Last night, two of Australia's best CSGO teams fought for the right to represent Australia globally in the International eSports Federation. Athletico won two straight games to steal the spotlight in a joint broadcast between SBS 2 and Twitch, in what amounts to the first competitive Counter-Strike match on free-to-air TV.
Let's have a go at saying the full name of the event, shall we? I'll try to use it in a sentence. Boy, I sure had fun watching the Australian eSports League's 2016 International eSports Federation World Championships Qualifier for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Phew. It's like the textual equivalent of a Formula 1 jumpsuit.
If we qualify the statement as being free-to-air (excluding Foxtel) and competitive (not an exhibition match), then Athletico is indeed the first team to win a CS match on TV. Last night was history in the making, and happily for Counter-Strike fans, we put our best foot forward and represented the sport well. AEL's handling of the IESF competition was well put together, the commentators looked comfortable behind the desk, and host Madeleine "Zhiana" Rose was on the ground ready to get thoughts from the players.
Both teams are contending with busy international schedules, and SYF attempted to alleviate some of the lack of preparation by choosing Dust 2 as their map — an interesting attempt at a leveller, as it's inarguably the map every Counter-Strike player knows best. Hell, back in the Source days, for a while Dust 2 was the only balanced war map. AEL caster Danny Kim had a sublime way of putting it:
"Dust 2, out of the competitive map pool of seven maps, is kind of like the chorus of a song. The other maps are kind of like the verse, people kind of know them, maybe not, but when we get to the chorus, that's Dust 2. Everyone knows it, everyone sings it as loud as they can. Everyone thinks they're the best at it."
Couldn't have said it better myself.
The match itself was middle of the road — not an absolute blowout, but Athletico walked away with a decisive victory, taking the first two games in the best-of-three with a comfortable amount of rounds. The first match was won 16-5, and the second a bit closer at 16-11. Despite dealing with jetlag and sickness, it looked like SYF was mounting a comeback in the later stages, getting a bit of momentum and forcing Athletico into an eco round — but in the end it wasn't to be.
Certain stages of the stream had audio sync issues, further fuel for the fine form of CSGO banter in the Twitch chat, going predictably insane and demanding dicks out for Harambe. Or maybe they were just responding to SBS 2's previous show, Adam Looking For Eve, in which there was, quite literally, dicks out.
We'll have to wait until the work week begins to know how the broadcast was viewed within SBS big-wig circles and what the numbers were like, but I definitely hope we get to see more free-to-air CSGO. In the meantime, Athletico are the team that'll head over to Jakarta and represent Australia in the global competition.
You can watch the matches on AEL's Twitch channel.