Dec 3 2013 - 9:44 pm

With breakthrough tournament, 'Counter-Strike' finally returns to former glory

At 14 years old, the Counter-Strike franchise is certifiably ancient by eSports standards
Patrick Howell O'Neill
Dot Esports

At 14 years old, the Counter-Strike franchise is certifiably ancient by eSports standards. And yet, as 2013 comes to a close, the series is quietly returning to its old place as one of the biggest eSports on the planet thanks to its newest iteration: Global Offensive.

Over the weekend, a record-breaking 145,000 concurrent viewers tuned in to watch DreamHack Winter, an enormous Swedish tournament. Global Offensive stole the show—perhaps thanks to the $100,000 grand prize, the largest in the game's history. The DreamHack audience was treated to see an upstart Fnatic team beat the legendary Ninjas in Pyjamas squad in a 2-1 upset that no one will soon forget. Soon afterwards, another record-breaking 93,000 concurrent players loaded up games in Global Offensive after the grand finals wrapped up.

After a year of middling numbers, Counter-Strike is suddenly booming. In player numbers, it’s finally besting the earlier versions of the game to become the definitive Counter-Strike title by a large margin. That’s no small feat. Purists who previously railed against new versions in the series are finally making the move to this title.

“There will also be diehards that never accept and move forward,” said Scott “SirScoots” Smith, co-host at this year’s DreamHack Winter. “Is it [version] 1.6? Nope. Different engine, different feel and even some game tweaks, but it is CS. Jump on the train, or get off the track, because you will get run over.”

 Stats via steamgraph.net

But if you take a look at the numbers, you’ll see that the old versions haven’t fallen off much at all in the last few months. Instead, Global Offensive is attracting totally new players by building an in-game experience that the old games never had: New maps, quality matchmaking, and fun weapon skins. All this helps catch the eye of younger gamers who, let’s face it, need a few bells and whistles to make a purchase.

“I do believe, just in general, there are millions more gamers than there were just a few years ago,” Smith said. “So, certainly new gamers are going to try this version and not an older one if they can.”

Over on Twitch, the world's premiere video game streaming service, Global Offensive gained the most total minutes watched of any game, shooting up eight places to overtake rival shooters like Battlefield 4. Just above Counter-Strike in the overall November rankings is Call of Duty: Ghosts, the most recent installment in the hugely popular Activision series. In December, however, Counter-Strike is poised to take the lead.

After years of watching eSports leave first-person shooters behind, Counter-Strike is ready to carry the mantle once again.

From an eSports perspective, much of Global Offensive’s success can be credited to the superbly produced tournaments at DreamHack and the Electronic Sports League over the last month. These are easily the two best spectating experiences Global Offensive fans have ever had. A constant stream of great games were complemented by insightful analysis, big crowds, and perfect shots of players screaming in triumph and defeat, all of which brought audiences at home right into the action. A new bar has been set for the premiere tournaments as fan expectations are higher than ever.

At the game's Reddit hub, /r/GlobalOffensive, pageviews have grown 800 percent over the last year.

Another factor in the game's surging popularity is the success of Complexity, an American team that finished third this weekend at DreamHack. Despite historically fielding quality teams, the United States has struggled mightily to gain major international success in Global Offensive. With Complexity gaining victories over VeryGames and Astana Dragons—the number one and three ranked teams in the world by some measures—it stands to gain an entire nation of Counter-Strike fans hungry for international success.

In fact, the whole game stands to gain.

“Complexity having a good showing hopefully sends a message to all the other teams that CS is a viable investment on this side of the pond again,” Smith said. “The viewing numbers are something worth chasing for sure these days. Before that was not part of the possible return on investment back to a team.”

While Complexity rises, Ninjas in Pyjamas falters. The Swedish team, who won 17 gold medals over the last year, was once the prohibitive favorite to win every tournament it entered. Today, it faces serious challenges. In drama worthy of a World Cup, NiP lost in a 2-1 upset to fellow Swedes Fnatic in the grand finals. Unpredictable, high-level play like this is exactly what the game needs to attract even more fans.

There’s still more work to be done. Valve, the game’s famous developer, must continue to actively develop Global Offensive in a way that they’ve never done with any past Counter-Strike title. They must, for instance, quickly figure out how to stop the rash of cheaters that have accompanied the thousands of new players. They should also continue to support big prize pools and great tournaments year-round.

There’s no doubt that 2013 has turned into a great year for Counter-Strike. There's a lot of work to be done to make sure 2014 is even better. But you can't blame fans for seeing nothing but great promise just over the horizon.

Image via DreamHack/Facebook

Jan 23 2017 - 9:43 pm

Summit1g to compete with Mythic in 2017

It will be the streaming star's first competitive venture in more than eight months.
Sam Nordmark
Writer at @dotesports
Image via DreamHack | Remix by William Copus

One of the biggest streamers on Twitch is returning to competitive Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.

Jaryd "summit1g" Lazar, who is rated as one of the most influential broadcasters on Twitch, revealed on his stream that he will be competing with North American-based squad Mythic in the upcoming tournament season. The announcement puts an end to the players' nearly year-long hiatus from competitive CS:GO.

Summit1g's most recent competitive outing came in 2016, when he was asked to fill in for Splyce at DreamHack Austin due to the team's former rifler Andrew "Professor_Chaos" Heintz not being able to attend the event. Unfortunately for summit1g, the LAN ended in disaster for the player, as he accidentally prolonged what looked like a won match against CLG by accidentally dying to his own molotov on match point. This led to CLG successfully staging a comeback on the first map of the series. Splyce subsequently lost the second map of the series and were eliminated from the event.

The Mythic roster features former Team Liquid in-game leader Eric "adreN" Hoag as well as former Winterfox rifler Alexander "LeX" Deily. AdreN in particular stands out as the most established pro player on the roster, as he competed for Team Liquid between 2014-2016 at multiple international events. This included a semifinals performance at the MLG Columbus Valve Major in 2016.

So far the team isn't scheduled to compete at any online or offline events, but it's safe to assume that summit1g will look to redeem himself in the coming months.

H/t theScore

Jan 23 2017 - 2:52 pm

GODSENT surprise, ELiGE is world class, and other storylines from the first day of the ELEAGUE Major

We're only one day into the ELEAGUE Major and things are already heating up.
Sam Nordmark
Writer at @dotesports
Photo via Fragbite

Valve’s CS:GO Majors bring out some of the most exciting and tantalizing storylines in esports. And only after one day of competition, it’s safe to say that the ELEAGUE Major is delivering.

Favorites have already tasted defeat, while teams with little fanfare behind them have risen to the occasion in dramatic fashion. While the group stage is still far from over, here are some of the most noteworthy and interesting storylines from the first day of the ELEAGUE Major.

GODSENT pull a fast one on Astralis

For the better part of six months, GODSENT has been considered something of a joke. Consisting primarily of the legendary former Fnatic roster, the team struggled all throughout 2016 without achieving any kind of noteworthy results. Instead, GODSENT dropped series against opponents with far less firepower behind them, sometimes in even spectacularly embarrassing fashion.

But on the first day of the ELEAGUE Major, GODSENT upset the order and defeated tournament favorites Astralis in one of the most one-sided games of the event so far. In only 22 rounds, the Danish favorites were schooled completely by GODSENT’s T-side on Train, with only three rounds to their name after the first half.

As fate now would have it, GODSENT will now be facing Gambit in the upcoming round of the Swiss format group stage, while Astralis face their Canadian rivals OpTic Gaming. Suddenly, the tournament favorites are in anything but a sweet spot, and it is all because of GODSENT.

Virtus.Pro look fierce after battling OpTic

The battle between Poland’s Virtus Pro and Canada’s OpTic Gaming was one of the highlights at the ELEAGUE Major’s opening day, as both teams looked to assert themselves as the top competitors at the event.

While OpTic’s recent performances have put them closer to the spotlight than their Polish contemporaries, Virtus Pro’s uncanny ability to seemingly always perform at Valve Majors should never be understated.

Following a solid first 9-6 half for OpTic on Cobblestone, where OpTic’s Will "RUSH" Wierzba continued to showcase his status as one of the continent’s entry-fraggers, Virtus found their way back. The Poles’ answer, as is often the case, was the play of star player Janusz “Snax” Pogorzelski, who sniped down the Canadian opposition constantly.

The Poles already found themselves looking to be one of the favorites heading into the event. After dispatching OpTic in this fashion, it certainly looks as if the hype was warranted.

ELiGE is world class

Despite losing its first game of the tournament after a triple-overtime to what is, presumably, EnVyUs’ last run, Team Liquid’s Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski continues to perform on a level far above other North American players.

The centerpiece of the North American roster since the departure of Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev in May last year, ELiGE put on display on Cache that was pure CS:GO godliness. With an ADR (Average Damage per Round) of 111, the 19-year-old North American averaged roughly one kill in each of the 46 rounds that were played, resulting in a scoreline of 48 kills and 33 deaths. Combined with several noteworthy multi-kills and clutches, there can be no missing who the star on Team Liquid is.

Where's NiKo

While being far from favorites in its first match-up of the event, the sheer magnitude of the beating the Eastern European supersquad Na`Vi administered to the German-based mousesports roster was made all the more bitter by the continued decline of mousesports’ star Nikola "NiKo" Kova?.

Widely considered to be the most skilled CS:GO player without a title to his name, the Bosnian only succeeded in netting nine kills throughout the game, resulting in one of his worst performances in his career. Granted, the game was over in only 19 rounds, and mousesports were consistently put under economic stress throughout the game. But even so, NiKo was surpassed by all but one of his teammates in terms of frags and impact.

After spending the majority of 2016 firmly placed among the top competitors in CS:GO, a collapse at the ELEAGUE Major would be a disaster for the young Bosnian.

Today’s hottest matches

SK Gaming vs. FaZe - 12:30pm ET

Since the addition of former Astralis in-game leader Finn “Karrigan” Andersen, FaZe is looking to assert itself at the top of the CS:GO hegemony. At the same time, even an SK Gaming with a stand-in is still one of the scariest opponents any team can face.

OpTic vs. Astralis - 4:15pm ET

By the end of today, one of the tournament favorites will be hanging loose: Both OpTic and Astralis faced each other in the grand finals of the two latest significant LAN events, and delivered exciting matches on both occasions. But neither of them can be measured in the potential implications of today’s confrontation, where another defeat could mean the difference between advancing onto the playoffs, or going home from the first Valve Major of 2017.

G2 Esports vs. Virtus Pro - 6:45pm ET

If there is one thing Virtus.pro has proven time and time again, it’s that you can never count them out. No matter what, the Poles will find a way to dig themselves out of the deepest hole no matter the circumstances. But given the performance of G2 Esports’ Richard “shox” Papillon against Fnatic yesterday, there’s a considerable chance for things to get really interesting.