It’s now been almost a year since the CS:GO community collectively entered 4v5 hell. This also means that Valve have nearly twelve months’ worth of data to analyze – and to realize just how awful that decision was for the standard matchmaking experience. Griefers, quitters, votekicking stacks and other annoyances definitely need to be dealt with, but the nuclear option they’ve chosen was not the right way to go.

4v5 in CS:GO: a recurring nightmare

Do you miss bots in matchmaking? Do you now realize just how good we had it with our cybernetic friends? Though they may have been a bit too fluent in the Three Laws of Robotics (since they clearly don’t want to injure any human being with their weapons) and there were shenanigans involved with their presence, the alternative of “first, fuck all, and then a bit of money” has clearly proven to be inferior.

Was this really anything more than a solution in search of a problem? Of the myriad of matters the community keeps complaining about when it comes to in-game matchmaking (64 tick, wonky ranks, no seasons, little incentive to play nice or to explore new maps, et cetera, et cetera), the matter of bots didn’t rank particularly high on the list of pressing issues.

And now, while y’all are waiting for Source 2, all I'm hoping for is the return of bots to matchmaking. Please. I can’t take another four-versus-five match.

CS:GO bots – we miss you!

Yes, there is short-handed income available, but no money can make up for the Graham-shaped hole in my heart. Besides, the added money is nowhere near enough, and it takes way too long to kick in. It takes three consecutive rounds of hurt, which is a pointless requirement if a player has abandoned the match or has been kicked, since it’s clear they won’t be coming back.

Worse yet, this timer also resets at the beginning of a half, forcing you to suffer through a hopeless pistol conversion and an even more painful follow-up round, even if the team’s fifth has been gone way before the end of the first half.

It goes without saying that this is even more painful in short matches, where the eight rounds per half mean that you are essentially guaranteed to miss out on the paltry $1k consolation prize per player for at least a third of the game, rendering it useless. To think that you didn’t even get the money originally after winning a round starting 4v5!

Having a bot was bad enough already that reasonable players wanted to avoid the scenario – now the punishment is greater and there is no way to mitigate it. In elite-level play, the 4v5 conversion rate across the last twelve months ranged between 26 and 32% at the time of writing – or in other words, an 18 to 24 percent loss of average win chance. The figure is likely even more skewed in matchmaking where trades are not as reliable, especially on the lower ranks.

Abandoning players in CS:GO matchmaking: many potential solutions

It would be fascinating to see the stats on this, but I’d be shocked if the number of wins for four-player teams didn’t plummet after the introduction of this update. In many ways, this is likely the point: to discourage teams from abusive behavior towards (and kicking) an underperforming fifth. Unfortunately, as we all have experienced, this is not at all the most common way we end up in four-versus-five situations in CS:GO matches. Ragequits, team damage, a poor internet connection or an angry mom and her freshly finished dinner: often, the 4v5 scenarios are due to vis maiors and the “punishment” is entirely unwarranted.

If this really is such a big issue that it warrants draconian measures, at least make an exception for cases when you’re not at fault: keep it a 4v5 game if the player is kicked (the same way you already don’t get the bonus income in those scenarios) but get a bot if they abandon or deal too much team damage. Why not implement this tiny bit of nuance? It also provides a respite for short-term disconnections, which are currently causing super-disproportionate pain.

So please forgive us, Shawn, James, Graham and the rest of you: we didn’t know how good we had it when you were running heedlessly into the fray. It was not much, but at least it was something. Maybe we didn’t treat you quite as good as we should, and if we made them feel second best, it was a flashbang that made us blind. Maybe one day we can reunite on the servers again.