CS: GO: How the game’s competitive landscape works

Valve shooting game is one of the most popular eSports in the world.

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is one of the most important games in eSports history. The latest title in the Counter-Strike series, CS: GO represents what e-sport has to offer: a calendar full of championships throughout the year and running through the four corners of the world, crowded arenas in face-to-face events, pro players of great success and prestige, and millionaire prizes.

Game competition format

Although the CS: GO itself has several game modes, only the Competitive is used in the professional championships. The traditional 5×5 between terrorists (TR) and counterterrorists (CT) aims to eliminate all enemies every round. It is also possible to win a round by defusing the C4 (when playing on the CT side) or by blowing it (playing from TR).

The maps used are also restricted and are rotated from time to time. Currently, there are seven maps in the composition of the tournaments: Cache, Inferno, Mirage, Train, Overpass, Nuke and Dust2. The latter replaced the Cobblestone recently.

In the competitive match, each round is two minutes long, and wins who reaches the 16 points first. In case of a tie in 15 to 15, the game goes to extra time: they play six more rounds, and that team wins which reached the 19 points. If everything stays the same again (at 18 to 18), another overtime is played – the formula is repeated as many times as necessary. Championships usually use single (MD1) or three (MD3) matches, and each team chooses two maps. In some exceptions, finals are played in the best of five games (MD5).

Decentralized circuit

Valve, developer of CS: GO, currently participates in the organization of only two tournaments per year. They are called “Majors”, considered the world championships of the modality and that also usually owns the greater prizes of the season ($ 1 million each).

In Majors, the stickers, items, corresponding to players and teams, that can be acquired by users and placed on weapons are also released. The initiative brings a customization to the game and is, at the same time, a way for the casual player to help financially the preferred team or pro player, since 30% of the revenue goes to them.

The CS: GO circuit is open. It means that the season has several championships that are not related to each other. There are also several companies that organize these competitions, such as: ESL, ESEA, FACEIT, PGL, BLAST, ELEAGUE, DreamHack, StarLadder, WESG, among others.


The two most prestigious regions in CS: GO are Europe (US) and North America (NA). They are, historically, the regions with more international titles and where the game has greater popularity. Consequently, both regions are the priority of the organizers in the distribution of tournaments.

Important detail is that in CS: GO, the nationality of a team is not determined by the country of the organization, but rather by the simple majority of the nationalities of the players of the line-up. In the case of international quintets, it is worth the region that the countries of the players represent.

Given the growth of CS: GO here, South America has been gaining space and in several tournaments already has its own qualifiers. Most internationally recognized teams, such as MIBR, are often invited directly to the main competition phase. When there is no specific selective for the region, teams need to hit head-to-head with opponents from North America.

Another region that has received its own classification is that of the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), which covers Russia and former Soviet republics.

Unlike most games, the Asian market is poorly represented in the big stages of CS: GO. However, the region always guarantees at least one seat for important tournaments and has increased the organization of new championships. Chinese teams such as Tyloo Gaming and Korean MVP PK are good examples of teams that often attend major tournaments.


Despite being a US organization, it was with a quintet that Luminosity Gaming came to the stage with the MLG Columbus achievement in 2016, one of the Majors of that season. Still in the US, Team Liquid and Cloud9 are two of the teams that made and make history representing the country in CS: GO. Another great organization that retired of the game is Team SoloMid. With an American origin, but formed by Europeans, the FaZe Clan has consolidated like a great team in the last years.

Back in competition since mid-2018, MIBR is the largest teaml. The organization brought the world’s first Counter-Strike title to the country in 2006, with the conquest of ESWC. It is currently the home of four double world champions of CS: GO: Gabriel “FalleN”, Marcelo “coldzera”, Fernando “fer” and Epit├ício “TACO”.

In the European arena, the Swedish Fnatic and Ninjas in Pajamas are among the most legendary teams in the world. The Russian Virtus.pro, represented by Poles, is also marked in history. In France, Kenya and company put G2 on the game world map. In the region of Russia and Ukraine, the favorite is undoubtedly the Natus Vincere.


Marcelo “coldzera”, Gabriel “FalleN” Fernando “fer” and Epitacio “TACO” wrote the names in the history of the electronic sport of the country with two won Majors. Other young players are already on the first shelf, such as the Ukrainian Aleksander “s1mple”, the Bosnian Nikola “NiKo” and the Danes Peter “dupreeh”, Nicolai “dev1ce”, Lukas “gla1ve” and Andreas “Xyp9x”.

The veterans who make up the roster range from experienced players such as Slovakian Ladislav “GuardiaN” and Olof “olofmeister” to the remaining players of Counter-Strike 1.6, as is the case of Polish “NEO” Filip and Wiktor “TaZ” and the Swedish Christopher “GeT_RiGhT” and Patrik “f0rest”.