MonteCristo on Flashpoint's role in the scene: "I think it's really important that one of the tournament organisers is based in NA"

The Flashpoint Commissioner on hosting a tournament without most of the league's partners, the plans for the RMR event and the prospect of a return to LAN for Season 4.

These are exciting times over in the Flashpoint camp. Created in early 2020 to shake up the status quo in Counter-Strike and offer a path to sustainability to both teams and players, the league lacked star power during its first year and could not really establish itself as an alternative to the ESL Pro League, in part because plans to deliver engaging storylines that fans could follow had to be scrapped, or at least placed on hold, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Season 3 will see Flashpoint head in a new direction. As the first Regional Major Ranking (RMR) event of the year in Europe, it will feature a level of competition not seen during the first two seasons, with five teams currently in the top 10 (11 in the top 20) in attendance.

MonteCristo is excited to be able to work with some of the best teams in the world in Flashpoint 3 (Photo by Simeone Sergio Spagnoli/FACEIT)

It's the perfect opportunity for Flashpoint to deliver on its ambitions, but it won't quell the concerns about the future of the league, with only half of its eight member organisations currently fielding Counter-Strike teams (FunPlus Phoenix is the only one attending Season 3). Flashpoint Commissioner Christopher "⁠MonteCristo⁠" Mykles understands such sentiments but insists that the league's inactive partners are still keeping tabs on the scene and will return when the time is right, possibly in Season 4. "I am hoping that, by then, the pandemic will be in a state and we'll be in a position where we can reevaluate the partner teams' participation," he told HLTV.org in an interview conducted after the Season 3 announcement.

MonteCristo also commented on Duncan "⁠Thorin⁠" Shields's departure from the project and what it could mean for the broadcast and stated his belief that Flashpoint can play a big role in the revival of the North American Counter-Strike scene: "If there isn't anybody in North America then I don't think that there's a lot of people to push for future events in the region."

What does it mean for a project like Flashpoint to secure the rights to host a Major qualifier in Europe, the biggest and most prestigious region in Counter-Strike?

We're very excited about being able to do the RMR and grateful to Valve that they chose us after we applied. I think a strength of Flashpoint's has always been our production quality and the content that we've brought to the broadcast. And we're really looking forward to having a more competitive field of teams to apply that same level of production and quality to.

You now finally have a really stacked field of teams to work with instead of just one or two top teams. Is it the dream scenario for a company like yours, with solid production capabilities and the drive to push narratives? Does it add pressure because you have to put on a show?

(laughs) I think we're pretty good at putting on a show. So I'm not terribly concerned about that, especially when we're going to be in the FACEIT studios in Los Angeles because it's a space that we have unlimited access to. So it's even easier in many ways to set up and make sure that we can provide really good value. Not to say that in Flashpoint 2 we didn't have good value, but it's just easier when we have a great partner like FACEIT who actually owns the space and we have more time to set everything up. So that's very exciting. And I think the dream scenario is that our partner teams own those teams that are at the top competitive level, but due to a variety of issues, especially with the pandemic, it's been really difficult for our partner teams to acquire rosters of that caliber. I think it's pretty evident what is happening right now in terms of the North American Counter-Strike scene and the difficulties that people are having retaining players when compared to VALORANT. Also, many of our partners are based in North America, with established facilities here in America, and it's very hard, with the pandemic kind of forcing all of the teams to go over to Europe to be competitive, to really utilize those facilities or the resources that they have here. So I think it became very challenging for them to operate in a way where they felt they could support their teams in the best way possible during the pandemic. So part of what's going on right now is our partner teams are re-evaluating how we're approaching the business with Flashpoint and what the future looks like. And it's great that in the interim, while this is happening, we can continue to run events and kind of show what we can produce with an RMR.

When did you start entertaining the idea of doing a Major qualifier rather than a normal Flashpoint season? Was the decision motivated by the apparent lack of interest from certain member organisations?

I don't think there's a lack of interest from our partner organizations. I think, as I said, that it's been really challenging for them to retain North American players, given the kind of swap that's been happening over to VALORANT and also because it was hard for them to utilize the facilities that they've built for these purposes in North America. And it's hard for them to attract European players at the current time with a long-term goal of being in North America because basically nobody knows what's going to happen with the NA Counter-Strike scene or how everything's going to shake out once the pandemic ends. So I think there are just many, many unknowns right now. Our partner teams are certainly evaluating options as they go forward, but in the absence of their ability to potentially field the most competitive rosters as a result of all of these factors, I think that it makes a lot of sense for us to focus on running an event that will be very popular with the fans, where we can really show to our sponsors and partners the kind of audience that we're capable of getting and the kind of production value that we provide on the biggest scale possible. So I think that, right now, this makes a lot of sense for us and we'll continue to evaluate it moving forward into the future.

What does this mean for the future of Flashpoint? Each organisation invested $2 million to be involved, but most of them are not even going to participate in this edition. Are they getting their money's worth?

It's not that they can't get their money's worth under a different model because they still benefit from any revenue created by the league, So even if they're not fielding a team, they are still an ownership entity that will be deriving revenue from sponsorship sales or the success of the overall product. So I think for the partner teams right now, it's just taking a step back and saying, 'What is the best way to operate this business under the current conditions?' Because I think everyone is surprised. When the company was formed, we didn't know the effect that VALORANT would have on North American Counter-Strike. We didn't know about the pandemic. We didn't know that as a result of the pandemic, a lot of this competition would be shifted to European online play, for example. So there have been a lot of challenges, and I think it's going to take us some time to take a look at these challenges and figure out the best way to approach them once everything has stabilized and the pandemic starts to recede. Things have changed quite a bit. We are not the only ones who have been affected, the entire Counter-Strike scene has been affected. And I think all the fans know that it's especially the North American Counter-Strike scene that has taken a big hit.

In our previous interview, you said that you were working more with the teams. But right now, only four of them have active rosters. Have your suggestions and input fallen on deaf ears?

Well, I think you can see that FunPlus Phoenix purchasing the GODSENT roster is going to be one of the teams that we directly invite to our main event, so we're excited to have them there. Dignitas' roster has been improving recently and, and especially from the European side of things, the organizations that have European teams — for the most part — have retained those teams and have continued to improve. So I think there is still a commitment. It just depends team by team on their overall strategy and where they are looking to recruit players or locate them.

Thorin left Flashpoint before this RMR tournament and has been very critical of the direction in which it is heading and of the owners of some of the partner teams. You two are obviously still on very good terms and you appear on several podcasts together, like 'The Four Horsemen'. Did you understand his reasoning?

Yes, Thorin and I are still on fine terms. I totally respect his desire to no longer be with Flashpoint. I'm sad because I think he was a great contributor to the creative vision as the creative director, and to a lot of the success of the content. I think he will be missed and his absence will be keenly felt. I think that right now, in terms of the changing vision that we have, it's hard to argue that this is going to end up somewhat differently than what he signed on for. And he was on a year-long contract and took some time to evaluate whether he still wanted to be on board if this project trended in a different direction. And he decided that he didn't. As for myself, I still wanted to be on board. I think that having a league owned and operated by teams is very important. I'm hoping that in the future there'll be more opportunities to grow the North American Counter-Strike scene and make sure that it can be vibrant for years to come. So I think I'm just more optimistic than he is (laughs).

Flashpoint Creative Director Thorin left the project before Season 3
(Photo by Simeone Sergio Spagnoli/FACEIT)

Thorin played an important role in bringing new faces to the broadcast, and he also was involved in creating the format and the content for the first two editions. Can you speak to the impact of his departure?

He did contribute to the format before he left, so this 16-team double-elimination bracket was an idea of his that we worked out and that I think is very good and exciting for an event like this. So his legacy will live on in the product, right? The tone, the vision and the type of content will be coming back from the previous versions of Flashpoint. We're going to bring back many of the people that you've already seen at Flashpoint and that he was instrumental in bringing on to the broadcast. I think you're going to see a continuation of that legacy and the ideas that he brought. I'm taking over many of the talent decisions that he previously made and a lot of the creative direction. I had a lot of creative input previously. I mean, the hype videos have a lot of my directing and ideas. The other thing about Flashpoint 2 is that we took the talent's ideas and implemented them, and I think that's part of the reason why casters really enjoy working with us because if they have ideas, we do our best to make sure that those ideas appear on the broadcast. We really value their creative contributions. The talent wrote all of the skits last time, and by bringing back many of the same people, we're going to retain a lot of the creative energy that we had. Now, I do think that Thorin added flourishes that will be missed. He's just fantastic in a lot of the skits and being an on-camera personality. I'm not going to say that his absence won't be noted, but I do think that a lot of his ideas will continue without him because they're just strong ideas that we want to continue to use.

The last time we spoke, you promised that Flashpoint 2 would have the best features made during the pandemic. Are you looking to create that same kind of content?

We did have (laughs). I wasn't bullshitting. I didn't just mean that about Counter-Strike, I meant that in all of esports, and I think we really delivered. We are planning to do on-location shoots with the players and teams once again, so we are going to be sending out local camera crews to meet up with the players, to conduct interviews and do some content on-site with them, just like we did in the previous version of Flashpoint. We're planning on bringing back the skits, we'll have talent out here a week before the tournament starts to film a bunch of this kind of content. We're going to do another hype video, which is very exciting because I love doing those. I think that it's one of the things I love the most about all of esports and esports history. We already have a very major musical artist who has agreed to let us use their track. The band in question was personally interested in being part of this project, so that's super fun for us. We continue to really push the envelope on the music front, and FACEIT's producer, Mike Bembenek, has done a great job of developing those relationships. We'll be doing a lot of the same kind of aesthetic where we have an artist drawing all of our players once again, and we'll be releasing all of those art assets to the public for you guys to meme with, or make comics with, or do whatever you want with. Because we can't obviously do the photoshoots with all the teams, given the current situation, we've found creative ways in order to get around that. We're doing all of that again. I think that the content is still going to be very good. A lot of my work in the coming weeks is going to be fleshing out the questions for all of these player interviews and making sure that all the material is distributed to the local camera crews and then working on scheduling times for the teams in order to capture all of that information. It gets crazy. Credit shoutout to Andrew Hibbard, who also works at B Site, and again, Mike, the Executive Producer from FACEIT, because scheduling these shoots around all over Europe to happen all in like one week is really hard.

What are the plans for Flashpoint 4? Do you think that it will be possible to do it on LAN?

We're really hoping that we can do it on LAN in Los Angeles at the FACEIT studio. I am hoping that, by then, the pandemic will be in a state and we'll be in a position where we can reevaluate the partner teams' participation. Again, a lot of this depends on factors with the pandemic and when it is going to die down enough. One of the things that people don't understand is that, under the Biden administration, professional athletes cannot come to the United States unless an exemption has been granted to a specific league by the American government. We don't know when that's going to be lifted. So in order for us to even bring in players on these visas, we would have to apply to the US government to be exempted as a sports league, and we don't know if that would be successful. There are so many factors right now that make it really, really difficult.

There has been a lot of criticism directed at Flashpoint since it was launched. Given the current state of the scene, what are your thoughts on the role played by your league? Do you think the scene would be worse off without your project?

I think that the Counter-Strike scene is richer. I'm not sure it has to be Flashpoint, right? But I think that the more really solid tier-one tournament operators who are committed to high production quality, like BLAST, like ESL, like Flashpoint, the better it is for the overall health of the ecosystem. We've always said this, but I think that competition is good for the scene. I wouldn't want to have a monopoly on the scene because I think that both ESL and BLAST push us to be better. And I like competition. I've been in esports for 15 years and it's because I'm a very competitive person. So I don't like a lack of competition, I don't find it particularly fun, and I think it breeds complacency. I think it's really important that one of these companies is based in North America because if there isn't anybody in North America then I don't think that there's a lot of people to push for future events in the region because we would like to do stadium events and big LANs that fans can attend. If a lot of these organisations and these tournament operators are based in Europe, I don't know much action there would be in North America, and I think that would be sad for the continued development and the resuscitation of the North American Counter-Strike scene. I do think it's important that all of these entities are kind of located in different places, and ESL, while they've previously done events in North America, have announced that the majority of their events are going to be taking place in Malta this year. So even if they have the occasional event here, it's not the same as being kind of a North America-based organization that is consistently holding these events. At least with our partner teams, we've previously provided places for the players to live and train and practice in the United States, which obviously really helps the level of competition in North America. If we don't have North American teams with teams living and practising in North America, then basically you're forced to go to Europe in order to practice, right? And then there's no presence in North America and there's no way to develop North American talent. So I would argue that it's pretty crucial to the success of Counter-Strike as a global esport and not as a kind of a European and CIS esport.

United States Christopher 'MonteCristo' Mykles
Christopher 'MonteCristo' Mykles
Age:
34
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.00
Maps played:
0
KPR:
0.00
DPR:
0.00
United Kingdom Duncan 'Thorin' Shields
Duncan 'Thorin' Shields
Age:
38
Team:
No team
Rating 1.0:
0.00
Maps played:
0
KPR:
0.00
DPR:
0.00
#4
 | 
Denmark KING_VITO
I like flashpoint. LETS GO
2021-05-10 10:03
2 replies
#8
 | 
United States MemeCrea
Flashpoint is pog
2021-05-10 10:05
1 reply
#74
 | 
Japan Peine
big yikes
2021-05-14 18:37
NA CS has 60k players Europe 600k+. NA is not important and stop deleting comments :(
2021-05-10 10:03
10 replies
#6
 | 
Denmark KING_VITO
Yeah mens, wtfff
2021-05-10 10:04
Gotta get the NA moneys
2021-05-10 10:16
Few days ago i had a discussion about it with someone who said that the second na will leave csgo, Europe will follow. He said that this is just a question of time. I think he is wrong lol the whole scene is European.
2021-05-10 11:09
1 reply
#49
ropz | 
Montenegro krtola
EU doesnt care about anime game. CS is forever
2021-05-10 12:25
#48
ropz | 
Montenegro krtola
This is bullshit. NA is important for the game overall. Do not bow down to chinese cartoon game
2021-05-10 12:24
3 replies
It's very important to have a laughing stock, if NA leave who will we laugh at then?
2021-05-10 14:23
2 replies
#72
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Lithuania marusgg
cis
2021-05-11 14:56
1 reply
well atm it seems like EU would be a bigger candidate for laughing stock than CIS
2021-05-11 16:14
don't think you guys realize that there are lots of very wealthy advertisers and organizations from NA. Team orgs like coL, faze, dig, even if their teams aren't NA players, are based in NA.
2021-05-10 16:12
1 reply
#76
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Japan Peine
just make Liquid, EG drop their team and take EU rosters
2021-05-14 18:41
#7
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United States onpluto
very interesting. hopefully this TO can recover
2021-05-10 10:05
no
2021-05-10 10:07
#13
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Finland Cucumber))
Very true :)
2021-05-10 10:08
isn't summit based in NA as well?
2021-05-10 10:08
2 replies
#32
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United Kingdom Triturn
It’s an insult to NA
2021-05-10 10:54
1 reply
nothing can insult NA more than NA
2021-05-10 11:06
Only 50k prize pool lol
2021-05-10 10:10
6 replies
Wtf wasbt it like 1mil last time, with tier 2 teams
2021-05-10 10:27
4 replies
because its rmr event and valve decides the prize pool
2021-05-10 10:34
3 replies
Did they not get enough from broken fang
2021-05-10 10:38
I think it is up to TOs to decide prize pool.
2021-05-10 11:05
1 reply
its 50k like minor qualifiers for major so its 100% valve. question is if to's can add onto it, but looks like they can't.
2021-05-10 11:17
20 days btw
2021-05-10 10:29
trashpoint i agree tho
2021-05-10 10:21
NA best region
2021-05-10 10:23
#19
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United Kingdom ChuMatrix
Yes one of the organisers is based in NA, they're called beyond the summit
2021-05-10 10:25
#20
 | 
United Kingdom Milch
MonteCristo: NA CS iMpoRtaNt Flashpoint: Has 1 NA team MonteCristo: o
2021-05-10 10:25
4 replies
EU RMR has even 1 NA team ? :o
2021-05-10 10:39
2 replies
#59
 | 
United Kingdom Milch
*cough* complexity *cough*
2021-05-10 14:23
1 reply
Does EnvyUs was a NA team when then won major ? CoL is EU so far
2021-05-10 20:18
He can go back to LoL while he's at it.
2021-05-10 11:46
Damn where the comments at
2021-05-10 10:26
BASED
2021-05-10 10:27
1 reply
+1
2021-05-10 14:33
#24
JW | 
India Silverk
best of luck! hoping for the best
2021-05-10 10:28
i aren't think that
2021-05-10 10:34
#28
 | 
Georgia Megobari
who cars about flashpoint
2021-05-10 10:37
2 replies
it's a RMR event, of course it's important kid
2021-05-10 12:53
1 reply
#53
 | 
Georgia Megobari
Thank you for explanation, mens
2021-05-10 12:56
Good interview
2021-05-10 10:40
It doesn't matter where it's based as long as you don't support a specific region harder. ESL supported Germany in 1.6 very hard... So Germany has now many hobby csgo player that plays in leagues. If they had said "it is good that one TO is based in Europe and they supported only NA teams it wouldn't help the EU region at all. How many NA teams were in Flashpoint?? not even 50%?
2021-05-10 11:00
No Thorin No bad tournament
2021-05-10 11:06
#38
 | 
Sweden Nappev
will miss thorin
2021-05-10 11:14
Flashpoint is a joke. From the start of their journey in CS GO. They had so-called big plans and it turned out that the only "big" thing they have is their mouth. Lots of words that were never covered in facts. I really believe this RMR will be their nail in the coffin. If anybody treated them seriously up to this point, I don't see this happening anymore after this event. An event, which is supposed to be one of the biggest. All EU top teams, 20 days of CS GO and just $50k prize pool. This is pure theft. How can such tournament generate so little income? Tier 3 tournaments have similar prize pool. I am very disappointed that neither players nor orgs didn't take any action against that. It basically send a message to Valve/Flashpoint "you can do anything you want and we don't care".
2021-05-10 11:16
7 replies
wtf I thought this event had a prize pool of at least 250k, I checked the event page and it really is 50k.....
2021-05-10 11:18
1 reply
Yo le noob, Tis tournament is categorised by Valve as a "Minor", which always had 50k. Obviously Flashpoint would have put in more money if they could, but it seems not.
2021-05-16 20:23
#43
 | 
Portugal dracø
+1, if not for the rmr points no team would care about this. This is at the same level of an home sweet home event
2021-05-10 11:27
1 reply
2021-05-16 20:27
Flashpoint is a joke. From the start of their journey in CS GO. They had so-called big plans and it turned out that the only "big" thing they have is their mouth. Lots of words that were never covered in facts. I really believe this RMR will be their nail in the coffin. If anybody treated them seriously up to this point, I don't see this happening anymore after this event. An event, which is supposed to be one of the biggest. All EU top teams, 20 days of CS GO and just $50k prize pool. This is pure theft. How can such tournament generate so little income? Tier 3 tournaments have similar prize pool. I am very disappointed that neither players nor orgs didn't take any action against that. It basically send a message to Valve/Flashpoint "you can do anything you want and we don't care".
2021-05-10 11:32
I'm pretty sure they don't chose the prize pool, it's chosen by Valve
2021-05-10 12:55
#57
ropz | 
Montenegro krtola
too long dont car
2021-05-10 14:18
#42
 | 
North America kw13
> flashpoint partners say they can't invest because all teams are european now > bad news bears not having an org makes you think
2021-05-10 11:26
Flashpoint production is actually very sick. Thorin's contribution as an talent manager and as an on desk talent would be unmatched sadly :(
2021-05-10 11:54
2 replies
i liked Flashpoint 2 production, it was very goofy and they did the best they could with the pandemic going on a round. we even saw ESL copy them. it turns out doing bad jokes and stupid shit is good pre-show or halftime entertainment.
2021-05-10 14:24
1 reply
Yeah, you can see how much Dreamhack production took from the FP 2, even the skits were included after FP did it.
2021-05-10 21:42
A NA TO holding EU RMR tournament. That makes a lot of sense
2021-05-10 11:55
Yes
2021-05-10 12:29
who?
2021-05-10 13:00
#56
 | 
Brazil Perdigao22
Brazilian teams carry o NA on their backs
2021-05-10 14:14
#61
 | 
Poland SebL
I think it's good that FLASHPOINT got a chance to hold a RMR tournament, I mean, that will bring viewers to them, if they prove that they can do a really good production. The loss of Thorin will be big for them for sure tho, I mean, it won't be the same. I doubt that they will be able to host 4th season on LAN, but I hope they can do so, that would mean that they have another chance to prove their worth.
2021-05-10 14:33
#63
 | 
Japan Icar_noob
Hopefully flashpoints vision comes to fruition - it sounds a lot more appealing as a business model))
2021-05-10 14:36
WTF are they doing? Florida is literally covidfree. No restrictions, no lockdown or the other bs... WHY THE FUCK LA?
2021-05-10 15:23
JUST PAY.
2021-05-10 16:46
Why he tries to look like a 16 years old LUL, grow up you have 34
2021-05-10 18:07
#71
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Russia Kirillqa89
Pidr
2021-05-10 22:44
I think it's really important that one of the tournaments named Flashpoint would actually be a watchable experience
2021-05-14 18:39
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