CSGO tournaments want MR12 to come back, but would it work?

Nick J. June 20, 2020

Some Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament organizers have recently espoused the virtues of the game returning to its MR12 roots. But even if such a change would help some events to stay on schedule, would it really be good for the game?

If fans have ever tuned into competitive CSGO and heard the terms MR15 or MR12, they might not know what it stands for. It's a simple concept that is rarely explained. MR is just short for “max rounds,” or the highest number of rounds a team can play on on side of the map. CSGO has typically used MR15, with each team playing fifteen rounds maximum on both sides. If both teams won all 15 rounds on one side but lost all 15 in the second half, the game’s score would be 15-15 and would go into overtime.

This seems like a simple concept, and in a way it is. But what makes games such as CSGO and Valorant more complicated is their economies. In both games, teams gain money and then use that money to buy weapons, armor, and grenades. In Valorant’s case, that money is also used to buy abilities.

CSGO's CT economy is too harsh for MR12

When Valorant’s beta went live, players were surprised to see that the game featured 12 max rounds instead of 15. This means, in theory, that games should move faster and end quicker. But is MR12 right for CSGO?

Right now, games of Counter-Strike can sometimes take upwards of an hour, a lengthy investment for those players that don’t have a ton of time on their hands. For them, MR12 sounds great. That's as many as six fewer rounds to play, meaning shorter games, faster wins, and losses that sting just a little less. That said, there are a few problems with bringing MR12 to competitive CSGO.

CSGO switch to MR12 would mean a total overhaul

Third-party servers provider ESEA recently trialed a weekend of MR12 in CSGO, and the main problem that became obvious in some games it was much too hard to come back from a single early lost round than it should be.

The CT side also suffered more from that issue than the T side. We found that on the CT side, the defending team's economy is too fragile in its current state to support a round system like MR12. Once put in an eco situation, saving felt like a dumb idea. After all, there were three fewer rounds to work with, which means that every round counted that much more towards a win. Saving in these scenarios never made much sense, so the only recourse was CSGO’s infamous force buy.

If teams lost that force buy round, they found themselves in a constant cycle of force buys while trying to claw their way back into the game.

The second problem then reveals itself, especially when fans compare CSGO to its new cousin, Valorant. Compared to CSGO, Valorant games feel fast, and many fans contribute that to the MR12 format that Riot Games' has decided to go with in their new shooter. But the reality is a little more complicated. 

Games of Valorant feel faster because the teams themselves start much closer to one another, not just because they're MR12. Sometimes, because of the way Valorant is designed, games actually feel longer as teams wait until the last seconds of every round to execute onto a bombsite. In CSGO, this is one of many options. In Valorant, this is often just the standard practice.

If Valve changes CSGO economy, MR12 could come to CSGO

Although MR12 wouldn't work in CSGO right now, there are ways that Valve could tweak the game to make it more time-friendly. Creating an MR12 game mode with an altered economy that allows defending forces the ability to come back from a broken economy is a good start. That said, CSGO already has Demolition, where teams work their way through individual weapons with kills. The mode has a lower number of total rounds and should function as the introduction to the competitive five-versus-five game mode everyone is more familiar with.

That's if players even want it, however. Any changes to classic CSGO has been met with serious resistance from fans. It's likely that besides tournament organizers, where an MR12 system would allow for faster games and thus quicker tournaments, the CSGO community at large probably likes CSGO just the way it is.

Fans will have to wait and see if Valve has any plans to change CSGO to an MR12 system. A change like that would require a serious overhaul of the game's economy, and that's something Valve seems slow to do.