The calendar of the professional Counter-Strike player becomes more and more hectic with each passing season. With mounting pressure from heavyweight sponsors, encouraging their chosen teams to compete at every available opportunity, it requires a steely determination and unwavering motivation from professional players to stay at the top of their game. But there comes a point when enough is enough, even dedicated athletes such as Fnatic’s Olof “Olofmeister” Kajbjer Gustafsson are starting to imply the question… why can’t Counter-Strike be more like Tennis?
More like tennis, has Olof lost his mind, how are the two even comparable? Let’s be clear – Olof has not directly called for CS:GO to transition into some car crash mess of rackets, AWPS and ball boys – rather in outlining his wishes for the professional scene, the Fnatic man essentially expressed a desire for the structure that currently exists in professional tennis.
In a recent interview, Olofmeister was asked to give his opinion on the state of the game and the CS:GO eSports scene – his response was fairly damning:
“Right now, I think the game is not in the best situation; [not like] the best that it’s been before. But there’s gonna be a break now before the next big event in like a month.
“There hasn’t been a break like that for a long time. I think it will help the game, and I think people are gonna get tired of there being so many tournaments.
“I am a believer that we should cut down the amount of tournaments. Na’Vi/Fnatic, I can see them here and in maybe like one week I can see them again, so it’s not that special anymore.”
Olof “Olofmeister” Kajbjer Gustafsson
The issue isn’t with the number of tournaments, it’s the number of tournaments teams feel obligated to attend. In any other sport, it would be unheard for a team of Fnatic’s stature to attend every available tournament with a full strength squad. Professional tennis serves as a suitable example of this (though an analogy with many other established team sports would work equally well!). Pro tennis players pick and choose the tournaments they wish to attend. Top players will nearly always play the majors and will then opt for the smaller events around the headline tournaments to suit their preparation.
If anything, it’s detrimental for all the parties involved to have teams of Fnatic’s quality attending every tournament. Though their sponsors might not agree, not having CS:GO heavyweights at every tournament may actually be extremely beneficial: It gives smaller teams a chance to step into the limelight and grow their players and organisations. The tournament may suffer because the best teams aren’t there, but it certainly doesn’t hurt the scene if more teams and players have a reason to compete and don’t feel like they are incapable of winning.
An agreement needs to be reached between tournament organisers, teams and sponsors – the current situation simply isn’t sustainable. Players are quickly becoming exhausted and it’s hurting their performance, potentially even their long-term passion for the game. Once that’s gone, there really is no hope of coming back.
Fnatic’s pre-game interview before their match with Team Liquid at ESL One Cologne was certainly worrying. It became immediately apparent that the team couldn’t have cared less about the outcome of the match. In the previous round, Fnatic at one point had five AWPs in a single round. The players’ passion for the game could be in danger of dwindling – participating in tournaments for them has become too routine, there needs to be some downtime between competitions the team considers to be significant.
Fnatic, or any other top-tier team for that matter, simply should not be attending as many tournaments as they currently are. The only way that’s going to change is if the organisations themselves reach a better deal with their sponsors, who of course, want to get their brand out there as often as possible. Without a change in approach, teams like Fnatic are at serious risk of becoming even more jaded than they already are.