Deadly up close and accurate over distance, pistols have played a huge role in the recent meta of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (opens in new tab). After months of outcry from several pro players about the balance of the game's most popular pistols, it is no surprise that Valve has begun to make changes to the game's arsenal.
At the moment pistol and eco rounds are unpredictable situations where either side can win, despite a gear disadvantage. Even though Valve has committed to addressing these problems, while encouraging more skilled plays, there is still a long way to go before the community—and the professionals—regard the arsenal as balanced.
The recent changes (opens in new tab), which will hopefully bring the average game back to more tactical methods rather than the typical run and gun, began with alterations to the Terrorist’s go-to pistol—the Tec-9. The 500RPM semi-automatic sidearm is a staple at all levels of play, and can kill a fully armoured player with a single shot to the head. It's mainly used in eco and anti-eco situations, at the start of the game or where the team’s money is running low.
The changes to the pistol meant the usual left-click spray as you rush onto a bombsite no longer worked. Initially referred to as a nerf but can be more accurately described as a rework to the way the pistol operates, the patch increased the Tec-9's first shot accuracy, meaning that tap firing is now the way forward. The magazine has also been reduced from 24 rounds to 18.
This has altered the identity of the Tec-9. Instead of using it as a crude, run-and-gun spam weapon, the gun now behaves a bit more like a Desert Eagle, except its one-taps can be hit while running or strafing.
With the Tec-9 now reduced to a sharpshooting role, the popularity of the Dual Berettas has risen. Costing the same amount as the Tec-9 at $500, the Berettas can take 86 hit points off the head of an armoured player, and some in CS:GO's community believe that they will be buffed to fill the gap left by the Tec-9.
To balance the changes on the Counter-Terrorists side, changes were eventually made to the Five-SeveN pistol on August 15 to reward “tactical positioning and defensive play.” The pistol, which costs $500, is the Counter-Terrorist counterpart to the Tec-9, so it's no surprise that the CT sidearm also received a major change. Now the pistol, which is renowned for its large clip and spray accuracy, has been made even more deadly.
Players spraying with the Five-SeveN have seen slightly improved accuracy but the biggest difference can be felt on defense, when wielding the pistol against enemies who are pushing onto a bombsite. The difficulty for many Counter-Terrorists on eco or pistol rounds is shutting down a rush (where you're usually outnumbered) while the rest of your team rotates, and I think these changes will help. CTs should theoretically be able to hold the bomb sites easier, with improved spray accuracy, but pushes will be penalised—and rightly so.
Valve’s quick patches to the pistols indicate more changes to pistols are imminent and some are calling for the powerful but cheap P250, which can inflict more damage against armoured opponents than the Glock-18, the P2000 or the USP-S, to be examined.
Up close, the P250 can kill an armoured player with a single shot. Strangely, the $3,100 M4A4 rifle at the same range will not, a difference in firepower that epitomises the need for changes.
One thing's for sure—we won’t know exactly how much the structure of the game will be affected until all the changes roll out and CS:GO is run through the filter of a high-level tournament, which tend to reveal any advantages that exist in the game.