In a recent livestream to his Twitch channel, Michael “shroud” Grzesiek didn’t mince his words in terms of where he sees Counter-Strike’s life currently along with issues he experienced in the North American scene. A former Counter-Strike professional most notably for Cloud9, shroud retired from competing in 2017 to focus full-time on streaming where he took the landscape by storm.
He helped Cloud9 to attend seven majors along with several domestic trophies and an ESL Pro League Season 4 victory in São Paulo in 2016.
The topic of Counter-Strike and North America’s stand in general came up after it was mentioned that 100 Thieves had elected to step away from the esport. The organization cited the move of top tier Counter-Strike to Europe due to COVID-19 and its impact on LAN events & travel as one of the main reasons for their decision.
“There are [few] NA teams now. NA as a whole is not popular at all. You have EG, you have Complexity, you have Liquid — that’s it. The rest is just like EU,” he said. “I’m surprised C9 is still in it. I feel like C9 is going to pull out soon.”
The 26-year-old clearly doesn’t have his finger on the pulse too tightly given Cloud9 recently completed their new five man roster for three-year deals – although in terms of pulling out of North America he’s nailed that. Cloud9’s new roster only features one North American player, Ricky “floppy” Kemery.
“NA just died in CS, hard. And in my opinion, that’s a big L to the community, to lose NA. Because I think they brought so much hype, and so much excitement into the game and scene, so for that to be lost kind of sucks.”
While North American CS has certainly taken a hit given the current esports landscape not giving much to those below the tier 1 scene, the release of VALORANT, COVID, a good part of the falling off can be attributed toward the latter on the list.
Another point he made in terms of the survivability of the scene is how he doesn’t understand how and why players are making as much money as they are given the current state of the game.
“CS is undeniably dying, and yet players are still getting paid like $40,000 a month. 30, 40 grand. I don’t understand where this money is coming from and how it’s still pumping.”
Moving past the big question marks around affording a top team in Counter-Strike in NA in particular, he pointed out just how bad practice in the region was during his time. It is worth pointing out, however, that NA saw an uptick in international contention in 2018 and 2019 with Liquid, NRG/Evil Geniuses, FURIA, and MIBR all making plays on the global stage and therefore providing better practice at home.
“The amount of sh*tty f*cking scrims we used to get — oh my God. I would say half of our practice was a waste of time. Whether that’s our fault, which happens, or the other team’s fault, it was so f*cking lame man. From my experience of scrimming and practicing for years, all NA wants to do is win. Even in practice, and that does nothing – winning in practice does nothing for you.”
While his experience may not be 100% applicable in todays scene, there are things worth taking account of.
Is Counter-Strike dying? Is it just NA? Will it bounce back after COVID or is the damage already done?
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