your way to the opposite direction. Don’t take too long to shoot and try to do this as quickly as you can. You can try to aim for the same spot during this practice to train your aim for counter strafing.

After grasping the basics, you’ll need to practice reducing the time interval you standstill. The easiest way to do this is by pressing the opposing movement key as soon as you want to switch directions. Your character will move a bit slower at first, and that should be your queue. Shoot right when your character changes its direction, and keep doing this while trying to shoot at the same place. 

Image via Riot Games

You can also try to focus on only one side to reduce your workload at first. Concentrate on shooting only when you’re counter strafing from left or right to make master the timings. The more you get better, the easier you’ll convert it to the other direction.

Don’t try to spray while counter strafing since the 100-percent accuracy is only valid for the first bullet. This second step is also called “ADAD counter strafing,” and it’s one of the best methods for peeking corners in VALORANT.

Though the “ADAD counter strafing” is one of the most common methods of doing this trick, it isn’t the only way. You won’t be able to move left and right perfectly all the time in a VALORANT, and counter strafing can also be performed while moving towards the same direction.

You’ll basically need to spam the movement key of your choice with low intervals in between. Instead of countering your strafing with the opposite direction movement key, you’ll stop for a brief movement and continue to move in the same path by taking your finger off the movement keybind you’re using.

Mastering counter strafing in only one direction will allow you to spice things up by mixing all directions together. You can be doing the classic “ADAD” counter strafe and throw in one-directional counter strife in there, depending on the situation. You can use this to your advantage in prolonged gunfights or when you’re always on the move and peek at different corners in various angles.

How to learn counter strafing quicker in VALORANT?

Though most professional players turn off movement error, a crosshair setting, keeping it on is highly recommended for beginners and players who are learning gun behaviors. 

The movement error option allows your crosshair to widen while moving and get narrower while you’re standing still. You’ll know that you have the first-shot accuracy activated once your crosshair is tight, and it’s a great help while starting to practice counter strafing for the first time.

How can you shoot faster while counter strafing in VALORANT?

Image via Riot Games

Counter strafing requires players to tap once on their shooting button since the first-shot accuracy doesn’t work during spraying. This means that your firing rate heavily depends on how fast you can strafe.

If you’re peeking a corner and hiding deep, you won’t be able to shoot fast. When you’re in a one-vs-one situation, however, you can counter strafe with minimal intervals to increase your firing rate to impressive levels. This takes a lot of practice since a single misaligned shot will cause you to lose your rhythm. 

You’ll need to spam your movement keys in such a way that your character will hardly look like it’s moving, but you should still be able to feel the movement, and the movement error crosshair indicator should give you the idea of when to shoot.

Despite being one of the most advanced shooting tricks in the game, counter strafing isn’t the only way to increase your accuracy. Crouching or walking, usually with the shift button, will also stabilize your aim and decrease your gun’s spread rate. These methods aren’t as accurate as counter strafing, but they’re certainly more common to see in the game.

Counter strafing works while walking and crouching as well, but the movement methods will significantly decrease your speed. You can still use it to get your first shot as accurately as possible and count on the bullet spray decrease that these movement methods introduce for the rest of your shots.

About the author

Gökhan Çakır

Strategical Content Writer and Fortnite Lead for Dot Esports. Gökhan Çakır graduated as an industrial engineer in 2020 and has since applied his analytical and strategic thinking to many endeavors. As a natural-born gamer, he honed his skills to a professional level in Dota 2. Upon giving up on the Aegis of Champions in 2019, Gökhan started his writing career, covering all things gaming while his heart remains a lifetime defender of the Ancients.