A $1.5 Million Dollar CS:GO Tournament!?… “meh”

In relatively clandestine fashion, the currently unscheduled World Electronic Sport Games (WESG) for CS:GO LAN qualifiers have been running behind the hub-bub of the bigger international LAN circuit that manifests at the end of the calendar year.

On face value alone, WESG looks to be one of the biggest tournaments in the history of Counter-Strike. It has a $1.5 m-m-m-million dollar prize pool, with the LAN qualifiers even dishing out impressive hunks of cash themselves. First place will be receiving $800,000 alone. That is more money than the winners of the first seven CS:GO Majors received combined.

What’s more, a whopping 24 teams will be in attendance from these qualifiers, a large enough body of players to satisfy even the most hardcore of CS:GO fans. So with such a large prize pool on offer, and the bar for entry being lowered with the large amount of teams being represented, this will surely be one of the most stacked, exhilarating and hyped tournaments ever? Meh.

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Although the exact tournament outline for WESG hasn’t been divulged to the public yet, there is one key detail that leaves a fetid, jaundiced taste of disappointment in the mouth. Crucially, all teams in attendance must have field players who all descend from the same country of origin, ruling out any international teams. This on its own is enough to gut any hopes of a tournament as stacked as a Major, but the undertone behind the ruling makes is enough to avoid watching the tournament out of spite.

According to the executive producer of StarLadder this rule

“…could help esports to be recognised as official sports and potentially included in the Olympic Games.”

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When surveying all the teams that actually tried to qualify through the online domestic qualifiers and make it to the regional LAN qualifiers, it becomes painstakingly obvious that the fans aren’t the only ones who don’t care about this event.

For the USA qualifiers, the only professional organisations that even participated were Echo Fox, CLG and Selfless Gaming – a fairly underwhelming turn-out considering that most American pro players could easily form pug teams to play for such a big prize pool: Or as analyst Jason “Moses” O’Toole so delicately divulged:

“…for $1.5 million, I’d pug the shit out of that event if need be!”

Jason “Moses” O’Toole

When looking at the team listings for WESG, only three teams from the top ten are present – a ludicrous proposition, especially when looking at EPICENTRE, which had one-third of WESG’s prize pool, but seven of the top teams in attendance.

This really does go to show that just having a massive prize pool does not equate to a successful tournament. Although the viewership for the grand finals and semi-finals will be decent – largely as a result of the shiny number that is 1,500,000 – the overall consistent peak viewers will be relatively underwhelming.

Poor marketing and an already over-saturated market of tournaments puts the final two nails in this coffin. In a world where the bar is continually being raised in terms of production value and investment into getting the little things right like practice rooms for teams, multi-lingual hosts, and active discourse from a community spokesperson (all of which EPICENTRE had by the way), is becoming the status quo just to be considered relevant – newcomers to the circuit need to recognise and uphold these standards as well.

The only surefire method to prevent over-saturation, is to prevent the swaths of amateurish operations from plaguing the circuit and continually holding organisers to high standards to also raise the bar to entry for tournament relevancy.

This is why in part I’ll be not watching WESG out of principle, in part out of spite, and as the largest part of all, out of general disinterest for a tournament that has a diluted pool of talent and only a few  teams worthy of such a massive prize pool. –  so what if a tournament has a $1.5 million dollar prize pool…