We just waved goodbye to the 14th CS:GO Major – IEM Katowice 2019 – and while it brought a lot of positives, it also gave further evidence on why something must be done about the final format.
Each and every one of the 14 CS:GO Major finals so far have been played in a best-of-three (Bo3) format. Now, we all know how much people love traditions, but it’s about time for this one to be left behind.
I won’t hide the fact that it was these last couple of finals in Katowice and London that compelled me to write this piece. Still, it must be clear the phenomenon of lackluster Major finals is not something to pop up just now. The problem of short, unmemorable finals can be traced back to as early as 2015.
Before the stretch of three (longest ever, by the way) straight Bo3 finals at the two ELEAGUE Majors and PGL Krakow in 2017-18, there were four in a row that ended after the second map. And while sometimes a 2-0 can be competitive and rather compelling, none of these were in that mold.
The second map results in these four finals were 16-7, 16-5, 16-2 and 16-6. Add to that the 16-9 from FACEIT Major and the 16-4 in Katowice and you get an average of 5,5 rounds for the losing side. That’s not how a Major should end, boys. We need that Bo5 in our lives.
Theoretically speaking, a Bo5 is much less likely to be a wash as each side will have the opportunity to play on two of their best three maps, making it much harder for one team to sweep the other. And even if we got a 3-0, at the very least we would have seen one additional map, which is nice, and we would be as close to certainty as possible that the better team won.
And one last thought on the matter – do you think the six teams that got 5,5 rounds on average would have approached the second map in the same way if they knew there’s another one coming after it? Do you really think ENCE would have played the way they did on Inferno if it wasn’t the last map of the final? They might have and probably would have been beaten anyway, but they wouldn’t have given up that easily, that’s for sure.
The odd part is that whether a final is competitive or not is not the major problem. No pun intended. You can’t perfectly balance the finalists in a way that every map goes to overtime, that’s just impossible, 2-0s and 3-0s will happen sometimes.
What’s really grinding my gears is that it’s just underwhelming for the biggest event on the CS:GO calendar to be decided in an hour. Ya know? The three weeks of buildup go straight to the bin if the culmination itself is shorter than a regular NBA game. We need something grand, man!
And don’t even dare bring up the exhaustion excuse. There’s no power in this world that can convince me that playing 3-4 hours of Counter-Strike is more tiring than playing Grand Slam tennis for the same amount of time, usually longer. And yet, tennis Grand Slams employ the Bo5 format. Regular tournaments – Bo3, Grand Slam – Bo5.
That’s how you emphasize that one is more prestigious than the other and that’s important for establishing a competitive hierarchy. If we want esports to become respected as much as “real sports”, we should try and take some of the traits that make these sports so beloved.
Point in case is – if you want to hold the most precious prize in CS:GO in your hands, you should be asked to do a little more than your regular job would require. There must be something other than money that makes the Majors stand out. Yeah, money is nice and all, but the fan is not interested in cash, and it’s the fan that builds an industry.
We want more action, we want more drama, we want a show, we want to know who the king of the Counter-Strike world is. A Bo5 would get as close as possible to giving us all of the above at once. The time to bury tradition and embrace an improved formula has come. Please, don’t be stubborn! Progress!