They may be able to frag opponents with their eyes closed, but the world's top gamers probably didn't see the cancellation of the Cyber X Games' Counter-Strike tournament coming.
It all started last Thursday when hundreds of international Counter-Strike players gathered in Las Vegas to compete in the Cyber X Games' bring-your-own computer (BYOC) tournament. Originally scheduled to be a double elimination competition for teams of five players, the top prize for the event was $100,000, with second and third places netting $25,000 and $10,000, respectively. Total prize money: $159,500.
However, the event was beset by problems even before it could kick off. According to a report on Gotfrag.com, tournament PCs were not set up in time for the beginning of the event. Subsequent cabling issues caused further delays.
However, things got worse. On Thursday evening, Valve's Steam service shut down for four hours. Officially, the outage was caused by a "device failure on our network following a power outage," but Valve director of marketing Doug Lombardi told GameSpot Steam was also also the subject of a denial of service attack. The timing of the outage compounded the problem, since Valve had released a Steam update on Wednesday night which the hundreds of competitors in the tournament needed to download.
As a result of the technical issues, only three matches were played on the first day of the tournament. Throughout Friday night morning a group of gamers helped CXG organizers rework the competition's network. However, on Saturday morning, gamers reported that a problem with Steam made it impossible for competitors to join the local LAN tournament servers.
As a result, only two games could be played at any given time. Given that 50 Counter-Strikes games were yet to be played, CXG CEO Joe Hill decided to cancel the established tournament. According to a release provided by a CXG publicist, the new tournament series "was shifted to shootout matches after access to Vault's Steam authentication service was found to be inconsistent."
"That is not accurate," said Lombardi said of the accusations levelled at Steam. "We did not experience any down time with Steam on Saturday." Lombardi denied charges that Valve employees attending the nearby Consumer Electronics Show refused to help CXG employees. "No one from Valve attended CES," he said. Lombardi also pointed out the Steam update was only 400k, not the 3MB some reports had claimed.
While the cause of the Counter-Strike tournament cancellation is in dispute, its fallout is not. The event was replaced by seven $10,000 winner-take-all exhibition matches and an all-star match between two teams assembled from top American and European players. Three $2,000 matches were later added to help appease understandably upset competitors. Sadly, technical and organization problems continued to plague the event, forcing the cancellation of all $2,000 matches and the all-star game. In all, only seven matches were completed before the event was shut down.
Ironically, further problems awaited the 22 teams--many of which had flown in from Europe--excluded from the exhibition matches. According to a member of A-Losers.MSI, a German team invited to play in a cancelled $2,000 match, CXG officials initially told all C-S team members that their "expenses will be completely compensated." However, one hour later, the A-Losers were told that only their hotel costs would be partially reimbursed. The team members raised a question many others are now surely asking, "what will happen to the $160,000 prize money for the CS tournament?"
Another C-S team member vented his anger in the Valve forums: "We flew over to Las Vegas expecting a really great time. We came home tired and disillusioned," read the C-S player's post. "Gotfrag neglected to mention the incredible amount of hostility that permeated the halls of the arena as we received word that the event was cancelled." The player posed another question that will be likely asked in the wake of the Cyber X Games debacle--"What happened to the fun in gaming?"