In this post we’ll be discussing some of the things to look out for in 2014 if you’re a CS:GO fan, things like up and coming teams and the state of the game and where it is heading.
Before we begin, let me note that, while I try to provide logical reasons for, or back them up with statistics, this blog post is almost 100% personal opinions and speculation. I do not expect everyone to agree, and I encourage you to voice your own opinion or ideas either in the comments, on reddit or on social media.
War of the PUG services
The spring 2013 saw ESEA in a lot of trouble after their Bitcoin scandal, which caused alternative services to crop up, hoping to gain attention from the users that chose to boycott ESEA.
AltPug is an alternative created by Will ‘Tasky’ Graham and Matt ‘HowardDean’ Razza. It launched back in July 2013 and the founders has since been very active in updating the service and trying to increase its user base, and recent numbers indicate that they will be a serious competitor to ESEA during 2014 if they can find a way to create an active league system and create a self-sustaining business. One of their greatest benefits is that they have created their own client and anti-cheat, which gives them full control over their system. One of their key struggles going into 2014 will be to turn the service into a self-sustaining business.
Leetway is another PUG service based on EasyAntiCheat created by Joonas Vihavainen, who also created Legit-Proof.com, which launched in March 2013. Like AltPug, it’s a free alternative to ESEA, but seems to have found ways to finance the service using partnerships and advertising.
Founded in August 2011, Faceit is a gaming platform for multiple games, including CS:GO. Playing PUG games is free, but the service is based on a Freemium model with paying subscriptions that gives you benefits and additional features.
|Price||$6.95 / Month||Free||Free||Freemium|
|Users||16,000+(paying) 600,000+ (total)||15,000+||30,000+||Unknown|
Teams to look out for in 2014
The ex-Copenhagen Wolves has been a 3rd-4th place team for a long time now, but recent performances indicate this might change for the better, and soon. After bringing in Nico and Device, their recent play has shown some seriously inspired play, and fantastic individual performances. Some of their latest results include a 5th-8th place at the prestigious DreamHack Winter with wins against SK Gaming and Astana Dragons before going out to VeryGames in a very close series. The über G33KZ returned the favor by eliminating VeryGames from Fragbite Masters before ending on a 3rd-4th place in the tournament. They have also qualified for the ESEA Season 15 LAN Finals.
This team is yet to win anything big, but keep taking maps and even games of the absolute top teams. Their recent trip to Dreamhack Winter saw them end up on 5th-8th place, winning games vs Na’Vi and Clan Mystik (ESWC champions), before loosing 1-2 to NiP. They also ended on 3rd-4th place in Fragbite Masters, beating amongst other top CIS team Astana Dragons. Other achievements of late is qualifying for the Star Ladder LAN finals and the ESEA Season 15 LAN Finals.
A very impressive performance at Dreamhack Winter is really all we have to go on when it comes to Complexity. The team ended on a 3rd-4th place after winning against Astana Dragons and VeryGames in two nail-biting matches. Complexity has also qualified for the ESEA Season 15 LAN Finals, which will give them another chance to prove themselves in international competition. Was their DH performance just a fluke, or will we be seeing a lot more of the North American hope during 2014?
The big rivalries of 2014
NiP vs VeryGames
It’d be silly to mention a rivalry and not bring up NiP vs VeryGames, but lets have a look at the stats of this matchup Since September:
|29/9||MSI Beat it!||0||2|
On the whole, this shows that they’ve been incredibly even, however if we look date-wise, it is clear that VG has had the upper hand up lately (with the exception of DH).
NiP vs fnatic
This one is a bit less obvious than NiP vs VG. It’s basically gone from me considering this a rivalry, to fnatic loosing most of their momentum, to it recently cropping up again. It seems like fnatic have really found their missing piece in Pronax, and I can really recommend this article about their DreamHack run by Thorin. Again, let’s have a look at the recent stats between NiP and fnatic:
As you can see, this is not as close as NiP vs VG, but this is definitely one to look out for, I expect Q1 2014 to be a lot closer.
Astana Dragons vs Na’Vi
As if 2 players going from Na’Vi to Astana Dragons wasn’t enough to make a rivalry, Edward going back to Na’Vi from AD makes things even more interesting. Both teams are probably very motivated to win their internal matchup. Let’s have a look at the stats:
Of course, only their latest game is with their new line-ups. This may not become the closest of the rivalries, but it’s definitely an interesting one.
Hiko has looked strong throughout the year and had a shining performance at DreamHack Winter. According to HLTV.org he’s on a 1.32 K/D ratio (one of the highest) so far in CS:GO and if his team (compLexity) can keep up with him, we’ll probably be seeing a lot of him during 2014. However, if something were to happen to compLexity, or they can not continue on their DreamHack Winter form, Hiko may unfortunately become a great player on a mediocre team, given the current state of the NA scene.
Being in the direct opposite situation to Hiko, Olofmeister isn’t dependent on the success of his team to have a great 2014. While LGB is a very promising team, Olofmeister has performed well on several teams, and the Swedish / European scene is filled with promising teams, and it’d be much easier for him to find one that is a good fit to his playstyle and personality. Olomeister has a K/D ratio of 1.2 and he’s definitely a player to look out for during 2014.
The game itself
It’s of course impossible to predict how the game will evolve during 2014, and because of this, I will give it a shot anyway. There’s one thing we can use to predict the direction the game is taking, and that’s looking at previous patches. What does Valve hope to achieve with the patches? What does this tell us by the way the game is meant to be played?
Is CS:GO going F2P? If you ask me, it’s obvious that CS:GO is heading in this direction, but Valve is not stupid. They won’t make the game F2P before they have a good way to ensure that the game stays free of cheaters. Which brings me to my next point:
2014 will likely see several improvements in the anti-cheat area. Valve is not blind to the problem with cheaters, and has already confirmed this with Overwatch, which is currently in beta. If I would have to speculate, I’d wager we’ll see one of the following during 2014:
- Item drops and other encouragements in Overwatch
- A larger update to VAC
- A new anti-cheat system
Given that almost every patch has seen tweaks to maps, new maps, or map packages, it’s clear that Valve wants to have a high map diversity, and refresh the game, so we don’t keep playing the same maps like in previous CS iterations. Great examples of how they’re trying to do this is their map remakes (cbble & mirage), Overpass as well as Operation Payback and Bravo. We’ll definitely be seeing more of this in 2014.
Grenades are obviously a huge part of the game, and so thinks valve. During the year we’ve seen numerous tweaks not only to the grenades themselves, but also to skyboxes of maps, to encourage the use of clever grenades in strategies. I think it’s reasonable to expect that Valve will keep pushing grenades into becoming a vital part of any strategy. Wether this is through map design, changes to the grenades themselves (unlikely) or simply through the meta evolving on its own, remains to be seen.
Watch menu & Demos
Valve has stated that they are continuously working on improving the demos feature, and it’s obvious that the watch menu is getting a lot of love. Expect the watch menu to become more and more like it’s DOTA 2 counter-part during 2014.
Increased Tournament Support
Valve obviously aren’t blind to the effect that DreamHack: Winter had on CS:GO. Here’s a few things that you can almost be certain to see in 2014:
- “Watch”-menu integration for every (major) tournament
- In-game casters (Like in DOTA2)
- More community-funded tournaments (most likely one per quarter)
At DreamHack, there was a picture which caught a glimpse of the tournament system they used, which allowed entire teams to get into a lobby and queue for a match against each other. While a lot of the stuff in the picture also suggested that this was a very “hardcoded” and alpha-mode (the feature was probably rushed out for DreamHack), this is almost a certain sign that Team matchmaking will be coming to CS:GO, a move that makes sense. And with the technology almost there already, I think you wouldn’t be crazy to expect this feature in the earlier part of 2014.
Valve gives no sign of this vital feature, and all previous patches makes it clear that valve despises func_vehicle and has no plans to re-implement the most important feature in the game. Sorry to dissapoint all the func_vehicle fans out there, but this feature most likely won’t be coming in 2014.
Chickens are here to stay. We’ll see a lot more variations on the chickens during 2014. Sure sources indicate that Valve is planning some of the following chicken variations:
- Leprechaun chicken for St. Patrick’s Day
- Turkeys for Thanksgiving
- Dragon-chickens for Chinese new year
- Chicken-chickens for easter