After three months of online-only play, professional CS:GO players are feeling the effects of a different type of monotonous grind than they had previously. Before the pandemic, the struggle of being a top team was largely due to constant international travel in unfamiliar parts of the world. Now, it is a boring and repetitive slog that has them practicing and competing against the same group of teams almost every day of the week. Nearly everyone I have spoken to behind the scenes says that most players are trying their best to survive this unfamiliar era.
This issue is naturally more prevalent within North America due to the lack of quality teams to practice against within the region. It has been described to me as a dull grind that has a pool of roughly eight teams practicing each other weekly. With such a small group of teams in the practice pool, it is almost inevitable that those same teams meet in official matches directly after. There is no sense of growth or accomplishment outside of tournament prize pools.
It is wonderful that amid the global COVID-19 pandemic we are still able to enjoy the game we know and love, but that doesn’t necessarily make things easier on players. Perspective is only so helpful, when multiple teams are almost feeling more burnt out than they were on the road. One person explained that it is tough to play the Road to Rio tournaments when they don’t expect the Major to even happen this year. With all of that in mind, the upcoming month-long player break couldn’t come at a better time.
Spirits should lift in August when play resumes, but only for a short period if LAN play does not. The current rumor is that ESL will attempt to have ESL One: Cologne take place on LAN later in August, but if that doesn’t happen spirits will drop and return exactly to where they are now. It’s no one’s fault in particular, but rather an unfortunate reality of having multiple tournament organizers trying to still provide great competitive regional tournaments -- and all of them remote.
Burnout is a serious topic that has multiple players of the most accomplished team in CS:GO history on the sidelines right now, but no one is talking about this new form of exhaustion. Online play is all we have at the moment, but that doesn’t make the torturous grind any easier when teams are playing or practicing every single day for months on end. I hope everyone involved uses all the resources available to them to survive this odd situation and remind themselves that is only temporary. One day, offline tournaments will resume and I just hope everyone is fresh enough to perform at their highest level when they do.