Prior to the grand final of DreamHack Open Montreal, Danish "Nohte" Allana had a lengthy chat with the recently reunited commentary duo of Conner "Scrawny" Girvan and Mohan "launders" Govindasamy. The pair went into much detail as they discussed their paths up to this point, their plans for the future, the Major format, and a great deal more over the course of 40 minutes.
To start off with these matches in Montreal, right now we have Kinguin who just got into the grand finals after beating AGO in the Polish derby and there's also ENCE facing Imperial right now. What do you guys think about this sort of tier 2 scene that has risen up and become far more competitive than it was before?
Conner "Scrawny" Girvan: I've always kind of floated around tier 2—
Mohan "launders" Govindasamy: You're a tier 2 caster, so...
Scrawny: —so it's super cool to see teams that once upon a time had less to offer now able to compete. It's nice that we get this "top of tier 2" type of event while it overlaps the tier 2 stage of the Major itself.
I think that in terms of teams the only one I would have preferred seeing is maybe like a Ghost, cause there's very much a changing of the guard, right? Think of the amount of times we've seen a Red Reserve, an AGO here at DreamHack Opens and they've just been falling short, and I think that kind of correlates with teams falling short at the Major Challengers stage.
You lost your VP, you lost your Gambit, you lost your North — teams that always at least got to that next step and didn't this time, and they're being replaced by what I think are much more interesting and potentially more promising tier 2 teams. I think the gap is definitely closing.
launders: I feel like this event is college ball, where it's a lot more scrappy, it's teams that obviously aren't at the Major, and I think it's a perfect side event for the Major. Unlike with some other Opens, as Conner mentioned, we have teams here who all have tons of potential.
I think the team with the least potential is probably Red Reserve, and those are bunch of players that have always been regarded as the DreamHack Open potential semifinalists or maybe even finalists. So considering that they're the least interesting team here, that says a lot about teams like ENCE, Imperial, eUnited that are here and that actually makes it really exciting. I think it's just as gripping to watch these games in some regards for a lot of people who've watched CS for a long time as it is to watch like, a tier 1 event.
Yeah most definitely, there's a lot of potential in these teams coming up.
launders: If you're a talent scout, there's no other event to watch if you are looking for the next player for Virtus.pro than to watch this DreamHack where you have Kinguin and AGO. I mean these are all the next best players in Poland and there's no better way than to watch them compete on LAN.
Talking a little bit more about you guys as a duo, Mohan was stuck in the US for a little bit so you didn't get the chance to travel and commentate as much together, but you've done a couple of things like the online bits of ESL One New York and ZOTAC Cup Masters Finals more recently. What are your guys' plans as duo going forward?
launders: Yeah so I originally wanted to duo with Conner because before this, I was kind of dabbling with duoing with Vince. Vince is an awesome dude and someone I really respect and like hanging out with, but I found that we were kind of different people a little bit. Like he plays bass guitar, which I think is amazing. But I don't play bass guitar, I don't listen to Megadeth, you know, even though I think it's cool and I might get into it.
With Conner it felt like we had a lot of things in common right from the jump, and I actually felt like that even though in terms of casting I view Conner and Vince as just as skilled, because I had more in common with Conner and because he's a good travel buddy as well. He's someone who, just like me, when we land somewhere we like to explore and look around. Vince is more just kinda laid back, "let's go do the job", and is amazing at the casting but isn't so into the travelling.
I felt like there was more to this duo that I was looking for that had to do with things outside of actually casting, so that's why initially I wanted to duo with Conner. In terms of experience we've only done a bit of the Pro League, ESL New York, and DreamHack Atlanta. We could literally count the games that we've casted on one hand, and as of right now we have almost 6 or 7 more events lined up for this fall.
Scrawny: Yeah, it's gonna look really good moving forward. That's the beauty of it right, that we get this chance now. We waited for it. There's a bit of a hidden gem in the sense that we were separated not by choice for a while. Just because it gave me a chance to develop on my own.
When we started floating the idea of duoing, launders had so much more experience already, and it was me who had to catch up. And I think that I've made the absolute most while he was where he was because I worked a lot of DreamHack Opens, I had off-events with Hugo Byron, working with casters that aren't necessarily the same role as launders, so just developing my skills on my own. I think honestly just proving my worth and my ability to be an even duo partner.
launders: I help you get jobs too.
Scrawny: Of course right, that's the biggest thing. But on top of that, moving forward with this is the plan, it just meshes really well. I think that if you ask any play-by-play who was in my position when we first talked about this, or is in my position now, launders would have been the most sought after partner. Whether you be Vince or anyone else who doesn't have a cemented duo, for color commentators that aren't already picked up by world-class play-by-plays, he is your go-to choice.
So I'm lucky enough to be having so much in common with him and just gelling and doing well with chemistry. That's what I think makes this the most fun, is that again, we do have fun. Whether that be just playing games when we have time off, or just making the most of travel, it just clicks.
Speaking of getting experience while Mohan was unable to travel, I was reading an interview with Sadokist where he talked about working with you, Conner, at the last DreamHack Open Montreal. He talked about challenging you while casting alongside you, purposely messing with you to try and help you improve. Talk to me a bit about that, and people who have mentored you both as casters.
Scrawny: In terms of individual mentorship, I think that in terms of professional advice and just kind of general advice, obviously Mohan has been very influential. But in terms of me sitting back and watching other casters, trying to improve and be critical of my own casting, my biggest influences would be Sadokist and Vince, at least in terms of CS:GO because I think I have a lot in common with Sado.
I love his style of casting, I think he brings in a lot of influences from his love for hockey and for F1. Every time he releases an interview discussing casting critically, I always try to keep an eye out for his influences because I think that he has a lot to offer; I think he's one of the best, and therefore you want a little bit of him in that.
Referring back to the way he was testing me at the last DreamHack Montreal, I didn't know it at the time right, it's not something he told me. So I wasn't sure if he was purposely interrupting me at times, or if it was just me not understanding how to cast with another heavy play-by play. Reading that interview afterwards, he had never discussed what he was doing until I read that, and then it all clicked and I sat back and laughed about it because it's something I think is so "Sado".
You know, he's out there to help mold and help advise guys that want to take their casting to their next step, so I'd say just a big shoutout to him first and foremost. And then Vince as well, he's very unique in his casting, I love his downtempo pacing. That's something I also regard Pansy very highly for. When it comes to launders, I'd say it's conversational skills. There's a part where you're casting play-by-play, and then there's casting that is conversation and just more... presence.
Can't be play-by-playing the USP rounds all the time.
Scrawny: Yeah exactly, so that's where I think I regard Mohan very highly and let that influence come from there.
launders: For myself, I think that at this point almost every commentator has rubbed off on me one way or another. Just being with them in green rooms, or commentating with them, or talking to them. But for the sake of keeping the interview somewhat succinct, I think that the most prominent people would probably be... first of all, Sadokist, who — I've told this story a million times — gave me my first job casting at LAN ETS cause he thought I was a terrible commentator but had a good voice. It has been a long road, but I feel like I'm finally meeting up with the voice and I'm actually becoming the commentator I wanted to be from the beginning. But him giving me my first shot was huge.
In terms of influences, I look to HenryG, I think the most. It's almost indirectly that he's influenced me the most because I've had conversations with him and I feel like, just like on a life-level, I really gel with his views on things. I remember once outside of a StarLadder at an afterparty in Kiev we were talking, and he looked at me and he's like, "launders, I'm not a commentator, that's just not who I am", and I really understood that cause I didn't like commentary at first. I had never met someone like Conner who would actually actively talk about commentary in a way that was not like a conversation, and I never really understood how difficult it was to be good at it. I don't think I gave it enough credence on my way up, and I feel like HenryG kind of had that too.
Then, an event later, I see HenryG and it's like DreamHack Summer and we're out for a smoke, and he was like "launders, I'm yelling after every single kill, I'm going in" and I could see the respect that he now has gained for the commentary role, and it comes across in how good of a commentator he is. The amount of energy he puts in is pretty much unparalleled. Sadokist and him deliver the most pound-for-pound amount of energy of any commentary duo, period. He's just relentless with it, and I think that that has rubbed off on me a lot, it's improved my work ethic just thinking about how HenryG is constantly exerting himself.
As a color as well, which is the most important part of that because typically you would see our role as being the more laid back, passive, cynical, balances out the play-by-play who's energetic and maybe overly excited for the crowd kind of thing. But then you see someone like HenryG, who's shows that you can do that role, you can have analysis, and you can also bring the energy as well.
Also, because I spent so much time at ECS, Dan and James have been huge for me as well. They're just incredibly intelligent people. Especially Dan, who's incredibly introspective, can give me so much insight and that's the kind of level I'm on as well where I feel like him and me and Henry, we flip on a switch.
We aren't always that commentator in real life, whereas I find a lot of play-by-plays are. For colors I feel like we're maybe naturally introverted at one point in our lives, and that kind of changes when you get into commentary. But with all of them, and with Dan especially, I see that I can relate to his advice when he's the kind of guy that has to change when he gets on camera, so all those guys are definitely huge influences on me.
I'm going to keep you talking a bit longer Mohan, tell me about your transition from doing interview work for Yahoo to where you are now.
launders: At Yahoo... I was totally unwilling to go to that job. They were chasing me around event after event where I was doing interviews. The final event was MLG Columbus where they had a guy named Dylan Walker — who now works at Blizzard, he got a good job at Blizzard — who was the "CS:GO guy" because they didn't have a CS:GO guy.
He came up to me and he was like, "launders, I really want a CS:GO guy. I don't know how to ask these questions." I had one of the producers step in on the FalleN interview I did, and I didn't realize that was the Yahoo producer. And finally he comes up to me in Starbucks like "listen man, come work at Yahoo", and I was like... "how much money you make?" He told me, and I was like—
Scrawny: Double it.
launders: —alright. So I went to Travis, I asked for about 30% more, and I asked for total freedom. I said I want to be my own boss, I hate the idea of working for people, I wanted to be able to cast so I wanted the freedom to go to events if I wanted to, and they gave me everything. So I had to say yes, I was like "fine." It was a great job while I was there, I had everything I asked for, I had a good salary, I had good people working around me, and it actually gave me a great perspective on working for people which is something that I pretty much always hated.
Having all the shitty jobs, working at McDonald's, telemarketing, a butcher shop, you know it's never fun working for people there because no one likes their jobs, right? But Yahoo, where everyone was really passionate and doing what they were passionate about, gave me a totally new perspective on the corporate life, and I enjoyed making content as well so it was as good as it could have been.
I've grown a lot since living in Los Angeles, I've just become a much more confident person; I've had to take on so much more responsibility. I think all of that comes back into commentary and you can kind of see it in the things that we can talk about. I think one thing that's so cool about Sadokist — a super confident guy, for example — is that he'll go off on tangents about the RCMP or just random Canadian facts or F1, a variety of interests. It's actually so important when it comes to fill-time because that's a huge part of our jobs and that's something that we're particularly trying to focus on by pairing ourselves with people that we have chemistry with.
All those life experiences I gained in my time at Yahoo is amazing, but that being said, I'm happy now to be back on the trail and travelling for events. I absolutely love travelling, my dad goes backpacking for 6 months in Asia like, every 6 months, so I think that part of my genetics are finally starting to kick in. I really like airports, being on planes, seeing new places, and so I'm always happy which also ties back into the commentary as I'm sure you [Scrawny] are as well with the travelling.
Commentating is amazing. At first I didn't like it, but it makes up a good amount of income, I get to see the world, and it's been very fulfilling. I was happy both times, and I'm kind of glad it went in that progression where I was at Yahoo.
Canadian CS has been on the rise recently, we have NAF at the top, we have Twistzz, we have moose coming up in eUnited. There's also Wardell on Ghost, steel's bringing him up. Talk to me a bit about the rise of Canadian talent and North America as a whole in the last year or so.
Scrawny: Yeah so I've been touting this for a little while — I feel like Canada has actually been leading tier 2 in North America, and literally leading, right? Think about it, if you look at in-game leaders that I think have taken squads and made them improve. Look at stanislaw with compLexity who just got to the Legends stage of the Major, look at steel and his ability to improve Ghost, we've got FNS out there as well, we've got daps with NRG. In terms of in-game leaders, I think Canada is the majority for North America, very much so.
Then you start thinking about straight up fraggers. Like you said, moose of eUnited, he's been key to them since they were back in Rise Nation and got into this DreamHack Open-type tier. You look at Twistzz who you could argue is one of the best players in North America, NAF by his side, it's very much pushed by Canada right now, North America's improvements. You can't entirely take credit for it, I'm not trying to be overly patriotic here—
launders: We're on top. Both literally and figuratively.
Scrawny: —but I've always thought that Canadian in-game leadership is something that is huge to the progression that North America is currently making in Counter-Strike. I don't know if it's a cultural thing, I don't know if it's just individuals that seem to work super well like that, I don't know what it is.
launders: Maybe Canada is just better!
NAF and Twistzz are probably the top two players in North America right now.
Scrawny: Yeah that's what I'm saying. it's like we've got the fraggers, and then you think of development, you have those in-game leaders. daps has finally now, with NRG, got to keep here, but he's been developing talent for a long time. Like NRG as a project seems to be the time that daps has finally got to keep his project and push forward with it.
steel, unfortunately for his situation with Valve, can never attend Majors, and that then opens his team to the potential of poaching players, but he has been self-critical of that and recognized his ability to develop the lower teams in NA. If he is aware of his ability to do that, I think he's going to continue to do that. Hell, Wardell — there's another fragger we didn't talk about, he is almost single-handedly carrying Ghost at times. North America looks great in terms of development, and I think that it is very much spearheaded by Canadian players in particular.
launders: And if all else fails we can always call on OCEAN to come through.
Conner, you were talking a lot about Vince helping you out, and I wanted to discuss a bit about talent burning out. Vince put out a video about him stepping down from casting for a variety of reasons, what are your guys' thoughts on the number of events with the current talent spread and burning out from too many events?
Scrawny: First of all I think that it needs to be noted that that Vince's departure from Counter-Strike casting is gonna leave a hole that won't be filled anytime soon. Obviously other people will be hired in his place, but in terms of casting level I think we will see a bit of a drop off because every event has those top tier duos, and Vince was always, if included in events — events he most certainly deserved — was always like the last addition, whether he be working with say a Pansy or a HenryG. Actually DreamHack has been giving him Masters finals, two in a row, so clearly people realize he's good, and he's finals worthy.
In terms of burn out, I think it's very individualistic. If you're somebody like Vince, who has for some time now said he's not capable of travelling longer distances, and even in general if you know him, he doesn't like the act of travelling. That changes depending on if it coincides with your interests. I've been travelling since I was 17 years old, I spent my 18th birthday in Thailand, I've been to Peru backpacking and volunteering. It's been a part of my life, so now that it's a part of my job, I don't think that holds me back. But I'm saying that now as someone who isn't hired for every single event, I'm not working 3 or 4 a month. I think I'm in that nice little comfortable zone that is 1 of 2 events a month, and I don't think that's going to burn you out unless you have a particular disdain for travel, in which case it's gonna tax you.
We live in a place where, in Canada, there's not many studio broadcasts. If you're not going to LAN events, which obviously require travel, you tend to either be doing broadcast casting like from home, remote casting, or you're just not working. In my particular situation, even though we are on this upcoming path and getting more and more events than ever, I feel no burn out. I feel like I've been grinding to this point in order to prove and obtain a chance at what is about to begin. If you ask me again in say 6 months then maybe I'll have a different answer, so I'm expecting the test to be this fall.
launders: Yeah, and that is something that we talk about, because even though we can't feel it ourselves, we don't have that personal experience, we know that from other commentators. We've heard horror stories you know, stuff that's not talked about in interviews. It's just green room talk that probably will never get out till well after esports or whatever.
It's hinted at in some podcasts and what not but never actually fully fleshed out, yeah.
launders: Yeah yeah, you definitely hear small pieces of it here and there, but it's something we talk about behind the scene. I've had one event where I woke up in a hotel room and I didn't know what country I was in, so at a certain point if you are like... Matt and you've traveled, what was it, like 300 days out of the year or something ridiculous, you might start to lose your grounding as a person, right? Especially with someone who has good family values and loves his dog very much and does so many physical activities and stuff like that.
We're all getting a little bit more healthy, and we like exploring and stuff but we... you know, Conner's got a girlfriend. I would like to have a girlfriend this year, to have a real relationship, but I mean that might not be possible if we end up traveling 3-4 times in a month.
There is a high frequency of events, and it seems like with the Major and how well the Major is doing... I think a lot of us were worried before. We're probably in the second half of CS:GO just because of how long the game has been out, I mean we don't know anything about the future of esports, no one has ever been there yet, but just to be safe and realistic you have to assume that all games have some kind of finite lifespan, but it feels like it's as big as ever. Day 3 of the Major with over 200k viewers, and the number of events that have popped up since we scheduled our fall, it's just startling.
There's a lot of people with money out there that like Counter-Strike, Counter-Strike is a great game and it's kind of got a monopoly on the hardcore FPS players at the moment, at least for the most part. There's definitely a world where we do spiral out and have to cast so many events that we can't handle it and it becomes unhealthy, and we'll cross that bridge when we get there.
Scrawny: I think it also has to include your home life as well. There's certain people who will find travel more taxing because of their particular life situation. You can compare casters all you want, but nobody has the same life. If you have something that you feel needs your attention at home, it's gonna constantly be on the back of your mind.
I love my girlfriend to death, and she is very supportive and understanding of my job, and she understands that I have to put that first because you know, it is my employment. I think I am particularly lucky to have a very stable home environment, there's no real concerns or worries. I'm not going to be losing any family members as far as I'm aware of, I don't have a mortgage to pay for, there's nothing I really have to be worried about at home so I can travel with a clear mind. So travelling, again, becomes that much easier. Not everybody can be in that same situation, and that just comes down to life, things that are out of your control.
launders: And another thing is just how we prioritize our time. If we were the commentators who were at the top 2 years ago, it might have been like "we just want to absorb this as much as possible and just enjoy the ride" and everything and that's how it gets out of hand, but we're prepared to be aware of when it could get out of hand, beforehand. Which helps a lot I feel like. The way I see it is that I will probably want to be a professional commentator for a couple more years before I might not want to travel as much anymore, I might want to be able to live in one place.
In a few years I can get a lot done, so I'm kind of rationing out this next chunk of my life for something I really want to do, and I'm going to take the good with the bad. I think that just knowing that, that there is a way out in the end and I'm not going to be stuck in this forever, just helps makes things easier.
Scrawny: I also think that having a gradual increase in the amount of travel, events, et cetera that you have going for you makes it a little bit easier. If we go back to say, the huge blow-up that was Counter-Strike's development, that happened so rapidly that even the top casters went from having a couple of events to suddenly being all over the world, all the time. That's not something that I experienced.
You know, they built Counter-Strike; Counter-Strike has built me. I'm coming up after the fact, so I remember the times when I'd have one event every three months and I'd have all this time to prepare for it. Now with more regular jobs I have a rhythm, I have a routine, airports don't intimidate me, I've gotten better at travel. You know the tricks of the trade that make your life just that much easier so that it's more sustainable.
Scrawny: Exactly, Nintendo Switch too. You just get better and better, and you don't really get caught off guard by it as much. Even our recent travel to Hong Kong, that was a 24 hour travel day for me. If you have an idea as to what that feels like before it happens, if you know what regular 10 hour flights are like to Europe, then you can be mentally prepared for that and I don't think it's going to affect you as much.
But again, that's been gradual, and that gradual increase is something I'm very thankful for actually, because I think it helps you stay grounded and I think it helps you stay healthy because you're not just feeling sick of events and sick of being on the road. I take travel as a blessing every time, that's how I appreciate it and see it.
Talking a bit more about the casting you've already done, what would be the most memorable event you've done so far, whether it be together, in a separate duo, or solo?
Scrawny: I think memorable, in terms of fun, I will always remember our tri-cast with Hugo Byron just now at ZOTAC in Hong Kong. That was just incredibly fun because, while launders wasn't available for events, I casted a lot with Hugo. And Hugo is another person that I think, just as friends, we have so much in common that... I'll remember that for the rest of my life. The Hong Kong crowd was sick, the city we made the absolute most of.
In terms of casting matches, or moments, I don't think I've had those yet, at least not anything that comes to mind right now. It's just more so the events and where we are when things happen that I think are memorable for me, that one because it's with two of my best friends in esports. DreamHack Montreal here because this is my home, it was the first time my parents were in the crowd. To see them on a camera was incredible, and that to me was what makes things memorable right now.
launders: I also feel like we haven't had that match yet that's going to be extremely memorable. I feel like in Hong Kong, the first map that we casted together which was MIBR versus Flash, it was kind of a stomp by MIBR. The thing is that there was literally a year of us in Discord playing PUBG, hyping up the moment that we were gonna be able to cast again, and we met together in Hong Kong and we finally get this match and we had so much fun casting the match.
Technically maybe it wasn't the most beautiful and there's so many things that we're going to improve upon, but I don't think we could've hit the ground running in a better way for the amount of build-up and hype that we had amongst ourselves about finally being able to meet up again. That was a really good moment where we finally felt like, okay, you know—
Scrawny: It's real.
launders: —where it's real, and we hit the ground running, and now we can finally start on that long process of creating a strong product and going through the bad times and the good times. But if you don't start off well, if there's no honeymoon phase at the very least, it's gonna make it hard to get through the bad times as well, so that was nice.
Out of the current premier tournament circuit, what would be the dream event for you guys to cast together right now?
launders: The Major would be nice.
Scrawny: *laughing* Yeah, I mean I think the Major is obviously on everyone's minds. Personally I think launders would deserve it in one role or another, but I'm not there yet. I just think it's a matter of development, obviously it's a dream, you ask anybody in CS:GO, you want the Major. To me, having had the blessing of so many DreamHack Opens now, I'd love to get my foot in the door of a Masters. I was just doing the remote stream on Stockholm with Hugo, which was a lot of fun, but being there is a little but different.
ZOTAC Finals was actually the first time time I cast an event with a prize pool larger than $100,000, so that was kind of a step in the right direction, but I don't think the event was necessarily as legitimized as the more regular organizers. I have my fingers crossed for a DreamHack Masters Montreal. I think if there's a North American city that it would make sense for, then it's gotta be that one. Marc Winther, hit us up.
launders: And BLAST Pro Series, if you need commentators, we're free.
The Major is obviously going on right now, compLexity advanced yesterday and Liquid already 3-0'd the group stage. And then there's Cloud9...
launders: Yeah, we don't talk about Cloud9.
Just in general, what do you guys think about the New Legends and the New Challengers stage, and how this Major might turn out?
launders: I think what happened to North is hilarious. *both laugh* It's kind of sad, but it's really funny from the outside. It's just such a fall from grace for a team that looked like they had a consistent way to do well in tournaments, and just to blow it at the Major, that kinda sucks. At least they got that Masters win, they're gonna remember that for a long time. I think that Masters win is better than just getting top 16 at a Major or something like that, that's really solid with a deep run, huge comeback and everything.
I personally love watching TYLOO. Sometimes I'm just like, "holy crap, a Main player could fix all your problems if they could speak Chinese", but they're still so exciting to watch. They individually do some really cool stuff too, like really smart stuff and it's just so fun to watch that style and I love that. It's hard to find culture shock in the world today, just in general, even travelling, but also with CS playstyles where everyone leans to this more "optimal" one way of playing, but then you go over to China and they just have a brand new brand of Counter-Strike and I think that's what's really fun for me. After all these years of watching CS I think it's awesome that you can still see someone play the game differently and win.
As for compLexity, huge stanislaw fan from day 1. I've always known if you put him on a team, the team gets better — OpTic won ELEAGUE for example. compLexity? Get top 16 in a Major? That literally wasn't possible, there's no other player that could just change it for them like that. There's something deep rooted that had to be fixed, and stanislaw, as an IGL, you have to assume had a lot to do with that.
Mohan you previously talked about the Major format and the timeline for Majors needing to be announced earlier in an interview with Nathan Fusco last year. They've announced Katowice a little earlier this year, and they've also made a couple of changes to the Major like with all the Minors being in the same place and now with the last two placings in the New Legends stage requiring the teams to requalify as well. What other changes do you guys think the Major needs as the most prestigious tournament of the year?
launders: You just never have the correct top 8, you know like having Winstrike having an automatic free route or having FlipSid3 skip so many matches that they might not have been able to win months later, it just doesn't really make a lot of sense. There's a lot of people who have thrown out different kinds of solutions for that.
I do think that FACEIT having all the Minors in one place is beautiful, it's just the best way to create a good product and a consistent one. Players are way happier, it's a more consistent experience for all the teams from the different regions, same computers, you know, all that stuff is awesome. [Scrawny], you had a particularly rough experience at a Minor, at the ELEAGUE Minor right?
Scrawny: Yeah so I didn't actually attend the NA ELEAGUE Minor, but I did the CIS one. I was gonna build off your point on consistency, I think that's the nicest thing about it. You know that all the players, regardless of their region, are going to have the same experience in the same environment for their Minor stage.
That's not something that was provided for the ELEAGUE Boston Major, like I did the CIS one at the PGL studios in Romania and I think the players were treated fantastically, it was great. Then I observed the North American qualifier put on by MediaXP and you had tables that weren't flat surfaces, it just was not of the same professional quality and that's not fair to North America. Again, once you put everybody in the same place, once you give them the same environment and you give them the same privileges, then it definitely evens the ground.
If there's any differences or changes that I would personally like to see... there's no reason to have best-of-one Swiss. I think best-of-three Swiss is something that you can do, other tournaments do it already, and so why wouldn't you want that for the biggest event of the year?
launders: I like best-of-one Swiss. In terms of integrity of competition you obviously don't get the best teams going through. That is the main problem with it. Logistically it's obviously a little bit more difficult when you don't know how many hours of Counter-Strike you have in a day. Like if we had to have an extra day in a venue like this you're running up hundreds of thousands of dollars just for the ability to play a couple more matches, so it would involve adding more days to the Major, which is I think the primary concern.
I do like to find a balance between competitive integrity, which is by far the most important thing, but then also the viewer experience. I think that the amount of variation you get from having a whole bunch of best-of-ones in one day is kind of nice with the amount of different teams you get to see play. Best-of-threes can be kind of draining at some points; I feel like it's actually easier to retain an audience with a best-of-one format even though it's more cutthroat and more inconsistent. As much as competitive integrity is super important, none of us have jobs, Counter-Strike doesn't even exist without fans. So viewership in that way is actually important to think about.
Scrawny: Those are all very good points, I think those are all the best counter-arguments you could provide. If there's something else that I think would make the Majors themselves more interesting, I think it would be a reorganization of the way that the Minors work. Right now we have 2 teams per region qualifying for the first stage of the Major. I've always been intrigued, and I don't know how you'd run it exactly — it's not my job to figure it out —, but to see, say, all of the Minors lead to one larger qualifier that then gets you into the Challengers stage of the Major. Does Europe only deserve 2 spots if they are the predominant team?
I would just like to see this global entity that leads to the first stage of the Major itself. Recently we had this Challenger stage legitimized by Valve, in the sense that before it was the Major Qualifier LAN, and now it's a part of the Major. So if we go one step further, the next thing that's gonna be targeted would be the regional Minors themselves. I think it would be sick if we had regional Minors that led to a global Minor, which then crowned the best upcoming teams to head into the first stage of the Major.
They did make the first step towards something like that with the two last place slots needing re-qualification, and those two spots coming from a battle in a final qualifier between the third place teams from each of the regional Minors.
Scrawny: I feel like there's unarguably been steps in the right direction, so I think if you give Valve more time — and Valve need time — we're just gonna see more and more improvements. They haven't been making the wrong decisions, they're just seeming very hesitant in making their moves. But when they do make them, it's been an improvement, so I look forward to seeing what they do next.
Although it is currently unknown where they'll appear next, the duo did mention that they would be appearing at a number of upcoming events, with their next stop most likely to be at StarSeries i-League Season 6.