CS:GO Economics 101: Everything You Need To Know
Thu 15th Oct 2020 - 7:39pm
CS:GO's economy is one of the most stable economies worldwide. You get a minimum income every round, get a fixed reward for achieving certain performance goals, and no president can crash the market through a single tweet. In such an economy, investing in the tools needed to bring in even more cash (and rounds) can be reduced to calculated decision-making. However, just like in any economy, investing is risky. Especially so since your RoI (that's Return on Investment for all the rookies out there) is heavily dependent on the investment and skills of your fellow investors unless by some miracle you pull a trick out of your hat and hunt down those sweet monetary rewards all by yourself. Unfortunately, it seems that many fellow moneymakers still do not entirely understand the economic system, especially since its overhaul in March of 2019. However, with this guide, you will have a perfect understanding of the economy and will be able to instruct your teammates as to what to do based on your predictions.
First of all, let's talk about how the system changed. Originally, the game rewarded you a higher (capped) amount of money for every round you lost in a row. However, once you won a round, and thus once your losing streak ended, that round would also reset the amount of money you received to the minimum amount. If you had a decent round advantage as a team and had built up some bank, this mechanic could be used as a tactic to push your opponents even deeper in their pit of despair. By intentionally losing the round, ending the losing streak of the enemy team, and doing a lot of economic damage in that round, you left them with no weapons to hold onto and no money to invest in the next round. Played at the right time, this could effectively destroy all hope of a team at a comeback. While very few teams intentionally used this mechanic, it happened often enough to the point that it decided the outcome of certain games.
In March 2019, our overlords decided that the losers of CS:GO had suffered enough and overhauled the entire system. Instead of the punishing system where one win would reset the entire amount you receive, the game now knows a gradual system. If you lost five rounds in a row (which is the max loss bonus) and then win two rounds, for the next round it will deduct your amount of wins from the loss 'streak' and give you the subsequential amount for your next loss. In our example, if you lost again after winning two rounds the game would grant you the loss bonus corresponding to a three-round losing streak. You can immediately tell this system is much more forgiving as, rather than one win resetting the entire losing streak bonus, there is a gradual decrease. Consequently, before receiving the lowest loss bonus after getting the highest bonus you would need to win five rounds in a row, which should net you a decent economy already. If teams take turns winning rounds, this will be devastating for both their economies until one team wins a couple in a row.
Currently, the win and loss bonuses are as follows:
An Assassin's Reward
While the amount of money awarded to a team is set in stone and fairly predictable, the individual reward is subject to many different factors. While players seldom pay too much attention to these small differences, it might prove useful in considering your next purchase in times where money is tight. For example, while a P90 might be your sub-machinegun of choice, its kill reward is half of what other SMGs give you. So, if you're trying to get some gold in the bank for the next round, it might be better to invest in another SMG as otherwise, the decreased kill reward might mean having to miss out on some vital utility or not being able to drop for your teammate. Keep in mind that you don't necessarily have to remember all of this information. Just remember the basic concepts and you'll be able to make decisions on the fly. The kill rewards can be summarized like this:
As you can see, there are some big differences between standard kill rewards and their exceptions. As a basic principle, the higher the risk involved, the higher the reward. A knife killing being the riskiest weapon of choice rewards a hefty prize, while an AWP, although not entirely risk-free, rewards only a tenth of that amount. Naturally, none of this information should deter you from equipping your team with the best loadout. In rounds where the entire team can fully buy having an AWP in the hands of a decent player will be much more valuable than handing him a rifle just for the higher kill reward. However, in rounds where only the AWP player can buy, it is often better to skip out on getting the dreaded one-shot killing machine until the next round and not only for economic reasons. Moreover, in small buy rounds where the team has to buy SMGs and you don't expect to win the round, it can be more profitable to get any SMG other than the P90 and get that sweet, sweet dough through kills while doing important economic damage in the process. In rounds where only a single player cannot buy a rifle, a P90 can be the better option since winning that round will be the main moneymaker for your team and kills won't matter as much.
First Round Choices
Let's start thinking about what a team's economy means for their investment possibilities in a given round. While it is impossible to account for all the possible scenarios, we can at least establish core principles to guide us in our future investment endeavors. At the start of the game, every player starts with $800 in the bank. There are several possibilities here. Usually, players will buy body armor to deflect incoming damage. Some players will opt for some utility and/or, in case of the Counter-Terrorist team, a defuse kit. Finally, a strategy often used on the Terrorist side is something called the 'raid boss'. One player buys armor while another player buys a P250. The P250 is given to the 'raid boss', who is the person who bought the armor. Considering the P250 can kill an enemy with one shot to the head and the fact that one player can't get this combo of armor and P250 on his own, this gives the 'raid boss' quite the advantage. The downside of this plan is that the person who bought the P250 will only have enough money for a smoke grenade and a flashbang, but no armor.
What to Buy In The Second Round
What gear you buy in the second round entirely depends on the outcome of the first one and even what side you play on. If you won the pistol round, you should upgrade to an SMG and possibly even a rifle if you have the cash to spare. In case you lost the first round, you will have to be content with less. Usually, this means not buying anything at all. If you managed to pop some heads in the first round, you might have enough money to buy a pistol and/or body armor, and possibly even some utility. However, make sure don't spend it all, as you will desperately need the money to fully buy in the third round. Usually, this means keeping at minimum $2000 in the bank.
There is one exception to this principle: if you lost the round as a Terrorist but managed to plant the bomb, you will receive enough money to match the buy of the Counter-Terrorists, especially if you have gotten some kills in the first round. Consequently, instead of saving your money, in this case, you should go all in and even the odds. Winning this round will also have the added bonus of the Counter-Terrorist team losing their investment, making it almost mandatory for them to save or force-buy in the next round while you will be able to upgrade to better guns. However, be careful not to get surprised by a quick counter-rush if the enemy team is on an eco or small buy.
For every following round, after every win, you should fully buy. If that means you have only body armor with an SMG, so be it. Due to the way the win and loss bonuses work, it will never be worth it to save after you were victorious. Simply maximize your loadout with the money you have. It's when you lose a round that things become a little bit more difficult. Depending on how many rounds in a row you lost, you will have to save a larger or smaller amount of money this round to be able to fully buy in the next one. While there are many possible purchases, we depart from the assumption that you are simply buying full body armor and a rifle. In case you want room for some extra equipment, such as utility, you will have to add its cost.
The amounts needed to be able to go for a standard buy can be summarized as follows:
To buy, or not to buy... that is the question
Any money you have that goes beyond these amounts can be spent on maximizing your loadout, by, for example, buying a pistol and some armor. However, it is not always advisable to do so. In many cases, it is better to take the hit, lose another round and invest the money you just saved in a full loadout for the next one. This is what is called an 'eco round', meaning you don't buy anything at all even though you would have the money to do so, just to have an even stronger buy in the next round. Since you have nothing to lose, sometimes teams go for crazy strategies such as only buying grenades and throwing them all into one spot or following each other as counter-terrorists in a train towards the first unlucky soul to cross their path. In other words, anything goes.
Often, this results in a massacre as your fellow armorless pistol-wielding gunslingers rush towards their impending doom and get mowed down by their beefed-up opponents. On the bright side, considering you invested nothing and added another round to your losing streak, you should be able to buy up immediately after. In rare cases, you might have to eco another round. If by some miracle you manage to win this round, you will be able to pick up the weapons off of your enemies' dead carcasses and be rewarded with some sweet cash in the process, setting you up nicely for future investments.
If the enemy team's economy has successfully been destroyed and they have no other option but to resort to an eco, you can play what is called an 'anti-eco round'. Instead of risking losing your rifles to the enemy team, you gear yourself up with SMGs and shotguns. Not only will these weapons prove very effective against the poor sods, they will also give you a bigger kill reward and thus reinforce your economic dominance. Since the enemy team will usually be clumped together, foolishly believing in the old adage of 'safety in numbers', it is a smart idea to hold the chokepoints on every site. Just be careful not to position yourself too predictably, as the risk of being bombarded with a truckload of grenades is real. If you win this round, you will have made a ton of money and be safe for at least a couple of rounds. Should the enemy have managed to overpower you, you might have to do one eco round of your own.
Finally, you can also choose to 'force buy'. This is often the best option in case your economy finds itself in a schizophrenic state: you don't have enough money to be able to buy in the next round, but also not enough money to warrant a full buy in the current one. Knowing that you will have to eco in the next round no matter what, it's better to invest everything you can in this round on the off chance you manage to steal the win away from your opponents. Usually, your team composition in these rounds will be a mismatched assortment of players running around with SMGs, rifles, scouts, and perhaps even an unfortunate soul with a pistol. These rounds are usually when all hell breaks loose and players go crazy, trying their hardest to get at least a couple of kills and do as much damage as they can. This round is a shot in the dark at a round you don't expect to win. In case you lose, you already knew you would have to eco in the next round too. In other words, no harm done. Should you overcome the obstacles your enemies put in your path towards victory,- you will gain access to the arsenal of your opponents and should be able to fully buy in the next round too. Talk about turning the odds in your favor.
All in all, economic management remains a core aspect of CS:GO. Even though the overhaul last year made the system less punishing overall, proper management is still crucial to guarantee a win. By spending your money poorly, you will make the game unnecessarily difficult and set yourself up for failure. Taking into account the advice from this guide should help you make more calculated decisions. To summarize, if your team can buy a full or basic loadout, you should. If only a few players can buy, calculate whether it's worth the investment compared to the expected buy of your opponents. If you cannot buy a full or basic loadout this round, use the table to calculate how much money you need to save in addition to your loss bonus to be able to buy a full or basic loadout in the next one.
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