There’s nothing like swimming in fy_pool_day.

The gigantic FPS franchise Counter-Strike turned 25 years old today on June 19, 2024, and although the game has changed a lot and is as realistic as it has ever been with CS2, many people have not abandoned Counter-Strike 1.6.

Counter-Strike originally launched on June 19, 1999 as a Half-Life mod created by Minh "Gooseman" Le and Jess "Cliffe" Cliffe, and after Valve hired the duo and bought the intellectual property, a lot of other versions were released in the early 2000s. The most popular one, however, is Counter-Strike 1.6.

Counter-Strike: 1.6 released on September 15, 2003 — just three days after Valve launched Steam — and it had a massive cultural impact on countries worldwide. It was the era of internet cafes, a place where people could play a multitude of online games for generally an hourly fee. Esports truly started at these places as the community would organize tournaments and play to win peripherals, a trophy, or, in many cases, just for the right to brag in your local internet cafe.

Nowadays, esports have grown into a billion-dollar industry and the number of internet cafes drastically diminished over the years. But, there are still people who play Counter-Strike 1.6 every day on dedicated online servers of all sorts of settings: competitive, deathmatch, and more casual modes such as jailbreak, flag capture, or simply Fight Yard maps, most known as fy_ maps.

Out of all fy_ maps, fy_pool_day was a staple back in the day because of its iconic and simplistic design: a pool separating the two teams who would engage in a chaotic battle of up to 32 players. And this is why this article will delve deep into one of the most popular fy_pool_day servers in the world nowadays.

The coolest pool in the world (Image via Valve Corporation)
The coolest pool in the world (Image via Valve Corporation)

Counter-Strike 1.6 and fy_pool_day: What's not to love about it?

While there are genuinely thousands of CS2 players in Brazil grinding out to be the next Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo or Marcelo "coldzera" David, there are at least 100 people who only care about having a blast in Counter-Strike: 1.6 — and fy_pool_day specifically. I know because at some point between 2022 and 2023, I was one of these players after growing disgruntled with CS:GO and CS2 and wanted something more laid back.

Fy_pool_day is as casual as you can get with tactical shooters. The objective is pretty simple: wipe out the entire enemy team and win the round as the Terrorist team rarely has the opportunity to plant the bomb out in the open on the map.

Of course, as it is with many things in life, simple isn't always easy. Particularly, I see fy_pool_day servers almost as a roguelike experience. Here's why:

  1. The game randomizes the spawns, so players don't know which gun they'll pick up at the start of the round.
  2. Players don't know which part of the map they'll attack initially.
  3. You never know how the round is going to develop.

These elements bring much-needed randomness to fy_pool_day as the action would get quite stale otherwise. Of course, there are players who will run to grab the AK-47, the M4A4, or the AWP nearly every round, but they're a minority. Most players in this Counter-Strike: 1.6 server embrace the chaos and wide-swing at the enemy team regardless of the weapon they pick up.

That said, it's time to talk about how fy_pool_day offers a unique experience to all sorts of different players.

The pool is full of HE Grenades that players can throw (Image via Valve Corporation)
The pool is full of HE Grenades that players can throw (Image via Valve Corporation)

The roles in fy_pool_day are what makes the map magical

While there are no official roles in fy_pool_day, so to speak, players have developed them over the years. I, for example, am the kind of player who will hold "W" in 99% of the rounds because I trust I can get a decent opening regardless of the weapon. Conquering either the left or the right side for your team is one of the best plays you can make in fy_pool_day as you take control of part of the enemy's base.

But, as you can imagine, not everyone is fond of this strategy because it's a high-risk, high-reward type of situation. While you can overrun your enemies on a good day, you'll look like a noob if things don't go your way.

Aside from my personal choice, here are the other four roles that I could observe and experience:

  1. The camper: The rest of the server generally boos players for camping on fy_pool_day, but campers simply don't care. They'll sit in a corner and wait for enemies to make first contact.
  2. The pool guy: The player who takes up this role will try jumping onto the pool in the first seconds of the round and try every HE Grenade possible in the enemy base to punish any campers. It's an extremely crucial role that can decide lots of rounds and requires a lot of selflessness as you're totally exposed and not using your weapon.
  3. The knife maniac: People who pull their knife at any opportunity or simply hide behind walls with their knife in hand to stab enemies in the back. Knife kills are already demoralizing and to make matters worse, your frag gets reset after someone knifes you.
  4. The trash talkers: This is a secondary role most of the time, but I've come across countless players that only join the server to trash talk every time they manage to kill you, regardless of having the skill to back it up or not.
All some players do is hide behind walls and knife others (Image via Valve Corporation)
All some players do is hide behind walls and knife others (Image via Valve Corporation)

At first, I didn't understand why people limited themselves to only doing one thing in the fy_pool_day server rather than multitasking, for the lack of a better term. But the more I played and talked to them, I started to understand how the game allows them to do whatever they want as it's not really competitive.

One of the funniest players I met goes by the nickname of ELITEFOZ. He's the best "pool guy" in the entire server as he's faster and more accurate than anyone. Playing against ELITEFOZ is a nightmare because you essentially have to kill him on his way to the pool, or jump in yourself and take the risk of getting killed or even knifed by his teammates.

I was intrigued about why ELITEFOZ only joined the server to throw HE Grenades rather than shooting like us normies, but I heard him explaining one day after another player cursed him and his uncharacteristic way of playing Counter-Strike: 1.6.

"For me, the real fun is exploding people," ELITEFOZ said. "People are always cursing me when they explode and I love it. I force you to change the way you play and that means more to me than simply playing to top frag."

It's essentially the same principle of the "knife maniacs." These players know they'll die a lot for running with their knife out in the open. But, getting one knife kill in every few rounds makes it all worth it as they get to reset someone's frags and mock them.

Will Counter-Strike 1.6 die at some point?

It's rather unlikely that Counter-Strike 1.6 will genuinely die as the years go by. My understanding after spending more than a year playing the game nowadays is that as long as the community exists and cares about Counter-Strike 1.6, the game will last. Despite fy_pool_day being fun on its own, I've learned that people join the server every day because of the friendships they make.

That, for me, is the beauty of the Counter-Strike franchise in general. Although Valve supports CS2 and developed official matchmaking, it's the community that is always improving the game with third-party services and modifications, and keeping the game together when Valve is too busy doing other stuff.

The community even ported fy_pool_day to both CS:GO and CS2, but it never picked up on community servers like it did in Counter-Strike 1.6.

The map got prettier in CS2, but it doesn't have the same appeal (Image via Valve Corporation)
The map got prettier in CS2, but it doesn't have the same appeal (Image via Valve Corporation)

In fact, I've seen more people play Counter-Strike 1.6 after Valve abandoned CS:GO for CS2 in September 2023. The new game demands a lot in terms of hardware and not everyone, in Brazil especially, can afford a gaming rig.

If you ever grow tired of CS2, try installing Counter-Strike 1.6 and searching for community servers. Regardless if you choose fy_pool_day or not, I guarantee you'll face a lot fewer cheaters and toxic players as almost everyone just wants to have a good time.

That's all for now. However, stay tuned to for more news and updates.