Expert take: Grenade-dropping update (ft. STYKO, moses, Striker)
On Tuesday evening, Valve released the 'Operation Riptide' update, bringing about several important changes that are bound to see the meta shift in more ways than one. On top of important adjustments to Dust2 and Ancient and weapon balancing addressing the powerful Desert Eagle body shots and the lacking usage of the M4A1-S, the developers introduced an entirely new feature to the competitive side of the game that allows players to drop their utility just like any other weapon.
The update has stirred up controversy among pro players and the rest of the community, with some welcoming the grenade-dropping change and others going as far as to say that it will break the game. After more than 24 hours have passed since the update hit the servers, the discussion has been a bit more tempered after both camps have been able to argue their case, and we got in touch with a couple of experts to get their thoughts on the matter after the initial shock has passed.
STYKO: "Stockpiling nades towards the area where it's much more valuable is happening [already]"
As a professional player who has already had the chance to practice on the new update, STYKO gave us a unique insight into what his experience has been like over the past day.
"In general people at first were focusing on the fact it will be fine to forget certain nade lineup because you can just toss the grenade to your teammate instead, but on a pro level it happens pretty rarely that you forget these lineups, so from my limited experience throughout practice on the new update I feel like this doesn't change much," the FunPlus Phoenix player said.
"From a CT perspective, stockpiling nades towards the area where it's much more valuable is happening, but this will just make a gap elsewhere on the map and Ts can use this information if they adjust their playstyle. Mindgames are going to take place more often; is there really one CT behind the smoke constantly resmoking from one position or he is doing that on purpose trying to bait us into a stack? People might call this 'gambling,' but at the top level almost every step is just calculated risk. These risks vary depending on the opponent you face, the style of player that anchors a certain position, or in general their economy.
"I personally like the change and update. At first it feels like it lowers the skill-ceiling but I believe it's other way around. It creates more things to consider than not and I welcome these changes into the game. Was it needed? Probably not. Is it exciting? Hell yes."
moses: "Grenade dropping is such a crazy random factor for one week before the RMR"
moses addressed some of the biggest concerns people have brought up and outlined a few ways he believes the newest feature of the game could be used.
"I actually think most of the examples being used about how broken the grenade change is are way overblown and exaggerated," he said. "I'm sure it will be tried and experimented with, but I can't get on board with the idea that B players on Inferno will have a stockpile of three smokes and three Mollies to use so that teams can stack four at A for an entire round. Or that one player will have a stockpile of nades on the T side to execute a one-man fake.
"Utility is going to be most impactful when it's in the hands of the players who are problem-solving scenarios and communicating with their team. Perhaps the place I think we could see dropping nades be the most impactful is a rotator position dropping a smoke to his anchor just in case as his attention is pulled elsewhere. Or an AK dropping a flash to a teammate on a retake to set him up for a play. I think stockpiling will be tried, but I think we will find the benefits aren't much worth the risk."
The commentator and former Liquid coach also laid out some of his own concerns and is cautiously waiting to see how the change will play out in real scenarios before he makes up his mind about whether it's good for the game. "I'm interested to see how repeatedly dropping a flash to clear corners will actually work in practice and think that will need to get patched out regardless of its use in pro play."
"A part of me wants grenades only droppable during buy time, to make sure you can drop teammates to have full utility but without the possibility of further shenanigans in the round. But I'm at least willing to see how things play out and how the pro teams will find interesting ways to utilize the change. Not a fan at all of how this will affect teams/players counting smokes and nades at bombsites throughout a round to gain a strategic edge and tactical advantage.
"My biggest problem is that it's way too big of an update to drop into the qualification process of the Major and then straight into the Major itself. Gun updates and balancing can be handled, but the grenade dropping is such a crazy random factor for one week before the RMR."
Striker: "I'm not as pessimistic about how the change will affect the ability to read information"
I'm also more in the positive camp, eager to see how the meta will be affected. A lot of people seem to think the change will break the game in some instances, the most used example being a solo B site anchor on Inferno potentially having several sets of utility available, but there are a lot of nuances to even the most extreme situations.
One-dimensional strategies like that have big tradeoffs that create weaknesses on other parts of the map that the other team can exploit, so I'm not worried about it being game-breaking. In general, a lot of the risk that is associated with stacking grenades on just one area is probably not going to be worth doing consistently and will be more of a niche used in situations like ecos, where you're willing to take massive gambles.
I'm also not as pessimistic about how the change will affect the ability to read information. Yes, it removes certain guarantees of how many opposing players are in an area if you see multiple of the same type of utility landing one after another, but it also creates a new layer of reading the game, such as being able to tell when it's just one person throwing the grenades or multiple players, even if it's admittedly not always going to be possible. This can be faked as well, and the mind games stemming from that could create an interesting new dynamic.
Overall, I'm looking forward to seeing the ways the top teams will learn to abuse this feature, especially on the Terrorist side, which people haven't talked so much about so far. There are certain positions (A apps on Mirage come to mind) where some grenades aren't very useful, so having that 'useless' utility available to players in a different position will give the offense some extra options.
Where do you stand on the change?