I’m a bit of an amateur when it comes to watching and commentating on Counter Strike GO. I’ll be the first to admit that. I’ve watched a couple of tournaments in the last couple of weeks but I’ve never played the game and only played a very small amount of any Counter Strike over the years.
Watching the Dreamhack Masters Malmo quarterfinal match between Godsent and Mousesports though I was struck by just how perfect an eSport this is. What makes it so addictive at least for me is how much room there are for swings. I was a wrestler in high school and my favorite thing about the sport was always the potential for massive swings. You could always win with a pin. That meant I could be down 13 to 0 and still be in the match. Some don’t like this sort of chance. It opens things up for the lesser competitor to win. It also focuses on heart and endurance though in a way few games do. You can never let up and never quit. It brings the very best out of both competitors.
Counter Strike may not have the equivalent of a pin. The 15 round format though means you can pull incredible swings. The three map format makes this even more perfect. In the first map today, Cache, things started close but in the end Mousesports ran away with things by winning eight straight maps in the second half. This was destruction and it looked like one team was just plain superior to the other. I had to wonder whether this would be a quick match.
One map doesn’t prove anything about two teams but going down a match in a best of three is definitely a scary thing. There’s no more room for error. Things looked to me falling apart for Godsent early on when they lost the first four rounds on Inferno. Then everything fell apart for Mousesports. After trading the next pair of rounds Godsent won seven straight to take a commanding lead. Mousesports managed to recover a little taking two final rounds at the end of the half to keep it close but things did not look good for them It would be a long time before anything would go right for them again.
In the second half Godsent just continued the domination. With the tournament taking place on the Swedish team’s home turf the crowd was absolutely behind them and it seemed to drive them to new heights. The final score ended up being 15-10 but it never really felt that close. Winning 15 out of 21 seems dominant but it felt even more so. Mousesports took a round here and there but they never felt like they could put a few together and give themselves a chance at turning the momentum back.
The way the economy matters so much in Counter Strike really means a team is never out of the game. One great round can allow a team to swing things completely. A team being out of money just makes their situation worse as success in the game is what gives you the needed funds for gear. You can win without winning if you’re in a bad spot and can hang onto weapons or get a few people to survive or even just get a few kills in a round. This sort of momentum proved vital early in the third map.
Mousesports could have turned things around early in the final map on Mirage. They managed to take the first two rounds which was a nice start compared to their late play on Inferno. Even then though they didn’t look dominant. Both rounds were close and you could feel the team hanging on by a thread. They should have had the third round as well with a late three on one advantage and Godsent having no useful weapons. Somehow though Godsent pulled off the late win and managed to take control and allow. The bomb blew and things fundamentally changed. Mousesports seemed to have finally broken. This continued as Godsent took six of the next eight rounds.
Most teams would have completely fallen apart here. After winning the first map convincingly Mousesports had given up an early lead in game two and gotten destroyed in the end. They had again given up an early lead on the map and the entire crowd was against them. Mousesports fought back against this adversity though and refused to quit. They somehow managed to take four straight rounds before losing the final before halftime to get back within a round.
This newfound drive continued into the second half. Once again Mousesports managed to take three straight rounds and look like they might be taking control. Once again though they allowed Godsent to swing things right back with the next three. Again it looked like Mousesports was breaking. Neither team did though. The match from there went back and forth for four straight matches. Rather than breaking both teams seemed to be rising to the occasion. There can only be one winner though and the crowd was still firmly behind their home players. After getting a thirteen to thirteen tie back with a no death win they followed it up with another to take their first lead since the start of the half. It looked like they might pull out yet another early on as they came up with an early five to two advantage in the 28th round. NiKo put it all on the line though and somehow almost pulled victory from the jaws of defeat. Single handily taking out four members of Godsent his round was truly inspiring. He never quit and gave his team every chance. Ultimately though he couldn’t complete the comeback and his team once again fell. Godsent finished it off with a come from behind final round to take the win before their home fans and move onto the semi-finals.
Mousesports didn’t give up in the end but after their early start to somehow lose here must be truly heartbreaking. This was Godsent’s first top four at a major event and to do it in front of their home fans must be truly special. This beautiful come from behind win had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. This is why people watch sports. Godsent’s beautiful play has won me over for good. I’ve enjoyed my time with Counter Strike recently but after this I can count myself among the many true fans of the game. I can’t wait for the next match.