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Is the North American CS:GO scene in a slump?

As the online era of CS:GO continues it seems as if the European scene is prospering at the top of the HLTV world rankings once more. With not a single predominantly North American team in the top 10 of the world, the situation seems dire across the pond. Is the North American CS scene in a slump or is there something else going on?

North American CS had a very good run with Team Liquid’s good performances over the years, yet with Liquid now starting to struggle the rest of the scene has also seemed to slump. Can we blame it on the online era, which has of course denied the opportunities for LAN environments to take place at this moment, or has the release of competitor VALORANT played a big role in there only being a single American player in the top 10 of the HLTV world ranking?

It seems to be a mix of both. The introduction of Valorant has drawn a lot of big names in the NA scene away from CS in favour of the new and seemingly growing FPS from Riot Games. This of course means that there are less highly skilled teams to practice against. Normally the NA scene could rely on the Brazilian teams to be a worthy adversary and learn from, but during this online era of CS:GO the best teams from Brazil went to Europe to be able to play against the world’s best teams and of course to play in numerous big tournaments. 

Liquid’s perspective

Team Liquid’s Keith ‘NAF’ Markovic himself has said in an interview with HLTV that he also feels there is a distinct lack of teams in the region at the moment, of course being brought forth by many switching to Valorant but also due to some organisations dropping out of the CS scene. It also seems as if the playstyle in NA is very puggy in competitive play. This can create bad habits and could also take away some of the focus a team needs at the highest level of competition. 

With Team Liquid now also (temporarily) migrating to Europe we will soon find out how they can compete with the European powerhouses. The scary part for any NA team now moving to Europe is of course that there has been a very strong competitive scene going on with all the online events, with more than enough teams trying to climb the ladder the pressure is always on to keep performing.

The (not so) great migration

The problem with some teams moving to Europe is that there might be an even bigger discrepancy between the teams in NA, as sending your team to another continent is quite a big investment that not every organisation can take on. It could also be problematic as when the pandemic is over, the teams most likely want to move back to their homes, mainly focussing on the regional online leagues and the international LANs again. 

With teams like Liquid and Furia learning in Europe, adapting to some of the best teams, they could potentially destroy their opponents back at home. There is also a possibility that the puggy playstyle that is currently going on will live on, which might work sometimes, but teams will be able to catch on quite quickly. This could mean that as a whole there might be a less competitive vibe coming out from NA teams in the future, apart from the ones that can afford to go to Europe.

What does the future hold?

Will this mean the slump will continue? Hopefully not, there is a good chance that at least Team Liquid can perform well in Europe, just like Furia. They have the funds, an amazing facility in Utrecht (The Netherlands) and good staff backing them up. If at first they struggle, they will most likely be able to adapt as you can more easily learn from better teams than they can learn from you. This is something the Dutch people call the law of the inhibiting lead, of course now fitting as Liquid will be operating from Utrecht.

All hope is not lost for the North American CS scene, however we should be wary of the possibility that there might be less teams being up to par to the international scene for some time. With a lot of big names swapping out of the scene there might be a chance for young prodigies to come in and take their place, and slowly build up a dominant time for their region. However it does seem likely that this might not take place until the pandemic is over, or at least there will be more international LANs taking place in NA where these players are able to prove themselves.

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Image Credit: Team Liquid (Twitter)