If you haven't heard the news, three players from the CGS franchise Rio Sinistro decided to leave the global gaming league and, in exchange for an especially tasty steak, betray their former comrades by reintegrating themselves back into the Matrix.
At least, that's the conclusion I'm drawing after hearing the community's reaction.
I'm not surprised about the particular statements. By this point I realize the community is full of Source Hypochondriacs; every bump, sniffle, and cough is interpreted as a death sentence and proof of 1.6's Ultimate-Mega-Super-Perfect superiority. And to be fair, Cogu, nak, and brun0 leaving Rio's Source team isn't just daily minutia. It's an important story.
I'm just not buying it as a sign that the CGS is dead, dying, doomed, deplorable, or any other downer that starts with the letter D.
Is it a good thing? Goodness no. Losing players (especially ones with rabid fans that will, as if they were blood relatives, defend their heroes' honor on any and every forum) is never a good thing. The worst aspect is that one of the CGS' claims to fame and big strategies was to secure the best talent in their selected games. Losing three world-class CS players, including one of the best AWPers in history (cogu), is a big blow to that image.
Three Brazilians. Woah.
That being said, the CGS isn't just about Source, and it isn't just about the top players, either. We tend to lose sight of this, but the truly revolutionary thought behind the CGS isn't that the very best players make guaranteed salaries. They've been doing that for years. The revolution is that everybody gets a salary, including up-and-coming, lesser-known, or even lesser-skilled gamers. It's the first opportunity for more than the absolute elite, and a rising tide raises all boats (or some junk like that).
Besides, anybody that knows about competitive gaming on the world-wide level realizes the CGS isn't a sure thing for players outside the United States. In comparison, the chances to make a living from gaming (or covering it) are much, much rarer in North America than our foreign counterparts. There's simply more money and more opportunities abroad, especially if your micro is tremendous. Of course the CGS is going to have problems retaining players when they can make just as much money with more freedom outside the league. It's common sense.
I can't think of a better example of that point than the recent draft in Austin. Players that got drafted onto the taxi squads were crushed, pissed off, or nonplussed. "Missing the cut" was such a blow for the league hopefuls that a chance to prove themselves or be called up in an emergency was absolutely no consolation. Then you have Rio guys, who are voluntarily giving up their spots. I think that says something about the respective opportunities in gaming, don't you?
So while it is bad news, I don't think we can call it shocking. And, considering the departed will be replaced by three hungry, grateful players, I'm not sure how much it really affects the CGS as a whole. From a publicity standpoint, and in some ways even as a fan, I'd rather have three guys genuinely grateful for the opportunity with a drive to be the best than three malcontents that feel (rightly or not) they could make a better (financially or emotionally) elsewhere.
The bigger implication, for me, is how this shifts the balance even further towards the dominant Region 1 teams. Outside of the Berlin Allianz, nobody came close to challenging Chicago or Carolina during the World Finals. This is partly because of the CGS' lack of appeal mentioned above, but also because the gaming titles were simply more popular in the US, thus making the talent pool deeper.
The concern is compounded by the fact that Source looks like a huge swing game now that the scoring for racing was altered (4-2-1 this season, instead of 5-3-1 for the top three finishers), and the game itself was switched to Forza, which should feature closer races and fewer blowouts. Losing three players from arguably the most important game for Season 2 from an already weaker team doesn't bode well for Rio.
In short, I'd sum up the situation like this:
- Rio fans should be priming their panic button and hoping some fresh blood steps up.
- CGS supporters should be wary of the general situation, but at the same time realize that the CGS isn't founded on one franchise, one region, or even one game. It's a massive league. If this becomes an epidemic, then we should worry. Losing three world-class Source players isn't a step in the right direction, but it's not a sign the league is about to crumble, either.
- And, most importantly, anybody thinking about betraying somebody nicknamed "The One" should rethink their policies on back-stabbing. He can't be The One if he's dead.