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Tim Masters
Tim Masters

Watches esports a lot, when he's not writing about esports. Also enjoys video games.

Apr 19, 2020

It's easy to forget that the SG was with us for so long for $3000 a pop, yet everyone ignored it at the expense of the AK. What else could we be missing in the game even after all these years?

If you come at the Krieg, you best not miss

“I don’t like weapon balance updates like this. Counter-Strike is such a well balanced game compared to everything else out there that you really only should do slight adjustments to the weapon balance, not these sweeping dramatic changes…”

If you love CS:GO, there is a chance you’ve already heard the above, as it is a snippet from the end of the recent WarOwl video addressing the balance changes made to the game. In it, he gives his rundown on the way Valve have nerfed the Krieg, buffed the Desert Eagle and made various other changes that mainly effect the CT economy, before offering the above as his assessment of the decisions taken.

In the very same video, at an earlier point, he makes a joke of the fact that none of the experts, himself included, actually even realised the Krieg’s power for many years, with the occasional outlier like NBK- trying to sell it, but the community dismissing it as a ‘Call of Duty’ gun. The world’s greatest players were confident the AK and M4 were the best options, as were experts like Mr Owl, right up until the point objective data proved the AUG and Krieg were superior to them.

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This is a trend that extends beyond CS:GO too, with professional players across multiple games and even disciplines confidently stating things were broken or overpowered before usage proved them utterly wrong. Recent examples include pro Siege players calling new operator Kali OP before never ever using her in Pro League, or the greatest Melee player of all time saying the new Ultimate character would break the game, when in fact Hero has had close to zero impact at the competitive level.

Blind spots and flashbangs

With all of this in mind, it seems like gameplay is the obvious way to find out if a gun, character or some other addition is actually – which requires people to actually test things out in-game. People in lower level matchmaking knew about the power of the Krieg for ages, but pros didn’t care about the ‘noob’ levels of play. Why would they? What could a Silver possibly teach NiKo, coldzera or any top level talent? Surely nowt.

Well, there is a chance a Silver might have a more open mind that an elite pro, simply from having played less of the game and seen less as a result, but it’s hard to say that would make them a better judge. To be honest, while it’s fun to poke at the Owl and point out all the times he was wrong, there are few more qualified people than YouTube teachers when it comes to experiencing all levels of the game, even if they aren’t able to understand the way CS is played at the very top level.

The reality is that there is only really one way to know, and that is by booting up the greatest FPS game of all time and trying things out. If the Krieg meta has taught us anything it is to challenge preconceived ideas earlier, as they could well give you a competitive advantage such as we saw with the early AUG adopters. That gun had such an impact that even the NiKos of the world eventually adopted it.

Thankfully, things are not what they used to be. With Astralis and Na’Vi on top right now we have both the greatest minds CS has seen and the greatest talent the game has known, which bodes well. We know the Danes are innovators, and s1mple is the sort of player that proves things we previously thought unattainable are possible, so the old days of 1.6 pros setting the meta and everyone going along with it are gone.

Nowadays, you have to be ahead of the meta if you want to win in CS, be that utility, strategy or any other aspect of the game. As we said already, the lesson the AUG and Krieg taught us is a simple one: Counter-Strike may be a developed esport, but it is not a solved game, and the idea it’s ‘well balanced’ may just be predicated on the fact we haven’t found the OP tactics yet. With that in mind, let’s all sit back, play some CS, and look forward to what will in all likelihood be the 2021 Negev/decoy meta.

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