Recently Vici Gaming surprised the CS: GO community with a victory over North at the third place play-in event. The Chinese team faced off against the North in the final chance for either team to qualify to the IEM Katowice CS: GO major. Only two teams out of four 3rd place Minor teams would get a chance to play at Katowice.
Many fans feel like the European continent should receive an extra slot for the Major. Since there are many more teams from Europe, the CS: GO scene is much more competitive. The Asian region, as well as the Australian continent, have just two qualifying slots into the Major. Teams from Australia and New Zealand have to compete against multiple teams from Asia [ mostly Chinese ] in an attempt to secure a spot at the Major. It was a situation that seemed fair a few years ago when Asian Counter-Strike was still very nascent. With time, we have seen stronger teams emerging from the Asian minor. Recently when Vici Gaming managed to defeat North and secure a Major spot, it raised the questions of the feasibility of a Single Minor event.
Vici Gaming signals the growth of CS: GO in Asia
CSGO does not have a storied history in Asia. The FPS game has seen late adaptation and its latest version, Global Offensive also took roots in China much later. It is due to this reason that we do not see many top tier teams from the region. When Tyloo first arrived on the International scene, they surprised western teams with their playstyle. They had a very aggressive approach, which would often throw International teams off-guard. However, once teams figured out the Tyloo tactics, it became increasingly difficult for the team to surprise top tier teams again.
Since the past few years, Counter-Strike has seen unprecedented growth in China. Valve’s focus on China via the region-specific Steam Client as well as the curated CS: GO version helps the popularity of their games in the country. We see Chinese teams consistently give a fight to Australian teams and give them a run for their money. In fact, Tyloo won matches against Gambit Gaming and MiBr during FaceIT London Major.
The biggest problem for the lack of success of the teams in this region stems from the lack of International exposure. Geographical constraints mean that the players are unable to regularly scrim and practice against top tier teams. Tyloo is one of the best teams from the region; however, there are many more upcoming teams from Asia.
A common minor event without geographical boundaries
We think its time for Valve to think about combining the Minor competitions together. Currently, there is a minor for each region. The four regions are North America, Europe, Asia and CIS. Each minor can send two teams to the Major,
In the new system, the Minors are all held at one physical location. The dates are different and that is the only thing differentiating the minors from each other. All the teams and players have to travel to the Major location. This ensures that the teams are all ready to travel to the Major. In the past, we have seen multiple teams using stand-ins or pull out of the Major due to visa issues.
A common Minor event has many advantages over the current system. It will ensure the best teams move forth irrespective of their regions. For classification, the qualifiers to the Minor can be divided based on regions. However, the CS: GO minors themselves should be clubbed into one tournament.
A situation where North plays Vici would ensure that Vici moves ahead than some other weaker team. It also allows for the tournament organiser to have a more detailed and longer schedule. With the matches often being held off-stage, the costs for organising such an event should not see a significant increase. In fact, we should be able to see the event organiser have more efficient spending with this system.
It is a win-win situation which will ensure the best teams move forward. With the minors being held in the same location, it would provide for economic and logistical sense for tournament organisers. At the same time, it would also ensure that the best teams move forward, based on their merit.
A balanced solution to changing CS: GO landscape
For a long time, Europe and North America have been the flag-bearers of the strongest CS: GO teams. However, with time, it is not impossible for teams in Asia and other regions to rise and become a force.
If we go by Valve time, it would take several years for them to acknowledge this change. Instead of leaving these decisions to individuals and officials making the necessary changes, Valve can ensure a self-sustaining format. Having all teams compete together will give the best format for all teams to qualify on an equal footing.Teams will be able to prove their worth against their counterparts from other regions. It might result in multiple teams coming in from one region; however, it will also mean that they are the best teams in attendance.
Valve is not averse to making changes to the CS: GO Major formats. We have seen them initiate steps to ensure a level playing field as well as create opportunities for all teams. ESL themselves are using an innovative Seeding system for IEM Katowice 2019. We hope that in the future, a common minor tournament at a single venue can provide an opportunity for merit over reservations.