Counter-Strike has now existed for over two decades, but its newest release, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, is nearing its tenth anniversary as well. We take a look at the history of this game and draw out all the weapons that have changed CS:GO forever.
What started on August 21, 2012, has been a mainstay in esports for almost then years now. CS:GO is still one of the most popular games of all time and a cornerstone of shooter history. Naturally, the game hasn’t maintained the same look and feel for all this time. The maps have been reworked, and with the introduction of skins, players have gotten the opportunity to customize their weapons visually. In 2017, Valve introduced new sounds for almost all weapons, which initially garnered some negative feedback from the community. But taking a look at old VODs from tournaments like ESL One Cologne 2015, the sound comes across as quite dated. Is that really just because we’re not used to it anymore?
But naturally, Valve have delivered much more substantial updates over the course of the game’s lifespan. They didn’t just rework the visuals and the sound of the game, but they also massively altered the gameplay itself. Recently, the money system has been changed up to grant bonuses to teams that have lost multiple rounds in a row. While these changes pertained to the ‘meta aspects’ of the game, there were some very specific alterations to the way in which players interact with it. The perhaps biggest change in the early years was the AWP nerf.
THE AWP NERF
In March of 2015, Valve released an update that turned the CS:GO scene on its head. The AWP, arguably Counter-Strike’s most impactful weapon to that point, was completely reworked and the scoped movement speed was drastically reduced. These changes made pro players like Kenny “KennyS” Schrub cry out loud. Why?
In order to understand this, we have to go way back. In the early years (and particularly in 2014), the AWP dominated Counter-Strike. Sniper players like KennyS, Jesper “JW” Wecksell, or Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács were the absolute play makers. This weapon allowed them to take aggressive peeks and even play close distances. They could peek around corners with a speed that is not unlike the SSG’s, so they often took those duels. They aimed around corners, shot, and drew back before the opposing team even had time to process what had just happened. The AWP influenced and often times dictated the gameplay in CS:GO.
Explosive players like KennyS became super stars and teams started to alter their styles because of them. Obviously, the developers were not pleased with this, as the update then massively reduced the focus on the AWP. With its reduced speed, players couldn’t peek as quickly anymore, which hurt T side snipers the most.
So how does this game feel more than five years after this update? The death of the AWP, which so many had predicted, has obviously not taken place. Instead, this change has freed the way for teams to explore strategies that don’t 100% focus on the AWP and its masters. Team Liquid, for instance, have done great without a dedicated AWPer for years now. The likes of KennyS and GuardiaN have obviously suffered and lost ground because of this update, but the same could be said about the riflers back then. Overall, many sniper players are still play makers, but at least the rounds don’t always revolve around the AWP duels.
THE REVOLVER DRAMA
So in retrospect, the AWP update has benefitted the game. But the same doesn’t hold true for every new feature that Valve have introduced. At the end of 2015 and in the midst of the ESL ESEA Pro League Season 2 Finals, they released the infamous ‘Winter Update’. They added a revolver, which at first granted a one shot kill at every distance.
The actual ‘downside’ of the weapon, which was supposed to keep it in line with the other guns of the game, was the pulling of the trigger. Half a second of latency between aiming and shooting should make this weapon difficult to master. But the revolver was bugged. Pulling the trigger with the left mouse button and immediately shooting with the right one allowed players to combine the accurary and the speed of both shooting modes. Obviously, Valve hadn’t intented this. But suddenly, the players were able to buy a weapon that had the accurary and the damage output of an AWP during the pistol round already.
The first week of play with the revolver was an outright clown fiesta. Players held up entire swaths of players with a weapon that was below $1000. In the professional space, the players mostly agreed to avoid the weapon. Obviously, the revolver was patched and is now just one gun amongst many. Years later, this part of the game has almost been forgotten. Sometimes, the revolver resurfaces in matchmaking and reminds us that, for an entire weak, this weapon turned the entire game upside down.
Before we take a look at the most impactful weapon in CS:GO (at least for a time), we want to present two honorable mentions. For a long time, the Tec-9 was the best pistol and part of many aces. Its accurary while running and its damage output made it one of the most dangerous weapons.
But in August of 2017, Valve reworked the strength of this pistol alongside its colleagues. Since then, they have tried to widen the gap between the pistols and the rifles to reduce the impact of force buys and pistol rounds.
In 2014, sub-machine guns got a big update. They received an increase in armor penetration, which made the entire category of weapons more relevant. But the UMP-45 unwillingly became an allrounder gun. It was almost as strong as an AK-47 or an M4A4 on short and mid-range distances. With a $1200 price tag and $600 kill reward, it was almost better than a FAMAS or a Galil. For years, this didn’t change anything, until the usage of SMGs in the second round went up. The UMP became much more important, as players learned to use it in force buys as well. If a player was unable to afford a rifle, the UMP-45 was a welcome option.
But when Valve saw their weapon being used outside of its intended context and becoming an actual competitor to the much pricier rifles, they finally stepped in. In May of 2017, the developers released an update that cut the UMP’s damage on range. So it became a much more debatable choice for medium distances and soon faded from the full buys of pro teams.
WHEN WILL SOMEONE FINALLY NERF THE SG?
From one moment to the next, the SG-553 grew from a niche gun to the most utilized weapon on servers. The reason for this was that it was much too strong in comparison to its colleagues. Actually, the gun had been in this state for years already. But no one had really tried to conquer this weapon and train with it before. One of the reasons was the higher price, which was reduced to $2750 in October of 2018. So the weapon was just $50 more expensive than the AK-47! Soon, pro players like Jonathan “ELiGE” Jablonowski or Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut jumped on the UMP and proved how immensely strong it could be.
For months, this weapon dominated the meta game and even surpassed the AK as most used in CS:GO. But the players complained that it changed too much about the game. With the SG-553, players were able to play short and long distances equally well. These areas of play were usually exclusively restricted to either rifles or snipers, but never feasible with one single weapon.
On top of that, the AUG had already received its rework in June of 2019. With a reduced firing rate and scoped accurary, it wasn’t nearly as strong anymore and has become a niche weapon again. But the SG-553 remained unchanged and still dominated the meta. This problem continued on until April of 2020.
Sorry, forgot one last weapon we made adjustments to:
Not sure who asked for this, but there it is…
— CS:GO (@CSGO) April 10, 2020
Then, Valve finally came through with the fix. Nobody knows what took them so incredibly long. After all, they remodeled the AUG rather quickly, even though it posed much less of a problem than the SG. Now, this weapon is much more in line with the AUG and the $3000 price tag is much less ridiculous.
In its eight years, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has been through a lot. Valve were not always right with their changes to the weapons, but at least they have kept the game in a state of change. Now that the SG-553 finally isn’t that overpowered anymore, the pro players have much less of a reason to complain.