Surfing in CS:GO: From Beginner to Pro in 5 Easy Steps

Writer for Buff, Remi Smith
By Remi Smith
Tamara Fodora - Editor for Buff
Reviewed by Tamara Fodora

Published March 1, 2023.

A gamer wearing a headset playing a shooter game on a laptop

When players used to ask in-game, "how do I surf?" my favorite way to respond was to type this back into chat:

With WASD:

D -> /ramp\ <- A

don't touch W or S.

But, truthfully, it's a little more complex than that. I'll try to break it down as best as I can so that you'll be more prepared the next time you hit the ramps.

1. The Basics of Surf Movement

Thanks to the way Valve built the physics of their engine, games like Counter-Strike, Team Fortress, Portal, and even Apex Legends all have a movement mechanic setting called "Air Acceleration."

It's a bit difficult to explain, but if you're in mid-air, and you push a directional button while looking in a certain direction, your character model will actually speed up. This would allow you to hop around pillars or 'curve' in mid-air. On the other hand, hitting the backward input can make your character halt their momentum altogether.

There are 2 main types of surfing, and 2 main 'modes':

  • The first type of surfing is standard WASD surfing. Here, you're strafing into the ramp with your left or right movement key while looking forward, which is what you should be practicing.
  • The second type is a 3-quarter surfing. It's way more advanced and requires multiple directional keys to be pressed. Pros say that they can finetune their movements better with this, but I would avoid it completely in the beginning.

As for the game modes, there's Skill surfing and Combat surfing:

  • Skill surfing implies either going through maps that are broken up into stages or surfing along one long map that will have its own challenges and obstacles to get past. Players tend to compete for the best completion time for a competitive edge over just practicing the mechanic to enjoy it and get good at surfing.
  • Combat surfing is my favorite form of surfing. I've sunk way more hours into it than I'm willing to admit. Here, guns and damage are enabled, and your goal is to take out the enemy team or plant/defuse the bomb, much like the standard Counter-Strike.

» Have some extra cosmetics you don't need? Read how to sell and trade skins in CS:GO

2. How to Gain Speed While Surfing

If boosts aren't an option, gravity is the answer for gaining speed. If you're heading perfectly straight on a horizontal ramp, when you look down, you'll start gradually picking up speed. Inversely, looking up simulates going up a hill or ramp, so you'll slow down a fair amount.

Speed is key in many surfing situations, and knowing how to speed up or slow down is essential to getting good times on skill maps. It also gives you the control you need for an upper hand in combat maps.

3. How to Strafe and Bunnyhop Properly

Bunnyhopping is the act of conserving or even increasing speed by limiting your contact with the ground as much as possible. While hopping, you're spending most of your time in mid-air, touching the ground in split-seconds, so most of your momentum and speed will come from the aforementioned "Air Acceleration."

Today, in most bunnyhopping servers, admins have added a bind where if you hold down your jump button, the game will simulate a continuous input. This would allow you to hop up and down without having to time a jump perfectly. If this isn't available to you, I suggest binding your jump to "scroll-wheel down," so you can achieve the same effect.

Once you've got the hopping mastered, try using just your A and D keys to move around while looking in the same direction as the input you're pushing.

*while hopping or in mid-air* Holding D + panning right = speed in a curve going right Holding A + panning left = speed in a curve going left

4. How to Handle Curves

Let's say you're heading down the left side of a ramp, but there's a left turn coming up. You can't just keep holding "D" to stick to the ramp as you make the turn—you'll just yeet yourself off the ramp. In order to make the turn, you have to look to the left and hold A to "pull" yourself in a curve left along the ramp. It'll make more sense in practice, and it'll take a while to get the proper feel of the turn. Eventually, you'll know how to conserve your momentum along the ramp and when to "push" against the ramp or "pull" away from it in order to make turns or jump from one ramp to another.

5. How to Change Direction Mid-Air

After you've got the basics of bunnyhopping and handling curves on ramps, turning becomes much easier, too. If you apply the same rules (hold left input and look left etc.), you can turn in mid-air without the need for ramps at all.

Remember that surfing is all about maintaining your momentum, so turning too sharp can slow you down.

» Learn how to trade your DOTA skins for the CS:GO ones

Where to Find Surf Maps in CS:GO?

The easiest way to get started is to find a running surf server online by heading to the community section in-game and scrolling through the available server browser.

If you're keen on a more private experience, you'll want to start a private match with a surf map you've found on Steam or online. Just head over to Steam's community workshop section, and search for "Surf" in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Once you've found the maps you want, follow the respective authors to download them, which should then automatically end up in the right folders for you to start playing.

This next step is *SUPER* important to get started with surfing:

  1. Open CS:GO, find and launch your first surf map, and increase the round time
  2. Open up the console by hitting the ` key (the button under your 'Esc' button)
  3. If nothing comes up, "enable console" in "game settings"
  4. One by one, enter these lines and hit "enter" sv_cheats 1 sv_airaccelerate 150 sv_accelerate 10 god sv_autobunnyhoping 1
  5. You can now start surfing!
  6. When you're ready for a new map type this in: changelevel [surf_mapname]

If the bug bites you as hard as it bit me, you'll find yourself sinking hundreds of hours into trying to perfect this unique form of mobility—though I do wish I had Buff running in the background for some free gaming gear and gift cards.

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