In 2023, Counter-Strike underwent significant transformations, ushering in a new era for the popular esports game. One of the most noteworthy developments was the announcement by Valve in March introducing Counter-Strike 2 (CS2) as the latest installment in the series. Marking over a decade since the release of CS:GO, this new game presented an exciting prospect for fans and provided Valve with the opportunity to rebuild Counter-Strike on its advanced Source 2 engine.
Following the announcement, a beta phase ensued, culminating in the official release of CS2 on September 27th. The game, however, encountered diverse opinions within the Counter-Strike community, with some expressing reservations about its readiness for competitive play. Despite debates surrounding issues like grenade mechanics and peeker's advantage, the release of CS2 has already made a tangible impact on the esports scene.
In another strategic move, Valve unveiled new regulations for hosting CS2 esports events starting in 2025. These rules aim to curtail franchising in Counter-Strike, prohibiting tournament organizers from having "unique business relationships or other conflicts of interest" with participating teams.
All future tournaments must integrate open qualifiers or adhere to Valve's ranking system, a directive that notably impacts leagues like ESL and BLAST, known for their semi-franchised structures relying on invites rather than Valve rankings.
Reports suggest that Valve's dissatisfaction with closed ecosystems led to these changes, emphasizing the desire for a "level playing field" where all teams have fair opportunities. These alterations signify a pivotal moment in Counter-Strike's competitive landscape, with the community adapting to the new dynamics introduced in 2023.