For nearly twenty years, Counter-Strike stood alone in the esports market for a long and continued to run at the top with essentially no competition, as its popularity continued to grow and as it changed many core aspects of what we know of esports today – it is the name behind a number of huge sponsors, the original game for many big organizations within esports, and for many players the first competitive esports title they’d ever play. It’s also often referred to as the game that introduced other markets like betting to esports too as counter-strike betting first started as skins betting and quickly evolved beyond that.
The launch of Riot Games Valorant brought something new, however, a competitor to the competitive tactical FPS genre and a huge wave of players bridging the gap between many different games, with Counter-Strike, in particular, seeing many stars migrating across. The biggest market has been within North America, Asian teams have been quick to put up some big performances too and whilst European teams are still a big part of the game, Counter-Strike likely remains the bigger game in Europe.
There are still some who question just where the game lays, While it is undoubtedly a tactical FPS game some still believe it to be more akin to a hero shooter much like Overwatch due to the different agents and the large number of abilities leading to a very different gameplay cycle than something like Counter-Strike but with enough similarities to bridge the gap some more.
As would be expected for a game of this nature, large balancing changes are made quite regularly and are often targeted towards different utility skills by lowering their impact or effectiveness, and also changes to ultimate charges making ultimate abilities more expensive to use and thus also lowering their impact – some content creators have suggested this may have been the goal from the beginning, have a game with a much lower barrier to entry to bring in the masses then slowly make changes to have the game rely less on abilities and more on gun play which would slowly be improved over time.
As Counter-Strike 2 is set to launch any time within the next few weeks, a number of changes have been made to capitalize on what has made games like Valorant successful such as fewer overall rounds and some economy changes, but still keeping the core gameplay true to what fans have come to expect not just from Counter-Strike, but also from a competitive shooter title.
Speculations around whether or not these Valorant changes are being made to bring some similarities are just that, speculation, but it would make sense as Counter-Strike continues to be the biggest title in the world fast approaching two million monthly players in the wake of the limited beta test and a huge audience hoping to get their hands on access.
Either way, it’s an exciting time for both games and esports as a whole, with both games capturing hundreds of thousands of viewers per event and excitement for these games both at an all-time high, there are opportunities for both developers at Riot Games and Valve to take advantage of the huge success the other is having to make changes, and competition between the two will definitely bring out the best of both – Counter-Strike has the long-standing history, dedicated player base, and sharp play whilst Valorant boasts exciting changes with the agents, regular and committed updates, and a proven esports history with its sister title League of Legends still performing as one of the biggest esports in the world.