Reports have cropped up all over the shop suggesting that the showpiece Counter-Strike tournament could be making its way back to US soil in 2025, with BLAST supposedly helming the operation again after the Paris Major in 2023.

While I love the idea in general and wholeheartedly agree that the US is long overdue for another visit, BLAST’s involvement doesn’t excite me: previous Majors in North America all featured new and innovative tournament organizers who pushed the envelope in various ways, BLAST would likely treat us to a nice but vanilla product.

NA CS Majors – a brief history

The North American CS:GO Majors have been some of the most memorable ones in the competition’s storied history – and I think it is no coincidence that they were hosted by some unusual suspects. Be it MLG in Columbus (who are sadly off to the Call of Duty mines, seemingly for good) or Turner with ELEAGUE, part of what made these events special was the new and shiny gems and the extra sheen of expertise brought along by the organizers.

The infamous Boston Major was also helped by a format change – the addition of the New Challengers Stage that expanded the competition from sixteen to twenty-four teams. A shakeup like this would be very welcome at this hypothetical Austin Major as well: both the best-of-one group stage matches and the best-of-three grand finals are relics of CS:GO’s MR15 era, and both are overdue for a revisit.

I’ve long been bullish about CS2’s impact on North American Counter-Strike and the game’s future on the continent in general, so returning in style with a Major would be a great occasion for the summer of 2025. Really, it should never have taken seven years, even factoring in the pandemic, to return. With the upcoming Major set for Shanghai, there are genuine reasons to hope that the highest levels of Counter-Strike esports will have a more global, less Euro-centric outlook.

So it’s all well and good, right? But then I read that the honors are likely going to BLAST, and I couldn’t help but be disappointed a little.

BLAST is fine but full vanilla

So far, all North American Majors represented fresh blood and a chance for an organizer to truly push the envelope – and I just can’t see BLAST doing the same based on how things went down at the Paris Major, an event that would have rapidly receded in the mind if not for the added prestige of being the final such tourney for CS:GO.

And I know we all love BLAST now – and their production team genuinely does an excellent job – but let me dig up a dusty meme from a previous era (and different leadership at the company): here’s hoping they don’t plan on taking the Major to a furniture store!

They offer up a competent but increasingly samey product, resting on their laurels somewhat as the partnered leagues are set to peter out. While it is great to see their continued commitment to the game – and their increasing involvement with Valve products, as evidenced by their announcement of a Dota 2 circuit and competition – I can’t help but feel that the Majors are becoming more and more sclerotic in their scope and execution, and BLAST don’t seem like the TO to help out with that right now.

Their only innovations in Paris were the controversial trophy design and the butchering of the fantastic and clean UI they used for years at that point – though, admittedly, I did love the funky retooling of the break song. It was a competently run, well-executed tournament, and one that immediately receded into the background. Austin isn’t quite the entertainment capital of the world, but surely there’s someone in the US willing to go above and beyond?

Then again, as far as the Majors are concerned, Valve are the arch-conservatives, with an outdated format and a prize pool that has long ago been matched or even overshadowed by what the third-party events offer. The scope and stakes of these CS2 matches should surely warrant a change in the post-partner league era of Counter-Strike esports – but the rumors right now suggest that we’re going to end up with more of the same.

And don’t get me wrong, I think what we’ve got right now is pretty damn good, and I expect BLAST to do a competent job. I’m just hoping for more by the time the summer of 2025 rolls around.

Ultimately, much of it comes down to the storylines at the event, which the organizers have no control over. Columbus had the rise of FalleN’s Brazilians, ELEAGUE Boston gave us the only North American Major winners and a Cinderella run for the ages. Even if BLAST do end up serving up something vanilla, there can still be special sprinkles and sauces that make it live long in the memory.