Though scoped rifles have been in CS for a while, the idea that they could become meta-defining was met with derision by most of the pro scene for years. There were pioneers, most famously NBK-, but the majority of the scene ‘knew’ the AK and M4 were better, until it turned out they weren’t. In fact, they were so effective that the community were up in arms about them, and even though the AUG has eventually taken a hit, the SG (or the Krieg, if you’re an old school player) continues its reign.
Finally, Valve have responded to the community complaints with a nerf to the… AWP. It will make re-peeking and quick repositioning in the wake of a shot more difficult, a confusing decision for many. According to those most angry about the change, life was already difficult enough for snipers with the scoped guns in the game, and it’s not getting easier now that the AWP requires you to commit this much to a gunfight.
While this might seem like a strange move, the top of HLTV’s Top 20 list from last year should give you a better idea of what it is Valve are reacting to. The top three players in the world are all essentially AWP players who can also use a rifle, and while s1mple did technically have to share the zoombanger with a gutted GuardiaN for a bit, it’s hard to deny he is a sniper – both in terms of spirit, and the sheer brilliance of his use of the gun.
This came in a year where it has never been easier to challenge the AWP too, if you consider the Krieg to be a genuine counter to the big green. Going by those metrics, it seems as though the nerf to the AWP was justified, and may also open the door for the Krieg changes so many people are crying out for now players are theoretically able to challenge the AWP without needing a scope of their own.
However, if Valve had changed the Krieg first, it might have got even worse for the non-AWP players. Vitality’s apEX recently told HLTV’s podcast that the Kriegwas the only reason you could even think of challenging an AWP since the nerf to the AUG, but also admitted that it was way too powerful, and, crucially, easy to use. Presuming the AWP changes are effective though, we could well soon see Valve follow up and take it down a peg or two, just as they have done with the AUG last year.
It’ll be interesting to see how the AWP changes play out, and the initial suspicion is that ZywOo and s1mple will probably suffer more than device, based on the more flashy and dynamic style they employ. However, it works out, it’s clear from the stats that the AWP has a massive ceiling in terms of potential, and it seems like Valve feel as though some of the things we saw last year shouldn’t be possible in their vision for the game. The power of the pre-nerf AWP served as the last remaining barrier to nerfing the Krieg, so if you want that gun gone, there is a chance this is a step in the right direction.
It could be a problem if the change happens in isolation. However, we’re not that close to the Rio Major yet and Valve have time to implement any desired alteration to the Krieg while still giving players a chance to adjust before the first big show of the year.
With the AWP back to a slightly healthier risk/reward balance, and the Krieg a more specialist weapon akin to the AUG, we could see CS looking more like CS than it has for any time in the past couple of years by the time the pros decamp to Rio. If the AWP nerf is part of a two-stage program to reduce the impact of scoped guns. If not, Valve just indirectly buffed what is already the strongest rifle in CS:GO. We should hope that isn’t the case, if only to be saved from another year of Twitter, Reddit and the rest complaining about “CoD guns” in Global Offensive.