Counter-Strike in the fight for acceptance
Published by Giselle
July 4, 2019 8:01 pm
Once again the ESL One Cologne attracts tens of thousands of fans to the cathedral city with Counter-Strike. Nevertheless, it is not easy for the shooter in the FIFA-fixed German mainstream.
More than 15.000 eSport-enthusiasts every day, the jackpot full to bursting with 300.000 US dollars – and yet the “Cathedral of Counter-Strike” flies again under the mainstream radar on the weekend. When the ESL One Cologne, the most prestigious eSports tournament in Germany, takes place at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne this weekend, the scene will be in turmoil.
But the average consumer is still away. He may have heard something about eSport before, but he’s more likely to think of FIFA 19. A lightweight that hardcore fans have little regard for compared to the crowd-puller Counter-Strike.
“As an eSport, FIFA is much more accessible for the German sports fan, who can generally do much more with a football simulation than with a tactical shooter,” team manager Christian Lenz of Germany’s best Counter-Strike team BIG told “SID”.
A paradoxical situation, since, for example, the final of the Virtual Bundesliga, the official German FIFA Championship, in mid-May attracted only a handful of fans to Berlin’s Westhafen. On the other hand, ESL One, which is coming to the cathedral city for the sixth time, is fully booked on all three final days from Friday to Sunday with over 15,000 visitors. For the fourth time in a row.
Counter-Strike as a traditional game
Parallel to the “Wimbledon des Counter-Strike”, as ESL spokesman Christopher Flato calls his tournament, the World Cup play-offs on the Xbox in FIFA 19 will take place in Hamburg this year. In the past, international FIFA competitions have also had a hard time with the arena audience; the many empty ranks from the 2018 World Cup finals in London are still remembered during the final.
“Counter-Strike and League of Legends have been in eSports for a long time and organise international tournaments. At FIFA, this has only existed in a similar form for almost three years, so FIFA is still in its infancy compared to the other game titles,” explains the German FIFA player Michael Bittner from Werder Bremen.
Lenz agrees: “Of course the fan community in FIFA still has to grow. It’s far from where Counter-Strike is today.” The shooter has been around for 20 years and has a long tradition in eSports. In this respect, it’s at least strange how many mainstream media are throwing themselves at FIFA.
A FIFA professional who plays for a Bundesliga club seems to be easier to get across to newspaper readers or TV viewers than a Counter-Strike player from a team like BIG, which few people outside the scene know. After all, “ProSiebenSat.1” with its special-interest channels ran eSports and “ProSieben MAXX” has tried its hand at Counter-Strike and is well received by fans – even if the shooter may only be shown after 10 p.m. for reasons of youth protection.
Killer game debate influences perception
The killer game debate influences the perception of the game hit. “The industry in Germany had to struggle with many challenges, especially concerning the effects of shooters on younger players. Accordingly, development in this country has started a little slower and has been very sluggish,” Flato said.
For Lenz, however, acceptance is only a matter of time: “The debate in Germany is generation-bound. According to Flato, in the mainstream “the generation cut is at 45 at the latest. Accordingly, it is all the more challenging to get previous generations enthusiastic about eSports.” The fans in the Lanxess Arena will hardly be interested at the weekend in who else is watching besides them. They will always be there.