With the announcement of the highly anticipated CS:GO Majors finally making a return this year, the game’s intensely dedicated community is buzzing.
Last year was complicated for the massive, one million dollar prize pool events – ESL One: Rio was postponed and eventually cancelled in the wake of the COVID pandemic. The Major Championship Spring event scheduled for May was also cancelled, which has left the game without its highest form of competition for almost two years. In their absence, the competition has moved online – DreamHack and Intel Extreme Masters still went ahead, but the prize money wasn’t nearly as grand.
So what’s on the horizon? As it turns out, quite a lot – even though the Major is still a little while away, the competitive scene is just as intense as it’s always been. Some of the world’s greatest teams are going to be facing off over the next couple of months. With the stakes increasing and both players and fans excited to return to CS:GO’s biggest stages, let’s take a quick look at some of the game’s most recent news and esports highlights.
ESL PRO LEAGUE XIII IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER
The ESL Pro League returns on March 8th for a thirteenth season in Malta, pitting 24 teams from across the globe together. They’ve been whittled down by two seasons of regional competitions before travelling to Europe for their chance to battle it out for the ESL Pro League Championship. The lineup includes all the usual suspects – Astralis, Complexity, Evil Geniuses, FaZe Clan, Fnatic, Team Liquid and G2 Esports are all here. The ESL Gaming website has links to watch it in a wide array of different languages, along with VOD and current standings if you want to catch up on events so far. Most betting sites have lines open on the ESL Pro League too, so if you’re looking to get a little more excitement out of the league, look no further.
ESL Pro League XIII will be hosted in Malta, sponsored by GamingMalta – a nonprofit foundation established by the Maltese government – Intel, 1xbet and the U.S. Air Force.
VALVE RELEASED A NEW PATCH ON THE 4TH OF FEBRUARY
The Short-Handed Income mechanic added by Valve late last month has been tweaked a little. Originally it would provide a team with fewer players than their opponents for three or more consecutive rounds $1000 each following a loss.
The newest update has tweaked it to provide Short-Handed income after every round, regardless of win or loss. Teams who kick a player are still ineligible for the bonus, probably to prevent people from choosing the chance at some extra cash over someone who isn’t playing as well as they’d like.
The patch has also tweaked another update rolled out last month – automatic timeouts when someone disconnected. Valve have changed the number of Tactical Timeouts, trialing it in Broken Fang. They’ve changed to four half-minute timeouts to two one minute timeouts. Although this amounts to the same amount of time overall, it’s much less taxing on a game’s pace. Not the most exciting update, but Valve are still working on making this the best competitive experience it can be.
IEM KATOWICE HITS THE PLAYOFFS
There are just six teams left in IEM’s competition. Liquid and Spirit claimed the first positions in the semi-finals after winning their respective challenges in the group stage, and the runners up will face off in a CIS derby between last year’s winners Natus Vincere and Gambit. Virtus.pro and Astralis will have a rematch, the winner clutching a chance to go up against Team Liquid.
Liquid is probably hoping Virtus.pro claims that one – they’ve been on a nine-match losing streak against the Danish team that began almost two years ago at the Berlin Major. The playoffs will run from Friday the 26th with the Grand Final taking place Sunday 28th.
IEM Katowice is partnered with Intel (obviously), Predator, gg.bet, paysafecard, DHL and Katowice For A Change. The prize pool is one million dollars, and after spending the last twelve months battling it out for points in the ESL Pro Tour, you can bet the competition is going to be intense – especially after players have spent so long confined to the online format.