In a bombshell development, Valve has adjusted the very foundations of Counter-Strike in their most recent patch with CS:GO economy changes, system of round loss bonuses among some fairly serious price adjustments on some less-prominent weaponry. There’s no doubt that its effects will affect the gameplay experience from Silver 1 all the way to the highest echelons of competitive play – question is, how can you get ahead of the curve?

The gameplay changes

  • The losing bonus starts from one instead of zero rounds at the start of the game, giving $1900 for the loser of the pistol round instead of the current $1400. Similarly, they get $2400 if they lose the second round as well. This is reset following a round win.
  • The CZ75’s recoil and fire inaccuracy was increased while its accuracy recovery rate was slightly improved, making it better suited for longer-range combat.
  • The Tec9’s fire inaccuracy was reduced and its accuracy recovery rate has been slightly improved.
  • Both scoped assault rifles’ costs were reduced: the SG553’s cost is down to $2750 from $3000 while the AUG’s went from $3300 to $3150.

The patch has also brought along a bunch of community maps: Austria is now in the competitive matchmaking pool, replacing Canals, while Biome and the long-awaited Subzero are now included in Group Sigma in the casual matchmaking.

What does this all mean?

Clearly, all these changes are interconnected, making it fairly difficult to predict its specific effects on the metagame. Still, the design goals are quite clear. The pistol rounds were always notoriously important in the game, often granting you the second and third ones as well on the back of a victory unless your opponent gets to pull off a successful force-buy, setting up the first proper gun round in the fourth one of the game under regular circumstances. This change will effectively speed up this opening gambit by one round, in turn reducing the importance of winning with the pistols at the beginning of the match. Consequently, not forcing in the second round and going for rifles in the third round instead has now become a fully viable option, especially on the T side.

The other interesting subplot is the potential rise of the SG and the AUG. These weapons basically never found a home in the competitive scene, and it’s easy to understand why: even the SG’s instant-kill headshot potential fails to offer any real benefit over the AK-47 for the professional players since they don’t benefit that much from the scope, it’s always been a useful option for lower-level players, one that is now absolutely worthy of consideration on certain portions of the map. As for the professional players, perhaps the guns’ most viable role could be a budget AWP: as an assault rifle, the requirement to scope up slows you down way too much and limits your movement greatly, but the lower prize pool could potentially turn these weapons into quasi-scouts with benefits.

All in all, with the CS:GO economy changes, the usual early tussles of a CS:GO match will likely start a round earlier than usual and the changes made to the pistols and the scoped rifles will offer a wider variety of options for force-buys. No matter how the changes shake out, these are pretty interesting times ahead of us.