It does not take any special equipment to figure out that for pretty much the entirety of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s short lived history, North America as a region has been largely irrelevant on the international scene. Other than a few instances of success, North American teams have generally gone to international LANs only to disappoint time and time again.
This current generation of players in North America have failed to bring sustainable success to their region, something that should not be acceptable to a region with such a large resource pool. Overall, if one were to describe the foundations of this current generation of North American Counter-Strike, the foundations would be described as being built off of the bricks of poor teamplay and the mortar of failed stars. Despite failure seemingly being imbedded into the very lifeblood of the North American region, there still remains a route to success. The best route to sustainable international success for North American teams is through an influx of next generation talent as they are essentially an open slate mentality wise and do not come with some of the key flaws that current North American talent come with.
Bricks of Poor Teamplay and Mortar of Failed Stars
One of the key factors that have held back North American teams on the international stage is the poor level of teamplay and fundamental decision making that is a defining characteristic of North American teams. As the metagame of Counter-Strike has evolved, the game has come to revolve around a mix of good tactics, impressive teamplay, and individual skill. Meanwhile, North American teams at international LANs still rely on individual performances in hopes that those performances will pay off at a level similar to how they do in North America, but the fact is that when faced with the higher level of international play, North America’s individual performances simply do not carry them through.
A large part of this poor teamplay stems from the fact that the North American scene has not mentally bought into the idea of proper teamplay contributing to a win. North American professionals give proper public answers about how they recognize poor team play as a factor in their poor international performances, and then exclaim how they are attempting to fix it, but the fact of the matter is that none of this has ever manifested onto the server. The North American scene has been repeatedly criticized for the mentality of their players and the fact of the matter is that this mentality is on display on the server. With poor trade fragging, and overall poor understanding of how the individual needs to fit in within a team context, North Americans as a whole have failed to make a sizeable dent internationally for far too long, and it is largely due to their poor mentality and teamplay.
One of the biggest factors in the failure of North American Counter-Strike’s foundations has been the mortar of its failed stars. For far too long, North America has failed to produce a star player who was truly capable of being an international star. Ever since Hiko’s fall from his position as an international star North America has struggled to find someone to take his place. Skadoodle and Shroud, the twin pillars of Cloud9, managed to become international stars for around three weeks, but just as Icarus fell back to earth so did Skadoodle and Shroud fall back to being simply North American stars. Other star players like Tarik, nitr0, and JDM have failed to take the necessary leap forwards gameplay wise in order to be classified as international stars. This failure of North America’s star to take a step forward in their gameplay has held back North American teams from succeeding at the highest level, as Counter-Strike is a game built around star players. This current crop of North American stars have had a significant amount of time to produce meaningful and sustainable results on the international stage, and have failed to do exactly that time and again, so perhaps it is time North America makes the hard choices and attempts to find a new generation of talent.
A New Generation
While failure is embedded within the lifeblood of North American fans, so is the feeling of hope. Each international LAN comes packaged with the feeling of hope and the belief that things have finally changed for the better. However, things so far have never truly changed. Practically every time this current crop of North American players have gone to an international event, they have found a way to disappoint. The mentality of North American players has failed to change over this time period as well, seemingly entrenched in the vestiges of an era where some teams could get by with poor team play. At this point, it seems that rather than trying to salvage the sinking ship that is this current generation of talent, North America should focus on the ship that is being built as we speak. This new ship being none other than the new generation of talent that is rising up the ranks of the North American scene.
There needs to be an influx of new blood into the North American scene, including players who are a clean slate in terms of not only mentality but also skill; players who have none of the bad habits that the current generation of North American professionals have developed, and more importantly none of the flaws in gameplay that prevent this current generation of North American stars from taking the next step into becoming international stars. These new players with a clean slate mentality will be open minded towards the factors that have made European and Brazilian teams so successful internationally; hard work, the willingness to grind, being open towards criticism, and a mindset that plays for the team rather than for the individual. Not all of the new generation of talent have to become star players, if they are able to become good role players who can play well in a team setting then that alone will help propel North American Counter-Strike to heights that it has not reached before.
Take a step back and look around, because this new age within North American Counter-Strike has already begun. The tsunami of new blood coming into the North American scene has begun, and Stewie2k is at the helm of it, and others are following. Koosta, Nifty, Twistzz, Sick, Androidx23, Brehze, Relyks, Mitch. These are some of the names that will ultimately come to define the next generation of North American Counter-Strike, and the heights North America will reach as a region. A lot of it will come to depend on their mentality if they can come into the scene with the right attitude then there is no reason they cannot achieve levels of success that this previous generation could not. However, if they truly wish to achieve high levels of success, then they must look to tread the path that Stewie2k has begun to tread, one of hard work and sacrifice. This will be a path that requires a hunger to succeed, a hunger to be the best, and most of all a hunger to right the previous wrongs of North American Counter-Strike.
Photo credit: HLTV