Lack of motivation? Were you around during the 1.6 years, or are you just making assumptions?
Players used to play pro for gas money to events, whilst sleeping in their cars and free peripherals from "sponsors" back in 1.6 days (2000-2013).
Money didn't really hit the Pro CS scene on a stable level until about 2014/15. That's when players started getting REAL salaries and making some serious bank and also having healthcare, travel expenses covered, sponsored top tier computers, etc... In these years, T1 orgs started making MAD revenue bank off advertisement revenue (99% of team funding in those days). Players were finally getting some serious bank for their efforts.
You're telling me that players who slept in their 1992 civic's outside a LAN event for their share of a $40,000 prize pool aren't motivated? Rewind 10 years, guys like Zonic (Astralis' 33-yr-old coach and top grossing 1.6 Dane of all time @ a measly $115k over his career) were making almost nothing and/or being abused by their orgs.
Those guys would be DUMBFOUNDED by the amount of money players at CSGO's T1 level make vs. what they made in T1 CS1.6.
Money is widely the single largest motivator there is in the world.
You're telling me that NEO, who was voted CS1.6 player of the decade (2000s) and HLTV Top 1, who is STILL actively competing, is NOT MOTIVATED enough to remain #1? If what you guys say about "non-biological deterioration isn't a factor" is true, then that guy should STILL be in the Top 20, even at 32-yrs-old. He started his career in 2002, and has seen what it's like to be dirt poor and play a videogame professionally, when players can make over $500,000 a year now at T1 when you incorporate $30,000/mo ($360k/yr) salaries, prize money, endorsements, streaming revenues, private business ventures, etc. The money is there. 5 years making that sort of bank will set you for retirement and enjoying the rest of your life by 35-yrs-old.
Don't tell me that these guys (many of which never even did college/university) are walking away from a cash gammon that millions would switch places with them for in a heartbeat, to go take a 9-5 shipping job at an Amazon warehouse.
Get real, lmao. There are 30/40-yr-olds right now who would drop their entire life for a piece of that cake or to switch lives.
The reason we DON'T see any 30-yr-olds (ever) in the Top 20 is because natural biological deterioration of eyesight, cognitive sharpness, arthritis, and a plethora of other aging ailments start to hit hard in your mid-late 20s and doesn't stop until you're deceased. That's life.
This is why a player like Zywoo (who was not even 2-years-old when NEO started playing pro CS) is a top tier player @ 18/19. This is why ALL these players are top tier at 18/19/20, etc, and then decline as they go through their 20s. It's all there, the science is real, there's no cases of an upstart @ 25 becoming a T1 pro @ 30.
Admit the facts. Natural biological deterioration is the cause of pro player retirements in late-20s to early-30s as their skill starts to slip and decline, never to recover.
99.9% of players on this forum would drop what they have to get signed by Team Liquid and make half a million+ per year, lol. That's the real facts.