We all knew some people may jump ship when VALORANT was announced, but I’m not sure many of us expected to lose so many professional and semi-professional players so quickly.
It’s already been announced that Shahzeeb “ShahZaM” Khan, Hunter “SicK” Mims, Jacob “pyth” Mourujärvi, Victor “food” Wong, Jordan “Zellsis” Montemurro, Austin “crashies” Roberts, and Ryan “freakazoid” Abadir among others have jumped ship for varying reasons. There is, however, an overwhelmingly common theme and that’s organizational support.
These are players who at some point played for organizations like Cloud9, Complexity, eUnited, Ninjas in Pyjamas, GODSENT, and more. While I’m not naive and understand some of these players never lived up to their hype or have fallen off over the years, they’re still an important part of keeping the tier 2 scene at least somewhat close to the tier 1 and helping to grow young talent with their experience before they get their shot in the big leagues.
Now they’re leaving the game many of them have played for near a decade because outside of the two main leagues, organizations are nearly non-existent.
In a recent talk with ShahZaM he explained the situation from his point of view and this is similar to that of Zellsis, freakazoid, food, and others.
“With the two leagues being created it put the NA scene in a weird spot. EPL only has 2 NA teams now, and flashpoint has a big buy-in. You used to be able to put a team together and train hard to qualify tournaments and go up in the rankings, but that’s not how it works anymore,” ShahZaM explained.
“Not that I’m against all of it, I understand the orgs are trying to make CSGO sustainable. Opportunities are even more limited right now, and I’m sure there’ll be some sort of correction in the future to build up T2 NA again.”
freakazoid is the latest to announce his departure and it’s just days after he made yet another plea to organizations to support his Swole Patrol lineup before it was too late.
This most certainly won’t be the end as others who haven’t made an outright announcement are certainly toying with the idea and as more make the move, they’ll feel even more pressure to act before all the spots with top-level organizations are filled.
VALORANT is most likely to succeed as an esports, especially with the backing of Riot Games and the development team behind it given their experience. The players know this, and while I do believe many would rather continue competing in CS, it’s hard to deny an opportunity and continue to grind what is currently a fruitless endeavour for those outside of the tier 1 teams.
Tournament and league organizers like ESL, FLASHPOINT, DreamHack, and more will need to try to create a plan to better support the tier 2 and 3 scenes or you can expect plenty more drops as the window to make it to the top shrinks due to exclusivity and buy-ins.
Whether or not this will bring in a wealth of new talent or help to shrink the overall scene for Counter-Strike is hard to predict, but it’s certainly worth discussion.