How to Choose a Game Server
Why your provider is important?
Many different aspects of thought go into choosing a 'home' server- how many players you enjoy, what maps, what style of play, so on and so forth. I'll be going into an overview about a few key notes to keep in mind when choosing a home server, and many things that are important to keep your level of competitive play high on your home server. Ensure you filter servers that are not password protected.
I'll start off with the- arguably- most important part of a server; the latency. Having a home server where your latency is through the roof, making play essentially unbearable, is no good home server, meaning that you will probably not keep it as a home server for very long. A handy feature of the Counter Strike: Source server explorer is that it has an option to list servers in order of latency. Simply click on the 'latency' tab on the server explorer screen, and it will automatically order the servers from lowest to highest latency. A close note in regards to latency would be server location- a German playing on an Italian server would probably have a good bit of trouble joining the community- primarily due to lack of the ability to communicate. Servers sometimes mention the language in the server name, or the server name itself is in the language, sometimes though, you can only find out the server language if you join the server, so feel free to explore. You can set your filter to search for only regional servers by clicking on 'change filters' and then the drop arrow next to 'location'- you can do the same for latency by clicking on the associated drop arrow. Latency and server location/language provide a great deal of consideration in choosing a home server.
Maps and Map Types
Two other vital notes in choosing a home server- frequently played maps and the map type. Some servers consistently play one or two maps- depending on your play style, these servers might get boring, or they may become even more interesting as you learn all the particular nuances of the individual map, CS_Office is a common map that is uniquely played on many servers. There are a large number of different map types as well- a link to the different map types will provided at the end of the article, but a few frequently played custom map types are AIM, which generally involves relatively simple maps designed for combat practice, AWP, which involves two teams with AWPs fighting each other, and GG, which is a Gun Game, where players have to progress through, commonly, all the guns in the game by killing an enemy with each. The map is defined by a prefix, an underscore, then the map name. The prefix denotes the map type, then the map name indicates a specific map. The original Counter Strike: Source game types are CS, and DE, CS involves rescuing hostages, DE includes defusing a bomb that the terrorists plant. The original game types are typically slower paced than the custom maps.
I want to note at this point that which map you like is based entirely on personal preference, some people like the tactical and strategic parts of the original map types, whereas others prefer the twitch and quick-paced atmosphere of the AIM and Gun Game maps. Coming from personal preference, I will continue to it- Player count.
The maximum number of players is a very, very, important part of the server. It could mean that you can't get in, or it could mean that there are way too many people on the map and it has simply become a zerg fest. Servers with less players usually rely more on the personal skill of the player, servers with more players rely more on the overall strategy and tactics used by each team, and the coordination they were executed with. I find the servers with less players tend to be faster paced, because rounds end more quickly, and more competitive, because you don't get rushed by twenty guys with guns blazing. Also check the number of Bots on the server- right click in the category area, and select the check box next to bots. Many people hate playing with bots, so it's good to note how many are on a particular server.
Build a community
Perhaps the most important part of keeping you playing on a server is the server community. Having a tight base of players that consistently play on the server- clan servers frequently have a consistent group, and it opens up options for a future in the clan if you have already been playing on the server for a few months, making friends.
Don't be afraid to go hunting for servers, switching around if you get tired of a certain server. If you aren't enjoying yourself, what are you playing a game for?