Gaben just let its final chance to redeem years of CSGO neglect slip through by not appearing at the major. But is it really that big of a deal?
If you grew up playing Counter-Strike and eventually watching the esports like your life depended on it, chances are, you’re uber-pissed that Gabe “Gaben” Newell wasn’t at the major. After all, it was the final CSGO spectacle before Valve brought down the curtain on its labor of love. Unfortunately, though, BLAST.tv Paris Major 2023 was like any other major, and Valve not showing up is only half the reason.
As CSGO draws to a close, so does the seemingly never-ending string of complaints players have had with the developers. Yet, one final bone remains to pick: Why was Gabe “Gaben” Newell a no-show at the last major? It’s a fair question. Gaben had 19 chances to appease the CSGO community across the span of 12 years, and all of them missed. CSGO’s 1.5 million player base was sure Gaben would finally make good on its 2015 promise, but that never happened.
“I’m sure I’ll be at one (major) in the future. Just scheduling.” Gabe Newell said six years ago.
The Paris Major fell short of being the best CSGO major by a long shot. Lackluster brackets and production aside, what truly disappointed players was Gaben’s absence, and that’s just messed up.
Gaben has a favorite child, and what about it?
Gaben’s no-show at the major is still keeping some CSGO fans up at night. How often do you see players complaining that the developer didn’t appear at the main championship? This unique complaint is limited to CSGO because Gaben, like any other human being, has a favorite game: DOTA2.
The god of all things Steam makes a note of attending DOTA2’s biggest Valve-backed event, The International. Even if it’s to greet the crowd, Gaben shows up like a good father. It’s natural for CSGO players to feel jealous, but putting just one developer on a pedestal is unfair. The reason Gaben religiously appears at DOTA2 events is that he actually plays the game. Imagine being able to unsheath the trophy at the biggest event of your favorite game; anyone would show. He attends as a game’s fan who has the power to do so.
But that doesn’t mean he’s obligated to attend major events of every single game Steam has produced. Sure, CSGO is Valve’s most successful title. With its highest major viewership count surpassing even DOTA2’s most popular TI 10 at PGL Major Stockholm 2021’s 2,748,434 viewers, one would think it has already proven its worth. Yet, curiously, it still craves the official stamp of approval from none other than Gaben himself.
CSGO has a tear-jerking legacy that rakes in enormous profits for Valve. It’s not asking for the moon to expect a visit from Gaben as the bare-minimum gesture to appease the fans, but that’s exactly what it is—the bare minimum. CSGO stands tall as a behemoth of a game that doesn’t require a mere 5-minute appearance from a co-founder to validate the worthiness of a major event.
Simply, CSGO fans are mad at the wrong guy for the wrong reasons. Hell, there were fans who didn’t even want Gaben to make a token appearance at the final major, considering his 12-year disregard for CSGO. So really, Gaben finds himself in a no-win situation, regardless of the circumstances. But, someone is to be held accountable, and it’s not Gaben alone.
Where’s Valve in all of this?
Valve should be glad that the wider audience still sees CSGO as “Gaben’s game,” effectively making him a convenient scapegoat for any criticism directed towards the developers. Rather than directing blame towards Gabe for his absence at the major, the onus should lie on Valve for their failure to execute a fitting send-off for CSGO during its final major tournament.
Blast Major ended like any other event, leaving the fans with an empty feeling. A speech from any notable figure from Valve, or even a video message, may have made it less terrible. But, the final major culminated with no special content from Valve, and fans stayed glued to their screens until the very end, waiting for at least a CS2 teaser. If anything, Valve is certainly to be blamed for the lukewarm conclusion to CSGO in its grandest and final stage.
Let’s hope that the seemingly unbreakable pattern of Valve’s neglect will finally shatter in Counter-Strike 2. Fans of the game want more involvement from devs, prompt bug fixes, and a genuine sense of commitment to the community—not mere lofty proclamations of CSGO’s greatness by a single developer.