The creation of Flashpoint was significant since the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament was owned and run by teams instead of a publisher or event organizer.
As reported upon its launch in 2020, the likes of Overactive Media, Gen.G, Cloud9, FunPlus Phoenix, MAD Lions, MIBR, and Dignitas put up $2 million each to pay franchise fees and establish what they hoped to be a more sustainable esports league model. Last year saw the competition’s first two seasons take place, with a $1 million prize pool available in each.
However, before Flashpoint Season 3 got underway this year, it was announced that the competition would alter its structure and become a part of the road to the Stockholm Major. So, should the novel CSGO tournament keep its 2021 format, or would it be best to revert to the Season 1 and Season 2 methods that earned it popularity?
Coming into Season 3 with a new outlook but lots of quality
Established by B Site Inc., the third edition of Flashpoint significantly changed how the tournament operated.
Running from May 10 to May 30 this year, Season 3 ditched the group stage, last-chance stage, and double-elimination bracket of the playoffs. In its place, a 16-team double-elimination started and ended the tournament, standing as the first official Regional Major Ranking event for Europe this year.
The switch resulted in Liquipedia cutting the tournament’s tier from an S-Tier to an A-Tier, even though it’s a Valve RMR Event. Regardless, there were still very highly-regarded teams coming into the tournament to earn points in Valve’s all-important rankings.
In the HLTV world rankings for the pro game, Gambit, Heroic, Astralis, Natus Vincere, Virtus.pro, and BIG stood atop the CSGO table on May 3. Of these, several came to play at Flashpoint Season 3. Heroic, Astralis, and BIG are among the favorites to win.
Looking further down the list, other highly-rated teams also entered the mix from the start. The GosuGamers team rankings for the FPS held G2 Esports above Astralis, but they were dark horses coming into the tournament. In terms of spectacle, one of the benefits of this shortened edition could prove to be the absence of the ever-consistent, top-ranked Gambit, making for a closer, more unpredictable run to the Grand Final.
Will the new format stick for Season 4 onwards?
The change in format is believed to be due to the fallout of 2020, especially as the first two renditions were so well-received and entertaining. The inaugural tournament, Flashpoint Season 1, from February 28 to April 19, caught the eye with its hefty $1 million pool. Interest remained thanks to the chosen format giving just about every team a shot at glory, with MAD Lions pulling off an incredible comeback triumph to overcome MIBR in the Grand Final to seal $500,000.
The momentum continued in Flashpoint Season 2 at the end of 2020. Taking place from November 8 to December 6, this time, it was Virtus.pro who went on an undefeated run through the upper bracket to land a massive $500,000.
One of the major selling points of Flashpoint was that it would offer the highest revenue share potential of any major league to its teams and players. As detailed by Esports Biz at the time, the first annual prize pool hit $2 million, making this enhanced share even more appealing. Coming into Flashpoint Season 3, the prize pool was said to be $50,000, with the winning team taking $17,000.
With a constantly competitive format of evolving storylines and a huge prize pool being major drivers, the change in Flashpoint Season 3 seemed peculiar. However, according to an interview with Dot Esports, the business model is being evaluated, with Flashpoint 3 being used to test a new way of running the event.
The new draw is that the tournament plays as an RMR Event on the Valve calendar, the first en route to the Stockholm Major, with 1600 RMR points going to the winner. This new association has seemingly cut some potential talent from the competition, though, not just due to the reduced prizes, but also because Valve classes the likes of Gambit and the Flashpoint 2 champions Virtus.pro champions as CIS teams. That said, next on the calendar is the BLAST Premier Spring Finals, which will bring in the biggest names in the game. As of May 17, the Betway Esports odds for CSGO tournaments had Gambit as the favorites at +200, but Natus Vincere weren’t far behind. This follows the thinking of other rankings, with the Esports World Ranking by ESL holding Gambit as the top team and Natus Vincere in third.
Given how the first two seasons worked, the Flashpoint Season 3 set-up seems to be an attempt at a more organizer-friendly approach. Being of more importance in RMR, the pivot may prove to be a huge success, but it’s difficult to see fans and players preferring the new format and reduced prize pool.