Tournament organizer ESL officially that 2020's IEM New York will take place online while stating that it will also be the final Regional Ranking tournament and will be the final Regional Ranking tournament for both the North America and CIS regions. Fans of European CSGO don't need to worry; IEM New York Online will also feature Europe's top teams
Don't let the name fool you, IEM New York is now just IEM Online 2020, as the tournament organizer continues to try to solidify its hold on CSGO's exploding esports scene. But ESL's public announcement that IEM Online won't be Europe's final Regional Ranking tournament means that there is a very real possibility that Europe's final RMR might not be the last CSGO fans see if Valve decides to that teams inside the European Union may end participating in a replacement CSGO's only Major in 2020 ends up canceled.
Announced teams for the CIS and North America's final scheduled RMR include two teams that have taken home trophies from IEM events in the past year. Evil Geniuses returns to IEM to defend its title from North America's top teams, while Natus Vincere headline the CIS region's final RMR after a win earlier this year at IEM Katowice.
The news that IEM New York's October date has already been moved to online play online tournament is a troubling development for ESL's other fall tournament, the ESL One Rio Major. As the final RMR event for two of the world's most impacted regions, New York takes place just over a month and a half before Rio's start date. It's unlikely that teams will be willing to travel to Brazil or if they'll be allowed back into their home countries at all post-tournament, making this the first Major is CSGO history teams might just skip.
New York's official online move is one more step towards disaster for Brazil and its chance to host its first CSGO Major in history. With Brazilian CSGO team MIBR already in Europe for ESL One Cologne's online ringer, they might be willing to risk the point penalty to switch regions for good. The final RMR tournaments in each region are worth a considerable amount of points, meaning that a good performance here can carry a team to Major berth. Right now MIBR is listed as an invitee to North America's IEM New York Online, but that doesn't mean they haven't considered stealing a spot from Europe's expanded berths earned by the region's performances at StarLadder Berlin all the way back in September 2019.
With the possibility that teams simply refuse to participate or are unwilling to travel to Brazil could mean Valve might just call 2020's Major season off altogether.
Another possibility is that Valve extends its three planned RMR events by adding several more over the course of the coming months. Valve has little to lose by doing so, especially since all Regional Ranking Tournaments are submitted as tournament proposals to Valve, leaving the CSGO developer simply signing off on CSGO tournaments as a formality to calm the masses. As of now, Valve has only pledged money to the first and last Regional Ranking tournaments played.
Valve, of course, has remained quiet, willing to let tournament organizers announced that they have the honor of holding a RMRT. the comapny has not officially announced any regional Ranking tournaments since its initial reveal. But with the global esports economy With a global esports economy up in the air, the company has little incentive to rush for fans who are already watching esports at home.
CSGO fans will get their first taste of professional CSGO this weekend at DreamHack Summer Open. While EU's competing teams aren't the region's top tier, these are the same teams that have the most to gain from getting a strong start back in the server.
While teams normally come back a little rusty from their summer off, it could be even worse this year. CSGO pros have complained for years about the game's packed tournament schedule, but most probably thought it would be the Counter-Strike Professional Players Association, not their own government, that would come through with relief.
ESL had previously waited until only a month prior to ESL One Cologne to finalize its final plans for its other CSGO tournament on the docket this summer, ESL One Cologne. The tournament moved to online play a little over a month before its start date. Just two weeks after it announced Cologne would play out online, ESL revealed its plans for New York two months in advance. Simply put, if ESL isn't holding out hope that a tournament could happen in New York in two months, there's little hope for a Major in Brazil in three.
IEM New York is clear sign what many probably assumed already: ESL One Rio will most likely be postponed or canceled by Valve altogether.
In April, it was Valve, not ESL, who made an announcement regarding its decision to cancel CSGO's traditional path for most teams to attend the sport's most prestigious events most prestigious events. In its place, Valve then announced the regional ranking system that included penalties and point forfeitures for infractions announced. Teams like Astralis barely batted an eye, telling WIN.gg that it wasn't skipping CS Summit 6, it was Regional Ranking tournaments as the only way to secure a Major berth in 2020.
It's not a clear path to a CSGO Major in 2020. Get the full breakdown in WIN.gg's comprehensive overview of CSGO's pathway the Major qualification through Regional Ranking Tournaments right here.
Since Valve's initial leadoff, ESL is back in the driver's seat and announcing its own bad news earlier and earlier for each tournament. Previously rescheduled tournaments like Dota 2's IEM tournaments that ESL has rescheduled or canceled have come around a month before their scheduled start date. With IEM New York just over two months away, ESL is officially looking further into the future as it asses its 2020 year. But whatever after IEM New York, ESL still has many of CSGO's top 20 teams under lock and key for Pro League's Season 12 in September.
Fans shouldn't expect an early answer on Rio from either Valve or ESL, especially when ESL is still doubling down on Rio recently as its tweet for IEM New York's move to online play and its bold use of the #ESLOne hashtag. The tournament seems warier since canceling Dota 2's ESL One Lod Angeles mere days before the event was set to start. The tournament organizer is still gunshy from waiting until day before Dota 2's ESL One Los Angeles to announce the tournament's cancellation.p
ESL has to spread the hype, but its sudden backseat role in Regional Ranking Tournaments shows Valve holds the power when it comes to the two events the CSGO develoer sponsors each year. Each year's two Major tournaments mean a huge boost in exposure for Counter-Strike, and that means big money for Valve. As evidenced by reporting by WIN.gg, Valve has shown that Steam, the Steam Marketplace, and CSGO are integral parts of its business plans in 2020 and beyond, especially with CSGO pressing into the Chinese space with Steam China.
Unless they can get s1mple to leak ESL One Rio for the second time in less than a year, fans are going to have to sit and wait.
S1mple originally leaked ESL's plans to host a CSGO Major in Brazil during a conversation with soccer star Neymar in November of 2019.