Written by Nick “JetBlk” Shaw
Any opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of compLexity Gaming or its parent company.
In light of the recent news of EG buying out Loaded, Nick “JetBlk” Shaw discusses the current state of the top American scene and what it could mean for Americans looking to compete on the global stage.
Every morning after I get ready for the day, I do my rounds of visiting many different esports sites to keep up with the scene. I’ve been inactive from contributing since September 2009, but I still like keeping ties and am aware of what is going on every day.
This morning when I woke up and started my rounds, the first site I viewed was of course compLexity. When I saw the recent news about Loaded being acquired by EG, it was safe to say I was pretty shocked. When I saw this news, there were many different thoughts that came to me about the specific case and different thoughts about the American Counter-Strike 1.6 scene in general.
The first and foremost thing I’d like to ask was why Brandon Freytag decided to seemingly abandon most of his players and staff to join the “Evil empire”? The only team he took to EG with him was his HoN team. When you look at some of the teams Loaded supported, their WoW and CS 1.6 teams stick out to me more. The Loaded.WoW team was the former ButtonBashers trio that saw great success up until an early exit at the MLG Raleigh 2010 event. Why this team is now left homeless is really beyond me, as many believe that it is a very successful squad to support for any top organization.
The next team that got left behind in the acquisition is the Loaded American 1.6 team. Really I see a big problem here: we now have one less American organization to support a top tier 1.6 team. That is really something significant if you think about it! With financial support not easy to come by these days, it is a big stab to the American scene when an organization dissolves. Eventually I could see this causing a problem for our beloved American scene, as it would make things truly hard for large group of up-and-comers to get support from a professional organization. Without such support, the chance to represent America on an international stage will be left to the very few organizations still around that are able to shell out the big bucks to send players overseas. Could this be a sign that the top American 1.6 scene is in trouble? Quite possibly.
I remember the old days when there were many organizations in CAL-Invite that were able to compete at CPL with the rest of the world. This was truly one of the best times for the Americans competitively. There were more than just one or two teams able to really take it to the rest of the world. With another organization going under (or being acquired in this instance), that is one less team financially able to show their worth on the international stage. Now you may argue that such squad would have to beat the top teams domestically to qualify for certain events, but if the financial support isn’t there to travel, why try to qualify for something you aren’t able to attend? It poses a problem that could separate us from the rest of the world.
Over the past few years since the CGS went under, it has been quite obvious that the rest of the world is on a different level of competition than most American top teams. During this time, America got left behind and had to play catch-up with the rest of the world. Arguably, only two organizations were able to give some Europeans a run for their money: EG and coL. Now with compLexity sitting out in the running for American squads, there had to have been someone stepping it up to fill that gap. Many people saw Loaded’s 1.6 team as having the potential to give EG a run for their money. That to me is an important step at making it to the international stage. Even though many here in the coL community don’t like EG, they have proven that they can hang internationally. To be able to have many American teams that can compete against them consistently (read: truly compete and not get blown away in a match) would be a great step towards filling the international stage with American teams once again. Without the financial backing such team would only be grounded to competing in the USA, which wouldn’t leave too much room for skill growth in the team improvement department.
So what does this mean for the up and coming player? It sure as hell will be much harder to get the opportunity to travel with less organizations being able to send you all over the place that’s for sure. The more organizations able to get financial support from sponsors, the more competitive our scene can become, and I think that is the direction that we need to see our scene go in order to survive. Hopefully more organizations appear and put an honest effort in to invigorate our scene and make it more competitive instead of organizations being bought up and competition being spread thin. I guarantee lots of work was put into making Loaded the organization it was, which makes it a pity that Brandon Freytag would just fold it and let it be acquired by a competitor instead of going forward and still being a competitor. Kind of makes you wonder what his true goal in esports is.
In my opinion from what I have gathered from the acquisition is that neither Freytag or EG considered North American esports before their own short-term pockets. Greed is what will end up destroying the scene in the end and this is a perfect example of our demise if everyone did the same. In a scene where it takes the whole to contribute to the survival of North American esports, the individual was put first for their own personal gain so to speak. Really what this could be seen as is the start of a monopoly in gaming: large wealthy organizations buying up smaller organizations. It is pretty disgusting to think about in the end because how does it benefit competition? How does it help spectators of international events? How does it promote growth of North American esports? It doesn’t. It promotes self growth and self gain. That sort of greed to make the short-term buck will only end up blowing up in our faces when we get further down the road into the big scheme of things. The people Freytag left behind when he decided to jump ship have been hurt by personal greed and we are now one less in the array of organizations that support the scene. Esports doesn’t have room for people that do things for their own personal gain.
I know most of you probably won’t read the wall of text fully, but I decided to write this to spark the discussion and thoughts of how to give new life to American Counter-Strike as it has seemingly been on a downward spiral for some time now.
So in that light, are we in trouble? Time will tell.