Early in April, Valve announced significant changes to the way teams will be invited to the CS:GO Rio Major. The Rio Major should have been the first of two Majors hosted by Valve this year. However, due to the Coronavirus situation, the event has understandably been rescheduled until the end of the year. Along with the change in schedule comes a huge overhaul to the way teams qualify and get the opportunity to participate in this event.
During previous Majors in CS:GO, the events were run in multi-stage formats, being divided into the Minor stage, the Challenger stage and the Legend stage. As you progressed and made it further along through these stages, you would secure your spot for the next Major, allowing your team to bypass the early stages of the tournament and reducing the risk of getting knocked out early.
One of the main reasons for Valve deciding to change this format is due to the fact that instead of there being a six-month gap between the previous and the current Majors, there will now be a twelve-month gap. This time period is an eternity in the CS:GO landscape, and teams can significantly improve or drop off in very short periods of time. There is definitely an argument to be made that even six months is too long a period and that these changes should have been made previously.
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What’s changed for the Rio Major?
In order to qualify for the Rio Major, teams will now need to play through three qualifiers throughout the year and earn points. These are known as ‘Regional Major Ranking’ points or ‘RMR’ points. Due to the Coronavirus, these will take place online and are isolated by regions. A small number of points are allocated from the previous Major, with three RMR qualifier events making up the rest. The RMR points are also scaled so that the qualifiers closest to the Rio Major will provide more points.
At the end of these qualifiers, 24 teams will be invited to the Rio Major from 6 different regions. There will be 8 Contender, 8 Challenger and 8 Legend invitations available. The number of spots each region gets for each of these divisions is based on that region’s performance in the previous Major.
ESL One: Road to Rio — Europe
Began on April 22nd and will end on May 17th. This first qualifier event features 16 teams split into two groups with a prize pool of $115,000. The group stage features a round-robin BO3 format with the 1st and 2nd placed teams advancing to the upper bracket of the playoffs. The 3rd and 4th placed teams will advance to the lower bracket. The playoffs will consist of a double-elimination BO3 format with a BO5 grand final.
ESL One: Road to Rio — North America
Takes place from Apr 22nd — May 10th and features a prize pool of $60,000. The format is slightly different, consisting of a round-robin BO3 group stage, followed by single elimination BO3 playoffs. The teams that come 1st in each group advance straight to the semi-finals, while the teams coming 2nd and 3rd advance to the quarter-finals.
More on ESL One: Road to Rio — South America can be found on HLTV.
The qualifiers for the other regions have not yet begun. However, the CIS region’s qualifier is set to begin on April 30th.
The reasons for these changes have come due to extraordinary circumstances, but I think having a more comprehensive qualifier system is a step in the right direction. You should not be able to qualify for the most prestigious and competitive event of the CS:GO calendar based on your performance during an event six months in the past. Having these qualifier events online and isolated by each region is obviously not ideal and will almost certainly not be repeated. In the future, Valve will hopefully move towards a similar system while using existing calendar events to earn RMR points.