On February 23, 2016, Valve announced via blog post that the prize pool for all Majors–beginning with the MLG Columbus Major this April–will be raised from $250,000 to $1,000,000. These events are not only sponsored by Valve, but since the first Major in 2013, have been designed to be “rallying points for the community, tent-pole events that could draw new audiences and amplify the value of all events.”
And they are. The Majors have been a massive success for all parties involved. For players, even if they don’t place highly at the tournaments, they and their organizations receive half of the money spent by the community on in-game stickers. For large tournament organizers, Valve has been nothing short of judicious in their choice of hosts–neither ESL, DreamHack, or MLG have been ‘put in charge’ of the Majors. For the community, the Majors are a chance to show non-CS playing friends what the highest level of competition looks like when there’s a packed stadium cheering alongside it.
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Notice how Valve has added graffiti to maps to memorialize certain plays at past Majors. Olofmeister’s burning defuse on B site Overpass and Fnatic’s AWP firing squad through double doors on Dust 2 have been artistically rendered to remind the community about the moments that make our heart rate reach unhealthy levels. This is why we love Counter-Strike. Hell, I watch Happy’s Deagle ace at least once a month.
It’s About Time
2015 was the biggest year in Counter-Strike history. There were more tournaments held, more organizations getting involved, and more opportunities for competition. It was our breakout year, and I’m still reeling from the rollercoaster ride. But even though the Counter-Strike community has held onto a certain type of grassroots ethos for a long time, there’s no denying the fact that we crave recognition. We want status. And, most of all, we want the money that comes with status. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a bigger prize pool. In fact, we ought to applaud Valve for listening to the community–we have been asking for this for a long time. If Majors are supposed to be the community rallying points that Valve wants them to, then CS:GO needs to have prize pools that are at least in the same galaxy as, say, DOTA 2’s International, where teams competed for their share of over 18 million.