Opinion: Major changes needed for CSGO's showpiece event

The morning after the night before in London, and the dust has settled for Astralis as they enjoy their first day as two-time major champions, or most of them do. Obviously, Magisk has never won a major before, or even been to a final, but for the rest of the team this is the sort of game they’ve become somewhat used to, and it showed.

For the Danes, the final was a wonderful moment, as they faced off against two of the best in the world, and one of their main rivals, and comfortably won the match. For a team that had "choking" issues for years, it was a fantastic thing to see them express their superiority to the rest, and aside from their best-of-one loss to Team Liquid, they were never really stretched.

For this writer, you can even explain the best-of-one loss to TL without really straying from the narrative that Astralis were head and shoulders above their competition. Not only does the format lend itself to random variance, but Astralis knew they could lose the game and still qualify, and might face Liquid again at the sharp end of the tournament, so putting all their cards on the table made little sense when their goal was to win the Major.

No, when it comes to play, there is very little criticism you can level at Astralis. Everything they’ve done since Kjaerbye left has worked out, and even that move has worked out better than expected. At the time, people assumed Magisk was a forced downgrade, but the trajectory of their careers since has proved that if anything, Astralis made an accidental upgrade.

The real improvements that can be made are to the format, and as always in the wake of a big event we’ve had a number of suggestions as to where Valve, the publishers of CSGO, should start. Not ones to be left out, Luckbox thought we would have our own crack at suggesting a few minor alterations that could make a major difference to the quality of the next major.

First, fix the schedule

It shouldn’t need to be said at this point, but it is absolutely ridiculous that there was a player break just weeks before the biggest event of the year, for a number of reasons. The first and most obvious one is that it means teams are coming into the event cold, and results take a little while to stabilise, as we saw with North’s red-herring win over Astralis in Stockholm, and there are a number more that make it obvious the break should happen after the Major, as it does post-TI in Dota.

Not only would that lead to teams coming in in good form, and on the back of a nice long period of play together, it would also make a huge amount of sense with the ‘transfer’ window that esports currently has. There is no set time of the year CSGO players are expected to move between orgs, but with the average lifespan of a full five-man unit rarely more than a year, a post-Major shuffle could be timed to help teams refresh their rosters or re-up contracts.

Then we would be in a more logical six-month cycle, that could even be tweaked a tiny bit to run regularly at certain points, like the start of the year and the end of summer. That would allow teams to plan contracts accordingly, leaving less of them scrambling to fix holes they didn’t anticipate, and meaning less players are consigned to months without competitive play, as we’ve seen with the likes of apEX, NBK and many more of late.

Fix the format

This is going to be a bit rudev maybe, and brief, but at this point why should it not be? In a game with seven competitive maps, at a tournament with a $1m prize pool, on a day with no other competitive games that starts at 6pm, why the hell is the final best-of-three? There is no earthly reason why a best-of-five final could not have been run at Wembley on Sunday.

It would make sense for the publisher to impose format guidelines

Some people might point to time constraints, to which we have the perfect solution. Cut all the pointless filler from the broadcast, and you have plenty of time. No real fan of CSGO wants to watch Bardolph try again and again to get knife kills he can barely manage in Gold 3, or another awkward interview with a young player that clearly is just there for exposure.

Equally, if you really want to remove pointless filler, how about that entire section where the chicken eats from a bowl and then the desk act as though that is a prediction we should care about? Chickens, showmatches and much more are all just frills, but a best-of-five final has to become a necessity for the Major from now on, and that is down to Valve.

From this point on, it would make sense for the publisher to impose format guidelines and maybe even rules on the people they select for their events. Decisions over talent and so on that have no real effect on the competitive level are fine left to FACEIT, but the core of the competition has to be the purest form of CSGO competition, and Valve should be the ones to pass that down.

Small changes

There are a lot of other smaller changes that could be made, such as removing the invites for Legends teams or no longer pretending the qualifier is part of the event, but this should be where we start. Things like games being announced, Gabe turning up and crowdfunding are part of Dota and not CSGO for a reason, and all in all we are better off for Valve leaving us to sort the small details out alone.

The problem is, this FACEIT Major has shown that there are too many petty differences and people with skill gaps to allow the really massive lines to be written by randoms. From confusion about rules that stemmed from poor communication to broken audio, bad PCs, no internet, and many other issues, the FACEIT Major showed just how far we have come, and how much help we still need from the gods of the esports world.

We need a Major we can hold up to scrutiny and be proud of

The gods should want to help, too, for a simple reason. Valve is not FIFA, the pimps of modern football, but the owners and publishers of CSGO and Dota. It sets to lose from these embarrassments as much as it gains from the victories, and with the spotlight on esports in 2018 it is no longer possible to hide our shame in the shadows. We need a Major we can hold up to scrutiny and be proud of, and that has to start in Katowice. It’s already too late.