ELEAGUE Confirms Second Season for Counter Strike: Global Offensive
For any esports enthusiasts, or people who just love video games, you might be excited to hear that ELEAGUE will be returning shortly with a second season of insane Counter Strike: Global Offensive (CSGO) action! ELEAGUE made huge waves as it became the most widely-broadcast esports/competitive video gaming show in the United States. To give you an example of how big ELEAGUE was for its first season, the organization had partnerships with both Arby’s and Buffalo Wild Wings.
ELEAGUE is the first seasonal broadcasting of any video game on television, and can be found on Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) channel. In addition to showing games every Friday night on television, Buffalo Wild Wings also partnered and promised to show off games every Friday night at their locations. Despite this promise, some patrons had trouble viewing the games on television. Another interest fact going into this season in the fact that Shaquille O’Neal, of Basketball Fame, is a part-owner of a independent eSports team, called NRG.
What is ELEAGUE and CSGO?
For those without cable or television, ELEAGUE can still be viewed, albeit with far less production value. Now, video game-streaming website Twitch.tv offers the nightly games of CSGO, on top of allowing viewers to watch directly from the app or website live. The Twitch stream only offers players the chance to view through the “cameraman,” which is typically a role performed by one of the announcers as they use the game’s spectating camera to view the action. ELEAGUE is actually played in front of a live studio audience down in Atlanta, Georgia, and is one of the more strongly attended competitive gaming tournaments.
Of course, players are required to wear a set of earbuds, which house the in-game audio, underneath a set of noise-cancelling headphones, which can play music or double up on the audio. There are no booths, and there is an open-air feeling to the venue; players will often attempt to amp the crowd up with gestures, and there is a general feeling of interactivity.
ELEAGUE runs a format of 24 teams competing over a period of 20 weeks, per year, for their championship. Just recently, Virtus Pro, a competitive video gaming organization based out of Poland and Russia, won the very first season. Other widely-known organizations such as Natus Vincere, Fnatic, and Mousesports also participated in the quarter-finals, semi-finals, and finals of the event.
Of course, this would not be a tournament without a price; the first place winners took home $400,000, the second place team took home $140,000, and the third place team took home $70,000. Do keep in mind that this is split not only between 5 players, but also between the organizations, as organizations do offer some benefits to the professional players, such as offering a house which includes all utilities covered and even a dedicated cook, sometimes.
If you are still clueless as to what type of game these people are playing, CSGO is a hyper-realistic first person shooter that pits a team of counter-terrorists against a team of terrorists. Although the game has two game modes, destruction and hostage rescue, destruction is the only game type considered “professional” and will be the only one played under ELEAGUE and numerous other tournament organizations.
As per its name, destruction indeed revolves around the planting of a virtual bomb at one of two sites, A or B site, and defending it for 40 seconds after a successful plant. The counter-terrorists, meanwhile, must defend against the invasion of the terrorists. This gives the game a distinctive offense/defense feel, and the game has mechanics built into it that lends itself to differentiating the feel of the two sides.
Prior to the actual game happening, the program typically opens with the announcers covering the happenings of the past week and explaining the story behind the two teams that will be playing on live television. After this, the teams move into a pick and ban phase, where they will decide which maps they play on. Two maps are eliminated, one map is picked, two more maps are eliminated, another map is picked, more eliminations happen, and by the process of elimination, the final, non-eliminated map takes place as the last series.
As an interesting anecdote, long-time Counter Strike players understand that different maps are more accommodating to different styles; a map like Train is close-quarters friendly, for example, and most of the team will rely on assault rifles, submachine guns, or shotguns. Maps like Cobblestone, on the other hand, are full of huge, open corridors, and typically you will see teams stack a shocking amount of snipers or assault rifles.
In general, counter-terrorists possess more accurate, yet less powerful weapons (for example, the FAMAS or the MAG-7 automatic magazine-fed shotgun), while the terrorists will possess more powerful, yet less accurate weapons (such as the AK-47 assault rifle, which causes your bullets to fly unpredictably after just 3 shots). There is much more to the weapons and arsenal of the game, but that would be too large for the scope of covering just ELEAGUE.
Games in ELEAGUE are played on a weekly basis, Monday through Thursday. Friday is the showcase game of the week, where two teams will battle in a best-of-three series to determine who wins that week. ELEAGUE works as a single elimination, four team bracket and teams are seeded based on the success they find in the “preseason,” which can only be viewed on Twitch.TV. Prior to the actual season, teams are placed in a round robin tournament, where players will receive 1 point per win. This allows for more accurate seeding of the teams.
Season 2 and How To Watch
In season 2, things will be vastly different and far less complex; now, the organization of the tournament will more closely resemble VALVe-sponsored tournaments, the company behind the release of CSGO and its predecessors. Now, teams will be placed in four different “group stages” where four groups, consisting of four teams each, will vie for supremacy. Only the top two teams of each group will enter into the quarter-finals and from there, potentially the semi-finals or finals.
The top 8 teams from season 1 will be returning and not even have to compete for a spot. Instead of showcasing games Monday through Friday, games will now only be showcased Tuesday through Thursday, with the showcase game happening between two teams on Fridays at 10:00 PM eastern (still).
The prize pool is still set at $1.4 million dollars, meaning the winners will walk away with the same $400,000, while the team below that receives $140,000 and the team under those receive $70,000; the prize structuring is the same. ELEAGUE will return to TBS and Twitch.TV on October 21st, and will wrap up with the finals airing on December 3rd of this year.