using a monster energy can as an ashtray, in video game form.
CS 1.9 (post comp matchmaking, it was aight but not great in 2012-14) and 2 have been mass-scale neurological poison that eventually made me swear off of competitive multiplayer games entirely (for the better), and for a very long time they had sullied my feelings toward the entire cstrike lineage. genuinely forgot how much fun and surprisingly relaxing it is to get steamrolled on cs_office, cs_assault or any of the Fun Yards. had more fun in 2 hours of just fucking around one night for Counter-Strike's sake than i did in nearly 200 hours of barely making it to gold nova.
the addition of steam networking after the HL25th update makes getting a lil crew together for some counter-strike romps plain simple, romps with friends that don't involve ELO or enticing you to spend $5000 Real Life Money gambling on free fpsbanana downloads, a net positive for the spirit. no need to have people screaming at you because your slightly-off performance at a Computer-Aided-Toy might make some of their invisible numbers go down, no teammates or enemies shaming you for not becoming as much of a gambling addict as they might be. (as of writing actual dedicated servers are a bit spotty but it's incredibly simple to just get a few folks together for a few maps of fragging)
cs 1.6 gained the potential to become Electronic Sports by sheer accident, something it undoubtedly fulfilled as it matured. but it doesn't force itself to be one every single second the code is being executed, something that is expected now in just about every versus multiplayer video game, often through force rather than accident.
in 2023 the vibe of counter-strike 1.6 is less like that of its successors from the '10s and going into the '20s: it's not the little league coach yelling at you after slamming 5 natty lights during halftime for making their kid look bad, the kid that they forced into the Ball Game to vicariously live out their faded hopes of becoming a Sport's. cs 1.6 is the day turned to night spent at a revolving set of skate spots. the only people there that belittle you for your skill (be it a lack or abundance of) are probably assholes from the jump, but if the vibes are off, nobody's forcing you stay there other than yourself. sure some may be better than you at it, possibly even pushing you to improve either directly or indirectly but when all is said and done, it aint about elitism, as the spirit of counter-strike has unfortunately evolved to be. the competition in a 1.6 pub is good natured. if it sucks, you can hit the bricks without recourse, and go join another server.
but action quake 2 is still the better game. cl_righthand 0 is the proper way to play.