Okay, so, I know I already wrote about Counterstrike before. You can see the post here. But I’m going to write about it again. Sort of.
The E League is a league for one of the greatest and most enduring video games of all time, Counterstrike. There are other leagues for games like Starcraft and Call of Duty, but from what I’ve seen E League is by far the most impressive.
The reason, I suspect, that E League is so entertaining (besides production and money) is that Counterstrike is a game that truly has a ridiculously high ceiling for how good players can be. And while some of this has to do with the map design and nuances of gameplay (such as earning money with which to buy your weapons and items) I think the answer is much more simple: Counterstrike is really hard.
Watching the pros play certainly does nothing to communicate how hard it actually is to kill someone. I guarantee that a first time player, even with gaming experience in a game like Call of Duty, would struggle to kill a player who was standing still on their first attempt.
The difference between Counterstrike and most other first person shooters is that it is, in its own way, so realistic. The slightest loss of control when shooting a weapon results in an errant bullet. Grab any semi-automatic weapon and get even slightly too trigger happy and you’ll miss. Guaranteed. This may seem misleading when you watch the pros because they can be very aggressive and even spray on occasion and get kills, even head shots. And while they certainly do get lucky like anyone else, don’t be too quick to assume they’re just lucky.
Those guys know what they’re doing, even when they spray. And know that their sprays and your sprays are not the same.
Adding to the awesomeness of watching these guys handle their weapons with such expertise was the exciting narrative of the tournament. There was only one North American team represented (apparently North Americans suck at Counterstrike?) and the analysts were saying many people didn’t even think they would make it in to the tournament in the first place! Not only did the North Americans get in, but they went toe-to-toe with the team favored to win the whole thing in the semifinal round.
In the first round of the best of three match up the Swedish team (heavily favored) came out guns blazing. Their best player had four head shots in the opening pistol round with absolutely stunning reaction ability on display. That first round cemented what everyone thought would happen, the more talented Swedish team blowing out the plucky North Americans (there were Americans as well as Canadians on their team). But the North Americans hung in there and actually ended up dominating that first map! They hammered the Swedes the rest of the match up and rode that momentum into the second map.
The analysts and live audience were blown away of course. The North Americans actually won the next map as well, sweeping the Swedes. It was bedlam in the studio to say the least. The sweep took them to the championship round where they would square off against another, more talented team. This new foe was from Belgium. Again the live audience was heavily in favor of the plucky North Americans even though they were a huge underdog even with their sweep of the Swedes.
The Belgians took the first map, the North Americans the second! They had no respect for the Belgians and played with swagger and confidence that helped them get the job done.
Going into the third map, winner-take-all, the stakes couldn’t be higher. This third map was closest of them all and the North Americans just edged out the Belgians, winning by only a few rounds! It was mayhem in the studio as the North Americans were absolutely ecstatic, along with their adoring crowd.
It was a tremendous feat that absolutely hooked me in to the E League. The best part about all this is that it was on a Saturday, a day I typically lay around in sweatpants and watch college football like a good American. But my heart was won over to this obscure, up-and-coming E League that absolutely delivered on its promises of excitement and awe.
The best part of all this? I’m going to start playing Counterstrike again 🙂