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PGL Major 2021 holds the future of CS:GO in its hands

The Counter-Strike franchise, one of the premier esports in its space is not only one of the oldest esports currently played today, it is one of the oldest esports to ever exist. Long gone are the days of digesting the esports scene through LAN recap videos and dope frag movies all through the lens of a CRT monitor.

We’re at the stage in esports where the broadcast is how most people digest the tournament, pulling in all the attention like a black hole pulls in light, but with that comes the singularity, that the PGL Stockholm Major must be the pinnacle of entertainment and skill expression. The expectations from fans and industry commentators alike are put at lofty heights, but with CS:GO being in such a precarious state, in terms of the future of esports and the viability as a business venture for teams and players, the PGL Stockholm Major might be the most important Major in history to reinvigorate the esport.

After what was a disastrous era, dubbed the Online Era, FPS esports have suffered greatly. From Overwatch, where Homesteads were cancelled due to the COVID pandemic, to Valorant having to reconfigure their tournament structure, the FPS genre exists in this small frame of stability which is largely propped up by LAN play, as FPS games play vastly differently dependant upon the connection of the player’s internet, which can hinder their own movement and reaction timing.

LAN overcomes these hurdles to place all players in the same conditions and rules out one type of variance.

The CS:GO community have largely despised online play, primarily because of how different the game plays depending upon the connection. There is still a large stigma against online play, partly because of how much the game mechanics change with the introduction of lag (we’ve all experienced those glitchy AWP shots), but also because the game franchise has existed for so long, and with that carries the history that the game was nigh unplayable online in years past due to poor overall internet connection and the technology that could not support online video games at the time. 

The seriousness and legitimacy of esports has placed LAN towards the realm of exigent asset simply because the level of play has increased, therefore every advantage would be maximized by a particular player or team.

The importance of LAN play is paramount to maintaining competitive integrity, something which an FPS like Valorant can learn a thing or two from its older brother. With such importance placed upon LAN play, the PGL Major is the breaking point for CS:GO, with several organizations and esports fans that do not habitually follow CS:GO will be tuning in due to the expected prestige and pristine promise from such an event.

With that, comes the weight of many endemic eyes, investors, and esports organizations not already within the CS:GO ecosphere. 

The CS:GO scene itself is already tarnished with several North American organizations leaving for greener pastures. Cloud9, TSM, Echo Fox, OpTic Gaming, Splyce, 100 Thieves, Counter Logic Gaming, Dignitas, Immortals, Team EnVyUs, and NRG Esports have all left North American Counter-Strike.

All that remains as old staples of North America tier one teams are Team Liquid and Evil Geniuses, with Complexity technically having roots in America, although they now compete in the European circuit.

The old guards of North American CS are long gone. NA no longer has a team which would be considered the best team in the world. Complexity has gone to another continent where the blight has yet to take over, and Evil Geniuses come back in 2019 to try and reclaim their former glory as one of the best teams in the world, while also being over 20 years old as an organization.

Along with them, Team Liquid are still holding on to CS:GO, showing other NA organizations that there are still bountiful fruits, it’s just that all of the low hanging ones have already been plucked.

The PGL Stockholm Major is more than just another LAN. This is a statement for the entire CS:GO scene to say that the game is still thriving, that there is still more to be learned and gained from this legacy esport.

This is a showcase for North American teams Team Liquid and Evil Geniuses to display, both their willingness to continue their participation within the scene, but also that their labors haven’t been for naught.

This is for the broadcast talent to show that they can still create excitement, and that old dogs can in fact learn new tricks. This is for all the CS:GO fans to show they can welcome in other esports fans and the general broad populace. This is for all the chips, so let’s make this shit a banger.

Images via PGL.

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