M4A4 or M4A1-s?
"Depends on map/position. If I have to choose, then it's the M4A4."
The Return of the King or Return of the Jedi?
"Both, only a Sith deals in absolutes."
Coffee or tea?
"Tea. Coffee will make your tail grow out, or so my grandma used to tell me."
Clutch plays or solid teamwork?
"Solid teamwork above all."
What's your new year's resolution?
"I don’t really make those to be honest, but let's say I need to lose some weight and improve on a bunch of things related to my work as an analyst."
There’s something special about this time of year. Maybe it’s something we’ve created for ourselves. Maybe it’s part of human nature. Not only do we get to celebrate the holidays, but it’s also a time for reflection. We think about the past year. All the goals we had set for ourselves, everything that happened in our lives and of course all the events in the game we all love: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
One thing I love about esports is how much can happen in a short period of time. The amount of tournaments, frequent roster changes and other things surrounding the game all add to the excitement of being a fan of the sport. It’s mind boggling that it’s not even a year ago that four players from iBUYPOWER got banned after a match fixing scandal that had taken place the previous summer. Nor has a year passed since the insanely close all-Swedish finals between Fnatic and NiP in Katowice during the ESL One Major, where Fnatic eventually managed to win the third map to seal the deal. That deciding map on Inferno is in my mind one of the most memorable moments from 2015. Fnatic were up 14-4 when NiP almost managed a heroic comeback. 16-13 was the final score. One dream crushed, another fulfilled. That's the beauty of our game. But let’s not dwell on the past. We have yet another exciting year of CS:GO ahead of us.
MLG Columbus, ELeague, and the NA scene
The next CS:GO Major will take place at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, home of the glorious and heroic Blue Jackets (fanboy: a fan that lets his passion override social graces). To uncover what this means for the North American scene I asked the up and coming CS:GO analyst Janko 'YNk' Paunovic, famous for his in-depth play-by-play breakdowns.
"I don't think it will have that big of an influence. Maybe the ELeague if it offers more spots for NA teams. That would give some less-known teams like Splyce, Enemy or the former 3-sUP team, who all have the potential to break through in my opinion, a chance to play against top teams and gain that much needed experience."
What is ELeague, then? It's the result of a collaboration between the two media companies Turner and WME | IMG. During 2016 there will be two seasons with a prize pool of $1.2 million per season, making it the biggest league in CS:GO history money-wise.
"I hope that this will motivate NA teams even more, so that we can see other teams besides Luminosity being a threat to the EU teams."
From what we've seen so far in the first hype video none of the top tier European teams are featured. ELeague could be a great initiative if they go about it the right way. Each season stretches over a ten week period of time. That's a lot of time in esports and consequently a huge commitment. Because of that it's likely that a lot of top teams opt out until ELeague has proven itself.
Given that both the MLG Major and ELeague will take place in North America, I asked Janko whether thinks this will affect the level of interest among European fans.
"I don't feel that the level of interest will change. The majors are highlights of the year in CS:GO. EU fans might however not be able to watch as many games because of timezone differences."
He adds, "from what I've seen at IEM San Jose, I expect a big crowd and a great atmosphere."
Changes to the game and map pool
We talked about the weapon changes that have been a hot topic ever since the infamous Winter Update.
"Well, they reverted those changes, but I feel that the pistol changes were okay. The Glock nerf was unnecessary and the tec-9 could've been nerfed even more in my opinion."
Valve also decided to make changes to the most popular assault rifles in an attempt to make sprays less effective.
"As for the rifle nerfs I agree with the idea, but I feel that they went about it the wrong way. In my opinion, randomness is not good for a game like CS, it's just counter intuitive."
A lot of people have requested a remade version of the map Nuke in the official map pool. I asked Janko how he felt about this topic.
"Personally, I don't think Nuke was that bad of a map, I think teams weren't creative enough on their T sides, which resulted in big results for the CT's. I also disagree that if a map is to be good for competitive play it has to be 'side balanced'. For me Nuke was fun to watch because of how good some teams were as CT, hence making it look easy."
Side balance is often discussed within the community and the popular opinion is that maps should be as balanced as possible. Good arguments can be made on both sides of the fence and it will be interesting to see what Valve decides to do next.
"I would like to see Tuscan back in the map pool, that map was really fun to both play and watch."
No matter what we think about changes to the game and upcoming tournaments, it's impossible to deny that the scene is only getting bigger. The number of viewers is steadily increasing. The prize pools are growing, albeit slowly. There's no reason not to think that we're in for a treat in 2016. What a time to be a fan of CS:GO!
PC Gamer Pro is dedicated to esports and competitive gaming. Check back every day for exciting, fun and informative articles about League of Legends, Dota 2, Hearthstone, CS:GO and more. GL HF!