Whether you’re a gamer or not, the words ‘Counter-Strike’ will likely ring a bell as one of the most popular competitive videogames of all time. Entering an exciting new chapter with the incoming release of Counter-Strike 2, this featured article takes a step back and reviews the incredible achievements of CSGO as arguably, the best esports title ever, while looking to the future.
CS:GO’s Release – A Ten Year History
For those unaware, the first ever Counter-Strike was released on the turn of the millenium, November 9th 2000. Originally a modification for Half-Life, its early and possibly pioneering take on the defusal game mode was a relevation in gaming.
Following the popularity of Counter-Strike: Source and the potential which Valve saw, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive released in 2012 at an important time for esports.
Specifically, 2012 as a year for esports represented the early days, with titles such as Dota 2, StarCraft II and League of Legends slowly growing their communities at small events with small prize pools, but a lot of passion.
Compared to these titles, CS:GO would offer something to fans of first-person-shooters who perhaps weren’t fans of Call of Duty: Black Ops II which was also released in 2012. Moreover, Valve’s initial idea was to offer CS:GO as a cross-platform multiplayer between Windows, OS X, Xbox and Playstation 3. However, the choice was made to focus on delivering the best versions of PC and Mac.
As soon as 2013, CS:GO esports would kick off with the first CS:GO Major ever in Jonkoping Sweden, DreamHack. Since then, well, the rest is history.
CS:GO Esports Industry-Leading Statistics
Thanks to sites such as Esports Charts, we can take a look at the overall statistics in the past 10 years, with the last CS:GO Major ever being the BLAST Paris Major 2023 while other events are ongoing.
Here’s a brief look at every aspect of CS:GO Esports:
- All-time Peak Viewers: 2,748,434 – 5th of all esports – PGL Major Stockholm 2021
- Total Prize Pool: $126,493,877 – 2nd of all esports
- Tournaments: 7,131 – 2nd of all esports
Overall, CS:GO Esports has seen it all. As a Tier 1 esport, it’s had it’s fair share of viewership records, rostermania, massive global Majors, dynasty rosters such as Astralis and Natus Vincere, prize pool records and nuisances such as cheating scandals. All this while surviving the pandemic too, and bouncing back stronger.
Notably, here in Malta we’ve had the luck to host a few CS:GO events, such as the ESL Pro League which is ongoing and recurring.
Meanwhile, towards the tail end of CS:GO’s run, the release of VALORANT had many thoughts swimming around, such as “CS:GO killer”. In addition, the community wondered whether a visual upgrade to CS:GO, if anything, could ever be in the works to match the modern look of VALORANT.
However, it’s not the looks which make CS:GO Esports special.
CS:GO Esports’ Secret Sauce – An Open Formula
Mainly focusing my content writing on esports for the past 6 years, I’ve witnessed CS:GO’s unique position in the esports industry stand proud and unwavering, if only for a few exceptions.
In my opinion, CS:GO Esports’ key to success, amongst other factors, is the fact that the esport has always placed an emphasis on a level playing field. Many esports start out like this – multiple open events across the calendar year where any elligible team in the world can compete if they’re good enough, with no extra barriers.
In an age where many esports blindly jumped into a franchised model, forcing organizations to spend massive amounts of cash to benefit from exclusive media rights and closed competition, Valve has stuck to their guns for the most part. Using a universal ranking system, teams always earn their spot.
Valve re-affirmed this position with a blogpost earlier in August, where they announced that events which involved ‘Partner-Programmes’ such as BLAST Premier, will no longer be able to host closed competitions as of 2025 – prioritising the sustainability of the esport over making a quick buck.
This approach has allowed for third party organizers to all pitch in and make for a very busy schedule, littered with Valve Majors, a curious Tier 2 scene, and fantastic viewership.
Counter-Strike 2 Esports – Massive Potential
As a videogame, Counter-Strike 2 looks to build on the fundamental elements of CS:GO, modernising the classic gameplay. While we won’t dive into all of the specific gameplay changes, let’s focus on some changes which will support the esport further:
- New Rating System – CS Rating
- New Premier Mode – regional and global leaderboards reset every season
- Match Changes – round limit moved from 30 to 24, shorter matches prioritised
- Specific Map Ranking – your rank will change depending on the specific map
- Improved tick rate – better and more reliable gameplay
- Visual changes – a new look will help with fundamental viewership
Currently, the Counter-Strike 2 beta is available for many and everyone is hoping to get their hands on it. With so many visual changes to maps, items, audio – you name it, there’s a tonne of hype around this refreshed title. We recommend checking out the official page for Counter-Strike 2 to learn more about all of the changes.
Moreover, expectations include massive viewership, both casually on Twitch and competitive for esports events together with expected rises in active player counts especially in the beginning.
Meanwhile, Valve will maintain their philosophy for esports, which will likely help CS:GO to survive this so-called ‘esports winter’ which other esports are suffering from.
After diving into a general overview of CS:GO esports and its achievements, and touching up on Counter-Strike 2, we hope you’re left a little wiser on the matter.
Let us know your thoughts about the legacy of CS:GO or the future of Counter-Strike 2 in the comments section below!