Majors are undoubtedly the pinnacle of competitive Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. With million dollar prize pools, massive crowds, hundreds of thousands of Twitch viewers, and even TV broadcasts, there’s no better place to find the unforgettable moments that make CS:GO such an amazing spectacle. Valve have collaborated with four different organizers (DreamHack, ESL, and MLG; soon to be joined by ELEAGUE) to put on events in five different countries (Sweden (2), Poland (2) Germany (3), Romania (1), and USA (1, soon to be 2)). Some were more memorable than others (who could possibly forget
ESL One Cologne 2014?), but all of them provided a great show and an excellent display of high-level Counter-Strike. In less than two weeks the CS:GO community will witness the ELEAGUE Major in
Atlanta, hosted in the Fox Theatre by American broadcasting giant Turner.By Daniel Mayer - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1819493
As Valve continue to promote competitive CS:GO, it seems only logical to branch out into hosting events in new locations. I have assembled a subjective list of ten particular countries that have never hosted a major before, but would make great hosts for CS:GO’s premier events. Here are my criteria:
1. History of CS success
2. A large playerbase
3. Infrastructure, including transit, airports, hotels, and other necessities
4. Things to see and do that are unrelated to CS
Sweden: Two DreamHack majors were hosted in Jönköping, which disqualifies Sweden from appearing on this list. However, the last one of these was held in November 2014. Surely a country with such a rich CS pedigree deserves to host again.
South Korea: The development of the Asian scene and the globalization of CS:GO is quite exciting to watch. Nevertheless, between the current level of play and the distance from more established scenes, it seems wise to wait. Perhaps in a couple years the CS:GO scene will be ready for a major in Seoul or another Korean city.
Author's note: On the other hand, these issues unfortunately exist with every country in the Asia-Pacific, so an event in South Korea would probably do fine if an event in Australia can.
Japan: Japan is a country with great infrastructure and rich cultural heritage. However, their CS scene is small even by Asian standards, so it probably wouldn’t be the best place to host an event at the moment.
Belgium, and other countries in western Europe: Most countries in western Europe have highly developed infrastructure and some level of interest in CS:GO. It would be impossible to list them here, but nearly all of them would be good choices.
Finland[/HEADLINE]Helsinki Skyline by Guillaume SEBIRE on Flickr
Despite their recent struggles, Finland have a long history of elite CS players. Their community is definitely large enough to fill an arena with CS:GO fans. Smaller events like the ASUS ROG series are often hosted in Helsinki, and a premier event would likely draw an even larger crowd.
Suggested Venue: Hartwall Arena (Helsinki)By Skorpion87 - Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1210305
This 13,550-seat indoor arena is located within Finland’s capital and largest city of Helsinki. Completed in 1997, Hartwall Arena serves as the home of Jokerit Helsinki and has hosted events such as the IIHF World Championships (Ice Hockey) and the World Figure Skating Championships.
Ukraine[/HEADLINE]View of Kiev skyline as seen from Lukyanivka by Pavlo Dyban
Ukraine have produced many legends over the years, with the most notable being the original Natus Vincere squad that won three majors in a row in 2010. They have also hosted several events, many of which were spearheaded by local organizer StarLadder. If Valve and SL wanted to collaborate on a CS:GO major, Ukraine would likely be the country they would host it in.
Suggested Venue: Kiev Palace of Sports (Kiev)Sports Palace by ArtemKo
This indoor arena holds 7,000-10,000 spectators and is located near the Palats Sportu Metro Station. If that’s not enough, the 70,050-seat Olympiyskiy National Sports Complex is located nearby and has been used by StarLadder in the past.
Australia[/HEADLINE]By Chris Brown - https://www.flickr.com/photos/zoonabar/19170854965/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45077315
Australia seems to drift in and out of relevance in the competitive CS:GO scene. Whatever their level of play, their country is an attractive choice for a competition. The Crown Invitational in Melbourne was a good success, and the door is open for a larger event to build on that. It would be quite a change of scenery, but maybe that’s what CS:GO needs.
Suggested Venue: Rod Laver Arena (Melbourne)GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1140297
There were a lot of interesting choices for venues in Australia, but Rod Laver Arena seems to be the best fit. In 2012, Melbourne was chosen by the Telegraph as the best city in the world (although Sydney at 7th and Perth at 9th are nothing to scoff at), and Rod Laver’s ~15,000 person capacity and retractable roof make for a great choice to hold a CS:GO major in this world-class city.
Norway[/HEADLINE]Photo by Jonathan Camp
Norway is one of the most advanced countries in the world. They have incredible geographic formations, fascinating culture, and quite a history of success at Counter-Strike. From early legends like Jørgen “XeqtR” Johannessen and Ola “ElemeNt” Moum to modern stars like Håvard “Rain” Nygaard and Ruben “RUBINO” Villarroel, Norway have made their mark on nearly every page of Counter-Strike’s history. However, they don’t seem to have hosted many large events. Perhaps that will change in the future.
Suggested Venue: Telenor Arena (Oslo)By Helge Hoifodt -- Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1047813
Located in the suburbs of Norway’s capital, Telenor Arena is a football stadium with a fixed roof and a capacity of up to 23,000. It has hosted the Eurovision Song Contest and was the home venue of Stabæk Fotball for two years. Smaller options include the Oslo Spektrum in the city and Håkons Hall in Lillehammer.
United Kingdom[/HEADLINE]By Julian Elliott; found at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3811323/Big-Ben-London-Eye-Houses-Parliament-captured-stunning-panoramas-London-skyline.html
The competitive scene in the UK is a literal joke among the CS:GO community, but they’ve contributed to pro CS in their own way: casters, analysts, hosts, and other personalities like Daniel “ddk” Kapadia, James Bardolph, Duncan “Thorin” Shields, Richard Lewis, Alex “Machine” Richardson, and others all hail from the British Isles. The United Kingdom have also hosted several events, including the ECS finals and the ESL Pro League finals. If these other events are anything to go by, a UK major would attract a large crowd with or without the presence of local teams.
Suggested Venue: O2 Arena (London)By Simon from United Kingdom - O2 Arena, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12761353
There are many potential venues in the UK, and perhaps the organizers wouldn’t want to try booking the busiest indoor arena in the world for such an event. Still, this iconic 20,000-seat arena has every amenity organizers could possibly want in a perfect location. If they wanted to make a splash, the O2 Arena would be the place to start.
Canadians can be found at every level of the North American scene. Currently, some of the most prominent Canadians are on OpTic Gaming; star rifler Keith “NAF-FLY” Markovic and in-game leader Peter “stanislaw” Jarguz play no small part in that team’s current success. Events like Northern Arena, ESWC, and DreamHack have all been held in Canadian cities, and a major seems like the next logical step.
Suggested Venue: Centre Bell (Montréal)
With a capacity of 21,700, the home arena of the Canadiens is the largest current venue in the National Hockey League. Montréal is a popular esports destination and has recently hosted both ESWC and DreamHack. While there are many great choices in Canada, Centre Bell seems to check every box organizers could think of.
Through 2014, Brazil was considered irrelevant in the world of CS:GO. Over the course of 2015 and 2016, a Brazilian team became two-time major champions and an international powerhouse. This explosion led ESL to host their Pro League Season 4 finals in São Paulo. As past esports events show, there is a large and passionate fanbase in Brazil that could provide an amazing atmosphere for a major.
Suggested Venue: Jeunesse Arena (Rio de Janeiro)http://www.rio.rj.gov.br/web/secpar/arena-rio
Rio de Janeiro is a popular tourist destination and the first South American city to host the Olympics. This arena (built in 2005 with a capacity of 14,981) hosted all the gymnastics events as well as the Paralympic wheelchair basketball events.
Denmark[/HEADLINE]Copenhagen Skyline by _Spacedog_ on Flickr
A Danish team has never won a major, but that’s not for lack of trying. The two biggest names in Denmark at the moment are Astralis, a player-owned org and North, an org backed by FC Copenhagen and Nordisk Film. FC Copenhagen have announced ambitious plans in the world of esports, including the possibility of an event at their 38,065-seat home stadium Parken. While Copenhagen Games isn’t the premier event it once was, Denmark have a history of hosting and participating in Counter-Strike events and it would be a perfect location for a major.
Suggested Venue: Royal Arena (Copenhagen)By Source (WP:NFCC#4), Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51229758
Parken would be a great venue, but it’s not the only possibility in Copenhagen. Royal Arena is a brand-new indoor venue that will seat upwards of 10,000 people after opening in February 2017. This arena will fill the previously-empty niche between Denmark’s smaller indoor arenas and the much larger Parken.
Russia[/HEADLINE]Source: mydestination; found at http://moscowrussian.com/tag/moscow-skyline/
Despite a long history, a large playerbase, and multiple successful pro teams (including three Legend spots at the ELEAGUE Major), the CIS region has never hosted a major. Russia would be the perfect place to start. Valve could work with a company like StarLadder or EPICENTER to put on a show for the huge community in Russia, and it would provide an opportunity for travelers to visit and enjoy the sights.
Suggested Venue: Megasport Arena (Moscow)By User:Simm - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35824768
There are a lot of great venues in Russia; even within Moscow there are other good choices like the VTB Ice Palace. However, this 14,000-seat indoor arena in Russia’s capital seems to be the best fit. It was built in 2006 and has hosted the IIHF World Championships, World Figure Skating Championships, and European Curling Championships. Most recently, it became the home arena for CSKA Moscow’s EuroLeague basketball games.
France[/HEADLINE]A.G. Photographe; http://www.flickriver.com/photos/anto13/12742542785/
France have produced some of the best players in the world. More importantly, French teams have brought home two major titles and won several other notable events. The country itself is a legendary tourist destination with many famous landmarks. ESWC have hosted events in France for years. All of these factors lead to France grabbing the top spot on this list. The writing's on the wall: it’s time for France to host a major.
Suggested Venue: AccorHotels Arena (Paris)http://www.gpsmartstadium.com/portfolio-view/accorhotels-arena/
Completed in 1984 and renovated in 2015, AccorHotels Arena is the largest of its kind in France. It seats 20,390 for concerts and is located in Paris, a city that needs no introduction. It’s hosted all sorts of concerts and sporting events, but it would also be the perfect place to host a major.
It’s been an absolute pleasure to watch CS:GO become a premier esport. As viewing figures grow upwards, geography grows outwards -- The first six majors were held in only three different cities, but more locations are being added to the fold as the game becomes a global phenomenon. Hopefully this trend will continue and the CS:GO community will get to see more of the world through majors. If there’s a place I forgot, feel free to bring it up in the comments.
Thanks for reading!