Do we need a World Cup of CSGO - or have we already got one?

There is a lot of talk about esports anytime a major sporting event happens. The Olympics divides the community, with half desperate for the IOC to notice our scene and approve of it, and the others suggesting we don’t actually need the backing of a group more known for corruption than excellence these days, but events like the World Cup are less contentious in some ways.

The idea of a truly elite Counter-Strike competition for teams made up of players from just one nation is therefore very attractive in comparison to a general ‘esports Olympics’, but many think it would be too hard to create. However, in a lot of ways, we already have this in our midst, at WESG in China, but you need to see the World Cup for what it really is to understand that.

First off, one of the major criticisms of the WESG event is that the teams are not at the same level as we see in elite, global CS between orgs, and that is fair. Even in a game where so many squads are made up of compatriots, it is difficult to execute more than a few basic strategies given how little preparation time there is between the date of arrival in China and the start of play proper.

When you consider the amount of time, effort and thought that goes into preparing for a big event, this seems fair, and while we’ve seen teams like mousesports and to some extent SK Gaming stall out after having their plays picked apart, there will always be a difference between semi-permanent groups and teams that come together for short periods of time. The same is true of the World Cup.

Many people have even pointed out how low the quality of the ‘greatest footballing show on earth’ is, and it’s arguable that very few of the national teams we’ll see, even the winners, would make it to the last eight of the Champions League. That’s not just in their current form either, but even if you allowed them to play together all year, as the reality is every nation is missing a world class operator in at least one position, or in the dugout.

Likewise, while World Cup teams do get some time to prepare, it’s nothing compared to the intensity a top side prepares for each season with, and the advantages of closed league systems like the German one, where the top talent is discouraged from testing themselves in more competitive leagues, actually aid with creating a cohesive unit. Conversely, the lack of truly elite teams means that this familiarity or extra preparation can supersede ability, as we saw with Greece in 2004.

Criticism of WESG has often come due to the location as well, which is well funded but often has teething problems, and is sometimes looked down upon by Westerners. This is perhaps the area it is most like the World Cup, although in comparison to Russia and Qatar the WESG guys have the upper moral hand, with China not accused of codifying homophobia in law or using slave labour to build the very stadia the millionaire stars will grace. Score one for esports, then.

The first real difference between the two events seems to just be time and history. Every footballing nation has that one story about how their heroes overcame the odds to lift the trophy/make the final/beat the favourite or in some cases just play in the World Cup itself. With the WESG, part of the problem is the lack of that same history, with the event mainly known for the massive prize fund on offer.

Over time, that is a problem that will solve itself, but it may not be WESG that solves it. The other advantage the World Cup has over Jack Ma’s brainchild is, ironically, one of the most corrupt groups in sport, FIFA. Today esports lacks an IOC, FIFA, UEFA or even PFA, but those are problems that look as though they will solve themselves soon.

All in all though, the similarities between the two are considerable, and the main difference seems to be that football already has a culture of competition between nations as well as teams. Whether CSGO needs a World Cup equivalent is another conversation, but it makes far more sense than an esports Olympics.