As the dust has settled at the Paris Expo Center, HLTV.org's Luís "MIRAA" Mira reflects on five key issues that the first major international event to adopt CS:GO brought to his attention.
The article does not reflect the opinion of HLTV.org or its affiliates.
1 ) There is NiP and... there is the rest
Make no mistake: you are throwing your money away if you decide to bet against NiP right now... On LAN, that is, because they have already lost one match and drawn another while playing online, whereas they have yet to drop a single map in offline competitions - and they have already attended two international events.
Prior to the tournament in France, everyone knew that the ESWC crown was NiP's to lose. The question everyone was asking was the manner in which they would win the title. And they did it in a convincing fashion.
Even the final was a one-sided affair, and VeryGames knew that, too. I was inside the tournament area (more on that later) during the final, and I saw that even though the Frenchmen were recovering from an 11-4 deficit on de_train_se, the feeling that they were in for a comeback was never present. It was almost as if they knew that the most they could settle for one map win as NiP would eventually come out on top on the third map regardless. VeryGames lacked the spark that propelled them to act like robots, in NBK's words, against Area51, when the match was dangerously leaning towards the Americans.
"Find me some tougher opponents!"
Right now NiP are one notch ahead of everyone else, be it in terms of raw talent (aka f0rest and GeT_RiGhT), better tactics, or a combination of the two. Which brings me to my next topic...
2) CS:GO needs a new champion... quickly
As we approach DreamHack Winter and the anticipation is building up, CS:GO faces a major problem: it is becoming somewhat boring. Remember when Na´Vi were winning everything in 2010? Yes, that boring.
One of the most interesting aspects in Counter-Strike over the years is the feeling of unpredictability, that one feeling which forces you to be at your very best all the time, otherwise you face early elimination from a tournament against the most unusual of suspects. The fact that there are several teams who have realistic chances of winning a title also drives more fans because, let's face it, not everyone likes to cheer for the team that wins all the time.
The more a team dominates the scene, the bigger the chances that a spectator will simply not tune in to watch a game because it is not worth it. That is, for one part, why many people have said that they preferred the female CS:GO final, which needed no fewer than 100 rounds to decide the winner, over the one-sided male one.
The two-week gap between ESWC and DreamHack Winter will most likely not be enough for another team to get on par with NiP. But if any of the other 15 contestants manage to give the Swedes a run for their money, that alone will be enough. For now.
3) Welcome to 2002
After following the scene for a decade, like I have, you tend to expect the unexpected in CS events and often hear the excuse that things simply never go as planned, but the ESWC's decision to take the final off stage struck me like the jolt of a lightning.
Despite the fact that the CS:GO tournament was a side competition with a smaller prize purse than that of the main games, you have to agree that the final of the male tournament was the biggest match of the entire event. Otherwise, why would it be the very last ESWC match, the one that would wrap things up and provide the strongest memories to the fans?
But not only did they take the match off the main stage and move it to the regular tournament area, but they also moved it ahead of schedule, without even telling anyone, so it was only when the female final was over that the fans learned that the match between NiP and VeryGames had already started.
There were two immediate and very significant consequences to this decision. First of all, VeryGames were not given the chance to play in front of a cheering crowd composed of thousands of French people who would be supporting the home side. Would that have made a difference? Probably not, but they had been promised that much.
Then you also have to consider how much this decision may have affected the growth of CS:GO in the short run. A final between the two strongest teams in the world, in front of an enthusiastic crowd, is something that would certainly have interested a lot of people, even those who do not play the game or follow the scene closely.
With this move, CS:GO lost the opportunity to impose itself as a game that is worth betting on by tournaments - which I guess was the main reason the ESWC had given the male final primetime honours in the first place.
It was a trip down memory lane all the way back to the first years of competitive Counter-Strike, when there was no decent coverage and following the games was a complete nightmare.
4) Did we not want want to ban Molotovs?
Before the ESWC kicked off, one of the major talking points for days had been the fact that a number of professional players had spoken out against using the Molotov in competitive matches.
If for spectators, it may be interesting to see a rain of fire unleashed upon weird-looking sliding models, players believe that it breaks the game's dynamic and makes tactics somewhat worthless, among other things.
However, their complaints fell on deaf ears among tournament organisers, who decided to side with Valve on this one and allow the infamous Molotov to be used, with hopes of adding a new element to the game.
As such, it was up to the players to take a stand, just like they did in 2003, when 1.6 was released, and with it came the Riot Shield. But not only did no one do anything, but also every team at the ESWC decided to use the Molotov and build their own tactics based on it.
Because of this, the players' stand has taken a major hit, and they lost the opportunity to make their voice heard in the loudest possible way, inside the game. Instead, they opted for the easy way, which I guess is pretty much what the Molotov is about.
5) Treat your players better - they are the stars of the show
You often hear players complain about the conditions of the tournaments in which they participate, so it is very hard to take that after more than a decade, tournament organisers still keep doing the very same mistakes.
Even before the event started, we knew that everything would be run on a tight schedule, especially because the Expo park in which the Paris Games Week took place had to close down at 19:00 every day.
Still, that does not justify the fact that players were most of the times not allowed to leave the tournament area to go to the toilet, which would take them at least 15 minutes, given the number of people there who wanted to use the restrooms.
As if that was not bad enough, ProGaming.TD ace Raphael "cogu" Camargo did not think twice before labelling this "the worst tournament" of his career - which has spanned over more than a decade, by the way. And he has certainly earned more than enough credit for us to say that he was not simply acting like a prima donna.
Yes, the fact that the Brazilians did not have their gear with them was their fault (I honestly did not think players still checked their baggage with gear in it), but that does not justify the fact that they were allegedly not given enough time to warm up as they had to go around the tournament area to borrow headphones, keyboards and mice, or that Camargo had to play the entire match against Area51 without sound. ProGaming.TD also argue that they arrived late at the venue because there was no timetable on the ESWC's website, and I am not surprised about this as the night before the event started, we had to ask the shoutcasters for the schedule of the tournaments as such information was nowhere to be found.
What tournament organisers still seem to overlook is the fact that it all comes down to the players. If putting together an event costs money, so does keeping a team at a top level, and in case of ProGaming.TD, we are talking about thousands of euros being spent on their bootcamp at Inferno Online. If players are treated badly, you can surely expect that they will come out and give your event some bad publicity - something no one seemed interested in avoiding.