Now that Dreamhack Cluj-Napoca, which didn’t yield favourable numbers compared to Cologne or Katowice, is finally done can we expect a bigger year for CS:GO in 2016, or has is it begun to fall? There are many factors to consider when determining whether CS:GO is starting to dip, and perhaps using this past major’s results may not be the best comparison. But after scouring the internet one thing became clear… people are skeptical.
What happened at Cluj-Napoca?
In my personal opinion Cluj-Napoca was a fantastic showcase of competitive CS:GO. It was the Major for upsets as top teams were sent packing early on in the competition. The level of CS:GO play seemed to be at all time high, but what went wrong? Last night I saw an interesting video which included info-graphics
The video brings up important points regarding the weekend’s action which included numerous competitive tournaments such as the League of Legends World Championships, The Hearthstone World Championships, and the Nanyang Dota 2 finals. There was also Overwatch on it’s first weekend of closed beta which could have stolen a few thousand views, so we can comfortably say it wasn’t perhaps the best time to host a major. There was also the small crowd, also mentioned in the video, which was almost expected since I’d also never heard of Cluj-Napoca until the major was announced. These are all important factors to consider when evaluating CS:GO’s performance on the weekend.
Are the players burnt out?
This is always an important factor to note when we reach the end of a competitive year. Have our favourite CS:GO teams had enough? The immense amount of pressure placed on players can build up over the year. This being the last big major it’s safe to assume that some teams had just had enough. There was also internal strife among some teams (namely Fnatic and NiP) who were dealing with internal issues while preparing as favourites for the final major. Fnatic are currently dealing with contract negotiations, while NiP are suffering on two fronts both with delayed payments and performance issues. Fnatic were knocked out in the quarter finals, while NiP made it as far as the semi-finals before taking their leave.
A similar pattern was noticed in Dota 2 during its early days as players and teams put in large amounts of time playing tournament after tournament at the highest level possible. While Dota 2 continues to grow regardless, there have been those players who have burnt out and moved on. I’m unsure whether people consider the amount of pressure on any competitive player, but unlike any other entertainment or sporting industry they just retreat to casual gaming instead of drugs and alcohol. I guess this could be an entire problem on it’s own – “I give up, I’m going to stream for a living.” This could be seen as the easy way out, but I digress. The fact of the matter is our top CS:GO players may be reaching their final stages making way for younger players to fill their shoes.
Has CS:GO lost its credibility as an eSport?
Much like Starcraft II and their match fixing fiasco, CS:GO was hit by a major ban wave roughly a year ago. Everyone remembers the “Vaccening” which was a phase where anti-cheat systems banned a few professional players who had been using performance enhancement third party software to cheat at major tournaments.
The entire saga was left in the dark with one statement that has always stuck in the minds of the more avid fans… “there are more to come.” Thankfully there has not been a massive wave since that one, bar the few outliers who received Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC) bans earlier this year. Since that wave of bans almost a year ago I personally feel CS:GO has lost a bit of its credibility and to be completely honest I’d almost forgot about it until last night. While sifting through the nonsense on HLTV.org I came across what could be described as a “tinfoil hat theory” type of post which gained a bit of traction. None of this is factual but it cannot go ignored, since it is interesting at least.
“It seems we are in the midst of another pro cheating epidemic, perhaps even worse than around this time exactly one year ago. The number of pros cheating at Cluj was too damn high, especially on the first day of the group stage when matches were being played offsite.
Why isn’t Valve doing anything? A few theories:
1) Valve are aware and willing, but unable to act because they can’t detect anything. Assume Valve knows about all the cheating and wants to ban every single cheater they can (this is extremely optimistic and not likely the case but assume it anyway). Well, their hands are pretty much tied unless they can detect the actual cheat being used.
If Valve were to ban a high profile pro, you can be sure their org/sponsor is going to demand that Valve provide proof, and if Valve turned around and said “sorry we only banned him based on aimlock clips”, the sh*tstorm would be unimaginable, even though anyone with a half-functioning brain can tell certain pros are cheating and have been cheating for some time now.
2) Valve is unaware, and assume LAN anticheat measures are sufficient. Maybe Valve truly thinks their majors are cheat-free? Could they possibly be so naive? I’m not sure. But there is a saying, “never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.” Maybe Valve aren’t protecting cheaters so much as they simply have their heads in the sand. The way they seem to glorify Fnatic by adding graffiti to the game in their honor seems to lend credibility to this, but who knows.
3) Valve is aware of all the cheating and unwilling to do anything about it. Perhaps, like ESEA did in KQLY’s case, leagues/organizers have come forward with evidence of pro cheating, and Valve hushed them up in order to preserve the integrity of the scene and keep the $$$ flowing. Remember LPcoin saying “there will be more”? He was either being a blowhard and talking out of his ass (which isn’t unbelievable), or there is more to that story that Valve isn’t telling us, which a later post by one of our own HLTV admins seems to lend credibility to.”
This could be labeled as a conspiracy theory, but after what happened last year these points cannot be ignored. A second major VAC ban wave would, and I stand by that statement, would destroy competitive CS:GO. And I’m quite certain this has lent a hand to the slow demise of CS:GO.
Unfortunately only time will tell, and the numbers for next major will stand the true test. I’m not saying CS:GO is on the downfall, but rather raising points which could be seen as the beginning of the end of one of the greatest few years in Counter-Strike history. It would be a sad day if CS:GO had to fade into the abyss like Starcraft II did, but at the same time I highly doubt that will be any time soon.
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Last Updated: November 4, 2015