The TLDR verdict: Rio Major 2020 won't happen

We don't think the Rio Major 2020 will happen, and we've compiled the exact reasons why we think that.


Hopes were high when ESL One Rio was announced. The playoffs were initially scheduled for earlier in the year from May 21st to 24th, but got postponed to November 19-22nd due to Covid-19. 

At the same time, Valve decreed that Rio was going to be 2020’s solitary CS:GO Major, and doubled the prize pool to a whopping 2 million dollars. The winner can even afford ALEX’s $600,000 price tag.

This bounty is not the only good part about the upcoming Major: We now have a beautiful, completely revised major qualification system. Valve finally dumped the Minor circuit and will not give out invites based on previous Major performances. 

Instead, there is a Regional Major Ranking (RMR), which involves teams playing a series of regional events leading up to the Rio Major. Teams get points based on their performances in these events, and the teams who rack up the most points qualify for the major.

The only downside to the RMR is that we only get teams that are in form and have performed in the (online) RMR-events, which means we might see a Brazilian Major without FURIA and MIBR. 

That’s also the only downside, and in short, we’re hyped for Rio: There’s going to be the best teams in great form, a massive prize pool, the stunning Jeunesse Arena, and a passionate audience. 

There’s just one problem: The Rio Major won’t happen in November.

There’s just one problem: The Rio Major won’t happen in November.

Whoa, that’s ridiculous! Why won’t we have the Major?

Well, because of the one thing that’s on all of our minds: Coronavirus. Brazil has emerged as a hotspot for the virus, with more than 1.8 million confirmed cases and 71,000 deaths at the time of writing. Tens of thousands of people are getting infected every day and things are getting out of hand very quickly.

Consider also that COVID-19 spreads when people are in close contact with each other, usually within about 2 meters (that’s roughly 6 feet for you imperial-system savages). For a Major that’s held in an arena with thousands of people, it’s actually impossible to be more than 2 meters away from anybody. 

We’re not virology-experts here at TL;DR (or anything else for that matter) but it’s obvious that if the event goes through in Rio, it only takes one asymptomatic infected guest, to spread the virus to hundreds, if not thousands of people infected in the Jeunesse Arena.

That’s fine, I don’t need a crowd to get me hyped for LAN. Why can’t we just play without an audience?

We’re gonna step into our hazmat suit to answer this one. So, Brazil is happy to let esports athletes come in and play, which by itself raises more than a few eyebrows. However, the EU throws a curveball: You’re not allowed to travel to the EU from Brazil. 

Which means, European CS teams can go to Brazil, but might be stuck there for a while. We can’t wait for them to waddle through the mess that is American FPL on Brazilian internet.

As always, the US has an awkward relationship with Brazil: Only American citizens in Brazil will be allowed back. So tarik and Brehze will have no problems, but a player like CeRq, who is Bulgarian, will need to pack for an extended vacation.

Also, keep in mind all the staff from ESL, Valve, journalists covering the event and any international visitors will likely face the same travel issues. These travel restrictions are not static - they change more frequently than Vertigo’s A site does. But the way the virus is spreading, what’s to say the restrictions don’t get tighter by November?

Players could even straight-up refuse to travel due to health risks. Elite sports athletes, noticeably several high tier tennis players, have said that they won’t be participating in large events like the US Open as long as there is no vaccine. 

While it is unlikely that anyone will do so for the largest CS:GO event of the year, esports players have the right to do the same, and organizations and fans should be supportive of such decisions.

I never liked Rio anyway, why can’t we have the Major in my European country?

We hate to dash your hopes yet again, but the EU isn’t letting anyone from outside enter. While they are starting to open borders for countries outside of the EU, Brazil, Russia, and the US are on the “nah don’t think so”-list. Hosting an event in the EU will pose an even worse problem than the Rio Major: Players and staff may not even be allowed to enter the region, let alone leave it.

Equally importantly, ESL has branded this Major for Rio; having to switch to another country means that they’ll have to rebrand their whole event. Plus potentially replace local sponsors. No wonder Valve assigns Majors almost a year in advance.

Source: BLAST / Joao Ferreira

Aww, does that mean there’s no more LAN events this year?

Look, everything that we’ve said above is based on the reality of the current situation. But who knows what the future really holds: Our guess is as good as a 200 year old Himalayan saint’s. Still, we’ve put our primitive, Dust 2 loving, brains together to make three predictions of the future:

#1 The curve won't bend

The first scenario, and the worst, is that this trend of increasing coronavirus cases continues. If the global pandemic rages on in the upcoming months, then travel restrictions will remain in place, and if travel restrictions remain, then LAN CS is out of the picture. 

The Major will be shifted to 2021. Doing so would be safer, but it would also mean that Valve will have to host more RMR events to ensure the best teams qualify. We’re down for that.

#2 A hopeful downturn

The second, an optimistic view, is that things start to improve globally at a reasonable rate. If Brazil, especially, gets its act together and things go back to normal before November, then there is a solid chance that we see the Rio Major on LAN. 

It would be unlikely to have a crowd though, as virus spreading risks remain. Still, as a wise man once said, half a LAN is better than no LAN.

#3 The miracle

And here’s the third, because we at TL;DR believe in crazy things happening: A miracle vaccine is found, approved, and distributed by October. The coronavirus is eradicated by the end of the month. Life goes back to normal: ESL One Rio happens, North continues to disappoint, and Astralis wins the Major. 

Turns out this whole thing was part of Anders' simulation. A coronavirus vaccine being made before November is about as likely as FaZe beating BIG online though, so go figure. But a man can dream…

These are our thoughts on the upcoming Rio major. If you agree with them, we give out free astrology lessons in our newsletter and on Twiitter, so check them out.

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