Blog:Why the future of the Irish Counter Strike scene has great potential
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Why the future of the Irish Counter Strike scene has great potential
Counter Strike as a game modification was released on 19th of June 1999 and the game itself was packaged and released by Valve Software on the 8th of November 2000. It took just over one year for Valve to realise the potential of this Half Life mod to package it as an official Valve product. Almost exactly 18 years later we have seen how large the game has grown around the world in terms of player numbers, professional scene, community involvement, etc. In all this time Counter Strike has yet to truly establish itself as a game with a large community in Ireland. This seems to be the exception rather than the rule in most European nations so I believe the potential is there for a great Counter Strike scene. After all, if we look at populations this island has more potential players than Denmark, a Counter Strike powerhouse. With than in mind I would like to briefly touch on the past of the CS scene in Ireland and give my opinions on why we should look forward to its future.
The last year of CSGO events has been incomparable to any in the history of Counter Strike. In the first 3 years of CSGO there were no events at all in Ireland. During that time there was no more interest in local CSGO events more than 1-2 posts on boards.ie with few people commenting. People such as your author had to travel abroad to attend CSGO events. It was not until G-Series 5 in mid-2015 that we had our own CSGO event, and even that was only a 5 team event organised fairly last minute. Since then the scene has gone from strength to strength to the extent that the latest few G-Series (main event circuit in Ireland) have been filled to capacity in terms of teams attending. The last event played, GamerCon was played with 16 teams, and online qualifiers for offline events are starting to become a regular feature of modern events.
Not only has the frequency of events gone up from 2-3 events at most during a calendar year during the 1.6 and CSS years to 6-7 in the last year at its peak, but we are also seeing events moving to locations around the country. In CSS MidLans was the big event but if you couldn’t make it to rural Westmeath you were out of luck for playing CS for the year. Now we have events in Dublin which is the most central location, but as well as that we have had Q-Con and OneTapLan in Belfast, and the British I-Series events also moved to our shores with Insomnia Ireland in Killarney last year. As well as retaining CSGO tournaments at all these events (As I-Series did not hold a CSGO tournament at their 2017 event) if we had an event in Galway and Cork I think we would have the perfect local LAN circuit to accommodate everyone’s wishes to go to a few events a year.
Although professionalism of the scene might not be seen to be so directly linked to growth, I am a firm believer in the idea of leading by example. By this I mean that if we want to be seen as a community that deserves the kind of investment that other areas of Europe have seen in their Counter Strike infrastructure, then we need to take the steps to show we are willing to do what it takes to achieve this. In the past versions of Counter Strike there were basically no organisations supporting teams in the way we are starting to see in Ireland at the moment. The best teams in previous versions of the games comprising Irish players were names such as Anomaly, Wink, suiGeneris and CSA (Counter-Strike: Armageddon). These teams were mostly clans or mix teams of friends who were the best in the country. They travelled to events on their own pocket and wouldn’t have had the support for league fees or jerseys that orgs are giving teams these days. Added to that is the locations events of today are being played in. CSGO events have been played in Hotels mostly, and the recent GamerCon was played Dublin’s convention centre allowing a few players to briefly play on the main stage for an exhibition game. This contrasts to events in the past which were mostly played in school halls. We are also beginning to see an introduction to non BYOC events added to the circuit. Events such as GamerCon and the upcoming Celtic Throwdown have been able to attract hardware sponsors to provide equipment for tournament events which certainly gives a more professional atmosphere and is easier on us who don’t feel like hauling our setups into events. It should also help with in game performance, and concerns about cheating both of which have been brought up frequently in recent times are somewhat mitigated.
Of course it has been obvious that many previously run Irish CSGO events have lacked in terms of organisation, amount of volunteers and timekeeping in general, leading to a few events such as G-Series 6 and GamerCon not finishing on time. It is important that we start to learn from these mistakes, understand and recognise those who are trying to make improvements in the space and support these parties. I believe G-Series are one such organisation and look forward to seeing what they have on offer at their next event. One Tap Lan was unanimously praised by those who attended their 2016 event and their online league has been run in a very smooth professional manner. I again look forward to the One Tap Lan event in 2017 and am confident that it will be the best one yet.
As a side point, something other nations have which we are missing for events is coordination with international events such as what WCG (World Cyber Games, major 1.6 event) did in Ireland for a few years in holding an Irish qualifier for a much bigger international event. I think something like this would do wonders for the local scene and would really incentivise the best teams to work hard for this event above all else. In 1.6 winners had all expenses trips to Korea and the opportunity to play against the best in the world. We are already positioned well geographically to get the best practise online, but I feel something like this could really kick-start the scene into the next level. I hope that we will see something like this soon and think organisers such as WESG or similar would be perfect for this.
General Popularity of CSGO
The general popularity of CSGO compared to previous versions of the game should be obvious to anyone. This has mostly been due to the introduction of skins, matchmaking and updates to the game in general. Consequently the growth of the Irish scene has grown and this has definitely been helped by the creation of the CSGO Ireland Facebook Group, a central hub everyone can get involved in. This group was set up in February 2015, and I believe the introduction of regular tournaments online and offline is linked to this, as finally stakeholders could post and gauge for interest in events, people could look for teams, etc. The group now has over 1900 members and is growing every day. I believe that one year from now there is a good chance that the group size will double and with it, interest in competition within the Counter Strike scene. The public TeamSpeak and csgoireland website have also helped with the growth of the community. Supporting and maintaining these communities will be important for ensuring the scene grows at an even greater pace in the future.
I have only summarised a few of the reasons I am optimistic about the future here, and I hope that you share in my optimism. I think we have a lot to look forward to in the next year and I believe things can only get better if we work for that goal. Look forward to seeing you at the next event
You can follow the author on Twitter for more articles like this: @PattonIRL
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