A Brief History of AWP Nerfs
In early April of 2015, Valve implemented a patch to CS:GO that reduced the speed at which a player could move while scoped in with a sniper rifle. This meant that players could no longer scope behind cover, then strafe out while scoped to peak and take a shot. This was a massive nerf to T-side AWP play and meant that AWPers could no longer play as aggressively on the T-side.
At that time, CS:GO was already heavily CT-sided and this nerf to the AWP did not help. The notion that the AWP needed to be nerfed was unfounded and actually ruined the effectiveness of great players like Kenny “kennyS” Schrub and Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács. These are the two best AWPers in CS:GO who both had teams built around them, focused on their AWP play. Despite both of them being in incredible form with the AWP, neither of their teams were winning tournaments or dominating the scene.
Since the nerf, AWP play in the pro scene has degraded to the point where it seems as though there are only ever two or three AWPers playing like stars. If you think of the top players in the world, they are almost all either riflers or hybrid riflers who only use the AWP in certain situations. Rifling has always ruled CS:GO and with more recent buffs, it has made it even more difficult to be effective with the AWP.
The AWP is a very difficult weapon to use. It is the one of the most expensive guns in the game and the kill reward is terrible. The only way to make the AWP economically viable is to keep it for multiple rounds. In more recent patches, there have been buffs to rifles improving the spray and making burst fire better. They also improved tapping with the rifles making them better at long distance. Bullet tagging was also buffed, making it harder to run or retreat into cover after peaking. All of these changes only compounded the nerf to the AWP and have made it almost impossible for AWPers to compete.
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Was is the AWP or was it the Players?
The reason for nerfing the AWP was that it was meant to be a long range defensive weapon used for holding angles. This is a terrible reason to nerf a gun. At the professional level, players will always find a way to use weapons in unique ways to gain an advantage. What was intended should almost never matter. The fact that players like kennyS and GuardiaN could be so great with a weapon in a way that was not intended shows that it was not the weapon that was overpowered. The incredible skill was within the players, not the AWP.
If the AWP was the problem, there would have been many more players exploiting the gun and using it to make themselves more competitive, but this was never the case. There are only a few players in the world that are truly elite with the AWP. They should not be punished because they got good with the wrong weapon.