MLG

A gun, mixed with a controller mod, became so deadly it was banned from competitive Call of Duty

A gun, mixed with a controller mod, became so deadly it was banned from competitive Call of Duty

Why would a weapon that is available to both teams need to be banned?

Yesterday, Major League Gaming announced they've decided to ban the FAL assault rifle from use in the qualifiers for the upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 competition at the MLG Spring Championship in Anaheim on June 28-30.

It seemed odd that a weapon would be banned when it is available to both teams, so I reached out to journalists covering Black Ops 2 to learn more about why MLG felt it needed to take this step. A representatitve from MLG itself declined comment, but did confirm the weapon's ban.

I wanted to know more about what it was about this weapon in particular that made it a favorite of professional players and a target for MLG.

Legal modifications

Alex Rubens, game journalist and owner of eSportsUpdates.com, told me that when combined with a commonly used controller mod, the FAL was basically unstoppable when used by high-level players. These mods are called SCUF controllers, and come with two main features designed specifically for Call of Duty.

First, SCUFs have two buttons on the back of the controller that are tied to the face buttons of the Xbox 360 controller. They're used to allow players to perform a move known as the “jump shot” which involves them quickly leaping into the air while targeting and shooting at the enemy. This is very hard to do with a normal controller, as you can't hold the jump button and use the right analog stick to aim at the same time. This button configuration allows players some extra agility that can be crucial at the top level.

The other main feature is a set of screws that are drilled into the center of the controller's triggers. In Black Ops 2, the trigger fires your weapon even if only depressed half way, so some players consider the extra length of the trigger pull to be wasted time between shots. The screw stops the trigger half way allowing for extremely fast manual fire. In fact, Rubens said that pro players using SCUF controllers can fire the FAL faster than the automatic fire mode, which is one of the main reasons behind the ban. In essence, they were able to use the gun more effectively than the game's designers had ever intended.

The FAL was a particularly deadly combination. “When [manually firing one shot at a time as described above], there's essentially no recoil,” said Rubens. “Every shot is direct on target and when it only takes two shots to kill even at long distances since it doesn't lose damage over distance, the FAL can kill before other guns can get a shot off.”

Rubens added that the gun's clip size is also a beefy 25 bullets, which meant that in the right hands, a dozen enemies could be killed without the need for a reload. Beyond that it also had great power and accuracy even when firing from the hip, which meant that it could be even better in close range fights than weapons that were intended for close range battles.

“Call of Duty works with two major types of players: Anchors who use the FAL and Objective players who use SMG,” said Joshua Reilly, general manager at eSports-Nation.com. “Objective players are supposed to win close range gun fights, however, the FAL is too powerful and can win the fight in too many different situations.”

The result was that players were essentially forced into using this gun over all others, and that makes the game pretty boring. And it's not super exciting when all players essentially have an instant death beam at their disposal.

“Some players asked for a patch instead, calling for Treyarch to nerf the gun, but in the end, it didn't make sense logistically to nerf the FAL for all when the professional scene represents 1% of the overall community,” said Rubens.

How does this affect the game?

As of right now it's hard to tell, and we'll have to wait until the MLG Spring Championship to know for sure. For his part, Rubens suspects this could change that game toward a multi-gun scene.

“The ban means that we'll likely see a revert back to a two-gun [assault rifle] game, with most players using the M8A1 (M8) or AN-94,” he said. “It's not entirely unusual, but most past titles have been a one-gun game.”

This isn't the first time a weapon has been banned from competitive play. Earlier this month, the KAP-40 automatic pistol was banned as well.

If nothing else, this gives us an interesting storyline to follow going into June's MLG, and I'll be watching to see how players react to the new forced changes to the game's overarching strategy.