2020 was nothing less than a roller-coaster ride for the Counter Strike Global Offensive fans. Add a lot of drama, blend it with ESIC bans, sprinkle a lot of transfer money, and you have the 2020 CSGO esports scene in a nutshell.
In simpler words, a lot happened. Here’s your ultimate CSGO rundown for the year 2020, in case something escaped your eye.
Dignitas re-enters the CSGO arena
The year 2020 began with Dignitas’ heroic entry into the CSGO arena by signing a roster that has made several highlights over the years. The esports organization transitioned into a giant by enlisting the likes of Adam “friberg” Friberg, Richard “Xizt” Landstrom, Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” Alesund, Patrik “f0rest” Lindberg on its payroll.
Also Read | DIGNITAS ANNOUNCE RE-ENTRY INTO CSGO
The quadruple that is still cherished for its unforgettable performance in ESL Cologne 2014 in Ninjas in Pyjamas’ jersey, joined the legendary coach Robin “Fifflaren” Johansson in Dignitas. This was an extraordinary moment for CSGO fans as the legendary team will finally grace the tournaments after a long run of seven years in NiP.
Summit1g wins the title of “Worst Play of the Decade”
The famous streamer Jaryd “summit1g” Lazar won the unofficial title for the “worst play of the decade” in a Twitter poll by ESL production staff member Don Constantin for all the right reasons. It’s not every day you see a player lose a round, and eventually a tournament by dying from his own incendiary grenade.
Summit1g may not have a rip-roaring history in CSGO as a professional player, but he managed to leave a legacy for the players, now known as 1G. His infamous clutch fail against Splyce esports in DreamHack Austin 2016 still haunts the CSGO map Train. Summit may have stepped away from his professional career, but 1G continues to carry on his legacy.
Ban on LAN amid the Global pandemic
The defining event in 2020 was most certainly COVID-19 and its ramifications. The world went online, and so did the CSGO tournaments. The hustle-bustle of glamorous tournaments was muted out amid the travel restrictions due to global health concerns.
The impacts of COVID-19 started to emerge when the Polish government prohibited the on-site attendance in the IEM season XIV Katowice world championship. This was a historic event for CSGO fans as IEM Katowice was one of the most anticipated events in 2020. Things went downhill from there as a significant boost in COVID-19 cases was discovered, resulting in more tournaments’ cancellations.
The transition to online format was initiated in April by ESL when Pro League season 11’s LAN finals were canceled. All the teams competed from the comfort of their gaming chairs, without any audience whatsoever. Other tournaments that went online included ESL One Cologne, Dreamhack, Flashpoint Season 2, and BLAST Premier Fall Series. CSGO esports’ situation went from bad to worse as no Major took place throughout the year. ESL One: Road to Rio Major fell at COVID-19’s claws, which was a massive disappointment for the fans.
To implement the online format efficiently, teams and events were divided into regions. The winners were selected from each region, and tournament finals were held separately in Europe, North America, Asia, and Oceania.
Valve brings in Regional Major Ranking
Esports devotees were expecting the pandemic to culminate by the end of 2020. Hence the plans for ESL Rio Major brewed in full force. One of the significant changes that Valve made to its major is changing the system which determined the team invites. The developer scrapped the invites and replaced it with Regional Major Ranking. The teams scoring more points throughout the related events will get to play in ESL One Rio Major. However, the plans didn’t pan out well, as the Major for 2020 was canceled as COVID-19 gained traction.
Also Read | CSGO MAJOR 2020 CANCELLED
Player burnouts get attention
The impacts of COVID-19 were not limited to tournaments only. 2020 was a challenging time, but CSGO players’ struggles had never been so evident as they were this year. The year started off with Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander stepping down from the active roster due to “stress-related” symptoms. Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth soon followed Astralis’ in-game leader and took his leave citing the same reasons. In the month of May, the CSGO prodigy Olof “olofmeister” Kajbjer bid farewell to Faze Clan, mentioning “lack of motivation” to be the primary reason. The latter half of the year saw Tim “nawwk” Jonasson and Jere “sergej” Salo move to the benches due to burnout symptoms and lack of motivation, respectively.
It was rather worrying that players were dealing with stress, but the leaves birthed a whole new discussion in the CSGO realm.
While the world was busy focusing on players’ deteriorating performance in the online era, the burnouts among stalwart players brought attention to mental health issues in esports professionals. More organizations shifted towards considering a six-man roster, which would hopefully reduce pressure on five players to perform and stay present at all times. Teams such as Cloud9 and Furia commented on an extended roster’s efficacy, while Vitality adopted a permanent active six-man roster by signing Nabil “Nivera” Benrlitom.
April registered an iconic rivalry between the two FPS games that will continue to become more prominent in coming months. Riot’s first strike against CSGO was recorded in May, a month after Valorant beta went live.
Riot’s tactical shooter with its colorful graphics and energetic agents quickly gained an edge over CSGO’s realistic battlefields. Consequently, a significant drop in CSGO’s player base was observed. FPS enthusiasts left to experiment with Valorant’s magical universe, resulting in a 10% decrease in average CSGO players. This was the beginning of everything, a comparison thread that will continue for the rest of 2020.
Initially, the players and professionals tried to dismiss the comparisons and similarities between the game, but an exodus of CSGO professional players to Valorant proved otherwise. We dug up and found that 200 players retired from CSGO to pursue different careers in 2020, and a large chunk of these players chose Valorant as their new career. CSGO professionals like Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom, Nicholas “nitr0” Cannella, Sam “s0m” Oh, and many others wrapped up their journey in CSGO as Riot presented new opportunities.
The year CSGO hit 1 Million players mark
A lot had happened in the first few months of 2020 to tarnish Valve’s creation. Despite all that could take CSGO down, the game rose above it all and made a new record by hitting 1 Million concurrent players mark for the first time since 2012. The joy didn’t last for long. Valorant’s official release in June thrashed CSGO off the seven-digit mark within a matter of days. That was the time when half of the FPS community was convinced that CSGO would never get back up from the flat back bump.
Valve’s FPS proved that its prowess knows no end. The game surpassed the 1 Million concurrent players’ mark once again in November that continued to increase in December. Valve’s realistic shooter continues to grow despite the several hurdles that came its way in the second half of 2020.
Also Read | IS CSGO REALLY DYING IN 2020?
North American CS crumbling down
The organizers and organizations successfully controlled the damage for the first half of the year, but COVID-19 lasted longer than anyone had anticipated. One may think that esports should grow more in the online era. However, LAN became the identity of CSGO after years of prestigious tournaments that filled stadiums and podiums. Cancellations of events marred CSGO organizations to an extent where damage control became impossible.
As most of the significant CSGO tournaments took place in European regions, travel restrictions stagnated North American players and teams. The inability to participate was not only wasting their talent but damaging the economy of organizations as well.
As a result, teams like 100 Thieves, Chaos Esports, New England Whalers, and Team Secret removed their CSGO divisions from esports’ face. Gen.G was next to place its stalwart roster featuring Hansel “BnTeT” Ferdinand on the transfer list.
Coaching bug abuse rocks the CSGO universe
In the CSGO realm, If there’s one thing 2020 would be remembered by other than COVID-19, it’s the coach bug drama; a fiasco that shook the esports ecosystem to the core. Esports referee Michal Slowanksi unveiled the simple yet significant bug in the game which allowed coaches to have a bird’s eye view over the map. The referee revealed that the bug has existed since 2016 and dozens of coaches have exploited it to win important tournaments. His claims weren’t wrong.
A double down on his research by ESL saw 37 coaches banned from playing all ESIC affiliated events such as Dreamhack, ESL, BLAST, Nodwin, WePlay, and others. While many teams accepted their mistakes, OG, Heroic, Boom, Hard Legion, ENCE, and AGO showed support for their coaches by moving them to different postings within the organization.
The controversy continued for months and still haunts the affected organizations like Heroic who had recently gained some ground in esports.
ESIC reinforces strict policies after stream-sniping issues
2020 was the year when CSGO integrity issues ran rampant. The mega coaching bug abuse was followed by the stream-sniping fiasco. ESIC revealed that “widespread” use of stream sniping damages the in-game integrity and some changes and investigations are underway. Just when CSGO players had their hopes up, ESIC announced that previous cases won’t be evaluated.
Instead of punishing and evaluating previous cases, the Esports watchdog came up with a strict “zero-tolerance” policy. ESIC stated that previous issues required more evidence which was almost impossible to gather, resulting in new approaches that are much severe and strict.
The primary reason behind not taking action was to stabilize the CSGO scene that had recently gained momentum after the coaching bug exploits and COVID-19 repercussions.
Cloud9’s colossal overhaul
CSGO’s veteran caster Henrgy “HenryG” Greer was off to a bad start in 2020. After being accused of sexual abuse, the caster went through a lot of trouble to clean his slate with proof and reliable evidence. The brief slump left a lasting impact on HenryG as the fans saw their favorite caster drop the mic. However, this was not the end for HenryG.
The mid of the year marked his mega re-entry into esports as Cloud9’s CSGO general manager. The North American organization’s CSGO division that had been struggling to remain relevant for some time now, found a savior in HenryG.
The newly appointed general manager took control of the operations right away and created a new roster led by Alex “ALEX” McMeekin. The esports enthusiasts saw some of the biggest transfers being made with Patrick “es3tag” Hansen joining the colossus in a $2.1 Million deal. The rest of the player deals totaled up to $3.8 Million.
Biggest signing in CSGO history
Nikola “NiKo” Kovač’s move overshadowed the money business at Cloud9 back office. This was the year when NiKo decided that his time at FaZe was over. FaZe had become a home for CSGO veteran NiKo after the Bosnian prodigy joined the organization in 2017. However, the IGL issues in the team led him to make a massive move to G2 Esports after playing for the American esports organization for four years.
NiKo is considered one of the most mechanically-abled players in the CSGO realm, so when the transfer was announced, it was given that doughs of cash were involved. G2 labeled this transfer as the “biggest CSGO signing in history.” This claim was hard to contest as NiKo’s earlier transfer from mousesports cost FaZe $500,000 thousand. The player’s worth has only increased over time.
Roster swaps shake big CSGO organizations
The end of the year marked the downfall of several influential organizations in CSGO. While the teams were battling against external factors such as the online format’s impacts, MiBr and ENCE struggled to maintain synergy within the team.
MiBr lost its Brazilian core and coach Ricardo “dead” Sinigaglia following the coaching bug abuse controversy. The sub-par performance from the team led the organization to cut Fernando “fer” Alvarenga and Epitácio “TACO” de Melo from its active roster. Gabriel “FalleN” Toledo decided to stay with the duo and requested to be benched from the lineup.
These changes left MiBr with no coach and two players. However, the organization quickly found three Brazilians in Leonardo “leo_drk” Oliveira, Vinicius “v$m” Moreira, and Lucas “LUCAS1” Teles to fill up the empty slots.
While MiBr successfully took control of a situation that could easily damage the Brazilian legacy, ENCE continued to be in a tough spot. Jani “Aerial” Jussila and Sergej stepped down from their posts citing motivational issues. However, a fiery interview of Aleksi “allu” Jalli revealed that internal issues at ENCE might be to blame. A huge fiasco that followed allu’s interview resulted in IGL Miikka “suNny” Kemppi moving to the ENCE’s bench, leaving the organization with three players.
CSGO gets a new Operation Broken Fang
Valve culminated 2020 on a bright note by adding a new Operation Broken Fang to the dire year. The annual operation streak continued as this operation had all the right ingredients to bring CSGO fans back into the game. Apart from new agents, skins, and missions, the operation introduced new features and maps into the game. The players can now ping one another in the middle of the match and relive the CS 1.6 experience in map Ancient.
All in all, 2020 was a rough year for esports. The dark clouds of pandemic choked the fun out of video games. It was an extreme sport for players and organizations to remain stable in these difficult times. Despite the hurdles, CSGO achieved many milestones. The year has finally come to an end, and from their sofas and gaming chairs, the players only hope for 2021 to bring normality and CSGO LANs along with it.