Counter Strike Global Offensive host talks about her legacy

When it comes to Counter Strike esports, few have experienced firsthand the game’s evolution from a GamesCom sideshow to an international phenomenon like Freya Spiers. You have presented all the major events of recent years and interviewed hundreds of players after the matches that have gone down in the history of this game. Ahead of the debut of Counter Strike 2, we couldn’t think of a better person to discuss Valve’s tactical shooter legacy and the impact of the upcoming big update.

What do you think is the biggest impact CS:GO has had on the esports world?

“That’s a really good question. I don’t know if this is a formulaic answer, but for me it is the unity and cohesion of the entire Counter-Strike community. I attended my first event in Cologne in 2014 when CS was part of Gamescom. There were 400-500 people in the hall. This year’s IEM in Cologne was attended by 37,000 fans. It was packaged, sold out, and there was a real sense of community.

You know that everyone is here to share the passion and celebrate the game. Moreover, we are almost sure that this will be the last IEM Colony for CS:GO. I think about the ability to bring so many people together and grow so fast. Nine years ago we were in a small booth at a much larger convention, and now we can sell tickets to arenas all over the world. I think this is the greatest legacy of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive for me.”

What about Counter Strike made it so popular in esports?

“I think Counter-Strike is a really interesting esport compared to Dota 2 and League of Legends because the initial learning curve to understand it is quite accessible. There are two teams, it’s 5v5, and the economy and weapons are relatively easy to follow on a superficial level. However, once you get into it and understand the basics, the game goes a lot deeper than you might expect. You’ll learn how different teams play, how you can capitalize on situations, and how to capitalize on the economy. You are quickly immersed in the community and the game because there are no barriers to entry. If you want to play, just watch Counter-Strike to really understand it.

One of my favorite memories is of the Major that FACEIT held at Twickenham, where the security was really into the game. They asked questions like, “Okay, after 15 rounds, why did the blue team turn yellow?” and it was clear that they were really interested in it. Counter-Strike is a great starter approach, but once you get interested, you can learn a lot.”

Is the popularity of CS the ultimate proof that an open ecosystem is better than a franchised one?

“This is an interesting question because Valve is actively pushing the idea of ​​franchise or partner leagues. So the FACEIT Pro League (FPL) is a huge, completely open grassroots network and that’s where many teams go to find new players, and it’s an extremely accessible path for everyone. I think it helps that the ESL Pro League is incredibly open, with many teams from all walks of life qualifying.

This is a huge contribution to the popularity of CS, because if you are a gamer, watch competitions and want to become like your heroes, there is a certain way to do it. I agree with the statement that an open ecosystem is better than a franchised one, and I don’t think we’ll ever see the same hyper-limiting franchise in CS as League of Legends.”

CS has an amazing grassroots ecosystem thanks to FACEIT. What is the recipe for repeating the same success with other games?

“FACEIT is incredibly open to everyone, you don’t even need a premium membership to compete, and as you rank up you can go from a regular player to a pro player. FACEIT has already managed to take what people love about the Counter-Strike ecosystem and bring it to other games like Rainbow Six Siege. FACEIT also recently announced that it will be hosting the first PUBG MOBILE Challenger Cup at the end of August with daily cups that earn players FACEIT points, so it goes well beyond CS.

In general, this is a difficult question, because games become more popular the more people play them. By developing a well-designed ecosystem, you create a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy: the more players, the more viewers you get, the higher the prize pool. Publisher investment is key and I think CS is an example of that because if you look at CS prize pools versus Dota 2 prize pools, the difference is huge. We don’t have a crowdfunding element that just shows how people’s passion can make a game huge, but there’s a flow of talent and if there’s money, the pros will come.”

Who do you think was the greatest player of all time, both in terms of team play and sheer destructive potential?

“Oooh, this is a moot point right now because there is fierce competition between S1mple and ZywOo! Clearly ZywOo is the favorite this year, but the S1mple’s durability is undeniable. Then there are players like Dupree, the most titled.
CS:GO with 5 majors won. It’s amazing to see his consistency, so he’s definitely up there. I can’t help but mention legends like f0rest and GeT_RiGhT who had a huge impact because they were one of the first to brand themselves in CS:GO, to the point where the public came not only to watch them play, but to meet. they are like people. I think it’s very important for gamers to create a recognizable personal brand.

There are players like Niko who don’t get all the accolades they possibly deserve, so it was nice to see him win at IEM Cologne last weekend. I think in terms of the team, Dupree was one of the best because everyone you talk to says he’s the most dedicated player. He played almost every role, he experienced everything. At the beginning of CS:GO he was a teenager and now he is a father, he has lived his life through CS. I think he shows his qualities as a teammate and not just as a player.”

Everyone, both teams and players, keep saying that nothing will change with Counter Strike 2. Do you believe them or do you feel that big changes are coming on the scene?

“I think the upgrade to CS2 is interesting because we’re not going to start over. Valve isn’t just tearing everything out from under us or changing things, they’re planning updates to keep the game fresh. I don’t think there will be big changes. The way Valve is handling it right now is great because they make people slowly try things out, try out maps and ask for feedback. Personally, I’m most worried about smoke grenades. It will be interesting to see how things change mechanically.”

Have you ever had a moment at work or in your personal life when you realized that without this game your life would be very different?

“My mother passed away suddenly four months ago. It was a difficult time and I still choke talking about it. But one thing that will forever stay with me is that she was so damn proud of me and I am indebted to Counter Strike She also came to watch me host ECS for the first time in London and it was an amazing experience I remember that time and seeing me find my independence doing what I love was the realization what anyone would want to do with their own child.These last four months have really made me think about what I owe my independence to, which primarily depends on her and her influence on my life, but also on Counter-Strike and the community. I know where I’ll be and I’m so grateful that my mom was able to see me follow my passions and succeed.”

What story from the world of CS did you like the most? It could be hero zero, a monstrous return, or personal redemption. What struck you about this esports in terms of storytelling?

“My favorite moment was ZywOo’s progressive maturation. He first performed on stage at the FACEIT Major in 2018. I never met him in person and interviewed the players asking how they were feeling. I got to him and he said no , no, no” and I thought, oh no, I totally scared this guy! Then I found out that he thought his English was not good enough because he was nervous when communicating. It was great to see his self-confidence grow …and watch him develop his personality.He is an incredible player and proved everyone was right when they said he would be the next big thing.He came out of the FPL and is now part of an international team that communicates in English. “He’s very proud to see it. It’s a great example of how in CS:GO we can watch players grow and see a huge part of their lives unfold in front of us.”

– Riccardo Lichen

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