Opinion: NA doesn't deserve fewer Major spots
The North American performance at the most recent Major was nothing to write home about, with only one team making the Legends stage. Valve has a ruling that decides how many spots each region receives, with a default number of spots for the Americas, but with such a poor showing from NA should this change so that they get fewer? This sparks two important conversations; how many spots does NA deserve at the RMR for Rio and should the default Major spots for the Americas as a whole change? Of course, in regards to Counter-Strike, North America is behind Europe as a region, that’s a given and you’d be pretty hard-pressed to find a fan who doesn’t agree with this. However, kicking a region whilst it's down by taking away spots in the Major hardly seems like the right way of thinking to me.
Valve's current ruling
The perfect competitive environment that a Major should foster has each region fielding competitive teams. Previously, NA had seven spots at the RMR which could be reached through the open qualifier, as opposed to SA's eight RMR spots. Some might argue that due to the current state of the scene and how it shapes up against SA, NA deserves fewer spots. Going on to say that by taking away RMR spots from NA teams, you are increasing the level of competition, but what that argument doesn't consider is all the positives that a scene receives by just having teams attend the Major. Due to the current Valve rulings, at the Antwerp Major, the Americas as a whole will get six spots, due to having three teams in the top 16 as well as the three default spots awarded to the Americas.
Even though the Americas includes both SA and NA, some argue that due to the performance of the latter that the default should be decreased as it is not deserved. However I would argue it is not a case of deserving, it's a case of needing these spots for North American Counter-Strike to survive. If you belong to the mindset that the Americas deserve fewer spots due to NA's poor performance, here are some things you may want to consider.
How has NA done at this Major?
North American Counter-Strike does not live up to the standard set by Europe, but it is not in this abysmal state whereby, as some would suggest, Valve should punish them with fewer default spots. Only Liquid reached the Legends stage at this Major and they went without a win once they got there; not very inspiring. But, if you zoom out and look at the state that NA is in and how they performed in relation to this, you get a better picture. At the RMR, in Bucharest, Romania, five North American teams made it through the North American open qualifier, joined by two South American teams through the same open qualifier, and eight through the SA Open Qualifier. One more SA team attended the RMR, which was FURIA, who was invited due to making the Champions stage the year before.
Now, out of those teams that attended in Bucharest, only six got a spot at the Major, two of which were NA and four of which were SA. Out of the 10 SA teams that qualified, not including FURIA because they were invited, 30% of them qualified for the Major, as opposed to 40% of the NA teams. Now the depth of NA is not what it used to be but the good teams just need that little extra push, whether that be an org or a few changes, to get to a high level. Party Astronauts and Evil Geniuses, for instance, were just shy of qualifying for the Major For this reason, no changes should be made to the amount of RMR spots that NA has, or if spots are to be taken away then only NA teams should be allowed to compete in the NA open qualifiers.
It's important to discuss the impact that qualifying for a Major has on a team’s ability to continue existing due to the money you can make from a Major. I’m not talking about the prize pool, but rather the money made from stickers. Liquid attended their first Major, DreamHack Cluj-Napoca, in 2015; just before this, sticker money was agreed to be split equally between teams. If it wasn’t for this sticker money Liquid would have made only $2,000 from attending the Major due to the prize pool. Even in the state that NA was in back in 2015, the sticker money that Liquid gained helped them get to the point where they could keep competing in Majors and eventually reach the point they are at now. If the rules change, and the Americas are awarded fewer spots at the Major and NA fewer at the RMR, then not as many teams will have the opportunity to secure financial support. A modern-day example of the impact of sticker money can be found in Bad News Eagles in EU, as qualifying for the Major will help them immensely due to the profit they will obtain from stickers.
The beautiful thing about CS:GO compared to other esports is that these underdogs can come out of nowhere and compete. If we give fewer spots to the Americas as a whole or for NA at the open qualifiers, then you are lessening the chance these teams have of being able to build up to the point where they can compete. A lot of the teams in NA can’t afford to play full time, especially with the lack of events in NA since the COVID-19 pandemic began, so taking away spots, along with the opportunity to earn significant amounts of money, means that these teams and tiny orgs may have to either shut down or not be able to commit enough time to CS. From there it’s an endless cycle; you are committing to the destruction of NA CS.
The perfect amount of spots
As discussed earlier, for the next Major, the Americas will again be getting six spots. This is the perfect number, any less would hinder the scene of NA which is struggling. Now I’m not saying giving NA more spots remedies this, because there must be healthy competition in NA; if things are just handed out by giving more spots this just creates another problem as teams will just get lethargic. NA CS isn’t in a great place but to get to the Major, teams such as Bad News Bears, PA, Carpe Diem, Gamin Gladiators, ATK, and more will keep pushing. The competition between these teams will drive them all to be better and eventually when they start qualifying for Majors because there are enough spots, they can make enough money for orgs to see their value or to invest in themselves.
Overall, the current spots that the Americas will have in the next Major are perfect for them and the current division of spots for the RMR, in terms of open qualifiers, is perfect and should not change. It is not a matter of NA deserving these spots but the current system allows for the scene to grow by giving the teams that are driven enough to qualify an opportunity to play on a global stage and money.