2021 is already here as far as the calendar is concerned. The year is yet to kick off in the sense of the new CS:GO esports season and that gives us the opportunity to glance over what is likely to happen in the next 12 months in the pro circuit and within the game itself.
2020 was an eventful year for CS:GO. Not always in a positive way. Actually, much like basically every other field of life, most CS:GO happenings last year were on the negative side. For example, 2020 was the first year since 2012 to not have a Major. We have COVID-19 to thank for that of course. There was also the huge coaching exploit scandal that led to over 30 bans of previously well-respected coaches.
There were some bright spots among all the negatives. Valorant's launch finally woke Valve up and we were getting regular updates for months. Sometimes we only dreamed of in years prior. The intense update cycle seized at the same time as the hype surrounding Valorant, as expected, but after a two-month drought we were treated with a massive new Operation called Broken Fang and everyone sailed happily into the new year.
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2021 is not like most other years. Everyone seems to be looking at it as the hero to save us from the villainous 2020. We are also looking forward to the new year with hope. Hope of seeing another Major. Hope of not seeing another scandal. Hope of CS:GO not being abandoned by daddy Valve again. Hope is one thing, reality is another. We'll try to predict the latter in the next passages and sadly, we can't promise anyone's hopes being fulfilled.
A CS:GO Major
Yep, a CS:GO Major. Singular. Valve already announced that they have no intention of meddling with a "pandemic" Major. Closed doors, no fans, isolated cabins - none of that. Because the likelihood of a spring Major operating without any of these restrictions is slim to none, Valve completely scrapped it.
As things stand, 2021 should be the year Majors return to the professional circuit, but that's going to happen in the second half of the calendar. The location will not be Rio, where the final confirmed pre-pandemic Major was supposed to be held, but an undisclosed, likely European city.
Last year was turbulent for everybody, but Astralis had it worse than most CS:GO organizations. Two of their starters missed considerable time in the middle of the year, which naturally resulted in a drop of form in the whole squad. Once Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander and Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth returned, so did trophies.
We have no reason to believe the Danes' trophy cabinet will remain empty throughout 2021. They've won three Majors in a row and while we believe that streak would have been broken had ESL One Rio happened on schedule, the chances of Astralis winning an incredible fourth consecutive title are much higher with how things turned out. Even if the Major streak does end, we're confident of another year of domination for the greatest CS:GO roster ever assembled.
North American Struggles
We'd like to turn this part into a meme but the reality for NA CS:GO is truly grim. We went in depth on the vicious cycle draining the region of playing talent and invested organizations, so we won't repeat all of that here. The summary is that s@#$ is really f@#$ed up over there and any sort of recovery within the frames of 2021 would be short of a miracle.
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Issues in North America are largely economic and with the pandemic expected to still be in full swing for at least the first quarter of the year, the earliest we could see the region standing back on its legs is at the tail end of 2021 and perhaps even early 2022. The saddest part is that this feels like an optimistic perspective. Prayers up for NA CS:GO.
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Updates Every Two Months
Unless CDPR deside to fix their broken image somewhat by entering the 5v5 multiplayer tactical FPS genre and manage to finish the project, no pun intended, in 2021, then don't expect anything close to the 2020 schedule of updates. Valve are used to monopolizing the genre and even if they'd never admit it, Valorant did give the publisher a little scare. After all, it's rare for a game to pay out so well when you're doing next to nothing to maintain it. It's only natural to get a bit edgy when competition arrives in a shiny Cadillac.
Now that the Valorant frenzy is behind us, Valve can relax once again and return to their favorite hobby: doing nothing. We'll get a bug fix here and a skin case there, but the good times of updates every other week are going to feel like an eternity ago just a couple of months from now. Hell, it already feels that way.
A New Operation
This is a tricky one to predict because Valve don't know the meaning of publishing schedule, so we might be off here. Nevertheless, we've seen at least one Operation each year since 2013 except for 2018. But that's the thing: you never know when Valve are just gonna oversleep for a year.
Operation Broken Fang is running all the way to the end of April, so the risk of not getting another Operation this year is rather high. On the positive side, Operation Shattered Web ran until March 2020 and we did get a follow-up that same year. It's really a matter of whether or not Gaben remembers things not named Dota 2 still exist.
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