When Valve embarked on a quest to increase the viability of CS:GOâ€™s scoped rifles last October, no one would have expected the incredible impact theyâ€™d end up having on the gameplay in the professional scene.
Like so many things in life, it makes sense in retrospect: one-hit headshot kills coupled with the ability to engage at range and do a better job holding corners is a heck of a thing.
Now itâ€™s all gone full circle, with the Krieg returned to its original $3000 price tag while being overshadowed by the new Operation Shattered Web.
The Counter-Strike orthodoxy was that the weapon meta was solved long ago: the AK-47â€™s one-shot kill potential on helmeted enemies made it by far the best option, especially at the $2700 price tag, and whatever supposed benefits the AUG and the Krieg carried over their counterparts in CS:GO didnâ€™t warrant the extra cost instead of a smoke grenade, a flashbang or some extra savings for a future buy.
With such a high price to pay (both literally and figuratively in terms of practice and experimentation), these weapons were almost never seen in competitive play.
However, as the price reduction made these experiments viable, the community discovered how useful the scope is and how much the SGâ€™s first-shot accuracy matters. Now that its price is back to the â€œoriginalâ€ $3000, it will be fascinating to see how often weâ€™ll see it in relation to the AK-47.
The AUG didnâ€™t even last this long, though the comparatively higher cost of the M4, its CT rifle counterpart perhaps made the differences all the more obvious.
Originally reduced to $3150 from $3300, it was returned to its original price in the middle of March, but the weapon was further nerfed â€“ with special attention given to its unscoped accuracy â€“ on June 18.
Arguably, entire teams owe their successes to these adjustments. ENCEâ€™s rise coincided with the buff to the AUG and their fall mostly matches up with the subsequent nerf of the weapon.
Meanwhile, EG (the ex-NRG lineup) has also benefited a lot from the newfound attention to the Krieg. CS is such a finely poised game that even these minor adjustments have a ripple effect.
Remember olofmeisterâ€™s monstrous Tec-9? How about the power of the UMP-45, so effective at one point it almost made force-buys a necessity?
Perhaps not this directly due to a price change, but thereâ€™s always a simmering cauldron below the surface of the ideal full-buy, and the successes of the AUG and the Krieg show that what seem like mountain peaks may very well just be saddle points.
Though itâ€™s unlikely that weâ€™ll ever see pro players running around with the M249 anytime soon, the tales of the AUG and the Krieg show the limitless potential of discovery in CS:GO.
As Colum McCann once wrote, there are still so many stories to be told, and the ebb and flow of gunplay in Counter-Strike serves as a testament to the depth of the title, with so many things to be discovered even after two decades of playing and experimentation.