It’s been a busy start to 2017. With Astralis winning their first major, multiple roster changes and many teams struggling to find form, the Counter Strike landscape has rapidly formed itself a new identity, to go with the new year.  With these changes, we’ve witnessed the professional meta for CS:GO adjust to new styles, through the use of different weapons, a new approach to economy management, and more.

The UMP-45

As many of you may already know, over the past year of so we’ve seen a huge rise in the use of the $1200 SMG, the UMP-45. It hasn’t been updated since October 2014, and therefore it is somehat surprising that there has been a heavy increase in usage from the pro’s.  Statistics show that since early 2016, the UMP-45 has slowly increased in usage at large tournaments, with the Famas and Galil seeing a reduction in usage. Now we are at the stage where the Famas and Galil have become obsolete, due to all the advantages of the UMP-45, as shown below:

  • Very low cost – $1200
  • High kill reward – $600
  • High movement speed
  • Very accurate at medium range
  • High damage output at close range (similar to M4 vs armoured opponents)

The UMP-45 isn’t without it’s disadvantages. However due to its $1200 price tag, those quickly become insignificant when you consider all the advantages the UMP has over the other SMG’s, and the basic rifles.

A TSM buy in 2015. Would you see this range of SMG’s purchased now?

 

 

Don’t buy on 2nd round!

The meta has also shifted when it comes to team’s economy’s. In-game leaders are making the call for their players to not force buy (pistols, armour etc) in the 2nd round of the half following a loss in the pistol round. Throughout 2016, and as you delve further into CS:GO’s history, the standard practice has been to buy CZ’s, P250’s, Five-Seven’s, with armour and maybe some utility, in order to attempt to win the 2nd round (or 16th round). This made sense, as you have a reasonable chance to win the round due to upgraded pistols + armour being very strong vs SMG’s, Galil’s etc. Once you take down an opponent, you find yourself with their rifle/SMG and your purchased armour. Additionally, at the very least you’d expect your team to rack up 2/3 kills with the upgraded pistols, or with picked up weaponry, and this is very important to keep your opponents economy in check, and will assist you in breaking their economy going into the latter rounds.

However, we have seen the shift toward players not buying into that second round following a loss in the pistol round, in order to ensure that rifles can be purchased, with full utility, kevlar + helmet, defuse kits and so that the AWP’er can get onto their favourite weapon. This has made the 4th round of the half crucial for that losing team, as if they lose that, they find themselves 5 rounds down before their next full buy. Additionally, due to the pistol round winning team facing only 1 rifle round out of the first 5 rounds of the half, their economy is going to become pretty healthy if played correctly. With a third of the half gone, and many of the players sitting on $10,000 plus, it is going to become very difficult for the opposing team to break this teams economy, and they’ll be facing round after round of full rifle buys, of which they can easily lose, with their loss bonus being reset.

This theory applies more directly to the CT side, due to the nature of their slightly more expensive buy, however it is still applicable to the T side, it’s just not as imperative. In many recent professional matches, the terrorist side has won the half due to dominating the economy game. They’re facing waves of pistol rounds, where they’re racking up kills and round wins, forming an unbreakable economy. Personally, I’d like to see the return of teams forcing into the second round. It is great to see confidence running through a team, and too often players are scared of the other team’s ability, and feel that they cannot do enough with just a pistol and armour. We all know the ability of the pistol’s in CS:GO, however.

 

Decline of the AWP

There appears to be an overall reduction of the in usage of the AWP within professional CS:GO matches. I believe that this is due to a number of factors, and have the statistics to back up this theory. Looking at Cologne 2016, the AWP was accountable for 17% of kills throughout the entire event. Fast forward to 2017, we can look at the recent DreamHack Master Las Vegas event, as well as IEM Katowice 2017, and the statistics paint a very different picture. AWP usage was reduced, accounting for only 12.5% of the kills across these two events. There is a significant reduction in AWP usage there, whilst AK47 usage has increased at these recent events to around 40%, up from 36% in Cologne 2016. It seems that during 2016, there was a heavy reliance of AWP usage, with players such as GuardiaN and FalleN often being the star players for their teams with that weapon in their hands. Things are different now, and both these players haven’t been the stars of their teams for a while.

How often have we seen clips like the one below recently?

Additionally, Dust2, a map that favours the use of the AWP due to its relatively simple design, lack of angles, and long lines of sight, was removed from the competitive map pool. One would argue that the the updated Inferno, the map that replaced Dust2 in the active map pool, favours AWP usage less due to the prevalence of smoke usage, more complex angles, and tight retakes.

Also, teams such as Astralis and NiP are playing much of their Terrorist half without purchasing an AWP. It allows them to have a more ‘loose’ and dynamic approach to their half, and this has added to the reduction in AWP usage. Notably, we haven’t seen the likes of G2 and EnVyUs at these recent events, due to their various roster moves and general lack of distinct form. These teams are both known to have AWPers within their rosters, kennyS being the most notable, and as such this will affect the statistics. However, their affect on statistics would be relatively small, and it could be suggested that their lack of form could have come as a result of their AWPers not shining for a while, and the rifle meta being more important. I do feel however that the AWP will start to become more prevalent as the year moves on, and teams become more familiar with the updated Inferno, and their new rosters.

 

Please share your opinions on whether there has been a professional CS:GO meta shift in the comments. Have you noticed any changes?