FLASHPOINT’s concept always revolved around its long-term promise of growth and sustainability. Though its initial lack of top teams and players are a concern, the current health crisis actually bought them the resource they lacked the most: time.
Misshapes, mistakes, misfits
Raised on a diet of broken biscuits, oh
We don't look the same as you
And we don't do the things you do
But we live around here, too, oh really
(Pulp – Mis-Shapes)
The opening stage of the FLASHPOINT is behind us, and it’s fair to say they were as strange and beautiful as you’d expect from this particular group. Where ESL can boast the best teams and biggest brands, FLASHPOINT has had to cobble together a band of misfits, rogues and vagabonds for our entertainment, and so far, it hasn’t been too bad if we’re honest.
Sure, they might lack the s1mple appeal of the world’s best players, but FLASHPOINT has characters at least, and the first stage was all about showing that off. From the funny group names to the absolute insanity of watching smooya both challenge and beat FalleN with the AWP, before the Englishman let loose his own enigmatic war cry, FLASHPOINT had a lot of talking points. Headphone users, beware, smooya sounds like a dolphin having a crisis…
The problem is, as a FLASHPOINT man might say, that the product isn’t great when you consider the calibre of teams and players involved. In fact, it has actually got a bit worse in recent weeks with the whole FPX debacle, as well as MIBR deciding to end their exclusive deal and enter ESL’s event. Presentation matters of course, and FLASHPOINT have that down, but most events live and die on the quality of CS:GO on offer, and there is no doubt Astralis vs Liquid has more global appeal than Bad News Bears vs Chaos. However, the global circumstances have somewhat levelled the playing field, and in a weird way it has helped the venture capital-backed tournament buy a little bit of space to find their feet.
With 2020 being the start of the franchise war in CS, you can be sure that ESL had a lot of good stuff planned to make sure that nobody was in any doubt about which was the premier CS:GO league by the end of the year. They already secured the best teams, and with events like ESL One Cologne and Katowice – as well as the Rio Major – it seems as though it would have been a pretty free win in the war, at least against FLASHPOINT, with BLAST possibly able to provide more competition.
However, with the news that everyone has to stay home, and rightly so (WASH YOUR HANDS!) it has become virtually impossible for ESL (or anyone else) to flex on their competition. With sports leagues around the world shuttering down one after another, online CS:GO is seeing record viewership numbers in the same way sourdough bread has been eaten by this writer in record amounts over the past few weeks: not out of choice, but because it was the only thing in the freezer and you’ve got to do something with your time when you’re stuck at home ill.
The problem with using the extra space to maximum capacity is twofold. You can only plan so much when there is a global pandemic that might last into 2021, and that makes it hard for ESL just as much as FLASHPOINT. The second issue is going to be harder to fix, that of public perception, as so far two of the masts FLASHPOINT has nailed its colours to have fallen flat – probably straight onto the poop deck if you want to stretch the metaphor.
It’s been said before, but the financial strength of Gen.G and MIBR was a constant theme as Thorin and others attempted to sell FLASHPOINT to the public. Sure, the Brazilians might be rubbish now, but with the fines in place and the amount of venture capital they have behind them they won’t be for long, right? This logic is obviously flawed, as MIBR have been rich and crap for a while, and since VC money is the first thing to go in an economic belt-tightening, it’s doubly hard to count on them today.
Also, as it turns out, MIBR aren’t as committed as they seemed, and as a result, FLASHPOINT may even have further to go now than it did a few months ago. Equally the owners will have a better idea of the challenges, and a bit more space to work out the kinks. How things look when we emerge from the other side of the pandemic is impossible to predict, but for now the slight levelling of the playing field has bought the underdogs extra space, and it’s now up to them to make it work.