Many people know Counter-Strike as a colossus of the modern eSports scene, with Global Offensive continuing to draw spectators and players. Its origins, however, are far more humble. The franchise was originally spawned as a mod to the 1998 first-person shooter Half-Life. Since its launch as a mod in 1999, and subsequent full release as a standalone in 2000, the franchise has gone from strength-to-strength, being the go-to FPS title in PC gaming and the competitive gaming circuit.
Here, we’re looking at the legacy of the increasingly popular game, how it has built such a mighty following, and if it has done enough to continue to grow in the years to come.
From 1.0 to Global Offensive
Today marks 8 years since we released CS:GO.
Thanks for all the matches, memorable plays (and moments), and memories thus far. Here’s to many more!
— CS:GO (@CSGO) August 21, 2020
After its official launch, Counter-Strike saw numerous updates with many fans who hailed version 1.6 as the most comprehensive version. Regardless, Counter-Strike jumped straight into competitive gaming. In 2000, the game staged its own tournaments, and in 2001, its first major tournament took place. The Cyberathlete Professional League Winter Championship took place in Dallas, Texas with Ninjas in Pyjamas taking the $50,000 prize from the $150,000 pool.
The franchise’s first crack at a sequel came in the form of Counter-Strike: Condition Zero in 2004, which was also built on the Half-Life engine. It didn’t go down too well, leading to the first publically released installment from Valve in the same year. Counter-Strike: Source, which used the updated game system called Source, also proved divisive, with the skill ceiling being lower than in version 1.6. Fans of the series were split between 1.6 and Source for years, but the competitive scene continued to develop, moving from LAN to online. Next, Global Offensive was born.
Competition powering Counter-Strike forward
Despite coming out way back in 2012, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is one of the world’s most prominent games. Interest in its eSports scene has helped a great deal, with all kinds of third-parties getting involved in promoting the game. Now, it resembles the kind of popularity and interest of traditional sports, especially as it has the backing of Betsafe eSports odds to fully legitimize all of its tournaments alongside the likes of soccer, mixed martial arts, tennis, and basketball. As is the case in other sports, too, viewership and broadcast platforms have been essential to Counter-Strike, with CS: GO achieving its prestige by cultivating a lively audience.
In betting and viewing, fans want to watch and back their favorite established teams, with Heroic, Team Vitality, and Astralis being on top right now. This year, the ESL Pro League’s 11th season saw 489,120 concurrent viewers, with the total hours watched being up by 113.2 percent just on the figures from the year prior.
CS: GO competitions continue to stand among the biggest and the best, with the FPS also continually standing as the most-played game on Steam. So, as is always the case with a successful title, the question is: when will there be a sequel. Eight years is a very long time in gaming. Still, thanks to regular updates to its balancing, weaponry, cosmetics, maps, events, and modes, Global Offensive has been able to remain relevant.
What’s also helping is the fact that it’s quite a unique product in the eSports space. CS: GO is very much a classic FPS game, grounded in a more real-world setting and without too many complicated rules or features. The other major eSports, like DOTA 2, League of Legends, Overwatch, and StarCraft II, aren’t as straightforward to grasp. So, until a legitimate competitor tries to muscle-in on CS: GO, Valve doesn’t need to create a sequel, likely allowing it even more longevity in the competitive scene, although Valorant has shown signs of promise.
Counter-Strike has been a part of the competitive gaming scene for decades, and now, it’s one of the biggest eSports in the world.