VALORANT is franchising; what that means for NA CS
First of all, let's get the basics down: what even is franchising? For the past two years, VALORANT has had an open circuit, as Counter-Strike has. Teams would make their way through open qualifiers to reach closed qualifiers to eventually make the main stages of tournaments, much like how CS Majors require teams to run through open qualifiers to RMRs to the actual Major itself.
Some tournaments had invites of course, not unlike IEM Katowice, IEM Cologne, and BLAST events, which are all known for being almost as glamorous as Majors, but nothing compares to VALORANT Masters. Masters is pretty much the only way you could see international play between NA, EU, and other regions. So, because of that, the Masters open circuit held enormous importance for VALORANT.
Now though, you can say goodbye to the open circuit. Riot Games, the creators of VALORANT, have chosen thirty teams to franchise with, ten from the Americas, ten from EMEA (Europe, Middle East, and Africa), and ten from the Pacific region (Asian and Oceanic teams). That means the highest level of American play will only see these ten teams play against each other the whole season, and the large-scale VALORANT Masters events will comprise of teams from these three leagues, no longer an open circuit. Think of how ESL Pro League has a recurring cast of teams every season no matter their form because those teams are franchised and will always have a spot in large ESL tournaments, so long as they stay franchised through the Louvre Agreement.
But enough about VALORANT; what does this mean for Counter-Strike? Well, of the ten Americas teams, only five teams are North American, meaning there will be only 25 North American players (plus a few substitutes and the inevitable international rosters) at the top tier of VALORANT.
Since many of VALORANT's early adopters were former FPS players, it's likely we could see some big names return to Counter-Strike after missing out on franchising. Former CS players such as Yassine "Subroza" Taoufik, Pujan "FNS" Mehta, and Victor "Victor" Wong (known as "food" during his Counter-Strike tenure) are all currently left out of franchising. While it's unlikely these particular players will return to CS given their notable VALORANT careers, there are only so many players that can fit on the five North American rosters.
Although certain organizations have expressed their commitment to the VALORANT sub-tier 1 scene, it's certain that some players and organizations will be leaving the game after missing franchising. Teams like SoaR and Rise left the scene earlier citing the lack of opportunities after franchising, and it's very likely we'll see more of these announcements as time goes on.
Not to be insensitive to the players, but this development in VALORANT can only be good for NA CS. Players that find themselves outside of those top teams could find it very hard to break out. Organizations that previously held a top team in VALORANT like Envy/OpTic, TSM, and XSET could focus their efforts on another FPS title if they were so inclined. Players could move to another aim-focused game with a regrowing North American scene. Don't call it the rebirth of NA CS, but it's certainly beneficial.