When the whole skin gambling scandal in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive hit its stride, naysayers started shouting that CS:GO is dead, that the interest in the game, driven by the skin gambling economy, is going to die down and the whole scene is going to slowly disappear. To be fair, the viewership number of ESL One Cologne 2016, the previous Major, was down from what it used to be, lending some credence to their words. With the numbers from the ELEAGUE Major in, it seems that all of these fountains of salt have been for nought. CS:GO is not dying, it’s more popular than ever.
The numbers are in and the ELEAGUE Major Grand Final between Virtus.pro and Astralis has been watched by A LOT of people. TBS, the TV channel, which essentially owns and operates ELEAGUE, aired the Grand Final as part of their programming. It was watched by 228,000 people. As a first attempt to air a CS:GO Major on TV, it’s definitely not bad especially when you take into account the dominance streaming websites hold over TV viewers in terms of numbers. Speaking of live streaming, 1 million people watched the ELEAGUE Major Grand Finals on Twitch.tv. All in all, the culmination of the ELEAGUE Major, one of the most successful events in CS:GO history, the Grand Finals, was watched by more than 1.2 million people.
While watching eSports on TV is definitely cool, their ratings on TV should never be considered to be the metric for judging whether an event was successful or not. Even outside of eSports, TV is losing ground with video sharing websites like YouTube and live streaming services like Twitch taking over. In gaming, this goes doubly so. Due to the centerpiece of the culture having to do with computers, gamers and more casual eSports fans alike will always gravitate to livestreams held on Internet websites over TV broadcasts. The novelty of an eSports event certainly helps to get people to tune in, however, once the novelty passes, most people will go back to watching events on Twitch and its heirs, if it was to go down for some reason.
One thing is for sure— CS:GO is not dead. Not even close. In fact, it’s probably better than ever, especially with rich non-endemic orgs investing in teams which compete in CS:GO among other games like League of Legends and Overwatch. With non-endemic investors, money is pumped into the scene. With money comes pressure to perform, which in turn forces players to act in a more professional manner in order to actually do it. That leads to better games, making more people get into it, growing the viewership and making eSports even more attractive to investors.