Richard Lewis shares his derailed train of thought with the wider world in his regular column feature, Gonzorreah.
Read Richard's last column " Hell IS Other People "HEREThis column is the sole opinion of the author and does not represent the opinion of Heaven Media Ltd or the opinion of any affiliates.
So it has been noticed that we are winding down our 1.6 coverage because, like it or not there’s little point in doing it. The game is slowly but surely being ostracised by the big tournament circuit and after over a decade at the top the times are finally changing. That collective decision has been delayed as much by a lack of courage on the part of tournament organisers as the lack of a viable alternative. One might be here, maybe, maybe not. Regardless as one thing ends something else has to begin to go on in its place. We just don’t know what that is yet but you can be sure that somehow we’re wrong…
Is he talking about 1.6 again -
I personally am tired of talking about it because whenever you do you don’t invite a high level of discourse. As reactionary and fanatical as any community – and I include religious fundamentalists jn that, I’m not just talking about games – if you say something that is perceived to be “against” the game, then anything else you say is ignored. Rather than discuss they prefer to spam simple slogans that are simply “2 STRONG” for any rational argument. As such, if you dare suggest that 1.6 might be winding down (did I or did I not say IEM was dropping 1.6 a long time ago? Was most of this not foreseen?) you are an idiot. If you suggest an organisation should drop a 1.6 team in favour of supporting another game to a higher level and you are a saboteur. You have lost as soon as you deviate from the herd.
But I’m an e-sports journalist and it’s absurd to ever presume I “hate” a game. They are all much of a muchness to me. I watch them, I play them, I learn about them, I write about them and I’ve been doing that for a decade. Long before any of you heard of me I was doing it about Tekken and StreetFighter and I’d written about 1.6 long before Source existed. Of course, I am forever cursed to be “that Source guy”, a label that will likely stick with me for as long as I am in e-sports.
Yet before we really do sign off on all things 1.6 and focus on the future I’d at least like to clear something up about the past, put some facts on the record that should – but won’t – counteract all the bullshit that gets spouted about myself, Cadred and the relationship we have with Counter-Strike, the grandfather of the competitive FPS and a title that inadvertently changed my life.
You see before I was even part of Cadred, a long time ago I know, the old guard decided to put 1.6 out in the cold. CS:S was, as they saw it, the future and by supporting an older iteration of the game they were in fact giving it credence. So it went for no other reason than people trying to force the march of progress. On the one hand it forever meant we could never reconnect with that community. On the other it turned us into a dedicated CS:S community hub.
Seeing the light about the CGS
Now, I was writing about CS:S at the time, just on the side to freelancing and working as a sales manager. I was an out of work qualified journalist and just wanted to do something. I wrote about Source because I had friends who played the game and they got me playing it too. Equally I could see that e-sports journalism was pretty poor across the board and, in my arrogance, I felt like having someone who could actually write a lick or two write about the newer game might give it a nudge.
If I’d not been making as much money as I had selling mobile phones to toothless heroin addicts in Middlesbrough I’d probably have taken some of the offers that came my way. They were all along the lines of “come and write about 1.6 – you’re wasted on that shit game”. And of course, it was tempting when you saw those reporters out in China, or the US, or Brazil and here I was jumping through hoops to get myself down to Newbury Racecourse.
I lucked out because CGS happened. If it hadn’t I might have changed my mind. But it did and they were throwing money at anything. From that point on the decision about which side my bread was buttered was made for me. I took the money and stuck by it. I didn’t realise that people in e-sports would have such short memories that I’d be able to jump ship and distance myself from it all. It’s the norm now for e-sports celebrities to just go where the money is “oh hey guys, I love SC2 now yeah? Is that cool? IT IS? Great – pay me.”
I’ll repeat what I said then – CGS didn’t get many things right in its short existence, however much those involved like to wear their achievements like some sort of badge of honour. It created a culture of greed and disloyalty, it paid for perceived credibility as a shortcut to genuinely earning it, the owners frittered away money on people who had little discernable experience or talent in the areas it placed them. They looked to bully their way to the top and they made little friends doing so, the mark they left on the e-sports scene still visible like a bloodstain on a carpet. The one thing they did get right though – refusing to bow to the pressure to make 1.6 their game of choice.
And here’s why… I know that in the eyes of those who love 1.6 you can’t see the faults or even see what other people see. But if you were to put that game on television and tried to make an audience open-minded enough understand that e-sports was a pursuit of the future, with such an old looking game, it’d have been an immediate turn off. In truth Source was fit for purpose – it showed off the Counter-Strike format in graphics that didn’t look dated and it also allowed the skill of an FPS game to be shown in a way people could grasp. The viewers don’t care about hitboxes, registration, movement speed or any of the other things we would take for granted. They just want to understand what is on their screens. Source best allowed that.
Myself and Tom drinking on the job in Denmark. We never found out who "Spunk Mr." was...
Even then I knew CS:S was always going to be second fiddle to 1.6… Even with the 1.6 players who came over for money, plenty didn’t. They stuck to their principles and that was admirable, a lot more admirable that those who came, talked about the pros of Source as a game, only to backtrack in order to win over the CS community again the very second CGS went bust. That awful series of events with all is corruption and lies was the high point for CS:S and it wouldn’t get much better than that. As such the passing of CGS was always a mixed thing for me personally, and I suppose for Cadred too.
With CGS dead and no longer preventing me being involved with Cadred for e-political reasons, I was starting to exert my influence on the site a bit more and I wanted to take it in a new direction. I didn’t want the website to be a solely a “CS:S community” site – I felt we could be something bigger and better. For all the games we covered I believed that a lot of them, while I personally enjoyed them, were second-tier e-sports titles.
“It says Premier E-sports coverage” I argued with the higher ups “and yet where are our Premier E-sports titles?” In the end I put my neck on the line to bring 1.6 back to the site, intimating that maybe we didn’t need Premier writers if we weren’t going to cover Premier games. In the end myself and Tom got our own way and we started planning what events we would attend. For all the good it would do us we may as well have not have bothered having the argument to bring it back.
I mean, I felt we could do something that wasn’t really being catered to on any other e-sports site. There just didn’t seem to be anywhere that produced the kind of articles we did, mostly focusing on dry analysis or memorabilia pieces. I wanted to give 1.6 a shot in the arm and, in what I was sure were to be its last years, try and at least do something a bit different. Whatever people say about the site, how it’s run, the decisions we make, there’s two things I think we do better than anyone else – producing articles, both on an editorial and investigative basis, and event coverage. I had these delusions that we would be welcomed by the other 1.6 press, especially when I saw Rakaka.se had even run a story about us picking up 1.6 again, with positive reactions. Let’s overlook that this is the same publication that falsely labelled me a thief because of some relationship with a female photographer… For once, they were writing something good.
Personally though I didn’t get the welcome I expected. I received a private message from a well established editor of another 1.6 site soon after that said we were and always would be a joke, that any attempt to compete was laughable and all we could ever hope to do was exist in their shadow. As an unprompted piece of contact it seemed very odd but it was apparently in keeping with the person. I simply said that I didn’t see us as rivals because we wanted to offer very different things.
Trying to capture the action at ESWC 2010
Then came every time we posted a piece of 1.6 news there would be a staff member from HLTV.org telling us we had to credit them for it, even if we’d got it direct from the organisation. If it was 1.6 it belonged to them it seemed. A similar attitude was employed when we posted the HLTV IPs in our match ticker. They own them. We weren’t allowed. We couldn't even share the game. There was no middle ground, no room for discussion. In the end instead of deleting the content, or crediting them with work that wasn’t theirs, we just stopped having any dialogue at all. It was clear it wasn’t a professional relationship that could be salvaged.
There was of course the odd slip, things that were right to be angry about. New staff copy pasting news because they were lazy or too stupid to realise it wasn’t the done thing. We always tried to handle that as best we could but even though this is the sort of thing you have to deal with, it was never handled amicably. It was always a fight, a game of one-upsmanship, who could drag the other through the mud as much as possible.
Attending events wasn’t much better. We were psyched about bringing the 1.6 events to our readers, on site for the first time in the site’s history. We sent representatives to WCG and ESWC. When trying to get interviews with the players a lot of them would simply tell us to go fuck ourselves, or refusing to make time for “that Source site.” But we kept plugging away and trying for the benefit of our readers and maybe the new readers who would come to the site. Even when exposed to such rudeness as I was most memorably when trying to interview Na’Vi, I kept going thinking about the greater good. Indeed I’m always grateful to the players that were respectful and professional then and you know who they are because we still regularly talk to them now.
Even after all that, after slaving away and producing some pretty good coverage, what did we get? While our existing readers embraced it, the very people we felt we could offer something different just simply abused us for our efforts. Who did we think we were trying to cover 1.6 with people who had written about CS:S and CoD4? We must know nothing about the game? Wasn’t he that dickhead on CGS? Fuck him and fuck his site… In short we were spectacularly rejected by the 1.6 community long before we had anything negative to report about their game.
People accused us cynically of trying to get extra traffic. Well, I guess that might have been a happy biproduct in an ideal world but it was never the sole aim of doing it. We always knew it was going to be very difficult coming back to a game so late and we also knew that it couldn’t have many years left as a top e-sports title. For me I just wanted to do some good work on something different, maybe turn a few people on who had been thinking that an I-series was the pinnacle of e-sports onto something that was truly grander, a vision of how e-sports could be in the future for all titles. We perservered. We wasted our time in doing so. Incredibly the community that should have benefitted most from our work, hated us even more for doing it.
Remember this joyous disaster?
The game that is now being championed in the 1.6 community is CSPromod, a game that was roundly rejected on its arrival and subsequent releases by the same community it hoped to serve. They said it was on the Source engine so it would be shit and why did they need to replace 1.6 anyway… It was the usual negative thinking. CS:GO didn’t exist and we were quite keen to get things going to promote the game. I gave it a glowing review and said that if they could just develop it faster it might have a real positive future. 1.6 reaction was a lot more subdued.
Given that the one goal Cadred had really strived to achieve was unifying the Counter-Strike communities, we organised a showmatch between the top 1.6 team at the time – fnatic – and the top CS:S team – Reason Gaming – on CSP. It was an idea fraught with problems and we knew that pulling it off was going to be a difficult task. Even getting the teams to agree was difficult, although it has to be said this was more down to fnatic than Reason, the source team seemingly relishing the challenge to play a top 1.6 team and see how they compared.
From the 1.6 side of things it was lose / lose for the game. If the fnatic won it was “It’s a copy of 1.6 – of course the 1.6 team will win. CS:S players are bad, what’s the point of having one scene if 1.6ers will just dominate”. If Reason won it would be “CSPromod is on the Source engine – of course the CS:S team will win. CS:S players are bad and would never win in 1.6, what’s the point?” But we went ahead anyway, with all the stress and badmouthing it caused, we got a Stream set up for the game courtesy of QuadV and we just hoped the outcome wouldn’t be as bad as we thought it would.
Of course it was worse. The servers got ddos’d by angry 1.6ers who wanted to show their disapproval for any other game attempting to usurp their title. Then the computer that was streaming blew up, leaving us with no other choice but to reschedule. It, of course, never happened and somehow it was Cadred that took the brunt of the blame. Of course, even with the 1.6 community now trying to portray CSP as a viable alternative in the face of CS:GO’s arrival the same thing would probably happen now but who knows how much further the game could have been along if people had supported it at the start.
But supporting something different is not the strong suit of the 1.6 community. Even when they come out on top, there's still a way to twist it to be about 1.6 and CS:S. Take the CS:GO tournament at Copenhagen Games. Even then, with a 1.6 team winning it, it wasn't good enough to get them on board. The casuals rejected it, even though most had never played it themselves and a sizeable number didn't even possess hardware good enough too. A good number pros who had watched their game get smaller and smaller rejected the game saying they had played it several updates ago and never wanted to play it again. They concluded they'd rather play anything but, even a MOBA game. Yet even with these attitudes, we still organised and will organise CS:GO events that are open to everyone, the same way Valve pander to a community who say they didn't make Counter-Strike what it is - they somehow ruined it.
Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund has an open mind... It has cost him fans. He doesn't care.
And of course despite all of these facts it will always be the collective wisdom that somehow we here at Cadred hated the game, that we did all we could to destroy it but failed, that we were always part of the problem and not the solution. We’re accused of an agenda, when we really don’t need to have one – if the game lives or dies it is of no consequence, the same for any title we turn our attentions to. We have no vested interest in one succeeding or being killed off, that much should be patently obvious.
We can’t ignore the facts though because if we did that would make us as bad as the people we’ve railed against for years and we’ve always held ourselves up to a higher standard. What I want, more than anything to do with personal preference or pointless arguments over moderately different mechanics is for the Counter-Strike format to prevail. The format is what makes the game great and that’s why you can pick up any version and find it enjoyable. In an age where more and more people are becoming receptive to e-sports, hundreds of thousands tuning into streams, wouldn’t it be great to have a new version of that format that could be accessed by all generations, even if that means some compromise?
Evidently this makes me insane, bitter and idiotic. However, I’d contest that those that truly love Counter-Strike love the format more than they love a version. 1.6 and CS:S are on their last legs. I'm not championing one over the other. All I would like is for one to be played by all. Whatever you can say about us we always tried to merge two sets of people that were like oil and water and when we realised that wouldn’t work we tried to cater individually to both groups. Still, you can only keep trying for so long. Whatever happens, we can’t go back now and nor, as much as they might want to believe differently, can they.