CS:GO pros debate Vertigo and Nuke audio following controversial map pool update - Dexerto
CS:GO

CS:GO pros debate Vertigo and Nuke audio following controversial map pool update

Published: 5/Apr/2019 12:52 Updated: 5/Apr/2019 16:26

by Connor Bennett

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Counter-Strike: Global Offensive professionals have already aired their feelings about the new map Vertigo, but some have been locked in a debate about its current sound issues.

Why was Vertigo added to CS:GO?

The game’s developer, Valve, made a huge change to the CS:GO active duty map pool with the game’s March 29 update as they removed Cache and replaced it with Vertigo – a surprising decision as Vertigo has never before been part of Counter-Strike’s competitive map choices.

Adding Vertigo has been a controversial change, with plenty of pros, analysts, and fans complaining about its inclusion. Others, like Natus Vincere’s Oleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev, have just gotten on with the task at hand and adapted to Valve’s changes.

However, that doesn’t mean that a majority of pros have accepted the changes. Plenty of players have remained vocal about the issues with the map – with the sounds of the map now coming into question.

ValveVertigo joined the Active Duty Map Pool in March and has already been put into action by tournament organizers.

Comparing Nuke and Vertigo

The sounds have been compared to Nuke, which has a somewhat similar vertical layout with its two bomb sites being so close together. While changes have been made to Nuke to help rectify the long-standing sound issues, no changes have yet been made to Vertigo. 

Some fans, however, don’t believe there are problems with Nuke – sparking a wider debate between pros.

CS:GO analyst and esports historian, Duncan ‘Thorin’ Shields tweeted: “[Of course] morons on Reddit think the sounds on Nuke aren’t an issue, when I have personally spoken to dozens of active pros who still have issues with them to this day.”

What do CS:GO pros think?

Thorin’s statement started a debate between some current players within the professional CS:GO scene, with some supporting his claim while others believing that the ‘issues’ can be resolved with practice.

Ghost Gaming in-game leader Joshua ‘Steel’ Nissan added: “I think there’s a list of stubborn pros who won’t switch to the 3D audio processing. Without it, directional sound is impossible. Legit every time someone can’t figure out if something is above or below or behind or in front I’ll ask if they have 3D audio on and they’ll say no.”

However, North star Valdemar ‘valde’ Bjørn Vangså  disagreed with Steel’s reply, adding that all of his team’s players use the 3D audio processing setting and still have issues with Nuke. 

The Danish rifler also added that a LAN environment can also mess with the in-game audio, as a loud arena can overpower some noises and give advantages in certain situations. 

Mousesports’ young Estonian star Robin ‘Ropz’ Kool disputed Thorin’s original claim, adding: “It’s actually very easy if you take your time to experiment the sounds (materials, hearing difference from a distance, behind a wall etc). It just comes from experience and we played the map quite a lot.”

What will Valve do with Vertigo?

It remains to be seen just how long Vertigo stays in the Active Duty map pool. Pros will likely want changes to be made, not just to the sound but to the whole thing, if the map stays for the long-term. 

However, any decision on the map pool is made by Valve and Valve alone, even if they do take feedback from pros on a regular basis. Tournament organizers like ESL have already updated their Pro League map set to include Vertigo, but like the players, they are beholden to Valve’s wishes. 

CS:GO

BLAST’s director of operations on maintaining integrity with online CSGO

Published: 24/Nov/2020 15:23 Updated: 24/Nov/2020 15:33

by Adam Fitch

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“This time last year our rulebook and our whole setup were based on LAN events,” BLAST’s director of operations and production Andrew Haworth told Dexerto. “We hadn’t really done a huge amount of work on how that would be replicated in an online world.”

Earlier this year, with the global health situation emerging, governments all around the world were forced to reduce the feasibility of hosting events, and thus, they were moved online — halfway through a tournament, in some cases.

Prior to the restrictions, tournament organizer BLAST managed to host their first big competition of the year in February, impressing many and unknowingly hosting what would be one of the only prominent offline events in the 2020 Counter-Strike calendar. They didn’t have the same privilege later in the year, however, as limitations had yet to be permanently relaxed in many locations. Nonetheless, they went on with their plans to host the BLAST Premier Fall Series, albeit online.

Another layer of absurdity was added as a factor of hosting an event, and that was the revelation of a spectating bug that spanned multiple years. With the Esports Integrity Commission — a body devised to maintain the integrity of competitive gaming — issuing bans to dozens of coaches, integrity questions were more prominent than ever during an online era, no less, where it’s harder to monitor the activity of teams and their coaches.

BLAST Premier Fall Series 1
BLAST
Commentators Scrawny and launders arrived at the production location early to accommodate local restrictions.

Haworth’s background working on major music festivals and the Olympics Games means he’s no stranger to crafting contingency plans to put in place in case of a problem arising. Prior to hosting the Fall Series, they went through sessions of scenario testing with key department leads to devise numerous methods of still getting the job done.

Considering BLAST have deployed everything at their disposal to maintain competitive integrity within their events, Dexerto spoke with Haworth to see how they adapted their processes to move to a remote production while monitoring the gameplay itself both in and out of the server.

Going back to esports’ roots

“We were fairly lucky in the timing of the outbreak, we just finished our Spring Series in February and didn’t have another live event till the end of May,” he said. “Other tournament organizers didn’t and were thrown into that halfway through a show. We had a bit of time, purely by luck, to have a look at what we need to do for our Spring Showdown and our Spring Final.”

While esports, like most other sports, is fundamentally an entertainment product, the need for competitive integrity is essential. Fans tune in to watch the best players in the world face off against each other, and that’s no different during an era of online competition.

“If the fans don’t have faith in what we’re putting on if our broadcasters and sponsors don’t have faith in what we’re putting on, and the teams ultimately lose faith in it, then none of us can stand behind it proudly,” Haworth said. “So competitive integrity is in integral to what we do, none of us are arrogant enough to think that we’re perfect in that.

“There may be things that we’re doing now that we’ll review and determine haven’t worked quite as well or are not effective. Some of the things that we have done we want to ensure, while maintaining competitive integrity at all times, doesn’t affect the performance of play. We don’t want to be taking up computer performance for the matches because that isn’t going to gain the right tone with anybody.”

BLAST Premier Fall Series 2
BLAST
The venue had no players in sight, with only production staff and broadcast talent being present.

With a change in circumstance comes a need to change the parameters in which events are run, and that filters all the way down to the gameplay itself. BLAST saw the need to adapt their guidelines early in the year, when LAN events no longer seemed possible, so all of the teams were on the same page.

“The rulebook gets issued at the start of every season, we generally review it and update it after every event,” Haworth said. “We did less of that last year — I think we only made one or two slight revisions from Spring Series into Spring Showdown because the former was very much for a LAN. We also have our competitive integrity policy, which is broadly drawn out of the rulebook and is a short, sharp summary to articulate to what we do. That’s on our website. We’ve worked with experienced tournament officials that have worked with other tournament organizers and in other settings, it’s important to us that they can see elsewhere what has worked, and equally what hasn’t worked, so we can pick up best practices.”

From bad to worse

All partners of ESIC — including the likes of ESL and DreamHack — vow to enforce rulings decided upon by the commission, and that was no different for BLAST. The spectating exploit utilized by at least 37 coaches rocked the CS:GO community and certainly begged the question as to what tournament organizers are doing to ensure fair play is had at all times.

Moving online adds another layer of difficulty to constantly and accurately monitoring the matches played, especially considering tournament officials can’t be present to see how teams are operating with their own two eyes. BLAST believes they’ve reached the pinnacle of monitoring at this precise moment.

“Some of the measures we put in place aren’t perfect but they’re the best available solution we’ve found so far,” Haworth told Dexerto. “There are methods that we’re developing and evolving. We are confident that the measures we have in place currently are giving the desired result in not allowing anybody to manipulate the system or take advantage of it.

“From a coaching bug point of view, the player cams that we’ve put in place have been a really useful feature. That’s something that we looked at, to start with, as a broadcast feature that had some great context and depth. It grew into something that we now utilize to ensure we can see what players are doing.

“We’ve worked with players on camera angles, we have down-the-line shots, coaches have cameras on them and we listen to TeamSpeak for both a broadcast feature and in terms of integrity,” he continued. “The MOss system is far from perfect but it allows us to know what’s open on someone’s computer, there’s a report sent to us post-match with that information.

Moving forward in the face of adversity

Despite having what they believe is a solid solution to both playing online and safeguarding the integrity of the tournament, it would be understandable if a tournament organizer decided to postpone an event due to the recent exploit revelation and subsequent disciplinary rulings. Haworth ensured Dexerto, however, that that wasn’t an eventuality BLAST considered.

BLAST Spike Nations
BLAST
BLAST have undergone plenty of growth in 2020 so far despite the difficulties, expanding into new titles like Valorant and Dota 2.

“We’ve never really moved our date around. We put our 21 days in the international calendar [that’s shared by all CS:GO tournament organizers] in April this year to try and provide full transparency,” he said. “We worked on this straight after the Spring Final, there were a couple of bits that we thought we could include like the coach cams but there were also a couple of things that weren’t ready for the Fall Series. We played around with them but wasn’t sure if it would cause performance issues on players’ PCs so we didn’t want to risk it.”

There’s not the only difficulty in providing a fair and stable environment for the players, BLAST have plenty of staff that are needed to execute a full production. Having staff at home using personal internet lines isn’t the most confidence-inducing prospect, but the company has managed to execute a means of working that allows for maximum efficiency given the circumstances.

While online play, and the copious amount of events that are taking place, may not be ideal, esports has proven to be resilient in the face of extreme and unpredictable challenge. The Fall Series was revered by industry professionals and Counter-Strike fans alike, but it’s clear that BLAST are not resting on their laurels leading up to the next phase of the competition.