Written by: Duncan Shields
The ELEAGUE major is just over two weeks away, and the air is already abuzz with anticipation for what may unfold in Atlanta. The teams are eager to get their opportunity to make history and showcase potentially legendary performances. The underdogs hope to spoil the expectations of big names, garnering credibility and respect from the wider CS world. The favorites know that placing highly at smaller tournaments cannot earn them the career accolades, but strong finishes in the majors can. Fans want to see the game's greatest names producing miraculous moments on the biggest, most pressure-filled stage on the game's circuit. Simply put, the majors matter more than any other tournament.
Certainly, a player can earn hall of fame status by virtue of fantastic play outside of winning a championship. Excellence proven on a near daily basis can make a legend of anyone and, in line with Aristotle's famous remark, prove just how good a player was. With all of that said, the great players need those trophies to cement their legacies and bragging rights when it comes to considering and ranking them in the context of history. It's not a coincidence that there are more all-time greats with majors on their resume than there are not, making those without such victories exceptions and conspicuous by having not reached the same level of accomplishment.
GuardiaN may never win a major and he will still be rightfully remembered as one of the best players to ever touch CS:GO, but will he feel as if his career was complete? Will experts and fans ten years from now not cite his lack of a major victory against him when comparing him to the likes of kennyS? It's no coincidence that the very same kennyS shed tears after failing in the final, in quite embarrassing fashion no less, to win his first major title at ESL One Cologne.
The top rung of the ladder
There have not been many fluke victories at the major. In contrast, there have been many smaller-sized events which have seen surprise victories and crazy upsets rule the day, even if they are still far from expected. There is a competitive ladder in terms of how much events mean and how difficult they are to win. The bottom rung is online play; the next is offline play of any kind; followed by medium-sized LANs - where a few good teams mix with more underdogs. Then, there are the big LANs, which feature most of the top teams, but do not hold the tag of major. Finally, there are the majors, which everyone acknowledges mean the most.
The major has, in theory, all the best teams competing there. That makes progressing to the final stages the most difficult task in the game. The major has the most spotlight and attention upon it at all points, meaning that even progressing to the play-offs can be a challenge. Players like Ex6TenZ and Skadoodle have assured themselves lines in the history book of CS:GO, but their lack of play-off runs has cost them some credibility. Finally, the consensus is that all the players desire to win the major more than any other tournament, and know there will be a wait of months until the next. This points to every team preparing at their maximum for the event and focused upon fighting to their last to win games there.
Pressure makes diamonds
One element of competitive play that has always produced a sense of awe in me is that under the most pressure, one would expect players to suffer and struggle to produce their best play, yet the great players seemingly perform at an even higher level. Lesser players crumble and fall apart under the bright lights, but the great ones come through and deliver moments which live on long past their careers are finished. The majors are the events which matter the most in CS:GO, and soon we get to see the next chapter in the drama and story competitive excellence in Counter-Strike play out.