When you think of the first-person shooter video game genre, you probably imagine the cover of a ‘Call of Duty’ installment. The CoD series has established itself as the most popular ‘shoot-em-up’ choice for gamers across the world, and the series boasts a record 250 million sales that equate to roughly $15 billion for publisher Activision.
However, for the professional gamers in the competitive Esports scene, it is Valve’s ‘Counter: Global Offensive’ that is the undisputed titan of this genre. Counter-Strike is the second most lucrative Esport in the world, boasts prize pools and partnerships that are easily worth billions of dollars and features one of the most stacked competitive calendars around the globe of any game ever released.
The Counter-Strike world continues to soar, and thousands upon thousands of people are joining in this community with every major event. In this article, we take a closer look inside the world of a game that regularly pulls in more viewers than Wimbledon, the US Open, and even the Super Bowl…
Finding A Home In Esports
When Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Valve Corporation’s sixth release since the original Counter-Strike debuted in 1999, initially released in 2012, very few in the gaming world could have imagined the trajectory the game was about to receive, even if it did garner positive reviews from critics during its launch.
Each Counter-Strike game features two teams (the Terrorists and Counter-Terrorists) on a map with the primary aim being to kill each of the five players on the opposing side, with the main secondary aim on each map being either detonating or defending the Terrorist’s bomb depending on which side you’re on. Maps and players respawn at the end of every round and teams switch sides halfway through a game.
Counter-Strike’s relatively simple design makes it instantly easy to follow for even those out there who have never touched a video game before in their life. However, Counter-Strike is also a game with huge levels of depth that helps raise the skill cap to become a professional much higher than the likes of Overwatch or Call of Duty, which is why it is so rewarding for pro players and boasts such a healthy competitive scene.
Counter-Strike matches are fast-paced, adrenaline-fuelled, and rely on strategy, skill, and intense know-how of how the game works which all make for thrilling viewing.
A Stacked Calendar
Counter-Strike boasts one of the busiest, most watched and most lucrative competitive scenes of any video game anywhere in the world. There is a major competition almost every month with prize pools usually ranging from anywhere between $250,000 to in excess of $1 million. The leading individuals in the scene, such as s1mple, Stewie2k, or dev1ce are now millionaires and are becoming almost as recognizable as their traditional sporting counter-parts.
Video streaming sites such as Twitch have helped fuel by the rise of Counter-Strike by hosting every major competition in the calendar, broadcasting all of the action in stunning high definition for free and instantly turning Esports such as Counter-Strike into one of the most accessible forms of entertainment in the world.
Potential competitors such as YouTube have begun to take note of this popularity and are now offering the same service, gearing up an intense rivalry and level of competition that a game like Counter-Strike is sure to benefit from.
Titans Of The Game
Going into 2019, Danish outfit Astralis had been the undisputed titans of Counter-Strike. Their triumph at the IEM Katowice Major was their third major triumph, they had won the previous seven tournaments in a row and swept up a cool Intel Grand Slam bonus of $1 million. The exploits in the game had brought them a fan in the form of the Danish Prime Minister and there were genuine concerns that the game was going to go stale due to the lack of competition against the Danes.
That all changed over the course of 2019 as, due to a variety of on and off-field decisions, Astralis made way for North American outfit Team Liquid at the top of the Counter-Strike rankings. Winning back to back majors and an Intel Grand Slam over the year, Team Liquid quickly found themselves at the top of the rankings at Unikrn.com and similar ranking ladders online.
Astralis’ win over Liquid and subsequent victory at the recent StarLadder Berlin Major, therefore, leaves Counter-Strike in a mouth-wateringly interesting position. With both these titans well and truly on the rise again, there has never been a more intense time to follow the scene.
Watch This Space
Counter-Strike is only going one way in the years to come: upwards. Sponsorships and partnerships from companies all around the world continue to get beefier and more lucrative, competitions continue to attract crowds and viewers in the millions, and the scene is more competitive and exciting than ever.
Out of all the Esports, none quite reach the excitement levels of Counter-Strike. From the publisher Valve right down to the grassroots players, there’s a real sense of pulling in the same direction to make the game the best it can be. The game boasts one of the most passionate and loyal fanbases of any title anywhere, and it’ll be fascinating to see where the title goes in the years to come.