In CS:GO you can be the sharpest mind, out braining all opposition with you ingenious and unpredictable game sense. You can have aim reflexes that are faster than the sailfish, the fastest fish on the planet clocking over 110km/h. (Hey, every day is a learning day.) But even with sailfish reactions and quantum game sense you can bottom frag and lose the plot, why is this? And, furthermore, why is professional player consistency in Esports more volatile than that of traditional sports?
So Esports fans and followers seem to be less loyal than the traditional sports fan. Maybe that’s understandable. There are a few obvious factors that could justify this.
It could be that we, the fans, followers and viewers contribute to such volatility. There is, and probably always will be so much critique of CS:GO players at the highest level of their game. This is, in part, due to the fact that we the viewers, fans and followers are also competitors, albeit at a much lower level. We have been there, whether that is achieving a retake or clutching a 1 v 3, we all have experienced it, which puts us closer to the game, maybe more so than those who watch athletics or tennis.
In sports such as Football, when a player is going through a dodgy patch and is underperforming they are of course discussed and even judged by their supporters but on the whole fans tend to stay loyal and at least give a chance or rally behind said player. Do we as fans of our favourite CS:GO teams stay as loyal; are we bad fans? How often have you berated your team or players within? Do you even have a team you follow?
Not following a team is something I have always pondered about. Esports and those in and around them are so new in existence that we are all just really excited that our games are becoming so successful. Perhaps we are guilty of ending up wanting for the industry to grow and establish itself as a viable career more than wanting teams to succeed within it.
At our current developmental stage in the Esports scene not everyone has a “local” team to follow at the top tier of their chosen game. This means that you have no geographical obligation to honour anyone in particular and can then feel more flippant about your loyalties.
Another thought is that we have not all been to an event or Lan and seen our team play in the flesh and therefore not really bonded with our team and their fellow followers. Whether that is in the wake of a crushing loss or the divine elation of victory, these moments are the ones you don’t forget and I’m sure I’m not the only one who would rather experience them in a stadium rather than at my desktop. Unless you have an over excited stranger next to your desk to hug when your team clutches a round, then it’s not really the same as being in a crowd of supporters as the drama unfolds.
And let’s not forget either, Esports was born out of the maddening spiral that is the online gaming world, a dynamically changing environment in which attention span of a goldfish who’s bumped the side of their tank too much, a place where a team is there one minute and folded the next, so it is much more difficult to dedicate ourselves to a team that may not even exist to support in the next major.
I guess it’s understandable that CS:GO fans might not be as “die hard” as a traditional sports fan. In the words of a work colleague who is an overly dedicated football fan (Soccer to you guys across the pond) “You need to be dedicated, loyal and competitive to be a true fan”.
But we are, I thought, or are we? We are really dedicated to the scene, our game, the majors, the results, the activity and watching it grow but we, the Esport fan has a different beast to that of the football fan, we can’t concern ourselves with teams as much as we should as we have to nurture the scene, after all how many competitive games have you played that have dwindled and died? If viewership on an ESL major is down from last year I don’t doubt there will be a plethora of posts asking if CS:GO is dead… So we are dedicated, but to the scene. I’m not going to lose my shirt over NiP closing its doors, yea I would be gutted but nowhere near as gutted as I would be if my Esport of choice slowly went to the wall. Football however is well and truly established, your sport ain’t going nowhere, neither is your team, we don’t have that luxury yet.
Well, that is one of my primary questions, but with such change in rosters is that possible? Who do you follow if your whole lineup moves to another organisation? The players or the brand? Football never swaps 11 for another 11, that would be bonkers.
This I feel we lack in our scene but that may just be me, so by all means shoot me down! We are competitive in playing, many if not all of us tend to play. I bet more of us play our own game than those who support Baseball teams or follow Rugby. But maybe it’s that, we have run out of our competitiveness when it comes to spectating? That or our enormous amount of matches to view?
Yet we might not have bitter-sweet rivalries between teams or the associated hype attained with it. CS:GO is just too new to have derbies of the old firm.
I did witness some form of competitive support recently in a match between Cloud9 and VP in the finals at Dreamhack Bucharest in which the fans of Virtus.Pro, but what I saw was utterly deplorable. Fans so keen to see their team win that they were holding up signs to show the bomb sites the opposition were going to so their team would get the upper hand.
Now, we all know Virtus.Pro, they are old school chaps who have played the game since humans were newts, they have stuck together through thick and thicker, most of them are at an age where the majority of CS:GO players wouldn’t imagine themselves still playing. Why would they ever want to sacrifice their years of hardship to win this way, I doubt they would they even have continued the match if they saw the signs. Which I highly doubt they did.
I’ve never played at a final, never been on a podium, but I have played at lans and heck, even online my wife will tell you that I am worlds away and wouldn’t notice a giant sign if you put it in between me and my monitor!
This fan behavior is poor, it was also noted that they were chucking things around and being a bit of a rowdy mess, upsetting the general good vibe previously established, a bit like my son before bedtime. I know sports fans can act terrible too and are capable themselves of making a menace of themselves but they don’t tend to cheat. This is what the fans at Bucharest were actively encouraging to get involved in and this is below the belt and something we don’t need in Esports.
We don’t want this vibe at our events, we want those looking into this new phenomenon to go wow, they aren’t kids watching kids play games, this is a real thing, we want more people who know nothing about CS:GO thinking, this is exciting, I want to watch this, what a buzz.
I think in summary, we aren’t fans of teams like those of more established sports because of exactly that, our sport isn’t established. We are new, a bit like football in the late 19th centaury, I’m sure the Stanley’s and Archibald’s of this era felt the same as we do now. We are super dedicated, loyal and competitive but it’s for our game. Not our teams yet, after all none of us have said “Yea but I have to support G2, my family have supported them for decades.
In lighter news, the ESL Major in New York was full of good vibes, fans were fully involved, even if they did have arm spasms. It was great to see them pushing Liquid on and following Na’Vi to the victory. There was only one aspect of the crowd that ground my gears and that was this chap…