CS:GO is one of the only large esports to have not embraced a franchise system for its competitive circuit. Valve should take an active role in the management of the CS:GO calendar year. The role change would help the overall development of the esports scene.
Despite Valve’s lack of involvement, CS:GO continues to grow at a fast pace and regularly pulls in big viewership numbers. However, tournament organizers such as ESL and RFRSH Entertainment have announced a few changes to their tournament circuit. These changes are indicators of slowly moving towards a franchise-based exclusivity format.
Valve should actively participate in the Tournament circuit
CS:GO allows any tournament organizer to host and there is always a possibility for a rival tournament organizer to steal the best dates for their next event.
The organizers’ decisions to announce their dates and format early is a way for them to retain the top teams within their circuit. Viewership numbers are significant in esports and are a way of measuring a title’s success and popularity. Top teams guarantee high viewership numbers which is a selling point to brands and investors.
Valve has regularly had to step in to keep tournament organizers in check from expanding beyond their scope. Their latest blog post ‘Keeping Things Competitive’ puts their vision into perspective while clearly prohibiting organizers from locking in teams with exclusivity clauses.
Instead of being reactive, Valve should take a more proactive approach to the tournament circuit. Valve has done this in the past for Dota 2 with limited success. Valve’s active involvement in CS:GO would be instrumental in keeping things competitive and could be the boost required for CS:GO esports.
Advantages of a Franchise System
A franchise system offers several advantages over an open circuit. With high player salaries and teams feeding off VC money, a franchise system would provide a guaranteed income and create a profitable environment for tournament organizers and teams. Alike.
- Increased Exposure for CS:GO events
- A singular entry point for new brands and teams
- Complete Valve control over the esports ecosystem
- Players benefit from a fixed schedule and additional work benefits
- Fans get a fixed schedule with the potential to support their local teams via live events and team meetups
Valve has considerable experience creating a framework for the Dota 2 scene, however, their reluctance to be involved in CS:GO is baffling. A hands-on approach would help CS:GO reach a wider audience and bring in more brands and sponsors, especially in the wake of competition from new esport scenes such as Fortnite, CDL etc.
The free circuit is confusing for new brands looking to enter the CS:GO ecosystem. A single point of contact (Valve) would provide a seamless transition for new brands and teams into CS:GO. While the current model is successful, there is a limited scope for growth. A franchise system would be beneficial to all parties concerned as it would help increase revenue and provide stability to the CS:GO scene.
The ESL Pro Tour and the BLAST Premier 2020
ESL introduced a new format for 2020 when they interlinked multiple existing tournaments to create a circuit with two Major events in the year. However, exclusivity clauses in the ESL Pro Tour rules are a potential threat to the free CS:GO esports scene as we know it and it was the one of the reasons for Valve’s statement.
BLAST announced their tournament format with the BLAST Premier 2020 incorporating several of the community’s feedback in the current year. The BLAST Premier circuit leans towards a heavy prize pool at the Global Finals and aims for the top teams’ participation at multiple events throughout the year. BLAST’s attempt to retain the top teams in their circuit is an open secret.
The counter: Don’t Fix something that is not broken
A counter-argument to an increased Valve involvement would be the popular saying ‘Don’t Fix Something that isn’t broken’. After all, CS:GO has survived through the years and continues to be a thriving esport. Many would argue that changes in the system are not necessary and Valve should continue with their approach.
However, tournament organizers beg to differ. Organizers’ have made multiple attempts to create an exclusive ecosystem over the past few years. These attempts are slowly nudging Valve towards deepening involvement in CS:GO. Valve’s latest blogpost rules out exclusivity, however, it only means that tournament organizers will try to gain elbow room in the calendar year by pushing others out of the scene.
As tournament organizers compete for the best dates and teams, player seem to pay the price. Constantly traveling, players often have to adjust to untenable schedules that can cause a dive in performance.
Eventually, the players and the fans, alike, are the ones to suffer. As tournament schedules can often overlap and force players to choose between one or the other. The other scenario would be when teams like Astralis choose to play in BLAST only events and fans are deprived of witnessing the best teams in action in other events.
Knowing Valve, a hands-on approach in CS:GO is not on their minds. This means they will continue to govern CS:GO esports from a distance. However, as the calendar gets crowded with more events and possibly more leagues in the future, Valve will have to take a decisive stand on many more issues in CS:GO.
Written by Rohan Samal