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BLAST Premier World Finals: Pros weigh in on the M4A1-s vs M4A4 debate cover image

BLAST Premier World Finals: Pros weigh in on the M4A1-s vs M4A4 debate

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The M4A4 is no longer the neglected weapon. But what do pros think after the M4 weapon update?

On Nov. 18, 2022, Valve dropped a new CS: GO update. The update added a new map, Anubis to replace the iconic Dust 2. In addition to the new map, there were also a couple of weapon changes. These changes to the M4 and the AWP seemed minor at first, but have since completely changed the way pros approach the game. In this article, we talk about the changes to the M4 and what several players thought about these changes. It’s a mixed bag.


A one-line change to the M4 - A giant change for Players

The Nov 18 update featured only one line of change per weapon. The number of bullets in the AWP were reduced from 10 to 5, while the M4A1-s range modifier went from 0.99 to 0.94. The changes were seemingly harmless, but not quite.
Before the update, the M4A1-s was the clear favorite. With a silencer, the M4A1-s provided a decent advantage to the Counter-Terrorists. For many players, the weapon also felt much better than the M4A4. And so at the Rio Major, the M4A1-s was the overwhelming favorite between the two CT rifles. A deeper analysis and comparison of the two M4 weapons now reveals that the M4A4 is clearly the winner. 
The M4A1-s usage at IEM Rio Major.
The M4A1-s usage at IEM Rio Major.
At BLAST Preimer World Finals, the M4A4 made a comeback
At BLAST Preimer World Finals, the M4A4 made a comeback
And the BLAST Premier World Finals stats also showed a clear favorite. The M4A4 had a 14.54% usage at the Saudi LAN, well ahead of the M4A1-s which stood at 8.11%. 
This is in stark contrast to the IEM Rio Major where the M4A1-S was the clear winner being used 27.66% of the time. The M4A4’s usage was less than 2.43%. 
One of the key factors for pros’ changing attitudes towards the M4 has been the increased TTK (Time to Kill) with the silencer weapon. The time to kill is a more accurate representation of which weapon gives pros an advantage. You can read more about the M4 changes and the Time to Kill here.

What do Pro players think about the M4 Changes?

Esports.gg had the opportunity to speak to pro players about their thoughts on the changes to the M4 before the start of the tournament. Here are some of their initial impressions. 

G2 won the BLAST Premier World Finals with a 2-0 victory over Team Liquid. But they had to struggle a bit to go forth from the group stage, losing their opener to FaZe Clan. After qualifying for the playoffs with a 2-0 win over Outsiders, we caught up with the team’s stand-in. 
As the team’s anchor, JKS plays a crucial role, one he believes is best suited for the M4A4 with more bullets.
“The M4A4 is just better than the silencer, I think,” he said. “And for the anchor, it makes more sense to have more bullets.”
A regular M4A1-S user before the update, Spinx was one of the first to switch to the A4. 

I switched to the M4A4 as soon as the update dropped. It just feels better. I loved the M4A1-S before the update, but I still think I’m very good with the M4A4, so it’s not a problem. 

Spinx
Team Liquid’s EligE is a firm believer in the power of the M4A4. Known for being meticulous with his weapon testing, EliGe had the numbers to back him up.
"Yeah, I thought I was gonna be playing the A1-s still, but I put on the A4, and immediately I felt like, dude, this is so much better", said Elige at BLAST Premier World Finals. "You can make so many plays happen with the A4. It’s actually crazy. I think that as soon as people see the type of stuff that you can do with the A4, like the spray transfers (they will switch). Of course, you can spray transfer with the A1, but the time-to-kill is so much higher.
Especially if you’re over 500 units, it’s so much higher, and most fights, especially for me, are over 500 units. So I’ve been enjoying it so much. I’ve had so many easy kills and spray transfers. It’s really clean. I have been having a lot more fun with this update."
For long-distance fights, the M4A4 seems to be the clear winner. But the debate also focuses on the cost of the weapon, which is now slightly higher compared to the A1-s. Is the better performance worth the increased price? Or will the lower-cost M4A1-s make do?

I actually thought that I was going to use the 20 bullets M4[A1-S], but when I played with the M4A4 I just changed to the 30 bullets one because it's much better, and the only good thing for the old M4 is the price. But still, if you aim at the head it's the same as before, maybe on long distances, it's different.

- S1mple
While S1mple believes the higher number of bullets is a CT advantage, K0nfig has the opposite view. He thinks it's easier to kill the CTs because there’s less hiding and reloading of bullets for the Counter-Terrorists.
"I think it’ll affect the balance of the game because the nerf has made others player switch to the M4A4 instead of the silenced one," K0nfig presented a counter-argument. "I feel like it’s easier to peek with the AK, and it’s easier to kill the CT when they’re standing in all-in duels. I haven’t seen it in official games yet, but in practice, it feels easier as T right now."

The Cost vs Benefits balance

The M4A4 costs $3,100 vs the $2,900 for the M4A1-s. Is the extra firepower worth the extra price?
The M4A4 costs $3,100 vs the $2,900 for the M4A1-s. Is the extra firepower worth the extra price?
“Of course, it sucks a bit sometimes that you don’t have the money to buy an M4A4 when you could buy the M4A1, but it’s part of the game,” Spinx added.
The M4A4 has more bullets and is better than the A1-s, but it’s also more costly. The M4A1-s costs $2,900 while the M4A4 costs $3,100. So players have to make a decision, sacrificing part of their economy to get the better weapon or vice versa. 
In an exclusive interview with esports.gg before the start of the tournament, Cadian said he would be using the A1-s even though his four teammates have all switched to the M4. His reason was that the lower cost would allow him to drop a weapon for his teammates when he needed an AWP. 
"I think right now, my four teammates are playing with the M4A4 and I am still playing with the A1. But that’s also because it is a little bit cheaper. So if I need to drop to swap for an AWP it’s easier for me. I think it’s very split when we practice against other teams and what weapons they use. So it should be interesting."

The T/CT balance

image credit - esports.gg
image credit - esports.gg
FaZe Clan’s KarrigaN thinks the M4 changes were necessary. Specifically for him, as an anchor, he feels the M4A4 is more suitable as it can add more firepower and damage. 
“Yeah, for sure; earlier we used to get two kills with the silencer, and we would hide and reload," KarrigaN said. “And it takes 4-5 bullets to kill a T. That means the T has at least two extra bullets against the CT guy shooting at him. For sure, I think it’s going to change a lot. We’re going to see some teams swap. Especially on the T side, the rifles are going to have more confidence in taking the duels and not die without knowing where they died from.”
In the same interview, Zywoo also chipped in with his thoughts on the M4A4 and the inevitable diversity of weapon choices for CT players.
I think the silencer creates some terror because it was crazy to use it. You can kill two guys really easily. I think these were some good changes. Now you can see how people are going to play with the M4A4. Also, the CT meta is going to be good because we are going to see people playing with every weapon, so it is going to be good.” 

Are the changes hyped too much?

But there’s also another line of thinking where some players feel like the impact of the M4 changes have been hyped too much. They feel there’s a fine balance in the game now and not using the M4A4 is not a deal-breaker.

I think the meta will remain very much the same. I don’t think the meta had that much of a difference because of the M4A1. I think the CTs will learn how to play on every map, they know all their rotation, they know how to react and everything. I think we will see CT side stay very much the same. Except maybe I think Anubis, I think that map is a bit more balanced than the others. But overall I think the meta will stay CT-sided.

For OG flameZ, it’s all about his individual comfort. Having played on the M4A1-s for so long, he feels switching to the M4 just because of the update doesn’t provide that big of an advantage. 
The two guns differ in firepower over long distances.
The two guns differ in firepower over long distances.
"I don’t think it’s that significant," flameZ told xL. "I still play with the silencer, and I feel more comfortable with it. I don’t think it’s such a deal-breaker, it’s just like you need to consider different positions. My idea is, since there are A1, A4 and AUG, I play with the silencer, and if I need some positions to play in the A4 style, I play with the AUG. So I don’t think it’s that significant change. I think in some situations I feel like when you go out of the connector on Mirage, it’s so difficult because you have to hit 5 bullets. But it still isn’t a game-changer."
NAF also toes the comfort line as he reveals he is sticking to the A1 for now.

I still kinda just feel the M4A1-S too much. I didn’t practice too much with the A1. I’m sure it’d take a bit of time to practice with it. I don’t think there’s too much preference. Short range, it’s still a little bit stronger. But also, I just prefer the accuracy and recoil on the gun, so I’m gonna stick to it for a little bit.”

The BLAST Premier World Finals was the first tournament for most players with the new changes. Most of these opinions were before the start of the tournament but the overwhelming majority of the players used the M4A4 at the event. For now, it seems the M4A4 is here to stay.
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Rohan
Rohan
Editor | Twitter @rohan_esports
Started esports with Dota, moved to CS, then OW, back to Dota 2, and now a bit of Valorant. I love city-building games, and have spent hours in Cities: Skylines only to have the traffic defeat me. Currently on a reading spree - the aim is to read 150 books in 2023. Can I do it? Would you?