CSPPA and MTG announce progress while Valve throw a wrench in the works.

Yesterday, the Counter-Strike Professional Players’ Association announced it would be included in some sort of fashion with the administration of MTG’s consolidated CS:GO tournament series, the ESL Pro Tour. In a joint press release, the CSPPA and MTG announced that the unofficial official CS:GO union will become partners with MTG’s DreamHack and ESL properties to “establish the participation framework for professional CS:GO players in the ESL Pro Tour.”1

The statement discloses few details, but outlines how the CSPPA will be wielding its influence as part of this new agreement. It suggests that the CSPPA will be negotiating revenue splits between MTG and players (outside of prize pools), as well as rights to players’ likenesses, and promotional expectations for players during competition. There’s a lot to be happy about if you’re a professional CS:GO player, in this agreement.

And normally, that would be it as far as analyzing news about changes to the CS:GO scene.

But this is no longer a normal situation.

Valve have seen fit to overhaul the qualification system for their semi-annual Major tournaments. Starting with this year’s as-of-yet unannounced Fall Major, teams will no longer qualify solely based on their previous Major results, and instead based on a points system from the Spring Major (organized by MTG) and two other unannounced tournaments.2

These two additional tournaments seem to will receive $250k USD in funding from Valve. The goal? Find the top sixteen teams and seed them into the Fall Major based on three tournament results.

On the face of it, Valve’s reasoning isn’t entirely wrong, here. Until these changes go into effect, the biggest challenge for top CS:GO teams in maintaining their position is not qualifying for the next Major, it has been keeping their five man rosters together in such a way that allows them to keep their Major invitations.

I’m bullish on this new system. It means team management will be more important than ever, and I hope that means that more teams will take more seriously the role of the sixth (or seventh) player for their squads. And I’m not talking about the coach. In my opinion, substitute players need to be given more priority and more consideration. Continuity of the squad and the flexibility of tuning your starting five to best compete with the opposing roster is a factor in competitive CS:GO—and esports at large, too—that isn’t nearly as exploited as it should be.

The biggest catch in this new system? The CSPPA is calling for a tournament break from 15 July to 15 August. I foresee many tweets of disappointment and frustration over the course of the weekend. If there’s one thing top-tier esports TOs have learned over the last year, it’s that it might be an unpopular decision to overlap your top-tier event with another.

In the context of yesterday’s MTG/CSPPA agreement, I believe it’s probably the move that sets MTG up for even greater success in 2020. With the players’ voice now at the table—something that doesn’t appear to be a reality when it comes to interfacing with Valve—MTG have gone from absolute mad lads to absolute mad lads with regards to the future of professional CS:GO. MTG have always shouldered the majority of the weight of carrying the professional CS:GO scene for years, and, for what it’s worth, I’m glad they’re taking this new endeavor seriously by including the CSPPA from the near-enough-as-makes-no-difference start.

Valve’s plans to shift its Major qualification system wasn’t announced publicly, however, so it’s important to understand that nothing’s been set in stone when it comes to the Fall Major. Even so, Valve’s public communication strategy doesn’t prioritize keeping the public in the loop until there’s something concrete to announce (something about a third piece of episodic content called, even though it’s current fucking year). I wouldn’t expect any official news until we’re a bit further along in the pitch process for these summer qualification tournaments.

MSFT release stable branch of Edge Chromium.

Yeah, you could say I’m pretty excited for this.

Ever since MSFT started including the Mac version of Outlook in on the good fun its Windows counterpart was capable of, their software’s been pretty good. I had a very public love affair with OneNote for the longest time until paying for an Office365 subscription didn’t make any sense for me considering I was already paying for plenty of space on iCloud and other solutions synced better with my devices.

When Edge Chromium was announced I was bouncing back and forth between Firefox and Opera on my PC. I’ve historically preferred actually using Edge, but for awhile, I stopped using it when running into some compatibility issues with some web-based applications I was using at the time. After ditching Edge, I switched back and forth between Firefox and Opera, but didn’t really feel compelled to stick with either one.

After exclusively using the Canary branch of Edge Chromium, I would highly recommend giving the new browser a try if you’re looking for alternatives or if you’re used to Chromium-based browsers elsewhere and you’d rather not have Google’s browser help track you across the web. And considering you can add in Chromium-compatible extensions, there’s fewer pain points to switching.

Upgrade anxiety.

Well, I was going to order ye olde iPhone 11 from my wireless provider this week, and then I saw a MacRumors post reporting on the latest iPhone 12 rumors.1

I know I should be able to look past something that’s not going to be on the market for another nine months, but sakes alive, I’ve forgotten what it means to be in the tick-tock product cycle that Apple has been in for the longest time.

For context, I have an iPhone 7 Plus with a battery that should be replaced. I would have already done this, but my screen has a nice-sized crack in it, running from slightly left of the center bottom edge to the volume rocker on the upper left edge of the unit. It otherwise functions normally, aside from the odd barcode being a pain to scan from time to time thanks to an abnormal crack running through any given representation of the binary language.

Sadly, the damage excludes my device from being serviced officially, unless I replace the glass front of my screen.

And so, after holding out for as long as I could bear with the battery, I decided that I was going to take advantage of my carrier’s interest-free financing of a new iPhone 11. I haven’t been a fan of being beholden under contract to a carrier for awhile, but I can’t really see anything wrong with this payment plan–especially when I can pay the whole balance off at any time without a penalty.

Of course, Apple offers a similar plan, but I feel even more like I’m leasing a device in that case, instead of owning a device.

Maybe I’ll just get over it and commit to getting a new device.

Here’s to hoping I remember to buy a case for it.