The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has affected all areas of human life, including esports. Whereas Counter Strike tournaments continued to be highly competitive in Europe, the American region was experiencing serious problems. This is due not only to the low level of teams, but also to the emergence of a new game called Valorant. Every month, information appears on the network that professional CS: GO players are moving to a new discipline. Perhaps the loudest is nitr0’s departure from Liquid, despite the fact that the ex-Liquid captain was in good shape (1).
The main reason for such a significant level of Valorant’s popularity is the approach of their developers, Riot, to the media component of the project. The game evolves through a franchise format where major players pay approximately $ 10 million for a league seat.
Naturally, at this stage, Valorant’s global popularity is lower than that of recognized industry leaders. At the same time, such organizations as Liquid, G2, NRG, Cloud9 have already created their teams. Therefore, you can be sure that by the end of 2021, tournaments with a million dollar prize pool will be announced.
The main reason for leaving CS: GO for most of the North American region is the opportunity to try their luck in a new project. The same nitr0 may have a goal of becoming a legend in two significant games at once. Speaking about such characters as Hiko, steel, TenZ, s0m and many others, we can say that they were generally not satisfied with the level of «Contra» in the region.
In the case of TenZ and s0m, Counter Strike lost rather than gained. After all, these players were quite capable of showing themselves in a recognized shooter. However, in the new game, they saw more prospects, at least related to the financial component.
Is it worth waiting for their further return to CS? It all depends on the progress of Valorant, which the game should show in the next year or two.
What to expect from North American players in the future
Many skeptics claim that Counter Strike stagnation in North America will continue, but this is far from the case. Even if we consider that the significant potential of the region is actively moving into Valorant, there are many strong performers in the game. In turn, teams such as Liquid and Evil Geniuses continue to be in the top of all ratings. Cloud9 is also trying to get back into the big game, having updated the roster by signing interesting performers.
Valorant’s biggest negative pressure is on the captains. After the departure of the same nitr0, only stanislaw remained from the tops. Naturally, this trend has a serious impact on the teams, in the confrontations against the best European teams.
Therefore, can we expect the death of Counter Strike in the region? Probably not. Even though Valorant is putting pressure on discipline, after the pandemic ends, things should be back in place. Or not?