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StarLadder Berlin Major suffers talent tribulations

With the player break under way and the Berlin Major just around the corner, we’re in a funny lull in CS:GO where there isn’t a lot to really talk about. Maybee smooya watching ZywOo do ZywOo things is good for a bit, or the latest revelations around NIP, but the fans really want something to get their teeth into while they await the fun in Berlin.

Related: StarLadder Major Berlin schedule

It seems like that’s not how it goes for talent, though, as for two of the last three Majors we have seen late additions to the line-up that look as though they have come about after public pressure was put on the organisers. What makes these moves even more odd is the fact that while the pressure was put on in public, it came from some of the talent not hired for the events, who may now be set to appear on the biggest stage in CS:GO.

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According to a report from Dexerto, a few of the names that were not originally going to be at the StarLadder event are now in discussion with the company, including Anders Blume, Jason ‘Moses’ O’Toole and Duncan ‘Thorin’ Shields. The former are considered tier-one talent, and while Thorin has a slightly controversial spot in the scene, he has a long relationship with StarLadder that has seen him work many of the company’s events, as well as having publicly advocated for them being award a Major prior to Berlin’s announcement.

FACEIT, your Major sucked

For those who don’t remember, the last Major, held in Katowice, was fairly non-controversial, but the one before that was a doozy. FACEIT ran its first ever Valve big show in London, and over the course of the three weeks had to deal with production issues, stream outages, internet failures, accusations over penny pinching, accusations over overpaid poultry, and to top it all off maybe the least-interesting playoffs we’ve seen in some time.

The latter is not their fault of course, Astralis just decided not to let anyone else play that week, but many of the other issues around that event appeared to stem from a desire to keep costs down where possible. Things like backup internet are expensive, and clearly weren’t options for FACEIT, but the most obvious example of talent being contentious was the non-hiring, and then hiring of Chad ‘SPUNJ’ Burchill, the Australian analyst considered by many to be the world’s best.

In the video above you can see Thorin’s explosive attack on FACEIT, where he outlines the case around SPUNJ, and he wasn’t holding back when he discussed the StarLadder hires on a recent episode of By The Numbers, either. Anders and Moses have been less vocal about their absence to this point, but it is interesting that 66% of the last three Majors have now seemingly bowed to public pressure and apparently hired more hands than they wanted, leading to the question of why this keeps happening.

But...why?

The first, and most likely explanation, is that the likes of FACEIT and StarLadder are trying to min/max the event economic terms, and that would make some sense. They are both relative newcomers, especially to this level of tournament, and the Major that didn’t face the same problems was run by ESL, the biggest and most experienced TO in the space with budgets to match.

If it’s simply a case of not having the money to put on the sort of show Valve demands for TI, for example, then it may be time for the publishers to offer more support than just some prize money and a set of rules. If, on the other hand, the likes of FACEIT and StarLadder viewed the Major as a potential cash cow then it is also about education, as most in the industry will tell you the Major runs as a loss leader, which you then recoup through the reputation you gain for a well-run event, as ELEAGUE has.

There are other possible explanations, such as naivety as to how long a day can be, and how a Major works, or even a calculated "mistake" that always intended to be fixed for a PR boost. Whichever of those, or other reason it may be, it must now be time to actually look at why there is such a huge difference in the way talent is hired for Valve’s FPS and their MOBA, and what can be done about it, if anything.

Image: Starladder

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