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Valve, the publisher behind CS:GO, recently announced that the game’s successor – Counter-Strike 2 (CS2) – will include not just changes to gameplay and graphics, but the format too.

The changes have significant impacts on the way that players and teams will strategise and compete, as well as having very significant implications for how suppliers and operators currently offer CS:GO betting.

Oliver Niner, head of sales at PandaScore, explains these format changes.

Format changes explained

In the most simple of terms, matches are going to be shorter. But it helps to explain exactly how and why.

The current system is what the community refers to as ‘MR15’, meaning:

Two halves of 15 rounds, 30 rounds of regular time

First to win 16 rounds wins the match

This system has been in place for well over a decade, including on the previous version of the game, Counter-Strike 1.6.

As the game has developed and core systems of the game like the economy have changed, we now see professional Counter-Strike matches often being much closer, but also much longer.

As outlined by HLTV, a 2-1 series of CS:GO will on average, run for almost three and a half hours. As the article points out “you can watch two Formula One races before the average Counter-Strike three-mapper is finished.”

The new system, referred to as ‘MR12’ will mean that Counter-Strike 2 matches will be:

Two halves of 12 rounds, 24 rounds of regular time

First to 13 rounds wins the match

The same overtime rules apply as MR15

For esports, it means quicker games that are shorter, sharper, punchier and less demanding of the audience’s attention.

It’s a shift towards the current system of Valorant, and will likely mean that CS2 will retain interest from audiences, and lessen the load on pro players who already contend with a packed schedule.

We could in fact see higher-quality matches if players are able to get more rest and start games at reasonable times.

At face value, shorter matches with higher stakes with better rested players seems like a huge win for the betting sector. However, the format change creates some challenges on the data front.

The new format means new models

Prior to the MR12 announcement, suppliers across the sector were fairly confident that they could draw on their CS:GO models as a base, and account for the gameplay and system changes with foundational models to work from.

Unfortunately, the models that esports data and product suppliers use modelling based on a 30-round game. When it comes to pricing markets like rounds over/under, handicap or correct score, the modelling just flatly doesn’t add up.

Match-winner markets are more or less transferable, but most other markets offered by esports suppliers won’t be. A 24/25 line for rounds over/under when there are 24 rounds in regular time doesn’t make sense anymore and has to be rebuilt from scratch according to the MR12 format.

Additionally, modelling for predicting the first two rounds will need to be refurbished, and old first to 13 markets rebuilt as first to 10. Importantly, suppliers will need to take their time with player markets such as kills over/under, as 30.5 kills in a game can’t be weighted the way it used to.

What MR12 means for esports betting

It’s going to be a huge change and every supplier in the space will be impacted. There’s going to be little to no competitive data to build from – official and unofficial data alike.

Despite also being MR12, Valorant modelling won’t be applicable as it’s a completely different game with drastically different maps, character abilities and more.

When Valve does decide that professional matches will be played on Counter-Strike 2, expect to see a much more conservative approach.

At launch, suppliers, operators and bettors alike should expect to see fewer markets at more conservative prices in the first few weeks. As suppliers can collect more competitive data, models will be progressively rolled out.

To add to the complexity, Valve has remained tightlipped about when the switch will actually happen.

They are still working out the bugs in the game itself, and there’s always a possibility that a tournament running on CS2 experiences a bug or fault that can’t be resolved. In these cases, Valve could switch back to CS:GO for the remainder of the tournament.

What we can be certain of though, is that esports suppliers are going to be on standby and ready for the switch.

Counter-Strike 2 has a lot of promise, it’s on suppliers to be flexible and agile so operators can ramp their offering back up as quickly as possible, and bettors can access the markets they know and love.

Oliver Niner is the head of sales at PandaScore, the betting industry’s leading esports data and odds supplier.

Having worked for both B2B and B2C organisations across all product verticals in the gambling sector, Oliver aims to use his end-to-end knowledge of product and service to deliver sustainable, high-yield returns for PandaScore’s clients.

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