Rio 2020: The TI we didn't want
Hope shines in the distance, and warm thoughts gleam. The ray we feel is the only CS:GO major in 2020. Rio 2020: The TI we didn't want.
Enter Rio 2020, the TI we didn't want.
Speaking about esports, all its fans worldwide now understand each other more than ever. For many months without offline tournaments and huge arenas packed with people, it seems as if so much has happened since the last LAN event that one cannot remember what it is. A tricky and sweet move with adding fans' webcams to the arena using computer technology only quenches the thirst for a second but then reminds us of what we are missing. The most important thing nevertheless is that we were left without leading seasonal competitions.
In Dota 2, The International 10, an anniversary, a very important one, was moved from August to 2021. Several Majors were canceled or replaced by regional online leagues.
The first CS:GO major of the year was canceled, the points were distributed. Cologne rescheduled to August, but according to the current situation, it is still not clear whether it will take place or not. RMR regional tournaments appeared.
League of Legends is also suffering: the annual World Cup had to start in the first days of June. But Riot still hasn't announced new dates.
Rainbow Six Siege, Apex Legends, Overwatch, Call of Duty, Fortnite, Hearthstone, Age of Empires and so on — all tournaments have been postponed, moved, and/or transferred online, or even canceled.
While vaccine development is in full swing, we have to wait and endure. But hope shines in the distance and warm thoughts gleam. The ray we can feel is the only CS:GO major in 2020, which is planned in bright and vigorous Brazil. Surely, Rio 2020!
“Of course [it will be different] — although we don't know what it will look like or if it will even be fully offline, but with the RMR events ongoing, there's already a build-up and who'll make it is anyone's guess right now. If it is offline, it'll be very emotional because we'll have made it back to LAN and I personally don't know if that's a possibility yet. No one does”, — says Frankie Ward. Carefully, but with sparks in her voice. The severe at first glance, but absolutely pleasant and kind James Banks completely agrees.
“It will be massively different than any other major. The first huge positive is that everyone has to re-qualify which has been needed for some time. We see teams get one good run at a major and then change a lot or just can't really play consistently at the top level, which then means by the time the next major comes around, they just get blown out. It is also not currently known if the major will even happen correctly if it will be played out online like other events have done and split into regions etc. Right now we just have to wait and see and watch the developments in the world with all of the corona madness”.
Ivan "Johnta" Shevtsov looks enthusiastically at the upcoming tournament and hopes that it will nevertheless take place. But CR4ZY's coach also has concerns. “I wonder, will the fans in Brazil have to wear masks? Keep distance? Questions, questions. To be honest, I doubt a bit if ESL will be able to hold a Major at the end of this year. But I hope that everything will work out.”
However, the fact that we have only one tournament in the year means that attention will also be focused on it. Of course, it was the circumstances that made the decision for us, and now we are made to face somewhat a TI in the CS:GO world. But nevertheless, what's better: a single, huge and important tournament, or an integral consecutive season with stages and chances for everyone?
Frankie Ward says that in the next year, what we have now due to the extraordinary situation will not be able to repeat: “I don't think a qualification process of this intensity is practical in an offline environment, given the amount of CS tournament organisers putting on events of different shapes and sizes; with the ESL Pro Tour, BLAST and Flashpoint, to name just a few, fitting in an RMR selection format next year would be too much for teams to handle.”
Sergey “LMBT” Bezhanov, forZe's coach and analyst is sure that the current system is in perfect order: “A Major is one of the tournaments because we do not have only two tournaments in CS:GO. I like the two Major system because in CS there is a clear concept of seasons (two breaks, etc.). And a Major, in fact, is to measure these seasons, although most often it happens at the beginning of the season after the vacations. I don’t think that the seasons are built in a wrong way now, given that the teams themselves have the right to choose the tournaments in which they participate.”
Comparisons with TI can lead tournament operators and Valve itself to the right thoughts, so it’s definitely worth considering. James Banks figured out how to improve everything: more prize money, more tournaments, more fun! Only now, with the growth of all this, there will be victims, namely, uncompetitive TOs.
“We are incredibly blessed in CS:GO that we have many tournaments of world-class quality. I like what we have in two majors a year, I would love to see more of a prize pool increase from Valves side or even more money added into the production of the tournament so that we can take things to the next level. I like a lot of elements I see from TI but I would hate to have just one big event like that a year. I am 100% down to see a TI styled event controlled fully by Valve once a year, then two majors alongside it where they work with another tournament organiser but I would never want to see the key events in the year like Dreamhack Masters, ESL Pro League or BLAST disappear.”
There is no limit to perfection, just as there cannot be a perfect season/year in CS:GO. Frankie Ward, for example, just wants to finally get everything back to square one — and each TO to get a piece of cake.
“Ideally for me, I'd be working it! Jokes aside, I think that the EPL/Flashpoint clash worked out in a way because there were interesting storylines from both. In teams having to choose, it meant they didn't exhaust themselves playing each one back-to-back. BLAST kicked off the start of the year really nicely with their studio format, and IEM Katowice will always be the first Big Event of the CS calendar. For me, ESL One Cologne should always mark the end of the first half of the year as teams can go all out before they head into the player break”.
James Banks has a lot more planned (his speech feels like he's a candidate for something):
“It is really hard to balance the number of events, what level the events are at, and how we would spread it out. I would like to have two agreed on breaks for all of the players/talent/people involved in CS:GO.
For me, the best would be having two majors a year, one TI style Valve fully controlled/produced event that has community funding, then one premier event from each of the main tournament organisers: ESL, WePlay!, Dreamhack, BLAST for example. Then we get these tournament organisers + others to create a focused set of events for specific regions so we grow talent around the world, hold more tier 4-3-2 tournaments for the non-elite, top tier teams, the ones trying to grow into a great team and us having a "route" that they can see and take to try and achieve it.
"Sadly this is business and so much other stuff goes on but this would be my ideal world because I really believe in the importance of having events for more than just the best teams in the world, I want to see more and more upcoming teams and players have the chance to grow and show their skills”.
Johnta expressed the same idea but a lot shorter: “First of all, I would clearly define the start and end dates of the season, presumably to the end and the beginning of the players' break. At the end of the season, I would put in a major tournament, with two Masters tournaments for tier-1 teams and four Open tournaments for tier-2 teams (placing high will get you to the Masters' format tournaments) before it. And also a league for tier-1 and tier-2 teams, with a final for each where also the best would fall into a league higher, and vice versa. So, there could be tournaments to get rating points, there would be leagues with finals and separate tournaments.”
Well, returning back to reality, we're having some kind of a CS:GO World Championship in Rio. Maybe we can't really feel it for now, but something tells that the closer the tournament is, the higher speed the heavy monster of hype train will gain.
Can Valve keep up with community expectations? The first question that appears in mind is reasonable: if it is easy to compete in scale and hype, the prize pool is far from the TIs. For Rio 2020, Valve increased the prize pool to two million. The only tournament of the year, 1m + 1m = 2m, so everything is quite logical. Interestingly, after all, Valve initially invested 1.6 million in the main Dota 2 tournament. But in Dota, for example, the numbers reach 30 million only thanks to the community's support: 25% of Battle Pass purchases go straight to the prize pool. “That, I imagine, is a huge source of community pride,” — says Frankie, and Banks agrees: “It is community funded, it is the community backing it every single year. The players love it, the community enjoy doing it and it is certainly a big spectacle of the year”.
Russian-speaking folks see this question rationally. Johnta is convinced that such a big prize pool is more likely to do harm: “It hurts the scene by changing the mindset of the players. Almost any growth should be gradual, and the scene of the game discipline should develop gradually, so it will function better. And when events with huge prizes drop out, it can bring a bunch of negative consequences for both teams and organizations.” Sergey “LMBT” Bezhanov agrees with his colleague: “For more than six months at tournaments happen wild things, and only at the beginning of the TI cycle all the teams wake up and start playing normally. I’m glad that CS doesn’t have such a pool.”
It seems that it is the current seasonal tournament system in CS:GO that is the most convenient for the community because there are many tournaments, and all of them are significant for the players. because achieving success, fame and money (underline) can be done in different ways, and for tournament operators the competition lives and thrives, and for Valve, who can skim the cherries of it all.
Is there something to change? Only if locally or non-cardinally, we can hear it clearly from all the people involved in CS:GO and align with Valve's usual behaviour. Take a look at the current situation from the other side — it is unique. When else would we have something similar in CS? The answer is the sentence above: never.
Should we enjoy the CS:GO festival in hot Rio this fall? Definitely. Is it worth it to be upset that this all resembles the Dota competitive system, which is unusual and might not be liked by someone? In no case.
In the meantime, mind WePlay! Clutch Island. We won’t get bored there!