Is double AWPing worth it?
The AWP is CS:GO's most powerful weapon. So why not grab two?
On Friday, Natus Vincere announced their return to form by storming to a 13-2 lead on the T-side of Dust2 against FaZe, the best team in the world, in what is supposed to be CS:GO's most CT-sided meta for years. Denis "electroNic" Sharipov, on his debut as Natus Vincere's permanent IGL following the removal of Kirill "Boombl4" Mikhailov, called a perfect half that never let FaZe get rolling, all whilst posting 17 kills and 116.5 ADR.
Natus Vincere exploited FaZe's rotations all game, but for now we'll focus on one facet of their T-side: How they exploited one of the very best hybrid players in the world in Robin "ropz" Kool. Against G2 on Dust2 the day before, too, FaZe struggled on CT-side and posted just four rounds, which begs the question: Do FaZe have a double AWPing problem? Or is this a case of recency bias and unfair conclusions being drawn from just two halves of Counter-Strike?
For context, let's rewind to FaZe's 25-23 victory over Spirit in the PGL Major Antwerp semi-final on Dust2. The double AWPs of Helvijs "broky" Saukants and ropz clashed with Abdul "degster" Gasanov and Robert "Patsi" Isyanov to offer 78 AWP kills in the 48 rounds of action. That comes to about 24.4% of all of the kills, and if we only consider the four main AWPers it's 56.6% — and that percentage includes T-side, where ropz and Patsi didn't really AWP, for obvious reasons.
Patsi's secondary AWP was one of the highlights of the tournament in Antwerp, and is a key reason he has a 1.37 rating on the CT-side of Dust2 on LAN in 2022, but he tended to operate around the car on A, leaving degster to roam around middle. This was similar to how FaZe normally use ropz as the dynamic AWPer in mid and broky as a turret on A, but the shift towards ropz anchoring B on Dust2 was apparent at BLAST against G2 and Natus Vincere.
Against Natus Vincere, ropz had an AWP in all but one of FaZe's full buys, and he could not really afford it that round regardless. Natus Vincere were aware of this tendency, exploiting it in two eerily similar rounds, 10 and 13. ropz is alone with his AWP on B, with Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken patrolling mid, as Natus Vincere explode onto the site.
In both rounds, ropz is blinded and misses his first shot, and he is caught running away. Against G2, ropz was similarly helpless against these explosions on B. Caught by several flashes on round 9, he would fall once again without a single frag.
It's fair to say that this approach with the secondary AWP was a hindrance for FaZe on Dust2 in these losses at BLAST Premier Spring Final, but what about over a larger sample size? Let's take a look at a scatterplot comparing round win % on the CT-side of Dust2 with the AWP KPR of each team's secondary AWPer for teams on LAN against top 50 opposition.
Teams like forZe, HEET, and Patsi's Spirit are all putting up stellar round win percentages whilst essentially having two primary AWPers on CT-side — a figure of 0.20 AWP KPR over a whole map for a rifle roughly equates to 0.40 on CT, which is Dmitry "sh1ro" Sokolov's figure for 2022. Yet, none of these teams, with the exception of Spirit at the Major, are doing it against the top 10, tournament after tournament.
FaZe, albeit against tougher opposition, actually fall below the average CT-side win percentage on Dust2 with a figure of 49.3% in 2022, converting just 70.8% of their 5v4 advantages into round wins. On Ancient, where ropz also AWPs far more than average (0.12 AWP KPR), FaZe have a much more competitive round win % of 59.7% with ropz averaging a 1.25 rating on CT-side. Yet, that does not exclude him from the fact that FaZe's Dust2 was too easily exploited by G2 and Natus Vincere at BLAST.
The double AWP is most powerful when your opponent does not expect it, as they lazily dry-peek angles. Once you're aware of it, it is fairly straightforward to counter like Natus Vincere did with fast hits and pops. A secondary AWP also limits the movement of your primary AWPer, restricting them from making certain early-round plays to avoid having two snipers covering the same spot.
Take a team like Heroic, who use Martin "stavn" Lund's AWP sparingly across all maps: 0.09 AWP KPR on Mirage, 0.07 on Inferno, 0.06 on Vertigo. stavn is an effective sniper, making the double AWP a useful part of Heroic's arsenal once or twice a half if needed — but it is rarely their default option.
The perfect example of a solo sniper is Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev, who has perfected the rotation game to an unfathomable degree. By being Natus Vincere's sole sniper for the vast majority of the time, he can roam around the map freely. Just think about his many multi-kills on the B site of Mirage, as teams jump out the window expecting to face Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko, in previous years, or Ilya "Perfecto" Zalutskiy but are met with the game's greatest ever player. If it was Perfecto or Zeus AWPing on B, with s1mple patrolling A and middle, a successful site hit is far more likely. On Dust2, broky — though he is not too active at the beginning of rounds regardless — simply cannot do this without getting in ropz's way.
By having a single, rotating AWP, teams can never get comfortable: They have to expend utility round every round and mould their site hits to work against a rifle and an AWPer. Against ropz, electroNic jumped around the corner, onto the big box, and then flew over ropz' crosshair to kill him — a play that would be nonsensical if he expected a second player with a rifle to be in the site. Even on Dust2, where there is a weak correlation between secondary AWPing and round win %, s1mple shows the advantage of the single-AWP approach by posting a 1.63 rating on Dust2's CT-side this year.
Interestingly, Dust2 is the only map a secondary sniper creeps above 0.20 AWP KPR. On Mirage and Ancient, a few teams flirt with the double AWP, but there is not even that (except GODSENT on Overpass) in the rest of the map pool. The median value for Inferno, Overpass, Vertigo, and Nuke is 0.00 and there is no correlation between the AWP KPR of a team's secondary sniper and round win % on any of the other six maps.
There is an argument to be made in favour of the double AWP considering the save meta; one of the biggest disadvantages to having two snipers is having to retake bombsites with them. The current economy punishes CTs for winning retakes with two players alive, a key factor in why teams save in these situations so often. So, the argument could follow that if you're not going to attempt retakes anyway, why not buy two AWPs to give yourself the best chance of stopping the hit before the bomb goes down?
And yet, teams are still shying away from the double AWP. This is forever the paradox of the big green gun: the highest-rated players are consistently primary AWPers, with s1mple famously calling it the "easiest weapon in the game" thanks to its one-shot kill.
But, it is slow, costs $1850 more than a starting rifle, and is exceptionally punishing if you miss the first shot, as FaZe and ropz found out last week. This is not to say that double AWPing is unviable full stop, but rather to show why, for the vast majority of teams, it is a last resort.
At times, even as a last resort, it can have a negative impact — like how Nikola "NiKo" Kovač's overuse of the AWP on Mirage around connector in the IEM Katowice final actually blocked Ilya "m0NESY" Osipov on several occasion. Further in the past, G2 came under fire for the frequency with which Richard "shox" Papillon pulled out the AWP despite having Kenny "kennyS" Schrub beside him.