Abios Head of Sales and former CS:GO professional Niclas Sundell discusses the Counter-Strike scene in the spring and its developments, along with some predictions for the year.
The start of the CS:GO esports season has brought a lot of player transfers, a busy schedule and notable player performances. Where there have been several exciting moments in esports, one cannot speak of this period without acknowledging the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, something that naturally has profound effects on many teams and players.
NAVI started 2022 as absolute favourites with the consecutive wins of PGL CS:GO Major and BLAST World Final from the end of last season under their belt.
To paraphrase s1mple’s speech, esports isn’t part of politics. it’s understandably hard for Kyiv-based NAVI to put their heart and soul into matches right now while their players’ home countries are fighting a war. It must be a difficult time for all of their players, something that’s necessary to keep in account concerning their recent performances.
CS:GO spring esports developments
The CS:GO scene is buzzing with activity, but nothing can stop the events happening in the world right now to trickle into esports.
Russian teams banned from BLAST and Elisa events
Condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, BLAST has cancelled its CIS qualifiers. They’ve also banned all Russian teams from participating in their tournaments for the foreseeable future. Elisa Esports was quick to follow, banning Russian teams from all their events, including “Elisa Invitational”. This could potentially affect notable teams such as Virtus.Pro, Gambit and ForCe.
We’ve seen a lot of player transfers at the beginning of the year. The transfers have ranged from famous players, to upcoming talent from academy teams joining the major leagues, much like when Formula 2 players get scouted to the F1 circuit.
International lineups have also seen greater traction. Just a year ago, most teams had lineups with one, or a maximum of two, nationalities. Ninjas in Pyjamas had five Swedish players and Astralis has five Danish ones. Now we see international lineups with players from all corners of the world. It remains to be seen if this trend will continue or if it’s just the flavour of the month.
While we still see NAVI as the absolute fan favourite, many other organisations, such as G2, have put significant resources into acquiring new talent – their performance has also followed suit. Not the least, by coming in second at IEM Katowice 2022. Other big spenders have included Team Vitality, who acquired dupreeh, Magisk and zonic from Astralis.
Tier 1 CS:GO spring tournaments
The tournament schedule is going to be busy for many players, as there are lots of back to back high-tier tournaments over the spring. We’ve listed major ones that we’re looking forward to during the period.
09 MAR – 10 APR ESL Pro League Season 15
27 APR – 01 MAY BLAST Premier: Spring Showdown
09 MAY – 22 MAY PGL Major Antwerp European
31 MAY – 05 JUN Intel Extreme Masters Season XVII – Dallas
15 JUN – 19 JUN BLAST Premier: Spring Finals
The most popular tournaments to place bets on
The CS:GO Major Antwerp will be the largest event of the year and will probably be the event responsible for the largest amount of bets placed.
ESL Pro League has great potential as well, given its longevity. It starts at the beginning of March and goes on to the middle of April. There will be top tier games back to back, from 12:30 to 22:30(CET) which brings a lot of content for people to consume and place bets on.
Popular bet offers and market predictions
Something we’re seeing interest in is bet offers related to players, more often referred to as player props. An exciting example would be “player kills on map”, for example, s1mple getting over 22.5 kills on Dust 2. Not only do they let punters place bets on their favourite players, but also bring more sophisticated and interesting offers into play.
Moreover, real-time data for betting will be more important than ever for the market to develop. With it, true round-by-round bet offers can be created, such as “kills on round”, keeping the typical bettor engaged through the entire game. However, to be able to do this efficiently with high uptime and availability, real-time data is needed.
NAVI might have been the winner of CS:GO in 2021, but this year we’re seeing other teams picking up pace.
The team invested heavily into new talent in 2022, most notably acquiring ropz from Mousesports. With him, they should have a lineup strong enough to land a top-three position for the year in the Major.
They kicked off the season by winning IEM Katowice. The competition highlighted the talent of G2 Esports in-game Team Captain Karrigan, who has been robbed of the IEM title two times in the past. For him to finally be able to bring the team to a victory has been a great feat. Not the least, when one of the team rifles, rain, was switched up to a stand-in due to illness. It goes to show Karrigan’s skills as an in-game leader, to be able to command the team to victory without his full team in place.
m0NESY, a 16-year-old from Russia, was acquired by G2 in early 2022. The transfer in itself can be proven to be the best player acquisition in CS:GO history, as the 16-year-old dominated against NAVI and Virtus.Pro. He had all the pressure of showing his talents during his first time on the world stage, put all that aside and dominated the tournament. With those efforts, G2 Esports landed second place in Katowice and we’re looking forward to seeing their progress from there.
The year has kicked off a season that will, with no doubt, be an eventful one. However, with everything happening in the world, we’re probably going to see fewer teams and players from Russia participating in major events in the foreseeable future.