UPDATE 23/03/23: This article has been updated to include a statement from the ESL Pro League.
Game developer Valve has officially announced Counter-Strike 2, the highly anticipated update to its flagship FPS esports title Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO).
A closed beta for Counter-Strike 2 has started today for selected CS:GO players, with the full game arriving this summer, Valve has announced.
Counter-Strike 2 will replace CS:GO once the game officially launches, a departure from previous updates to the Counter-Strike franchise which saw multiple versions of the game — and esports scenes — run simultaneously.
The game will feature several upgraded and updated features, most notably transitioning to Valve’s newest game engine Source 2.
Other changes include an upgrade to Counter-Strike’s server architecture and tick rate, an overhaul of all current CS:GO maps, as well as fundamental changes to how grenades work in the game.
“Counter-Strike 2 is the largest technical leap forward in Counter-Strike’s history, ensuring new features and updates for years to come,” Valve wrote on a dedicated new website outlining the update.
With a slate of major changes, including gameplay changes, the update could have significant effects on CS:GO’s esports scene — one of esports’ biggest titles.
The major update could lead to renewed interest from viewers, players, esports organisations and sponsors. CS:GO experienced a loss of market share to Riot Games’ FPS VALORANT when it launched in 2020.
It is unclear what will happen to esports tournaments following the game’s launch, given that Counter-Strike 2 will replace CS:GO and multiple esports leagues are currently ongoing.
Leagues may immediately transition to the new game, or Valve could provide tournament organisers and competing teams with an older version of the game until those leagues are completed.
Valve has yet to announce what its esports plans are for Counter-Strike 2 or how this update will affect its ecosystem.
In a statement sent to Esports Insider, ESL Pro League Commissioner Alex Inglot said the Louvre Agreement parties would analyse the changes in Counter-Strike 2 over the next few weeks and decide how to implement the update into its competitive ecosystem.
“Based on what we’ve seen so far, Counter-Strike 2 looks to offer visual and technical changes that have the potential to further upgrade the competitive experience,” Inglot said.
“Following close to the current version, CS:GO, which just saw an all-time high of more than 1.4 million concurrent players on the servers, the new version seems likely to reinforce the leading role of Counter-Strike in the modern esports space.
“In the Louvre Agreement, we are excited to further explore and analyse the game updates over the next few weeks and learn more about the opportunities Counter-Strike 2 provides to the competitive ecosystem.”
Esports Insider has also reached out to BLAST — another major CS:GO tournament organiser — and will update this article if comment is received.
An update to the Counter-Strike franchise has been much anticipated amongst the CS:GO and wider esports community, long the subject of memes, jokes and speculation as to when it would arrive. News that a major update to the Counter-Strike franchise was imminent was first reported by Richard Lewis.