DeKay Scope: The Player Break Shouldn’t be the Only Break Players Get

Photo by Adela Sznajder/DreamHack

We are in the midst of the mandated professional CS:GO player break that couldn’t have come any sooner. The uncharted territory of playing entirely online almost every single day left many players from top teams exhausted. Counter-Strike will eventually return to LAN and when it does, teams and tournament organizers should approach the schedule differently. Attempts by organizers to grab a hold of the playing calendar should not come at the expense of player health and sanity.

This is hardly a new discussion and part of the reason the player break was implemented in the first place. No single entity is to blame either, both team organizations and tournament operators have played into the idea of participating in as many tournaments as possible. However, the approach has come at a cost, as evidenced by Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander and Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth seeking extended periods of inactivity to recover from their brutal workload. If nothing changes, players are set to exhaust themselves once again when online play resumes.

Online and offline play have their own unique characteristics that affect players when done continuously for extended periods of time. Although, both of them are similar in that they directly contribute to over-saturation and player burnout. The obvious suggestion is for teams to play in fewer tournaments, but it’s not that straightforward of a solution.

Attending fewer events means less revenue for team organizations, who would never sign off on that without a reduction in player pay. This is an over-simplification, but emphasizes the fact that this cannot be done with compromise on every front. It is going to take a united effort to keep players healthy, while keeping everyone else solvent.

One additional roadblock is the introduction of the ESL Pro Tour, which most top teams are signed to for the next three years at minimum as partners. They must compete in a minimum number of events to maintain their partner status which significantly reduces which events teams could theoretically skip. Perhaps the ongoing pandemic will weed out other organizers and reduce the number of available events in the near future, but eventually more will surface. When they do, we will once again be faced with this issue of players feeling burnt out and exhausted halfway through the playing season.

The number of events teams play over a designated span of time should be limited in some way, to preserve the health of those playing the game. The sacrifices everyone must make to allow this to happen do not measure up to what will be gained by allowing proper rest and time for teams to practice effectively. Picking a limit to the number of large events teams can attend as well as a limit for the entire year would keep things balanced and organized.

Among everyone, players are the primary reason we have such an amazing spectacle to watch on a regular basis. Forcing them to play or travel for every waking moment holds them back from their true potential in the server. Hopefully every stakeholder will take a look at recent burnout developments and prevent those from occurring before they happen again.