6 months with the M4A1-S: how has the meta changed?

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In the fall of 2021, Valve released a major update that tweaked the characteristics of several guns. Including the M4A1-S. The damage dealt by the M4 was significantly increased, yet the price remained the same: $2900. It was crystal-clear even back then that the M4A4 would grow less and less popular afterwards. The CS.MONEY Blog is here to elaborate on how the CS meta has changed over the 6 months with an updated M4.

The M4A1-S has actually won the competition. The balance has changed

In the pro scene and in matchmaking alike, the silenced version of the M4 has indeed become much less of a staple. To put it into perspective, at PGL Major Stockholm 2021, 24% of frags were made with the M4A1-S. And how many with the M4A4? Unknown. More specifically, there are only approximate figures (less than 10%), because the M4 without a silencer was bought so rarely that it fell into the “Other” category that includes stuff like farm guns and non-default pistols.

The M4A1-S buff affected the balance on the maps, too. Naturally, in favor of the CTs. After all, the defenders now have a cheap gun very similar to the AK-47: just like the latter, it can kill an opponent with only 4 accurate hits. 

Here’s the percentage of won and lost rounds depending on the side at IEM Cologne 2021: the blue stands for the CTs, and the orange for the Ts. This event took place last summer, before the update of the M4A1-S parameters.

And here are similar stats from BLAST Premier Fall Finals 2021. The CT wins skyrocketed on 5 of the 7 maps. On Ancient, the situation’s simple: teams have become better at playing for the Ts.

And mind you, these aren’t isolated cases. If you look at the stats in tournaments before and after the update, the trend is exactly the same.

So the M4A4 is completely useless?

By improving the characteristics of the M4A1-S, Valve effectively compromised the position of the M4A4. After all, these guns are actually supposed to compete with each other. It means that ideally, half of the players should opt for the M4 with a silencer, and the other half should select its counterpart.

Granted, the M4A4 isn’t completely forgotten. Some players are still using it, notably Valerii “b1t” Vakhovskyi of NAVI. However, the guy acknowledged all the advantages of the silencer right after the update: “Is it noticeable? Of course, 100%. The M4 was heavily buffed — it kills with four hits to the body.”

Maybe Valerii plays with the M4A4 due to the higher rate of fire, or maybe he’s just more accustomed to using this device. In any case, his choice cuts no ice for the game.

What should Valve do? 

Valve only puts out updates once in a blue moon, especially global ones. Yet a small potential fix for the M4A4 isn’t even that. So what should be done about the M4 without a silencer?

Lower the cost. The $200 difference when playing as a CT is pretty significant. Alternatively, the devs could increase the price of the M4A1-S: $2900 is too low for this annihilation machine. 

HLTV journalist Nohte suggested changing the price of M4 as follows. He also mentioned the AUG and how it would be nice to see back to the meta as well. It looks pretty reasonable.

On top of that, Valve could change some features of the M4A4, like the damage or accuracy.

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