Counter-Strike is inherently unique esports discipline with a long history. It is very easy to get what is going on in this game which allows any viewer to understand what is happening in the match after a few minutes of viewing. Thus, CS:GO automatically turns into almost the best esports discipline that can captivate any passerby with its energy and entertainment.
A fundamental feature of the game is its unpopularity in China and global love in Europe and America. Because of this, the total number of viewers at all CS:GO tournaments are significantly lower than that of Dota 2 or League of Legends, but if you compare not the Chinese audience, then the shooter is more than just equal.
Counter-Strike: Global Offensive hosted two Major tournaments in 2018, the largest championships akin to the main tournaments of the year. The biggest and the most prestigious is the traditional tournament from the ELEAGUE series - ELEAGUE Major: Boston 2018. Without Chinese viewers, this tournament is the most popular in the history of CS:GO esports. The American team won the American major tournament for the first time in the history, which caused a huge stir among English-speaking spectators. During the finals, the English-language broadcasts on Twitch watched 1,131,990 people at the same time, which was a record in the history of online broadcasts up to the stream of Fortnite with Ninja and Drake.
ELEAGUE works in cooperation with the American TV, because of which the tournament is held and covered at the extra-high level of quality, akin to the biggest championships of classic sports. It is possible that the next ELEAGUE Major will set a new record for the discipline. It will begin on January 26, 2019, so it’s not long to wait.
The second key tournament of the year was FACEIT Major London 2018. In terms of its performance, it turned out to be almost two times less popular than ELEAGUE Major: Boston 2018, however, it boasts anomalous activity of Russian-speaking viewers due to the participation of Natus Vincere in the final. The tournament itself plays an important historical role, as it established the era of Astralis on the CS:GO esports scene.
The CS:GO esports scene is well developed and diversified — in addition to major tournaments, there are also hundreds and thousands of small ones. For example, ESL Pro League series tournaments can boast with enviable regularity. The ESL Pro League Season 7 Final gathered 121.581 spectators at the peak, 2/3 of them being Russian-speaking. The problem is that the English broadcasts of ESL tournaments exclusively shows only on Facebook, which strongly repels a large number of viewers.
Another example of a popular tournament series is ECS. Two seasons passed in 2018, ECS Season 6 Finals in October gathered 271.176 people at the peak. DreamHack tournaments are also quite regular — nine of them in 2018. DreamHack Masters Marseille 2018 turned out to be the most popular, which maximally was watched by 323.207 viewers simultaneously.
Tournaments list can be very long. In addition to major tournaments, thousands more amateur ones are organized in all countries of the world. Even in China, CS:GO is slowly but surely gaining momentum. StarLadder & ImbaTV Invitational ChongQing 2018 broke the record of a maximum amount of Chinese viewers in 2018 — over a million and a half people from the Middle Kingdom watched the tournament at the peak.
It is important to note that Valve quite recently attempted to revive CS:GO. The company wants to see Counter-Strike not only as popular esports discipline but also as a popular game. Valve released its own Battle Royale, called “Danger Zone”, which instantly drew a large number of viewers to Twitch. Probably, if Valve continues to create regular content, the game can become a consistently popular section on Twitch.
CS:GO develops rapidly from year to year, so we are waiting for new achievements and records in 2019. A new era can start if Valve will hold an analog of The International for CS:GO. There are some rumors that it can be announced next year already. Perhaps, 2019 will be truly awesome for all fans of the most popular competitive team shooter in the world.