“Counter-Strike” won the hearts of a generation when the first-person shooter game series released its first game 16 years ago.
Over a decade later, people are still playing that game. Not just playing – it has evolved with time to become one of the most dominant eSports titles on the market today. Even though “Counter-Strike” has existed a long time, at UCLA this is the first year the game has had an official club standing on campus. Similar to the “Defense of the Ancients,” or “DotA,” group, the “Counter-Strike” club on campus is in its first year as an organization, fielding its own successful Collegiate StarLeague team.
First-person shooter, or FPS, games have been traditionally understood as the most popular video game genre for American audiences. Today, “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive,” or just “Counter-Strike,” is the predominant FPS game being played competitively. While other games like those of the “Call of Duty” series do have successful eSports scenes, “Counter-Strike” is the premier game in the US. As such, the Collegiate StarLeague established its inaugural “Counter-Strike” league this year.
Back in 2008, Major League Gaming was the first to develop the American eSports scene with “Halo,” the very popular Microsoft sci-fi FPS franchise, while rival eSports organization Championship Gaming Series chose to feature “Counter-Strike” as its FPS of choice. Prior to these events, eSports as a whole was largely relegated to Asian audiences that watched strategy games like “Starcraft,” or European events in other shooter games like “Quake.” In 2016, Major League Gaming, which was recently purchased by Activision, will be hosting the first ever CS Major international tournament in North America. There are currently over a half a million daily “Counter-Strike” players, and their community only continues increasing in size.
“Counter-Strike’s” reclaiming of its throne as top FPS can be attributed to a myriad of different sources. “Global Offensive,” the game’s latest iteration, continues to receive lots of community-driven updates from its developer, Valve. However, the most noteworthy thing about “Counter-Strike” is the third-party gambling scene. Websites like CSGO Lounge or EZ Skins have created a virtual gambling economy in which users can place bets with their in-game items as if they were at a sportsbook in Las Vegas.
Currently, one can only bet on professional matches but it is only a matter of time before betting is extended to collegiate leagues. When this happens, the books should hold UCLA’s team as one of the favorites. They are currently boasting an 8-1 season record in the Collegiate StarLeague , proving to be strongest of all the teams representing UCLA in collegiate eSports.
William Jeong, a fourth-year history student, attributes the success of the team to they put in as a team.
“We aren’t all spectacular individual players, so the key to success is regimented practice and lots of trust in each other,” said Jeong. He is not only a staple of the team roster, but also the president UCLA’s “Counter-Strike” club.
While the “Counter-Strike” club on campus is still relatively small compared to the behemoth that is the “League of Legends” club, the students involved are dedicated to the game’s growth here. Their dominating performance online only mirrors the drive they have for pushing this classic game to prominence on campus.