PGL Major Copenhagen 2024’s Newbie Stream: Nice Idea, But Will It Actually Help?

Published: Mar 18, 2024

On March 15, PGL announced a Newbie Stream would be offered for the CS2 Major Copenhagen 2024. Aimed at those “diving into Counter-Strike for the first time or seeking a laid-back viewing experience,” the Newbie Stream would supplement the main broadcast with a beginner-friendly channel.

But one of the first questions I had when I heard about the stream was, “Who is this really for?” And perhaps more worryingly, “Would it even help?” Like many, I got into competitive Counter-Strike years ago just simply by tuning into a broadcast one day and winging it. I think there’s some merit in that way of doing it. Trying to figure out what’s going on is a great way of learning things. Working things out for yourself teaches you lessons you’re just not going to get by having it explained to you.

Even so, I was excited to see the talents put onto the broadcast, Vince Hill and Jack “Jacky” Peters, and what the pair could bring. I’ve always enjoyed Vince’s commentary, and I’ve watched broadcasts just because Jacky was the host or commentator. Still, I worry about the usefulness of the Newbie Stream. What it seems to want to offer is an entry-level experience for casual and first-time viewers. What I worry it will deliver is a watered-down version of the main broadcast.

One of the most compelling things about Counter-Strike is the fact that it’s absolutely simple to get into. You have two teams, an offense and a defense, Terrorists and Counter-Terrorists, one team wants to plant a bomb, the other team wants to stop them. They use guns (you have to assume everyone in the world at this point understands what a gun is), and it’s more or less set in the “real world.” There’s no sci-fi guns you have to kind of find an analogy for. There’s no lore. You don’t have to know what a Yordle is, or how magic works, or why people have special powers. It’s simple.

And beyond this, Counter-Strike’s more nuanced concepts aren’t that hard to grasp. You can understand inherently that it’s hard to aim and make shots on moving enemies with lightning-quick reactions. Elements like the internal economy, econ-rounds, and the roles and strategies teams might employ, such as smokes and rushes, aren’t incredibly hard ideas to pick up, even from a complete layman. Beyond this, the much more complex ideas deservedly take years to figure out. That knowledge isn’t really something you can compress into a “beginner-friendly” format.

For me, as someone who’s tried to explain competitive CS to friends, family, and partners, the difficult part doesn’t come from the game itself. Instead, it comes from explaining the wider context of tournaments, their formats, wrinkles, and rules, and the season as a whole. It doesn’t take some kind of esports savant to watch a game for the first time and figure out who’s winning, what’s working, what’s not. But what will take weeks, months, years of viewing is figuring out why individual matches matter.

Fundamental questions about the game, tournament, and season structure are much harder to explain than “Why are they throwing a smoke?” It takes more time to explain “Why is it first to 13?”, “Why do some matches go higher than that?” “Why is the maximum 24 rounds?”, etc.

And on a greater scale than that, asking (perhaps more philosophical-sounding) questions about the game like “Why is a Major important?”, “Why do teams want to go to the BLAST Premier World Final?”, “How does this all work as a unified ‘sport’ anyway?”

As a result, it feels like the real hurdle the PGL CS2 Major Copenhagen 2024 Newbie Stream has to get over isn’t explaining to people why Counter-Strike is hard, or the players are good. Instead, the real hurdle for newbies is the overall importance of Counter-Strike as a game. Why is this such a long-lived and essential esport, and what makes it that way? If the Newbie Stream can explain this, then it’ll have those first-timers hooked for life.

Image: PGL

Michael Hassall
Michael Hassall

Since: January 31, 2024

Michael has worked in the esports industry for five years after a brief career in marketing. A professional writer for almost a decade, and a lifelong gamer, writing about esports is his one true passion, when he’s not glued to a screen playing the games he writes about.

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