Nick J. November 9, 2019
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive pro players are calling for the SG-553’s immediate nerf, and there’s a story behind how the controversial weapon became this strong.
On October 9, 2018, Valve released a CSGO update that introduced a new economy system and price changes for several weapons. The development team reduced the price of the CT-only AUG from $3300 to $3150. The T equivalent, the SG 553, was also lowered in price from $3000 to $2750.
At the time, most fans and professional teams were more concerned about the changes to the economy’s win and loss bonuses than they were about two guns that were so rarely seen in competitive play.
While both guns saw increased use, teams mainly took advantage of the AUG on their CT sides. The scoped rifle allows the CTs to hold angles normally impossible with an M4A4 or M1A1-S.
They could play aggressively, using the AUG’s scope to watch long or shallow angles. These plays allowed information to flow back through the CT side, increasing the chances they would win a round.
The other option was to play passive. The AUG has incredible range and allows CT players to engage enemies and get kills much more often than they would with any other automatic weapons. Former professional player Michael “shroud” Grzesiek explained why he actually liked the weapon well before its buff.
The AUG’s popularity exploded in pro play. In a matter of four months, from November 2018 to February 2019, the gun went from being rarely purchased over the course of a tournament to the second most-bought weapon at the IEM Katowice 2019.
According to Stayinpit.gg, teams bought the gun a total of 3,113 times over all three stages of that tournament. The other CT-only weapon, the M4A4, was only purchased 1,404 times.
The AUG meta was a lifesaver for teams’ CT sides. By March 2019, it was the main weapon of choice on the CT side. Team Liquid was very fond of the weapon, often running 4 AUGs and an AWP as a CT-side loadout. After years of M4A4s and M4A1-S, there was a massive shift in professional play.
Valve nerfed the AUG in June 2019 by lowering its firing rate and making it less accurate when unscoped. Regardless, teams like Liquid and NRG stuck with the gun for several months after it was nerfed.
The Krieg shapes a new era of CSGO
The ECS Season 7 Finals in early June was when the SG-553, also known as the Krieg, became CSGO’s new meta weapon.
After spending months as a novelty weapon on the T-side, the Krieg’s popularity in pro play grew exponentially from the ECS Season 7 Finals to where we are today. The Krieg was the new AUG. In January 2019, teams bought the SG only 3.4% of the time. By the middle of June, that number had risen to over 11%.
At June’s ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals, teams purchased the weapon 603 times over the tournament, but the Krieg still lagged behind the AUG. Many teams seemed unwilling to switch off the reliable AK-47.
By the end of ESL One Cologne 2019 in June, teams had bought 857 SGs. The end of the StarLadder Berlin Major at the end of August saw that number rise to a total of 1880 SG purchases.
At BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen early this November, the SG-553 was the most bought weapon out of any gun, including the M4A4 and the AWP. The rise of the Krieg has been swift and brutal.
Why is the SG-553 so good?
The Krieg is a monster in both close and long-range engagements. Its scope allows T players to hold for pushes from a distance. It has the highest first shot accuracy of any assault rifle in the game. When professionals play, whoever wins is usually the one who hit their shot first.
The weapon helps gifted aimers get kills simply due to having fewer random bullets sprayed. The weapon also has a high rate of fire, a quick reload time, and a scope. It is the only rifle that has 100% armor penetration.
The gun is difficult for even the best players to deal with when placed in the right hands. If the Krieg has any weaknesses, it’s that it’s still not quite as reliable a one-hit kill as the AWP.
The AWP is the SG’s only real counter, but some pros don’t even think that’s working anymore. After a recent match, Astralis AWPer Nicolai "dev1ce" Reedtz seemed disheartened at the Krieg’s current state on Instagram.
“Out on an evening walk after securing our spot at the ECS finals in Dallas. Tough night for mer personally, struggling to awp against kriegs. Not quite sure if it’s worth to but the awp that much anymore,” dev1ce said.
Those are strong words from any CSGO player, but especially from one who has made a career out of using the AWP.
Does the Kreig need a nerf?
Valve’s AUG nerf clearly made the Kreig the superior rifle, but is a nerf the answer to the Kreig’s problems? The answer is complicated.
In some respects, yes. An increase to the Krieg’s cost would make the AK-47 more attractive. The Kreig would still retain its power as a long-range rifle, but T-side players would have to pay more for that advantage. The AK would regain its place as the best choice in the majority of situations on a team’s T-side. Maps like Overpass and Dust 2 would favor the Kreig heavily, but players on offense would have to evaluate the situation before buying. Today, the Krieg is an easy pick.
On the other hand, maybe not. The infamous AWP nerf in 2015 drastically reduced a player’s movement speed while scoped, forcing AWPers to come to terms with some big changes. Some relearned how to use the weapon and excelled. Kenny “kennyS” Schrub and others never really seemed to fully adapt. They never reached the same heights they had enjoyed prior to the AWP change. Players must adapt to changes in the games they play, even if they don’t agree with them. It’s the same way with the current Krieg meta.
It’s also important to understand that every team plays both offense and defense. That means that they both have the opportunity to use the powerful Krieg.
If Valve decides to leave the weapon as it is, players will have no choice but to learn to play with and against it. The mark of great players is that they are able to succeed regardless of the situation around them, not because of it.
As of now, there has been no official word from Valve on the state of the SG-553 or whether they plan to nerf it in the future.
At this point, teams have realized that the Krieg meta is a “join or die” situation.