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A dud knockout stage made the London Major more of a 'meh-jor'

Are Astralis the greatest team of all time? (Photo by Gennadiy Gulyaev/Kommersant via Getty Images)
Expert
24th September, 2018
0

The biggest event on the Counter-Strike calendar is reaching its climax. After weeks of hard-fought games, the two best teams are battling to decide which is the absolute best.

Then it happens: After about two hours, Astralis strikes the final blow, eliminates Na’Vi and claims a second Major title.

The elation in the air is palpable, and the joy on the faces of the players is infectious.

Ticker tape rains down, and as the players congratulate one another and head towards the trophy they have earned, music starts to play.

For some reason, though, the music is not any kind of adrenaline-pumping, high-tempo awesomeness; it’s more like something you might hear in a dimly lit bar before you go out to a club.

It’s mellow, relaxed, and sort of boring. In a weird, sad way, it sums up the latter stages of the FACE IT Major perfectly.

Int. coffee shop: Next day
The FACE IT London Major might have been the most unexciting one to date. The final was a disappointing one-sided sweep, both semi-finals were 2-0 and three of the quarter-finals also ended 2-0.

Sure, some of the individual maps were close (FaZe vs Astralis was entertaining, for example), but, on the whole, the knockout stage of the tournament was a dud.

Unlike the choice of music at the tournament’s climax, though, uninteresting matches are nobody’s fault. One team is utterly outclassed by another – it’s boring to watch, but it happens. We, and FACE IT, got unlucky.

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There were plenty of talking points and exciting games in the earlier stages. Liquid beating Astralis early on had American hearts aflutter, as did Complexity’s impressive run; BIG had us wondering if they could go one further than last year’s Krakow Major; More Brits than Swedesin the knockout stage.

It’s just unfortunate for everyone that part of the tournament that really matters, the bit where natural excitement is at its highest, fell so flat.

But even when the games and the results were delivering during the first two stages, technical issues interrupted the good vibes.

I don’t know if I’ve watched an esports tournament in the past five years with so many interruptions. It was like travelling back in time to the pre-Twitch era of volunteer crews, unfit computers and, presumably, poor planning.

I hate to talk poorly of an esports organisation, knowing full well that computers can be fickle mistresses, but when even the players are complaining about the practice PCs, it gets difficult to accept “bad luck” as an excuse.

As usual, the on-air talent did a great job of filling the masses of dead time, and the video packages FACE IT put together were excellent. But as funny as DDK, Pala and Bardolph are, we just wanted to watch Counter-Strike.

A general view of the opening for the ELEAGUE: Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Major Championship finals at Fox Theater on January 29, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Esports fans watching a CS:GO Major match. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Let’s be generous and assume that the delays were an unavoidable accident. FACE IT still didn’t help themselves by falling into the classic “announcing an announcement” trap.

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Now, maybe it’s just the desperate nature of CS:GO fans, who watch longingly as Valve’s other major esports title gets update after update, but when I checked reddit this morning I saw two separate threads about the disappointing nature of FACE IT’s post-tournament proclamation.

It was even in the post-match discussion thread, though that makes sense since there wasn’t really much match to talk about.

I don’t know what people were expecting, but it was more than what we got. Personally, I was just hoping we would get at least three Majors in 2019. When it turned out that the announcement was just FACE IT advertising a new league for its members, you can understand people’s disappointment.

Something so tangentially related to the Major shouldn’t really affect our response to the tournament, but it was the latest in a long line of minor let-downs. Over the course of event, they added up into one big pile of “meh.”

It’s a shame, because there were highlights, as mentioned earlier, and Astralis played some of the best Counter-Strike ever.

Yes, the Danes crushing everyone in their path again added to the underwhelming nature of the tournament, but they did it with style. It’s a bit like watching Barcelona in their prime a few years ago – you can hate the fact that they win everything, but only a true cynic can hate the manner in which they do it.

This article, and the overall community response to the Major, has been pretty negative, but if there’s one positive to take away from all this it’s the fact that Astralis is playing Counter-Strike on a level we have never seen before. When the other teams catch up – and they will – it’s going to be incredible to watch.