Counter-Strike: Mirror of developement
Modern tournaments as the mirror of developement of CS and eSports in general
The eSports development has a long 18-year history. Even though the world of computer technologies in 1997 doesn't seem to be particularly impressive and most people consider Pentium II release and first DVDs sold its only bright sides, many American gamers were already playing Doom 2 and discovering the world of Quake at that point. However, eSports hasn’t been established as a serious discipline or included in any dictionaries or glossaries back then.
The eSports that we see today emerged thanks to the desire to compete, which resulted in the first Cyberathlete Professional League (CPL). 18 years ago this organization held the first Quake tournament with strictly defined rules and regulations, and rewarded the first winners. The event triggered the development of a great process which still steps forward today, and which in our opinion would be nothing without our favorite game series — Counter-Strike (CS).
How it all began. The phrase “Play Hard. Go Pro” soon began to be associated with CPL logo
The rise of competitive Counter-Strike
Although this team game became official a bit later, in 2000–2001, it sure served as an impetus for the rise of eSports movement. Let’s try to view CS development history, using a very simple example of a human at different life stages: infancy — childhood — youth.
Such tournaments as Babbage’s CPL Event, CPL Europe Cologne and WCG 2001 were the first successful attempts of competitive CS and its starting points on the way of game development. They managed to take the discipline to a whole new level. In other worlds, it “learned how to walk”, and completed the transition from infancy to early childhood.
The next stage included releases of numerous updated versions of the game, emergence of new tournaments and leagues, the rise of popularity in different countries and gradual obtaining sponsors’ support. The game started to "generate" widely-known personalities admired by lots of fans. 15 years ago, we witnessed the departure of a legendary locomotive that began its long journey towards traditional sports community.
«Beyond the game». The video that gave hope and inspiration
Such epochal tournaments as Dreamhack Winter 2013 and ESL One Katowice 2014 served as another push for the game development. Of course, you can note that during all those years there were many other memorable events and competitions not included in this article, but our main point is to name the most crucial ones that changed the direction of game development dramatically.
Champions: then and now
Yes, the first serious CS tournaments were the real attempts to take the game to a new and more professional level, but the major-tournaments played even bigger role. They made it more self-sufficient, with all problems and peculiarities that reflected the entire experience this discipline went through.
Current as the reflection of the past
The beginning of a Counter-Strike modern age was caused by the 2012 release of a Global-Offensive (CS:GO) version, a raw, yet constantly updated product. The last aspect was especially appealing to the community, as it gave hope that game developers would fix all bugs and in-game mechanics that were helpless against cheating until then.
Today it may sound rather weird, but some of the pioneer tournaments had nothing against the use of silent-run (cheat that allowed to move faster around the map with almost no sound), flashbang-bugs due to which grenades flashed the half of a map, bugs with the bomb that could not be defused, sound cheats and so on and so forth. Meanwhile, the organizers made some controversial decisions, forbidding double-duck and talk with teammates when they were not alive, and even tried using black screens on players' computers after death.
The history of some tournaments says that certain prohibitions were implemented either during the tournaments themselves or right after them, which is of course unacceptable. Thus, during 8 long years of competitive CS 1.6, the game has dealt with many problems, including bug usage and judges’ incompetence in some questions.
The situation with fnatic olofmeister and his boost on de_overpass in the final match of Dreamhack 2014 against Team LDLC is a modern example of the same old issue. The Swedish roster used the texture transparency that allowed a CT player on A-site to kill his rivals from lots of angles while taking almost no damage. It gave his team a huge advantage in the fight over the place in the grand-final. After complaints of the French five, judges decided that the game had to be replayed without using above-mentioned boost. The Swedes refused to continue participating, and the viewers were quite upset. Tournament organizers proved unprepared for the incident, but of course they are not the ones to be accused, as this boost had been used in competitive matches even before the tournament and surely had to be fixed.
The memory of the most thrilling boost in the history of modern CS:GO tournaments stays alive as the graffiti on the wall, even after its fix
Changing of the rules in such way is quite illogical to say the least, especially considering a decent sum of money that was at stake. Now, we approached one of the most important topics — money.
Considerable money investments are one of the main traits of today’s CS:GO and eSports in general. For example, ESL One Katowice 2014 supported implementation of in-game skins for weapons that still provide money for tournament organization and serve as the way to earn money for both professional players and other game fans. Apart from Valve, the tournaments are usually funded by serious sponsors from such commercial organizations as ESL, FaceIt, ESEA and Dreamhack as well as marketplaces for digital games G2A or Kinguin.
It is peculiar that during three years of a CS:GO era, the players have already earned 70% of the money won by the players from all previous versions during 11 years.
The statistic may change soon (taken from http://www.esportsearnings.com)
«Golden» tournaments and players (taken from http://www.esportsearnings.com)
Impressive, isn't it? Especially considering that the statistic above doesn't include:
- salary and bonuses from team management;
- stream donations;
- money earned from sticker and autograph sales;
- bets, in some cases.
So cyber athletes received a chance to earn money in various different ways. The “big money” caused quick development of the websites that offer their predictions for the upcoming matches, raising the question of what good (or bad) betting can bring. You’ll be able to read about it more in the second part of the article, which will also include pros and cons of the format of today’s competitions, the topic of cheating and those aspects that can take eSports to the next new level.