Since the release of the Valorant beta, more than a handful of professional CS:GO players have committed to switching games indefinitely in an attempt to recreate their success. Some have even signed deals with organizations in excess of $5,000 monthly salary, according to sources. The constant flow of veteran players leaving CS:GO in North America has been met with heavy community criticism, despite it being a net positive for both games and the players themselves.
Being a professional player in any esport is a tremendous accomplishment and opens the door to experiences that cannot be found anywhere else. But for a large group of players, it is still just a job. They too have bills to pay and responsibilities to take care of, which is next to impossible without an organization paying salary or having a personal brand to leverage. I find it tough to blame a player for transitioning to a similar game if they can keep pursuing their dream while remaining financially stable.
This fact is evidenced by the type of players leaving to Valorant in comparison to all of those who haven’t left and aren’t even considering it. They are players who found limited success after years of trying to reach the top of their respective regions in CS:GO. The prospect of easily securing a salary in another game is understandably more appealing than more of the same old thing here. Even if they get outclassed and replaced in a couple years time, it is another lifeline for their hope to play video games and get paid for it. I would probably do the same thing. The exciting thing will be the resulting change in Counter-Strike with these roadblocks out of the way.
The typical approach for many teams in CS:GO in recent years has been to take on experienced players rather than try unknown and unproven talent, especially in North America. Friends have preferred to recruit their friends, even if they are well aware of their capped ceiling and limited potential. With many of those veterans heading to Valorant, there will be much more room to take chances and experiment with lineups. Losing that veteran experience will result in a lack of leadership for younger talent at first, but will be a net gain long term as they emerge and develop into leaders themselves.
In the history of CS:GO, no better opportunity has existed for players to make a name for themselves in North America than right now. Those who double down on proving themselves will be rewarded when offline play resumes and the world clamors to jump into Esports with both feet. Teams who once opted for giving a tired player his fifth chance to make it big will instead have to dig deeper within the scene to find someone that suits their roster. Nothing like this has ever happened before and I’ve never been so excited for Counter-Strike.