What’s happening to our niche little pastime of which we were ashamed to admit our love to our friends, our parents banned us from doing and telling a hot girl about would get you the exact opposite of laid?
I ask this question at the business end of 2016 with teams gearing up to a massive televised major in January of next year with E-league, Dreamhack just announcing their winter games, and the Intel Extreme Masters coming up this November. Times are busy at the top.
It’s also a time where our beloved Valve is injecting time and energy into CS:GO, with fixes, sprays, even new sounds. And here’s pinning hopes on a new inferno, back into the map pool, after all it’s a fan favourite. Freiburg… Banana needs its king back!
It is also a time when eSports on the whole is growing. You can now read about your favourite eSport on ESPN’s website, and the same can be said for Bleacher Report or even the Redbull site. Coverage has never been so, well, covered. You can pretty much find any information you require for your favourite eSport, from guides to improving, to who’s the latest talent, the fixtures for up and coming matches, the list goes on.
You can now place bets on CS:GO like you can on any other sport, and not just with the scene-specific counterstrike skins gambling or similar sites but with long established bricks and mortar bookies, Ladbrookes, William Hill and Betway which all allow fans and followers to bet on the major matches. Betway have just furthered their involvement by signing a huge deal with Ninjas in Pyjamas, sparking new territories for jersey sponsorships. This, to me, is big news. It’s very positive to see sponsorship come from somewhere other than the standard technology companies or let’s say G2A.
Betway’s Anthony Werkman acknowledged this exciting trend, “As sponsors of West Ham United of the Premier League in England, we constantly engage with supporters to give them insight into the club they wouldn’t get anywhere else. It’s with these ideals, values and mission in mind that we partnered with NiP. They have a huge fan base all over the world, and we are tremendously excited to provide exclusive, behind the scenes content on a regular basis as we follow the team’s quest to be the best.”
Viewing is now a big deal, not only are we watching Counterstrike in GOTV or Twitch, we now have the emergence of web giant Youtube’s live streams, even with its own version of a diluted twitch chat! How refreshing.
We can now dial in our telebox sets to TBS (If you’re in America that is) to watch the latest E-League matches. In the CS:GO’s spoilt terrains of NA you can even head to your local Buffalo Wild Wings to chill, eat and watch the games with your friends and family just like the NFL.
CS:GO is now brimming with talented commentators, casters, analysts, journalists and vloggers. It has its own thriving media solutions and they are looking great. Online we have our guiders and ambassadors of the sport offering slick viewing through Twitch and Youtube, and offline the production value is vastly improved: shiny desks with well presented analysts are now as standard in CS:GO as they are in the NBA. On the face of it, our eSports look as professional as any sport, deservedly so.
CS:GO now has its fair share of celebrities and I don’t mean our own home grown Warowl’s, mOE’s or Summit1g’s. I mean athletes like Shaq, Rick Fox and Jonas Jerebko and artists like Steve’ Aoki who are assiduously and financially taking an interest in the development of this new breed of sporting entertainment.
Richly established and powerful sports clubs are also getting involved, whether that is in the shape of ownership, starting their own teams and training camps, or simply promoting the scene. Don’t be surprised to hear names such as Valencia CF in Spain, Shalke in Germany or the Philadelphia 76’ers (in Philadelphia) being bandied around, perhaps bringing with them the addition of sponsors such as Adidas, Nike and others traditionally associated with their original fields of expertise.
CS:GO is now at a stage where you don’t even have to own the game to be into it. I know several friends who watch all the games and follow the teams but don’t actually play the computer game Counterstrike anymore. One friend even said that, what with new events, leagues and following the scene and wondering who the next best talent will be, there isn’t even time to play! People are losing interest in gaming, but gaining interest in eSports, ain’t that barmy?
So, establishing that we are just like a toddler chasing a cat, seemingly stable, excitedly growing and picking up speed, I wonder what’s next for CS:GO? How long before the obligatory Monday morning watercooler chats about who should have won and who needs to get benched, who was on form and who really wasn’t, are about the Astralis game, not the Arsenal game? How long before you can chat up a girl by bragging about your one taps? How long before parents book their kids into after-school CS:GO training?