It is well-established that CS:GO is a highly competitive game at this point. The competitiveness and the timeliness of the game allowed it to be played in tournaments and become one of the major games that impacted the esports industry. The viewership of the tournaments, which is currently over millions of average viewers per game, only keeps increasing each year, each tournament as more fans around the world join the universe of CS:GO esports every day. CS:GO being one of the most influential games in the whole esports industry has already created history by giving great athletes, creating amazing moments and most importantly, by redefining the competitiveness in the competitive gaming scene.
It’s pretty clear that Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is really important in the esports world. So, how does a single game have such a successful and a growing run in the history of esports for over 10 years? The answer is pretty obvious, the number of CSGO tournaments happening around the game. Valve being the developer of the game, conducts massive tournaments with massive prize-pools conducted by Valve alone, Valve in collaboration or even completely by third-party organizations. Among the third-party organizers, ESL is the most iconic and the main character in the scene.
The tournaments have representatives from North America, South America, Europe, Commonwealth of Independent States and Australia. Since the beginning Europe has been dominating most of these tournaments. The organizing had no bounds initially set to it; tournament organizers were able to host events with ease. Unlike the common belief, major tournaments are not hosted by Valve, but however they do primarily sponsor these events and play a part in deciding who can or cannot play.
The tournaments have two aspects to it; The Majors and The Minors. Just like the words explain, Majors are tournaments specifically organized for CS:GO, backed by Valve, making it a main title of the year. Minors are basically any other tournaments conducted by third-party organizers. Generally, there are 2 or 3 Majors per year and to play in the Majors, the teams must have high statuses and be among the top 8 teams participated in the previous Major, prior to this. There are Minors for each region as well and the teams can secure a spot to participate in the Majors by climbing their way through these Minor tournaments. The top teams that climbed their way through the Minor Tournaments must then face a new tournament named the Major Qualifier. This is a qualifier tournament between the minor teams and the teams in the bottom half of the previous major. The Major Championships last about a week where the teams play in group stages, playoffs which will finally decide the crownable winner.
Minor – ESL Pro League
The ESL Pro League was introduced in 2014 by the German-based organization Electronic Sports League (ESL). This final Major tournament has 16 skilled teams based on the regions: Europe, Americas, Asia and Oceania. The number of teams representing the regions have been changing each season throughout the years. At first, Season 1 had twelve teams from each continent, which was changed throughout the years and eventually ended up expanding to sixteen teams at Season 7.
Each region is represented by their own Minor tournament.
- ESL Pro League – Europe
- ESL Pro League – Americas
- ESL Pro League – Oceania
- ESL Pro League – Asia
The top teams are based on the “round-robin” tournament format, where every contestant meets all the other contestants, this means a higher and fixed number of games. The regional minor tournament has two rounds;
The teams are divided into groups with 4 teams in each group. The qualifications are selected based on a best of three (Bo3) format and are ranked in order of their win-loss statistics. The groups are based on the previous rankings of the teams (based on previous performances of ESL). The winners of the group can proceed towards the Finals, The Groups’ 2nd and 3rd place teams further compete in Round 2. The Groups’ 4th placed teams are sent to pre-relegation.
The second round has the same rules applied to it as the previous round. The Groups’ 2nd and 3rd place teams are selected based on the Best of 3 matches played. The Groups’ 1st and 2nd seeds teams proceed to the ESL Pro League finals.
After the best of each region is selected, they will compete in ESL Pro League – Finals. The best 16 teams from all regions actively compete in a final stage where the teams are divided into two group with 8 teams in each. The initial matches are best of one and all the following matches after that will be decided on best of three. The top three teams from each group advance to the next level; the Playoffs.
The group stage winners then advance to the semifinals, the second-place runners-up advance to the Quarterfinals as the High Seeds and the 3rd place teams advance to the Quarterfinals as the Low Seeds. The quarterfinals and semifinals are decided based on the best of three and the grand finale to crown the champions are determined by a best of 5.
So the top teams who climbed to glory through the minor championships/leagues gets a chance to compete at the next major championship of the year, for a $1 million USD prize pool. Majors are basically the ultimate test to decide and crown the best CS:GO team in the world, so the format isn’t as simple as one imagines it to be.
Basically, a CS:GO major consists of three stages, each to determine top teams from each group before putting the best to fight for the ultimate title a professional CS:GO team could get. The three stages are namely Challengers Stage, Legends Stage and Champions Stage. The new format was introduced in the ELEAGUE Major: Boston 2018 and has been in the use ever since. The division of the whole major championship to 3 stages makes the experience all unique as the three stages acts as mini-tournaments inside a bigger one and causes to take up weeks of action-packed competitive gaming. This also has opened the door for more teams to participate in the tournament. Currently 24 teams participate for the majors while only 16 participated in the previous format. So how do the three stages of the majors actually work?
The challenger stage is the first step of becoming a worthy contender for the title. This stage consists of 16 teams where 6 of them are already qualified based on their performances at the previous CS:GO Major. The rest of the teams must qualify through their respective regional Minor tournaments and the top 8 teams will be moving on to the next stage of the competition, Legends Stage.
In this stage, the top 8 teams from the Challenger stage will be facing against the top 8 from the previous CS:GO Major title. The top eight teams will be moving on to the final stage of the Major, Champions stage.
Champion stage is the final stage of a CS:GO Major. The top 8 teams who have survived this far will take on each other for the ultimate title as the best team in the world, along with some cash. This tournament’s flow is very easy and fast as the bracket is in the single-elimination format. Finally, the already proven best of the best teams will get to face-off the best teams in the world.