The Pond returns with a look at the congested calendar of top level CS:GO. The current calendar could be defined as anything from chaotic, to maddening, to one like a crowded duck pond.
The global CS:GO community is once again embroiled in a discussion over its calendar congestion. This discussion tends to comes up when we have multiple big tournaments following on from each other every weekend. This was seen during the late spring, when the CEVO Gfinity finals kicked off a whole series of events, moving into DreamHack Austin, the ESL Pro League S3 finals and the start of the first ELEAGUE season. Late June saw DreamHack Summer move into the ECS Finals, which then had a short ten day gap between that and the ESL One Cologne Major.
Most recently, we’ve seen teams knock off going to events like EPICENTER because they started in ELEAGUE’s Group A, or teams having to miss the ESL Pro League Season 4 Finals due to going to the Asian Minor, the series of events which allow qualification to the Major.
ELEAGUE’s Group D will see Fnatic, a team that’s been involved with a mass Swedish roster swap recently, not even play with their entire roster. Sure, it’s been put down to ‘personal reasons’ but the thought comes to mind that possibly certain players can’t take the heavy calendar.
So, who’s to blame and where does the buck stop? The easy answer is with the players themselves.
If it wasn’t for them attending every event on the calendar, there wouldn’t be this volume of events. If tournament organisers didn’t set up every tournament for the top tier of the game then there’d be a lot less congestion for those at the top. The blame, for that, needs to be shared. But with tournament organisers aggressively expanding into what is still a ‘wild west’ experience, the blame shifts on its axis.
DreamHack has already announced all of its tournaments for next year, as they schedule a tournament around once every month. This leaves little room for other organisers to get into the space with their competitions. Already we can see congestion occurring in July of 2017 as well, with both MTG properties hosting events back-to-back in the month. ESL One Cologne kicks off the month, stopping in Valencia for a DreamHack before they finish in Atlanta. The only completely empty spots currently open in 2017 are March and August, but those are usually given the status of off-seasons by the professional players that take part in the open circuit.
The future? Well, once again it’s down to players to decide.
Once players finally get together to say to organisers they’ve had enough and want a more concise calendar is when the system gets sorted. The issue with this high level of congestion is that viewership will show a decline. From once upon a time where the Major events were the biggest in history, we now see events around the calendar with prize pool levels that are close to the $1 million (£798,000) now on offer at the Major events. It was seen just before the last Major, where FACEIT and Twitch’s ECS League had their finals just over a week before ESL One. ECS featured a prize pool of $765,000 just under the Major’s pool. It didn’t negatively affect the event too badly, but there was a noticeable drop-off. Of course, skin betting was getting into slightly hot water around the same time too so any sort of drop from those viewers was potentially occurring too, but it’s worth noting two large events right next to each other certainly does’t help viewers.
The main issue is stability. Having a lot of tournaments is good; it means players and teams will be able to attend events at will and be able to rack up a solid amount of prize money to place back in their pockets. But having an oversaturated amount of tournaments is bad. It means that viewers, which have already taken a knock, won’t sit through entire tournaments to the end.
A better system than DreamHack’s spread out calendar would be to cut their tournaments by a third and increase the prize pools throughout. Allowing other tournaments to spread in the spaces or to allow more gaps for rests or allowing leagues to flourish. Either that, or have these tournaments aimed at the lower-tier of CS:GO, where there is currently little investment. Having larger tournaments in the second/third tiers of the title would allow growth from the grassroots. Setting up at the bottom to create a stable foundation is what we need right now, not a mass of tournaments focusing on this ever-shrinking pie at the top.
A side note, and an important one at that, is a message to the developers. Valve, do us all a favour and announce the year’s Majors at the start of the year. This way tournament organisers would be able to offer sizable gaps around each event so that there’s not a large tournament clash, or be able to pencil in dates that would allow a break before and after a tournament. Just a thought, Valve.
Featured image courtesy of Chris Downer, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) Licence. Original image available here.