The Counter Strike: Global Offensive semifinal match between Chaos Esports Club and Team Liquid has been delayed due to both teams standing in solidarity with ongoing protests against police brutality. The protests have been going on since May when George Floyd was extrajudicially killed by former police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, and they have been going ever since. On August 25th, an unarmed black man named Jacob Blake was shot in the back seven times by the police in Kenosha, Wisconsin and has become another point of anger and frustration for the protests and the nation.
Both ChaosEC and Team Liquid are well known in the CS: GO community and represent some of the best players currently competing. The competition is the North American ESL Cologne tournament, which is one of the biggest CS:GO tournaments hosted annually. This year, it’s being hosted fully digitally due to the Coronavirus pandemic and has been split into four divisions set across different continents. ChaosEC and Team Liquid represent a fourth of the qualified North American teams and half of the remaining competitors.
ChaosEC and Team Liquid both came forward on Twitter to say that they would delay their match as a public action to bring attention to the ongoing protest against police brutality. Chaos Esports Club’s initial statement to Twitter says,
“Now is not the time for games. We are mad. We are exhausted. We know that gaming is part of the problem. We will not be competing in today’s ESL One Cologne 2020 match against Team Liquid in order to do our part to move the light where it belongs – on the protests against this country’s continued systemic racism and police brutality.”
Team liquid released a similar statement saying that they support ChaosEC’s decision and would follow suit. Soon after, the ESL Counter Strike twitter told fans that they had postponed the match until later in the week in support of both teams’ decisions. The match was rescheduled for a day later at two in the afternoon, which is the same time as the other semi-final match between Evil Geniuses and FURIA Esports.
The response to this postponement on Twitter has been mixed. Many fans have voiced their support of the delay and the attention it has given to the protests, but not everyone has been so positive. There have been many threads of different Twitter users debating if the delay and the news that follows will have any effect, as well as more violently worded arguments about whether the protests have any merit. It is clear though, that this action has sparked conversation online about the protests and about police brutality, which was ChaosEC’s initial goal.
Protests and social movements need people with platforms to support them to succeed. In this digital age, attention is power. Problems like systemic racism exist within every level of society including at CS: GO tournaments, so it can’t be said that this action is pertinent to the people taking it. There can be an argument that the players on both of these teams could have supported the protests with their platforms without disrupting the tournament’s schedule, but that wouldn’t have had as large of an effect. Fans of both of these teams should be proud of them for doing what they can, and be grateful it came at the small cost of a single day’s wait.