CS2 Shanghai Major makes controversial change to be more like Valorant

Declan Mclaughlin
PGL Major Stockholm

The tournament organizer running the second Counter-Strike 2 Major of 2024 has announced it will not run an open qualifier for three major regions for the first time in the esport’s history, moving it closer to how Valorant runs.

Perfect World, the company behind the game’s Shanghai Major, revealed the tournament’s qualifying and main event stages schedule. However, many fans and players first noticed an absence of open qualifiers for North America, Europe, and South America.

The three major regions will instead send teams to the closed qualifying stage based on their Valve regional standings. This is all thanks to recent changes in the Valve rules that say teams will be chosen for Majors based on the rankings as a way to stop cheaters from entering the competition through the open bracket.

The rules stipulate that open qualifiers will only be held if there are not enough highly ranked teams from a region to fill out a full closed qualifiers slate. Leading up to this tournament, there are enough teams from EU, NA, and SA to warrant not hosting an open bracket from those regions.

This change and its implementation for the Shanghai Major move the Counter-Strike 2 esports circuit closer to how Riot Games operates the Valorant Champions Tour.

Valorant Esports stage and crowd
Valorant Champions competition was open to fans for the first time in 2022.

There are still important distinctions between the two circuits, like how top Valorant teams compete in centralized leagues and qualify for major competitions through playoff brackets, not rankings.

Valve also did not handpick the teams it wanted to compete in its circuit. Riot hand-picked which teams would be allowed into its VCT International Leagues, and they rarely let in rosters from the tier 2 ecosystem.

However, with this change, CS2 esports has become a more closed circuit, shutting out smaller organizations and teams from even having a shot at Majors.

Because of this, the Valve esport is closer to resembling the Riot FPS competitive circuit than it was before, concerning long-time CS fans.

“Removing open qualifiers where everyone with a dream could make it to the major is insane, it’s what set CS apart from games like VALORANT,” Hac1, a popular CS account said on social media.

Fans and players are not happy with how closed the circuit has become, with many prominent community members calling for a change and fans starting up a Change.org petition to not “allow Counter-Strike to become a closed circuit game.”

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