Not only was the FACEIT London Major the first ever CS:GO Major to be held in the UK, it was also the first time two British Counter-Strike players had reached the top eight. Rory “dephh” Jackson and Owen “smooya” Butterfield were representing their teams, compLexity and BIG respectively, but they were also representing a nation in front of their home crowd. For years, UK Counter-Strike has been the butt of jokes. With two players in the Champions Stage of a Major, are things starting to turn around? Maybe not yet, as both compLexity and BIG crashed out in their first knockout matches in fairly convincing fashion. However, the times are changing, and it’s only a matter of time before UK CS catches up to the nations at the top. [caption id="attachment_106187" align="alignnone" width="600"] Image courtesy of Joe Stephens[/caption] “I can relate, I come from North America and for about three years I was the butt of jokes,” Jason “moses” O’Toole tells me. “But for the UK there’s still some way to go. At least we had NA teams competing. The UK still just has a player here and there.” At least the couple of players the UK has at the moment are considered good enough to be on teams, and some of the Major’s casters and analysts believe they have a real chance of getting through to some of the local fans. “They have a real opportunity to inspire a lot of crowd members,” says Matthew “Sadokist” Trivett, “so long as they remain relevant, and so long as FACEIT remains relevant and keeps Counter-Strike in the UK scene. It could work out that some of the people at this event could be pro players. I give it a five-year window.” Five years sounds like a long time, but it took a similar amount of time for NA to catch up when that region was lagging behind. “It takes an entire attitude shift, an entire generation, to change the way younger players approach the game,” moses tells me. “It took NA three years of preaching by me, the teams, the players, the guys at the top who had risen above trying to deal with all the petty bullshit. For the UK, that’s what it’s going to take. It’ll take years to build something sustainable.” [caption id="attachment_106188" align="alignnone" width="600"] Image courtesy of Joe Stephens[/caption] Times are shifting, but we’re at the very start of the process. “It’s good to see some players coming through, but it’s just two players,” says James Bardolph. “I don’t think you can say they represent a whole nation of Counter-Strike. I think at all levels in the UK scene there’s a lot of egos. People at the higher levels don’t really get on a lot. People think ‘my way is the right way.’ I’ve stood behind teams at iSeries, and someone dies and he’s instantly blaming someone else.” “All the stories I hear about the UK scene is it’s just this cancerous environment where you can’t possibly succeed,” says moses. He talks about how the only way for players to rise up through CS:GO is to leave the country, much like smooya and dephh did. “There were just no opportunities [in the UK],” dephh tells me. “Me and smooya making top eight might change a few opinions, but I don’t think the core of the problem has been fixed… A lot of organisations have strayed away from the UK scene and players. A lot of the younger kids have no guidance. There are no cores sticking together because people are jumping around teams looking for more money.” However, smooya believes it’s a much simpler problem: “There’s a reason there are no pros, no one cares. Nikola "NiKo" Kovač did it from Bosnia, so there’s no excuse. Everyone says they want to be a pro but they don’t try. If you want to a pro CS player, you can be a pro CS player.” [caption id="attachment_106189" align="alignnone" width="600"] Image courtesy of Joe Brady[/caption] For the UK to get better, moses says that it will take more than just a couple of players doing well at a Major. “For NA, the example was MIBR, at the time Luminosity, Brazilians living in North America and playing the right way. They won a Major and people look at that style and start adding it into their own team. Winning Majors is an indicator that these teams know what they’re doing. Teams coming up now will be looking at how Liquid and Astralis play the game and reading how to be as good as they are. Two players is a great start but it’s going to take longer, it’s going to take much more, and it’s going to be a process.” Smooya is certainly confident in his own abilities. Before the Champions Stage began he told me “if I don’t win this Major, I’ll win the next one.” The players looking ahead to competing in IEM Katowice had better watch out.
The FACEIT London Major could be the start of improvements for UK CS:GO
Published on October 1st, 2018