ESL Announces “World’s Largest” CS:GO Event

Ninjas in Pyjamas winning at Gamescom 2014
Photo: Kelly Kline

ESL has announced a $250,000 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament to be held in Cologne from August 22-23 calling it the “largest Counter-Strike: Global Offensive event in the world”.

The eSports company has had big money tournaments for CS:GO before (a couple of $250,000 prize pool tournaments in 2014 including one at GamesCom) and there’s another one on the horizon (a $250,000 prize pool for ESL ONE Katowice’s CS:GO event). What they’re trumpeting here is the capacity of the venue. The tournament will be held in the LANXESS arena which holds 15,000.

I asked Ulrich Schulze, the MD of pro gaming at ESL, about ESL’s affection for Counter-Strike and CS:GO via email. “Counter-Strike has been the heart of ESL for 15 years – it was there when we founded ESL, and it is one of the strongest games today,” was the response. “It has an enthusiastic crowd, a well developed professional scene and a developer which really cares about eSports.”

But the thing about CS: GO’s pro scene is that it’s currently under a lot of scrutiny as professional players and affiliated people have been involved in cheating and match-fixing scandals. There was the iBUYPOWER match-fixing, Valve Anti-Cheat bans which hit pro players on Titan and Epsilon in the run-up to Dreamhack Winter, accusations of cheating during Dreamhack, hell – a stand-in for a lower tier pro team even got VAC banned mid-match.

With that in mind the next question was about how ESL plan to protect their tournament: “We have strict rules in place regarding match fixing, and we have added more security measures to deal with cheating. These include no access to the Internet for players, checking of peripherals before the tournament and of course our in house anti cheat ESL Wire.”

The tournament money is the other thing ESL are keen to talk about, noting that their previous events have involved community-funding for the prize pool whereas this one is being footed entirely by ESL. I asked Schulze why he felt it was significant not to use the community funding model in this instance:

“We have always invested significant amounts of prize money into Counter-Strike, even before the community funded Majors,” he said. “While we are happy the community contributes to the prize, it is also our responsibility as a tournament organiser to provide prize pools allowing players to make a decent living out of their eSports careers, so going forward we would be happy to see a combination of community funded and organiser funded prize pools at all events.”

Working out how professional players can make a living from eSports is a key part of reducing the impetus to match-fix or to cheat so prize pools and the financing for those will play a big part in the ongoing development of eSports from the top tier through to the up-and-coming leagues.

More information for this particular tournament – structure and how to qualify – will be available nearer the time.


  1. SamC says:

    Working out how professional players can make a living from eSports is a key part of reducing the impetus to match-fix or to cheat
    I hadn’t really thought about it that way, but that makes a lot of sense.

    • Moraven says:

      Yep. One reason I like LoL system is that they are all paid a salary.

      SC2 players hopefully have sponsorship to support them and send them to events. Few have a limited salary. Their potential income comes from prize pools for winning, which tend to be top heavy. If there are enough opportunities, like in Golf, for even non Top 10 people to make a living, there will be less cheater.

      Open event right now in Golf, 77 players are being paid out of 144 participants. Sure the prize pool is $6.8m, but eSports is young and growing. And the cost to be a player is a lot less than Golf.

      • rcguitarist says:

        Not to mention that there is ALOT less interest in esports than golf. The fact that ESL is proud of a venue that holds 15,000 people shows that.

  2. Jerykk says:

    I still don’t really understand the point of adaptive v-sync. Just buy a 120+ Hz monitor and turn off v-sync. Bam, no tearing (unless your framerate exceeds 120 FPS, which is fairly unlikely in modern games) and no discernable input lag. You can even cap the framerate in your drivers so it never exceeds 60 or whatever.

  3. SomeDuder says:

    The lack of comments on this article reflect how much people care, I suppose.

    Well, yea, okay. Cool. I still don’t understand why children who play videogames are called athletes, why they should get paid to play videogames or why people care to buy products endorsed by other players of videogames.

    Then again, I’m hoping that it’s just people who eat Doritos and drink Mountain Dew while playing their CoDBlOpCSBFDotAs that get suckered into this stuff.

    • Ross Angus says:

      Some people don’t like the same things as you. It’s OK. This fact doesn’t devalue either person.

    • Tyrmot says:

      And I don’t see why a bunch of morons are paid £100,000/week to kick a ball around a field until they can get it to rest in the back of a net, and yet it happens. It turns out some people like to watch other people play a game they like at the highest possible level. Who knew..?

  4. Thirdrail says:

    Sorry, but CSGO had its chance to be an esport, and no one could stop cheating long enough to play the game. I’m so far beyond completely done with them. LoL matches are more interesting to watch anyway.