Counter-Strike Team
Fate Acquired by Valve Corporation
Founded March 1999
Founder(s) Minh Le
Jess Cliffe
Defunct April 12, 2000 (acquired)
c. September 2003 (disused)
Website (archived)

The Counter-Strike Team, often abbreviated as the CS Team, was the name used by the developers of Counter-Strike during development on the title. As the name suggests, it was not a company but a group of people. The core team consisted of just Minh Le and Jess Cliffe, though various level designers and texture artists that contributed to the development of Counter-Strike were also considered as part of the team.

Even after Counter-Strike was acquired by Valve Software, the name was kept in use during further development on the original title and various game documents credit the game releases to the CS Team.


Founding of the team

Development on Counter-Strike was originally started single-handedly by Minh Le.[1] Jess Cliffe was a previous internet acquaintance of Le as they had both been involved with a mod called Action Quake 2. Le was part of the mod development team and Cliffe was part of a level design website devoted for the mod.[1] During a casual IRC chat, Le mentioned that he was working on an independent mod with a counter-terrorism theme to Jess Cliffe.[1] Cliffe liked the theme of the mod and offered to create a website for the mod, which is how the core of the original Counter-Strike Team was formed in March 1999.[1][2]

Minh Le and Jess Cliffe spoke frequently over the internet,[3] but the two would not meet up in person until 2003.[4]

Seeking outside help

As neither Cliffe nor Le had much experience in level design, various outside people were brought in to contribute maps for the game.[5] While these people were officially considered part of the team,[6] accounts by the designers themselves indicate that they had relatively little involvement with the actual core team except for the occasional feedback on their level design.[7][8][9] The level designers listed as part of the team rotated mostly based on which maps were present in the current release of the game.[10]

Texture artists were also brought in from the outside. While some artists worked in close cooperation with a specific level designer like Jaison Green with Glen Cooper,[11] Chris Ashton was the go-to guy for most level designers that needed textures for the maps they were designing for Counter-Strike.[12]

Minh Le and Jess Cliffe also sought outside help for the Linux port of the server binaries.[13] The main man behind the Linux server port, Leon Hartwig[10], was also eventually employed by Valve Software and continued working on the game once it had been acquired by Valve.[14]

Acquired by Valve

The decision by Valve Software to recruit Barking Dog Studios to assist the Counter-Strike Team with the development of Counter-Strike Beta 5.0 was initially said to be a case of Valve wanting to give something back to the mod community.[15] However, Jess Cliffe later indicated that this was a case of Valve testing the waters to see if they wanted to acquire Counter-Strike.[16]

Valve first approached Minh Le on his lonesome in early 2000 to touch base with the team before presenting the proposition of acquiring Counter-Strike. They chose to only approach Le at first since he was living close to the Valve headquarters at the time. During the initial meeting, Robin Walker of Valve Software did not bring up the possibility of Valve acquiring the title but instead casually talked about Le's game development history. However, shortly after the meeting Valve approached both Minh Le and Jess Cliffe by email about selling off the rights to Counter-Strike.[4]

Both Le and Cliffe promptly agreed to the deal.[4] Since Minh Le was just about to graduate from college, he also saw selling the rights as a way of turning his hobby into a profession.[5] Jess Cliffe would finish school before joining the team at Valve, while Le started working at Valve remotely from home.[4] The partnership was officially announced on April 12, 2000.[17]


Even after Valve Software acquired the rights to the Counter-Strike title and Minh Le and Jess Cliffe were offered jobs by Valve, the Counter-Strike Team name was kept for the development team and future releases of the title credited the game to the CS Team in the manual and/or readme.

As future titles in the Counter-Strike series were developed as standard retail video game titles without the involvement of various hobbyist volunteers, the Counter-Strike Team could be considered to have been disbanded when development on the original Counter-Strike was finished.



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Jensen, John (2000-06-18). "Counter-Strike: Year 1". CS-Nation. Archived from the original on 2000-08-15. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  2. Cliffe, Jess (2000-06-19). "COUNTER-STRIKE: A Retrospective In Pictures; A Comedy of Errors". Counter-Strike: Archived from the original on 2000-12-16. Retrieved 2017-10-24 .
  3. Wezer (2000). "Interviews - Gooseman aka Minh Le". Archived from the original on 2000-12-13. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Donnelly, Joe (2015-09-15). "The making of: Counter-Strike". PCGamesN. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  5. 5.0 5.1 McLean-Foreman, John (2001-05-30). "Interview with Minh Le". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  6. Cliffe, Jess (2000). "[The CS Team]". Counter-Strike: Archived from the original on 2000-06-13. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  7. Callaham, John (2000-11-04). "Counter-Strike Map Interviews, Part 2: Dave "DaveJ" Johnson". STOMPED. Archived from the original on 2001-04-16. Retrieved 2017-10-04.
  8. Callaham, John (2000-11-05). "Counter-Strike Map Interviews, Part 3: Matt "Pantera" Szymanski". STOMPED. Archived from the original on 2001-03-03. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  9. Callaham, John (2000-11-03). "Counter-Strike Map Interviews, Part 1: Mike "Cadaver" Rosser. STOMPED. Archived from the original on 2001-02-10. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Cliffe, Jess (2002). "The CS Team". The official Counter-Strike web site. Archived from the original on 2002-10-03. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  11. Brig (2002-01-30). "GlenC Interview". B-F Total Gaming Network. Archived from the original on 2002-06-19. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  12. Wezer (2000-05-12). "Interviews - Macman". Archived from the original on 2000-11-21. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  13. Cliffe, Jess (1999-11-03). "/me erm.. yeah". The official Counter-Strike web site. Archived from the original on 2000-12-14. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  14. Jensen, John (2002-02-03). "More 1.4 Bits". CS-Nation. Archived from the original on 2002-06-05. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  15. Sluggo (1999-12-21). "Counter-Strike beta 5 coming". Mod Central HL. Archived from the original on 2000-03-02. Retrieved 2017-10-24.
  16. Hodgson, David (N.d.). Half-Life 2: Raising the Bar (Uncorrected Proof). Roseville, CA: Prima Games. p. 114. ISBN: 0-7615-4364-3.
  17. Cliffe, Jess (2000-04-12). "CS Team & Valve Software". The official Counter-Strike web site. Archived from the original on 2001-04-05. Retrieved 2017-10-24.