There’s a lot of positives about having CS:GO’s flagship tournaments established well in advance on the calendar, mostly the fact that the rest of the third-party events and player breaks can coalesce around them. Both the 2020 and 2021 majors are slated for mid-May and early November. A predictable and steady schedule is certainly nice to have, but it’s a bit disappointing to see that the event is essentially guaranteed to stick to its current scale for at least the next two years.
HLTV’s recent report about Valve’s “envoys” regarding the next four CS:GO majors is understandably sparse on details. It seems the text of the e-mail itself hasn’t leaked, meaning the specifics of what the company has sent to tournament organizers calling for proposals remains unknown to us. Still, we can make a few reliable inferences.
The fact that Valve is setting a precedent when it comes to exerting control over the CS:GO tournament calendar is fairly interesting by itself. There are good arguments to be made about the necessity of such changes both with regards to the majors and the rest of the scene. Looking at the latter, an error-filled dud like the FACEIT London major or the upset-ridden mess that was PGL’s Krakow outing only hurt the perception of the game at a time when it’s supposed to attract the most eyeballs.
There’s also the lack of consistency to consider: five out of the last six majors made some sort of a change to the event’s format. Even little things like the different seeding protocols can make a massive difference – just compare how the brackets evolved in London and Katowice as an example. It would make sense that Valve would like to set things more in stone going forward: the precedent they themselves set with DOTA 2 shows that it’s a viable path for the company.
That said, I don’t think that CS:GO needs a TI clone to close out the year: winning a major has never been an era-defining event by itself in the game, and this fact lends itself well to the healthy circuit of the scene. You need to dominate everyone everywhere to be considered a true great in Counter-Strike, there isn’t one special trophy to etch your name onto for immortality. However, this predicates itself on healthy and consistent competition between the top-tier sides, and a multitude of factors greatly diminished this aspect of the circuit, at least as far as the period between the Katowice and Berlin majors is concerned. (Yes, RFRSH’s practices are one of them.) As things stand, the current top three won’t meet at a prestigious LAN event until July – it would make sense if Valve would like to make sure situations like these don’t arise in the future.
While establishing a DPC-like system would quickly diminish tournaments that don’t get you closer to the next major, it has to be said that the current setup that absolutely doesn’t take the third-party proceedings into account is rapidly getting outdated. You could, however, set a minimum requirement for the format for events to count towards the major and then let everything play out on its own from there. It’s still a case of picking winners and losers, but perhaps the fairest way to do so.
This is all speculation, of course. However, perhaps the one disappointment about all of this is that it seems like the majors’ scale and general format will remain untouched for the next two years. The HLTV report makes it clear that the events’ duration will go down, which means it’s extremely unlikely that their scope will increase going forward. Apparently, the letter also makes mention of Swiss rounds, which means the format also won’t see significant changes going forward. It would have been nice to slowly progress towards a lower bracket playoff system, no best-of-one matches at all, more teams with a more realistic regional distribution and the like, but it feels like the CS:GO majors are going to be more of the same going forward. Whether that’s a good or a bad thing is mostly up to individual preferences – and if the overall viewership figures are to go by, many fans are as lukewarm about the idea as I am.