A New Scope – The AWP Nerf Years On

Over two years ago, Valve released one of the most memorable updates for seasoned players, the AWP nerf. The patch, released in early April of 2015, reduced the speed at which players could move while scoped in with the sniper. The aim was to make AWPing on the terrorist side less impactful which it definitely achieved.

By making the change, terrorists were unable to use many of the long-time opening pick spots since the slower movement speed means that they could not peek angles already scoped in. This made T side AWPing more difficult because for an AWPer to be able to use these angles, they would have to quickscope and sometimes even prefire common CT spots, in order to try and gain an advantage.

An example would be long on dust2. It is not uncommon for an AWPer with a good spawn to peek long doors in an attempt to catch a player crossing to pit. However, post nerf, terrorists would move too slowly to attain the kill without peeking before scoping in. This gives Counter-Terrorists a god like advantage since not only is it already harder for the T to kill them but the slower movement means that the CT can Molotov deep and deal a substantial amount of damage as the AWPer exits the doorway.

Although the changes impacted a lot of AWPers in a negative way, the patch has allowed certain players to come to fruition. So in this article, I’ll be taking a look at some of the most affected players and where they are now.

Troubling Times

In spite of his return to form in the latter stages of 2016. Fan favorite Kenny “KennyS” Schrub fell from grace a little when the AWP nerf hit years ago. The Frenchman’s ratings dropped from his usual highs to unusual lows from April onwards in 2015. Overall his HLTV rating dropped by 0.14 despite playing with a better line up in Team EnvyUs. He openly admitted in an interview with Aftonbladet that it took a huge toll on him emotionally, when he could feel his confidence slipping away. KennyS will undoubtedly always be a household name in Global Offensive, gifting the community with an array of highlights and montages to watch and love. It will be interesting to see if he continues his rise back to number one and maybe even surpass his 2014 form.

KennyS playing for Team EnvyUs at the Cluj-Napoca major. [Photo Dreamhack]

Similarly, to Kenny players, such Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács and Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham are world-class AWPers that have struggled with consistency ever since the nerf. Both of these players still show us glimpses of their past performances, however, have a higher tendency to go missing. This has led to the world where a lot of AWPers are no longer the star players of their teams. Back in 2014 teams would be built around the likes of KennyS and GuardiaN, however, nowadays they play second fiddle to daring impact players such as Richard “shox” Papillon and Alexander “s1mple” Kostylev. With fantastic skill, s1mple and Shox can utilize not only rifles and pistols but also AWPs just as effectively as their main AWPers.

As I just alluded to the AWP nerf didn’t necessarily make our most famous AWPers play worse. It simply closed the gap between being a good AWPer or an extraordinary AWPer. The niche skill was effectively, no longer niche. Teams would sometimes overly push double AWP setups because they would have their long time god-tier AWPer, for example, Jesper “JW” Wecksell in Fnatic, and their star player, Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer, who on his day, could out AWP his counterpart. This is a situation that occurred in many teams. To name a few s1mple and GuardiaN in Natus Vincere, Nikola “NiKo” Kovač and Chris “chrisJ” de Jong in mousesports as well as Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo and Marcelo “coldzera” David in SK amongst many more.

Despite being one of the world’s best GuardiaN has struggled with consistency. [Photo ESL]

Who Blossomed?

Since the patch, the AWP is seemingly more effective on the Counter-Terrorist side. This has led to the rise of defensive AWPers, for example, Aleksi “allu” Jalli. Allu is a player who anchors critical spots on the map by dominating with strong positioning. An instance would be long on Inferno which he locked down throughout his tenure on the Ninjas and carried through into FaZe. In the clip below you can see he gets the opening pick mid. Following that Allu uses the advantage to aggressively hold second mid gifting himself another kill. However, the last three kills demonstrate his positional knowledge. He uses the corner of the wall to slightly peek out eliminating much of the risk of re-peeking.

Another player who has perhaps benefited from the changes is FalleN. Known as the brain behind Brazilian beasts SK Gaming, FalleN was a star AWPer in the first iteration of Counter-Strike yet didn’t take on the role in Global Offensive. Not until the removal of Caio “zqkS” Fonseca from his roster in favor of Coldzera. As aforementioned, the changes led to the ascension of strong all-around players taking star player spots. This allowed FalleN to settle back into AWPing more easily and play as the second star who supports Coldzera. Being the second star allowed him to take on the leading role more effectively as it meant the team didn’t rely as heavily on him allowing FalleN to focus more on the other four players.

In spite of previously arguing having two great AWPers as a negative, the change cites a reason for some of the greatest teams in Counter-Strike history. Fnatic and SK, who have both had periods of total domination, were built on JW/Olofmeister and FalleN/Coldzera. The fact that the teams could switch between the two added depth to their team play and allowed an individual player to take over if needed, rather than force the AWP into a players hands if he is having an off game.

Olofmeister (Center) and JW (Far Right) were a force to be reckoned with during the Fnatic Era of CS:GO. [Photo ESL]

Conclusion

As I learned in my previous article on Lurking in CS:GO, though not quite to the same extent, AWPing is becoming less of a defined role within certain teams and more of a situational pickup. Gradual changes to the game are placing a greater emphasis on increased movement speed and the use of pistols and SMGs. Thus giving us a rise in incredibly skilled line-ups. This, Combined with the changes to the AWP some teams have up to three players capable of AWPing at the pro level.

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Hi guys, I am a law student from the UK who has had a passion for esports ever since discovering it four years ago. I hope to generate discussion by creating thought-provoking and opinionated work. You can find me on Twitter at @JackWrightIGL

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