Why so many CS Pros are switching to Valorant
I've seen a lot of threads and comments about how all these various pros are cashing out by switching over to Valorant. Essentially a lot of people think it comes down to, "well I haven't been on a top team for awhile so therefore I'm gonna switch to a game where I'll be one of the best for awhile." It's not as simple as that, and hopefully I can clear up just the really ugly situation in the NA scene.
Also to preface, I'm uncertain really of what I'm going to be doing. I haven't decided on either game. I'm working on my mental health before I start grinding again. That's been my primary focus for the last few weeks. Anyways -
1. There's no organizations looking to invest in a non established CS team.
From what I've heard around the scenes, there are organizations looking for a CS team. However, almost none are looking for anything less than a top 10-20 team. They want a team that has established themselves. Unfortunately, it becomes quite a challenge to establish yourself against competition when other players have analysts, sports psychologists, facilities (living/offices), frequent boot camps and most importantly being paid. Is it impossible? No it's not. These things aren't 100% necessary for success but it definitely does help. Allows players to focus on their own game, and definitely relieves stress from their lives.
Additionally, with the whole coronavirus situation - just in general the economy is rough. Most people aren't looking to take "risks" at the moment.
Finally, I don't think there's a good reason to invest into the lower divisions of CS when you have a game like Valorant. It makes sense for organizations to pour money into that since the scene is so unestablished. It's a gold rush essentially right now, so why put money into a top 20-30 team?
2. The restructured leagues have really damaged the scene in general
Take it from this perspective.
With FLASHPOINT and EPL, there's now the addition of "partnered teams". Essentially, these teams have signed contracts or invested into the league itself. They're guaranteed their spot in that league or division. In the past, it was based off performance and there was definitely chances that an organization could lose their spot if they didn't perform well.
Now, with the restructuring of the leagues there's a lot less teams overall in the division. There's teams with guaranteed spots and the way to get in without being partnered is incredibly difficult.
With the case of FLASHPOINT, my old team (Orgless) didn't do too bad. We outplaced a number of their partnered teams. Now we have to requalify for the whole league through a month long qualifier (NA/EU) mix again. I'm not against the grind, it's just demotivating to a degree when people get to stay in a league due to financial connections rather than performance.
With the case of EPL, I believe it's the same (correct me if I'm wrong). Unless you're a high ranking in the ESL world rankings you're not guaranteed a spot unless you're partnered. You'd have to go through a global qualifier featuring NA/EU teams every time. Also it's a pain to even get an MDL spot. With my team Orgless, even though we were placing very well outside of ESL - we'd have to go through a season of Advanced in order to get an MDL spot. Which could be an issue when in other leagues/tournaments.
Even if you're a top team. Given the state of CS, upsets are a real thing. Imagine having an off qualifier, and you're now kicked out of pro league for the next few months. This is a real possibility even if you're a really great team. Some of these lesser known teams play in a unique way or have a unique style that you may not be familiar with. Think old Vega Squadron who was beating top teams by how they played. Sometimes you can be the better team or more consistent, but due to a stylistic difference/off day - you lose. You also lose your chance of getting an organization because those spots are incredibly valuable.
So right now say you're an NA pro without an established team. Here's the scenario you're essentially facing.
With some of the few teams with organizations (in leagues/divisions), you either need to have done well, or have friends on the team in order to join. You also face the battle of teams with money importing players from different regions. So you have to really stand out or have close ties. Oh and even if you stand out, it doesn't necessarily mean a team will try you out. You might have to wait awhile for the current lineup to run it's course.
So lets say you can't get onto one of those teams. Well, now you have the choice of getting on some form of MDL team or trying to put together a new team.
Finding four other players with the same mentality and the work ethic is really difficult. Even if you personally go into your next team with the Mamba mentality. That doesn't mean your teammates will buy into that system. So now you face the challenge of trying to change people or influence them if they don't buy in. Or you have to find players that do want that and are free agents.
So whatever, let's just say hypothetically you do this. You find five other free agents or find an MDL team and you start building the team. It's going to take a long time even for very experienced players to develop structure. Defaults, protocols, reactions, rotations, map pool, spots.. etc. It takes months and months of practice and experience playing to develop these things. There's also no guarantee that this team of players and styles "work" together. So there's a real possibility that you have to switch out players and rebuild it again.
You have to do this all while not being paid for whatever period of time, versus people with way more resources than you. You also have to outwork people who have also themselves by nature are hardworkers in the scene. Plus if you start doing really well, you might eventually get an offer or one of your teammates. Let's hope all your hardwork pays off, and you happen to be the one who gets the offer/ or your teammate decides to stay and continue with the team. Otherwise good luck rebuilding the team again and finding a replacement with the same mentality/skill/work ethic.
At least in the past, if you made it to the pro league division it was rare to not have an organization.
Now it's becoming more common, and the road to these divisions are significantly harder now that all the regions are kinda all combined into one.
All in all, it's a tough situation. That's why a lot of people are making the switch over to Valorant. I don't blame them. Some people need to pay bills or want a fresh start after playing a game for years and years. A large majority aren't looking to cash out on this opportunity. It's just the hand they were dealt.