Before & After: Infinite Loss Bonus

In mid March, Valve released an update adjusting the round loss bonus with hopes of lowering the impact of rounds lost in streaks (i.e. in the past, if you were 6–0 down, you’d receive $3400, once you won a round your loss bonus would be entirely reset back down to $1400 on the next loss).

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With this change, Valve introduced a system where each team would have a loss counter which would increase after every loss and decrease after every win. The issue to most, however, is that it does not cap out. This means you could, in theory, have an instance where both teams have $3400 loss bonus.

Whilst watching games recently, it has felt like we’ve seen more force-buys, more buy rounds, more scrappy rounds. I decided to do some digging in, asking myself: Do the games last longer?

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Shown above in the image are the filters as well as information on the searches I did looking through games played. These are all in 2019, so they do take into account the previous change where teams automatically start with 1 round loss bonus already. With a decent sample size (175 maps vs 238 maps) I feel like it is enough.

These are the results from this:

On the face of the results, there isn’t much to see as there is only a 0.06 difference in average rounds played, with the variance between least & most rounds being nearly non-existent. Based off this info, it could be argued that there hasn’t really been much of a change with the loss bonus infinitely adding up. One of the key things that is not measured here however, is the time-based length of these rounds. An argument that can be made, is that with there being more money on the table for the losing side in games now, they can effectively put out more half-buys, more force-buys, which take longer than your average eco throwaway round. In the past, we’d probably see an average of 4–5 rounds where one of the teams invested nearly nothing into it (i.e. USPs, Glocks). Teams are now able to spend that extra amount knowing that their risk:reward is decent. With there being more rounds that “matter” to both teams, i.e. force-buy, half-buy, it is more likely that these teams will invest more time into rounds, whether that’s through doing a full blown execute, or if that’s by doing a set default into a take onto a bombsite.

Here’s an example: In a game, the CT side are winning 6–1, having lost the most recent round — meaning their loss bonus will be $1400 as they did not have any losses ticked up on the counter. Within this scenario, the CT side have been winning half the rounds with 3 players alive, the rest with less than 3 — meaning they’ve had to manage their economy quite well, giving guns to players with less money, etc. Based on this, their economy could very well be in tatters, or on the brink of it. Even IF they were able to get the round win to force the scoreline to 7–1, the Terrorist side would STILL have a round loss bonus of $3400 due to having a loss counter of 7, meaning they are being backed to bring this game to a level scoreline. In a game like CS, I feel like we should not be advocating or pushing for a comeback mechanic — especially as we now mostly use best of 3’s for important series’.

A simple fix to this issue, for me, would be limiting the loss counter at 5, and not allowing it to infinitely tick up to the point where even if the side who were leading win a miraculous round, they are not screwed over by the other team still having a maximum loss bonus. I’ll be looking further into this using a smaller sample size (most likely tournament vs tournament, before & after) to check the difference in average minute length of each game to truly compare and see if what I brought up as a potential reasoning is true.

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