It might not be free-to-play like League of Legends or Dota 2, but that hasn’t stopped the popular first-person shooter from making inroads around the world. And in further evidence that the era of Counter-Strike has well and truly returned, Valve has added official matchmaking servers in Hong Kong.
The screenshot appeared on the CSGO sub-reddit earlier this morning, and comes after Valve added matchmaking servers in Japan. Japanese players would previously find themselves playing on Singaporean and sometimes Australian servers with pings in the triple digits.
But the inclusion of Hong Kong servers is immense for the game’s growth in Asia, since it gives players in Taiwan and China a much more reasonable option for matchmaking than they had previously. Those playing from mainland China should be able to get anywhere in the realm of 50-80ms, better than what many players from Perth get to servers on the east coast of Australia.
Players, teams and organisations could always host their own servers, of course, but there’s no doubt that the inclusion of official matchmaking has been central to the exponential growth of CS:GO over the last few years. Multiplayer games that don’t have it are basically dead in the water these days, and matching players into poor or laggy servers is a fantastic way to tick off your userbase (as Battlefront fans discovered).
China has always strongly supported Counter-Strike in the past, although their teams have often struggled to make the journey to international tournaments thanks to visa issues. Valve adding more matchmaking servers certainly won’t resolve that, but if it helps the region get back to the days when foreign teams travelled to Beijing and Shanghai — ala the WEG series — then that’s a massive plus.