Flashpoint Season 3 became the first 2021 European qualifying tournament for the next Major, which will be held in Stockholm in the fall. The prize fund of the competition was only $50,000 (compared to million dollar prize pools of 1st and 2nd seasons), but the excitement around the event was greater than ever, as this was the debut of Nicolai device Reedtz for Ninjas in Pajamas. Esports Charts breaks down the main intrigues of the tournament and its viewership statistics.
Tournament results: scandal around NiP, failures of leaders and redemption of mousesports
Perhaps the most interesting story of the 3rd season of Flashpoint was the situation around Ninjas in Pajamas, which all of a sudden signed the biggest star of Astralis, device, who played his first tournament under a new tag at Flashpoint S3. And Reedtz did not disappoint: thanks to his efforts, NiP paved their way to the grand final.
Device proved his highest class at the very first tournament as a part of the new team. Photo: NiP
However, Ninjas in Pajamas were in the spotlight not only because of the device. A scandal broke out during the first game of the team: NiP met with the Polish team Anonymo Esports with ex-Virtus.pro star Janusz Snax Pogorzelski, and Ninjas lost in a tight fight with a score of 1:2. During the decisive map, the representatives of the Swedish team repeatedly complained about connection problems, and after the match NiP turned to the tournament organizers with a request to replay the last map: they agreed and social networks literally exploded.
Anonymo accused the rivals and the tournament operator of collusion and pressure on the team (the Poles were not going to replay the meeting). Many representatives of the community and eminent esports players, including Gla1ve, MSL and chrisJ, expressed their support for the Poles. Even the CS:GO Players Association (CSPPA) intervened, but Flashpoint had the final say. As a result, the tournament operator claimed: there will be a rematch.
As a result, NiP and Anonymo replayed the final map, and the Swedes won 16:14. The teams settled all the disagreements and agreed with the outcome of the game, NiP saved their face, and Flashpoint voiced an ultimatum: the replay was approved by Valve itself. The conflict has been settled, a precedent has been created, which hopefully means that such incidents will be avoided in the future.
Snax (on the right) was really dissatisfied with the situation. Photo: Instagram / @snax1337
The NiP and Anonymo scandal was not the only disappointment in the tournament. Alas, many of the once leading clubs in the world have once again shown that in the era of online games, they cannot compete with younger and more ambitious teams.
1,5 years ago it was difficult to imagine that OG, Fnatic and FaZe Clan would share the last place in the tournament, but now this is a reality. At the same time, most questions arise to FaZe Clan, which heavily dropped in the world rankings after the departure of Nikola NiKo Kovač. At Flashpoint Season 3, the once-stellar team lost to G2 Esports and even Sprout. As a result, almost immediately after the championship the best player of 2016-2017 Marcelo coldzera David announced his departure from the team.
Now FaZe is ranked 25th in the HLTV.org ranking, the team has never fallen so low in its entire history. According to unconfirmed information, the place of coldzera in the team will be taken by olofmeister, who regularly returns to the team for short periods of time to help in difficult situations: and there have been too many of such situations recently. Captain Finn karrigan Andersen came from mousesports to give the team a structure, but so far this goal is unachievable. It looks like we are watching the sunset of a once great team.
Coldzera's transfer to FaZe turned out to be a total failure. Photo: Helena Kristiansson / ESL
The online era of CS:GO is not easy for mousesports either. Before the lockdown, the team was one of the best on stage (if not the best), but then something broke in the team and it began to plummet in the ratings. As a result, woxic, chrisJ and karrigan left the team: it seemed that it would only get worse, but at Flashpoint Season 3 the roster put all the skeptics to shame.
Prior to Flashpoint S3, the team had zero Regional Major Rankings and the chances of reaching a Major were mostly illusory. But unexpectedly for everyone, the European team beat all the favorites and won the tournament without a single lost match, earning 1,600 RMR points, instantly returning to the race for places in the Major.
Frozen became the best player of Flashpoint Season 3. Photo: StarLadder
Viewership statistics: new record of Flashpoint series
The third season of Flashpoint has confirmed that CS:GO fans' interest in the tournament does not depend on the size of the prize pool. In the first two seasons of the series, the participants played for one million dollars, and in the RMR tournament the prize pool was reduced 20 times (to $50,000), but this did not prevent the championship from showing impressive results in viewership statistics.
In total, viewers spent more than 11.5M hours watching games of Flashpoint Season 3, and it’s the biggest number in all three seasons. Most importantly, the third season achieved record results in just 115 hours of airtime (the two previous championships lasted longer).
In the third season of Flashpoint, the average audience of broadcasts has grown significantly, it has exceeded 100K viewers. This is twice the values of the debut championship of the series. However, the record for peak viewers did not take place: the third season gathered the most viewers during the rematch of the last map of the scandalous game Ninjas in Pajamas vs Anonymo (254.1K viewers), and the record belongs to the first season, where the final between MIBR and MAD Lions was watched by over 282K CS:GO fans.
The most popular matches of the tournament had four Ninjas in Pajamas games. At the same time, the grand final of the championship, where NiP met with mousesports, was only the fourth most popular at the tournament with 154.3K spectators. It was beaten not only by the games of the Swedes with Anonymo, but also by the match with G2 Esports in the semifinals of the upper bracket. The top five was closed by the game between mouz and Astralis.
Ninjas in Pajamas turned out to be the most popular team of the tournament both in terms of the average audience (127.1K viewers) and the amount of hours watched (3.65M). However, the leadership by the second metric is largely due to the fact that the team played more maps in the tournament than its competitors: most NiP matches ended with a 2:1 score. In addition to NiP, the top 5 also included G2 Esports, Astralis, mousesports and FaZe Clan: the latter played only two matches in the championship.
Since Flashpoint Season 3 was a European RMR tournament, the organizers did not make a separate Portuguese-language broadcast (previously, Brazilians were among the most active viewers of Flashpoint), and therefore the English-language stream became the most popular stream, which accounted for more than 78% of the total hours watched.
The second place went to a Polish broadcast, which audience actively supported Anonymo: especially in the matches with Ninjas in Pajamas. The peak number of viewers on this stream was 106K people, which is only 31K less than the maximum audience of the English-language stream. Russian-speaking and French-speaking streams were also among the leaders.
Flashpoint Season 3 showed the best results in viewership statistics in the history of the series, and achieved this without active coverage of the tournament by the Brazilian streamer Gaules, who previously provided an additional audience of several tens of thousands of viewers.
The success of the tournament largely lies in its RMR status: nevertheless, the majors and qualifiers for them always enjoy the greatest success with the audience compared to ordinary events.
The big question is whether Flashpoint will be able to achieve even better performance in the new season, when Flashpoint will once again become a stand-alone tournament.