Counter-Strike is an odd game in that despite having evolved little over the years, it has remained in the competitive spotlight ever since its inception. Widely regarded alongside StarCraft and Quake as one of the founders of eSports, the series has never slowed and continues on the mainstage to this day. Holding true for 2021, this coming year looks to be the biggest in Counter-Strike eSports yet, at least until next year rolls around.
The Scope of Modern CS: GO
In its latest iteration of Global Offensive, Counter-Strike easily takes second place among eSports titles winnings. In fact, according to Esports Earnings, this one entry in the Counter-Strike franchise has seen more than $110 million in prize pools so far, second only to Dota 2.
Success isn’t just about players and winnings, however, as the domination of the game has also been illustrated by the game’s popularity among viewers. For an example of this, betting services like the Betsafe esport section have seen significant interest from watchers. Going so far as to link videos and calculate odds in real-time, supporting industries like these are only possible with immense international fandoms.
2021’s Big Tournaments
The biggest tournaments in 2021 are Snow Sweet Snow #3, which started in March, and IEM Summer 2021, which begins in early June.
Snow Sweet Snow operates as an A-Tier tournament, with 44 teams and a total prize pool of US $100,000. As a European-only tournament, the big teams on display are those of Sprout, Extremum, forZe, and Dignitas. The best odds of winning have to go to HAVU Gaming and AGO, who claimed first and second place in the last tournament, though Winstrike Team and Copenhagen Flames are also considered strong competitors.
The Intel Extreme Masters Season Summer tournament (IEM) plays as a 16-team S-Tier tournament, featuring some of the most celebrated talents in the game. With a prize pool of $250,000 on the line in this event, all the best teams in the world are expected to partake. In this event, the favourites are Gambit Esports and Virtus.pro. That said, as a premier tournament, some degree of upsets are anticipated, with Astralis expected to act as a wildcard for whoever is unfortunate enough to play them in the early bracket.
On an upward trajectory since their inception around the year 2000, eSports have only recently crossed the billion-dollar-a-year threshold, as noted by Forbes. With commensurate growth in audience interest and the support of related industries, this arm of the gaming world is still far from reaching its peak. Already shown on major sports networks like ESPN, the 2020s look to be the decade where mainstream eSports finally becomes the norm. For both competitors and fans, it’s a new golden age, and one where each new year looks to up the bar.