Above is an interactive visualization for the guns North American pro players have been using in rounds by tournament since First Strike’s finals. Click the different guns to choose different comparisons. There are plenty of different questions that can be answered, so I’ve written some observations about some of the ones I find most interesting below.
What happened to the Stinger?
The Stinger was a gun that found popularity in the ranked queue potentially before it became a professional strategy. The popularity of the stinger was slow but steady as the game progressed. Starting with the First Strike, the stinger was a niche pick by certain players, but as the months wore on, more and more teams were replacing eco rounds with stinger buys. Challengers 2 was the last stand for stingers before they were nerfed, and the pick rate peaked at around 16% of guns used in rounds being stingers. The nerf hit, and the stinger went nearly extinct overnight. From there, we can see classic rounds (in which no gun is bought) increase, as do sheriff buys. People clearly are finding alternative strategies to the stinger, but the gun itself is well and truly out of the meta. Finally, there was a talking point for a bit about how a stinger nerf would be the return of the Operator, as people would finally have the money required to pick on up in round 3/4. So far, looking at the data, this is not the case. The Operator remains at a steady spot around 4.5%.
The age old debate: Phantom or Vandal?
From First Strike to Challengers, we’ve actually seen a switch. The game went from around 32:22 Phantom: Vandal to almost the exact opposite. Whether that constituted a 5% player-base switch from the Phantom to the Vandal, or simply different teams attending different tournaments, it’s hard to say for sure. There remains a solid balance with no single clear gun of choice in NA, and with Challengers, 3 things got even closer to even.
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