The importance of keeping the risk in forcebuys

‘Chiu on This’ is a short and regular opinion blast

I’ve written two blogs about this already, so here’s a third. When we look at modern CS:GO, it’s difficult to find a team that goes for the full eco. This is because the cheap pistols like the Czed, p250, tec-9, 5-7 and deagle are all fairly cheap and upgrade the killing potential by magnitudes compared to the USP/glock. So instead I will write down the overall ranges of how much is spent on these partial buys to full forces.

If you buy a vest + pistol and ranges all the way up to the ump with armor + nades. Here we are already in questionable territory, as the ump with armor and nades could be considered a full buy despite the UMP costing substantially less than the m4s or AK. For now, I’ll just include that in the “forcebuy” territory. So a forcebuy can range from 950 to around 3000+. The 950 is the vest + upgraded pistol while the 3000+ is the ump + armor + some utility.

If all five players do this then the entire team will spend around $4,500-$15,000+ on a forcebuy.

Let’s contrast that with a full buy on 4 rifles and an AWP. On the T-side it’s around $4,900 and $5,800 on the CT-side. That is the rifle, the armor, utility and the kit for CTs. An AWP full buy is around $7,650 on T-side and $8,050 CT-side.

So, on T-side a full buy is around $25,000 for all five players. The CT-side $30,200.

So a team on the forcebuy is generally spending around 1/5 to 1/2 of what the full buy team is. Valve’s plan is to make these forcebuys have a 4/10 chance of winning. Basically, a team with 1/5 or 1/2 the money should get a close to 50/50 chance at winning. It gets worse when you think about the fact that the forcebuy team doesn’t have to win the round to make the round pay off. If they kill enough players or plant the bomb, that can still be considered a win in the economic game.

Teams should be rewarded for spending more money by getting weapons that are superior to their opponents. The current rifles are superior at a range, but there are many weapons in the forcebuy that have aspects that make them superior to the rifles whether in terms of mobility, ability to get more nades dependent on economy, bounty bonus or headshot ability (when comparing the pistols to the M4s.)

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if it requires a requisite amount of skill that is needed to bring those advantages to the fore. Despite the deagle being able to one-hit headshot opponents at distance, few people complain because it’s a harder gun to play with compared to the other pistols. The Czed is in a similar position of being a very particular gun that has to be used in a certain way for it to work. There is a skill barrier for those pistols that I don’t see exist for things like the 5-7, tec-9, p250 or SMGs.

So if this continues the trend, the viability of the forcebuy will kill the economy of CS:GO, which is the fundamental structure of what makes the game narratively so much more interesting. Teams have to consider their options with the money they have to consider the best plan of attack. Do I save for one round and get the full rifles for a 50/50 shot, or do I bet it all on a read that I have and screw our team for multiple rounds if we lose? The problem with the current situation is that there is no punishment in the forcebuy. If there is no punishment, there is no gamble. If there is no gamble, the forcebuy rounds become inherently less interesting and by proxy so do all of the rifle rounds as they no longer decide the fate of who wins or loses the vast majority of time.

I’ve talked previously how it ruins the narrative and economy game. But from my point of view it also ruins the forcebuy.

What we call the forcebuy in CS is essentially an all-in. If the forcebuy guys weren’t so strong and beneficial, then in a theoretical world you want the forcebuy to have a winrate of around 1/10 chance of winning. So a crucial situation happens in a game where the captain realizes he has a read on the opponent. But he doesn’t have the economy to do a rifle round. So he can either save one round and play the theoretical odds for the +EV value or he can gamble it all on his read, completely wreck the other team’s economy and gain more rounds won than the theoretical safe play. What essentially happens here is we create the classic Texas Hold ‘Em situation that we all love to watch, where a player is forced to go all-in on a situation. The difference here is that in the current meta of CS:GO, it isn’t nearly as impactful because you know that the other team can just forcebuy back and have good odds to win it right back.

Perhaps the best way to describe why I think we need to keep the gamble in the forcebuy is by talking about my favorite gamble I’ve seen in StarCraft 2.  I consider Mvp to be the greatest of all-time in SC2. During 2012 he created a set of miracle runs. This was because he had injuries that made it so he felt excruciating pain when he played the game and could no longer feel his fingers when he was playing. He made it to the finals of GSL Season 2 2012 off the back of 11/11 all-ins and an assortment of well-orchestrated strategies and builds against Protoss players. The 11/11 is an all-in a Terran used to be able to do in SC2 where it had a high chance of succeeding if the opposing player didn’t scout it. Going into the finals he had to play the ultimate Protoss player at the time. It got down to the wire 3-3 and Mvp had yet to use the 11/11. He finally busted it out in game 7 after using multiple end-game and mid-game strategies that were close to winning, but couldn’t push it over the line. He did it on a map that was least suited to the all-in an did it in the highest pressure situation possible in the finals.

What he essentially did was made the match no longer about who was the better SC2 player. It was about who was the clutchest under pressure. Who would fall. Credit to Squirtle, he scouted the all-in, but thanks to ingenious manuevering Mvp ambushed Squirtle and took the game (and subsequently Squirtle’s soul).

In CS:GO, I’ve seen a similar scenario play out recently at the ELEAGUE Major when gla1ve called an outside rush in the finals. It was incredible for multiple reasons. First he had never called something like this during the entire run at the Major and instead relied on the team’s standard plays and executes. Second it was against Virtus.Pro, a team known for their strength under clutch situations. Third, Astralis still had the stigma of falling under pressure. Fourth, it was a terrible economic situation that if lost, would have given Virtus.Pro easy rounds to close the game. Finally it was the third series of the Major where pressure was at its highest intensity. Gla1ve called the ballsy all-in and it worked, and that’s why Astralis is the champion instead of VP. Because in the clutchest of clutch moments, in the highest pressure stakes they bet it all in a Virtus.Pro like fashion to take down Virtus.Pro.

Moments like these are incredible and can only happen because the all-in, the gamble exists. So long as the forcebuy isn’t a gamble, moments like these cannot exist.

Slingshot senior columnist. StarCraft and CS:GO expert who pushes narratives over numbers.

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