Counter-Strike: Mirror of development # 2
Modern tournaments as the mirror of developement of CS and eSports in general. Part 2
Big investments resulted in development of Counter-Strike as a competitive discipline. We witnessed a few huge scandals, concerned with tournament regulation fails as well as frauds and cheating which went hand in hand with the rise of betting websites.
Earlier a team could lose against somebody on purpose to play in more comfortable playoff position or because the match didn't decide anything. Now, when big sums of money are usually at stake, betting against your own team becomes more and more frequent. Scandals with iBUYPOWER, ALSEN, myRevenge and Killerfish are the bright examples of it. The situations that happened to the last three teams weren’t particularly impressive, but the behavior of American-Canadian roster shocked CS community.
The strongest players of the continent bet against themselves, losing to objectively weaker rivals. It is peculiar that in some cases the players weren’t even trying to hide their real intentions and demonstratively played badly. Also, the screenshots with their conversations about planned “throws” were leaked.
Famous match of iBUYPOWER
This behavior couldn’t be ignored by tournament organizers, staff (casters, in the first place) and Valve workers, so the entire iBUYPOWER team, including some managers, was permanently banned from participating in championships. Skadoodle who didn’t take part in those things and earned nothing for their losses has been the only exception.
Young and very prospective Swag along with experienced player steel also couldn’t miss the chance to earn some extra money. This way, competitive scene once again lost very strong and promising players capable of winning against world top teams.
A special case
The situation with Neo, Taz and pashaBiceps, the players of Virtus.pro, who bet on their loss in the match that had already been played, was a bit different from those above-mentioned. To avoid DDoS attacks that were extremely common back then, teams sometimes played off-stream games and then provided broadcasting services with the demos. Bookmakers weren’t aware of that particular match, so the bets were made according to the official schedule and the guys from the Polish squad took their chance. Since the betting service workers didn't know about those off-stream matches, and the team didn’t lose on purpose, it was impossible to call someone guilty. Can you imagine how this situation looked in 2007?
The veterans from "golden five" couldn't resist getting some skins, but soon apologised for it
One of the most important innovations
Another prominent feature of that time’s LAN-championships was a transition to GSL-playing system, which actually looked like a double elimination in groupstage done to make the system of competing more fair. It eliminated the possibility of controversial situations, cancelled the rule of face-to-face clashes and the practice of map and round counting (unpleasant situation with Na`Vi at Copenhagen games 2013, where our team had to withdrew from participating in the tournament due to the ridiculous decisions of judges concerning the fight for the playoff stage place between our guys and their rivals from Fnatic and Epsilon). Each game was important from then on, so “throwing” on purpose became a very dangerous decision.
During the formation time of most Counter-Strike tournaments (especially CPL), they featured terribly unfair format (full double elimiarion, best of one, 12-tound system with three possible additional rounds with $ 10 000 on each side.
Besides, total imbalance of some maps (e.g. de_cbble/de_nuke/de_train) caused impressively one-sided scrores and interesting comebacks. The latter, unfortunately, happened very rarely, but there was an extremely important point — the best teams always remained the best, nonetheless, which format the tournament had.
Considering huge pace of eSports development, updating system of tournament conducting was either way inevitable. Competitive Counter-Strike turned 15 this year, so in fact there couldn’t be any more delays.
An easy example of GSL-group at a tournament (http://www.hltv.org/)
After the discipline was included in WCG championship, first systems with groups and best-of-three finals started to be used. They were slightly changed throughout the years in favor of players, but still, despite the imbalance of some maps, the best remained the best.
Old and a bit imbalanced de_train, de_nuke and de_cbble. But still, who doesn't miss them?
Vast majority of CS:GO tournaments became even more pro-player oriented: GSL, single elimination best of three, playoff and grand-final on 5 possible maps. Today, there are no imbalanced and obviously unplayable maps, and the rule that “the strongest and most prepared always wins” works as well.
And lastly, it is impossible to discuss modern eSports trends without mentioning the topic of cheating (RIP matchmaking), since the development of one causes the improvement of methods used by the other. The scandals with smN, KQLY, sf and emilio proved that some measures have to be taken, especially considering that 10 years ago nobody could imagine that professional player would use wallhack or aimbot on LAN.
The most popular modern antiheroes: Titan.KQLY and Epsilon.Sf
Property.Emilio banned mid-game vs. Hellraisers
As a result, today ESL/ESEA tournaments never start without players' mice and keyboards check. Major-tournament qualifiers are now held offline, where all participants play on equal terms. We have definitely chosen the right pass that will get us to the true professionalism.
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All things considered, it is certain that Counter-Strike and eSports in general fought through quite a long way, putting much effort and time into decisions that brought it forward and, at times, backward. Big sums of money, popularity and experience in conducting festivals and tournaments helped this kind of sport to move ahead.
However, there is a concern that the absence of competition on the shooters market can cause some problems with customer-oriented development. Another thing is that community starts to differentiate tournaments by its prize-pool and the chance to get weapon cases while watching, and not by the uniqueness of its content. The focus on material goods, sometimes in not fair ways, seems to be more important today.
The eSports has a very bright future, but there are many measures that have to be taken in order to achieve it.