Meta changes: The UMP-45
In recent months, we saw the UMP-45 rise to the top five of the most used weapons. We decided to take a look at when the SMG began to emerge among the popular choices, analyze what makes it favorable over the Famas and Galil, and find out whether there are other weapons that could make their way to the competitive scene more often.
As we don't possess details such as which weapons are purchased, we used the number of kills at the big events to compare the usage of each weapon. Due to the lack of data, we were unable to determine whether relying on the UMP is objectively beneficial for the teams, and this rather serves as an analysis of the change in the meta.
Over the last year, the UMP-45 has slowly overtaken the Famas and Galil to become one of the most popular secondary choices after the go-to rifles, AK-47, M4A1-s, and M4A4.
The $1,200 submachine gun has been exactly the same ever since October 2014, when Valve rolled out an update that increased armor penetration of all SMG's by about 20%.
Development of UMP usage compared to Famas and Galil at big events from 2015-2017
However, it took teams nearly a year and a half to start realizing SMG's benefits compared to the Famas and Galil, as its usage first jumped at MLG Columbus.
At 2016's first Major, kills with the UMP-45 reached 1.8% of the event's total largely thanks to finalists Natus Vincere, semi-finalists Liquid, as well as mousesports, all of whom preferred it over the Famas and Galil.
At the next few big events, it stayed around the same amount before the next Major rolled around and the SMG spiked again. By that time, SK and fnatic caught on to the trend and helped the UMP climb to 2.6% at ESL One Cologne.
The following off-season seemed to have helped a lot more teams comprehend its benefits. By SL i-League StarSeries Season 2 Finals, the first big event after the month-long break, every playoffs team apart from FlipSid3 figured it out and the UMP-45 overtook the Famas and Galil for the first time with 5.2% of all kills.
Distribution of UMP-45 and Famas + Galil kills at StarSeries Season 2 Finals
The remainder of the year saw the newly discovered weapon keep an average of about 5% before it went up once more at the ELEAGUE Major to 6.1%, while the Famas and Galil recorded only 2% of all kills combined.
Apart from one anomaly at ESL One New York, unsurprisingly it was the Counter-Terrorists who killed with the UMP-45 more, as it's easier to pick your fights being on the defense.
However, teams seem to like the SMG even on the Terrorist side, where the UMP began to prevail over the Galil at StarSeries S2 Finals. That leads us to the next part, where we take a look at the three weapons in question to see what makes the UMP-45 stand out over the two rifles:
What makes the UMP-45 superior to the Famas and Galil?
Interestingly, Valve have not touched the Famas for ages. The French weapon received its last update in October 2013, when the developers re-added support for burst accuracy.
Over the history of CS:GO, the Famas was only updated once more, in August 2012 when its accuracy and recoil got buffed, albeit slightly. The Galil has actually never been updated directly if we disregard cosmetic changes that are irrelevant to gameplay.
Despite it being an SMG, the UMP offers higher damage than the two rifles (35 versus 30). Even with the slightly lower penetration, the UMP will give you more power against armored opponents than the Famas, and almost as much as the Galil.
The much smaller running inaccuracy compared to the two secondary rifles allows for high mobility, the run-and-gun playstyle all SMG's are famous for, which gives the German gun an even bigger advantage.
The biggest upside, however, is that it is a highly economical choice. With a price tag of $1,200, you can buy the UMP and a full kevlar on top for the price of a Famas, or the UMP and a vest for less than just a Galil. Furthermore, the UMP will pay for itself once you get two kills due to its $600 kill reward, so it's not only a money-saver, it's a money-maker in an ideal situation.
Naturally, players have to keep in mind that the SMG is only effective in close combat, as the damage falls off greatly with distance (by 15% at 500 units, which is about the equivalent of the length of A ramp on Dust2) and it becomes much less accurate.
Those issues make the UMP quite situational and generally not as useful on longer-range maps such as Dust2, where players need to be creative in order to make the most out of the gun. Overall, it's the most popular on Cobblestone, where the weapon recorded 6.2% of all kills on the map from StarSeries S2 Finals onwards.
Can the AUG/SG553 hybrids become good rifling alternatives?
As things stand now, you might think it's time for Valve to take another look at balancing the rifles, as only three of them are regularly used. However, there are two more that could make their way into competitive play if players were willing to experiment.
Let's first take a look at the Counter-Terrorist side. Thanks to its 90% armor penetration, the AUG is slightly more powerful than the M4's which have higher base damage but 20% lower armor penetration. The difference is, however, small enough that situations in which the AUG kills a player in fewer bullets than the M4 are quite rare.
The AUG's armor penetration is not enough to deal one-shot headshots from a larger distance than 197 units (less than the Five-Seven and the P250), which isn't ideal as the Austrian rifle is made for long distance fights due to its scope. While scoped, the AUG has more than twice the accurate range of the M4's and offers very accurate and fast tapping as well as bursting. It becomes hard to control while spraying, although not too unpredictable up to the first 10 bullets. That makes mid-range fights possible to handle, even if not ideal.
The AUG can be a good situational weapon, as it's somewhat of a hybrid between a rifle and a sniper rifle, and its abilities could serve even less able tappers than the likes of Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg or Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom very well. However, its price ($200 more expensive than the M4's) is most likely the reason why most teams didn't give the weapon much thought. If it was to receive only that $200 discount, we could see the AUG come into the forefront; as it stands now, players will not spend extra money on a rather situational gun when they already have a very reliable option in the M4.
On the other side, we have the SG553 up against the AK-47. Being the only gun with a perfect 100% armor penetration, the Swiss weapon beats the Kalashnikov in power despite offering lower base damage. That also makes one-shots possible at practically any distance that can be found on any of the eight maps that have ever been in the rotation.
Similarly to its CT counterpart, the SG is quite accurate while tapping and bursting even if unscoped, and it becomes beastly using the alternate fire while utilizing those two styles. Both AUG's and SG's recoil also take next to zero time to reset shortly after scoping, which makes them quite universal.
With a fairly low cost of $3,000, it's surprising nobody apart from Emil "Magisk" Reif uses the SG553 in competitive play. Thanks to its unusually high tapping and bursting accuracy while scoped, as well as the possibility of a one-shot headshot at any range, it definitely makes for a viable option. Apart from the $300 difference in price, the only significant downside to the SG is having to learn a new spray pattern that is quite unforgiving to be fair.
Even though the AUG and SG553 are similar to the UMP in the sense that their base stats make them a viable replacement for the popular rifles in certain situations, the SMG benefits the team's economy while the hybrids hurt it. That is likely the main reason why the two scoped rifles rarely show up in top-tier competition.
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