Kwilinski: CS:GO should change terrorist, counter-terrorist designations

Terrorist vs. counter-terrorist has always been a part of Counter-Strike. Is it time for a change? Adela Sznajder/DreamHack

Offense vs. defense. It's a universal term used across a wide variety of competitions and invokes a clear idea of what you're spectating. One team is trying to progress toward a goal; another team is trying to prevent said goal from happening.

You know what doesn't convey that information?

Terrorist vs. counter-terrorist.

Those are the terms Counter-Strike has used for 19 years, but it's time for a change. Recently, discussion bubbled up on social media around updating the team names, and it's a valid topic to bring up. As esports continues to grow, so does the number of eyes of potential new fans, players and sponsors. To make things a little easier to understand and a little more digestible for potential big sponsorships, it's time for the game's current iteration, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, to drop terrorist and counter-terrorist and adopt offense vs. defense.

Noticeably, calling the sides counter-terrorist vs. terrorist doesn't convey what's actually going on during the game. If anything, it distracts the viewer and only brings up more questions. It would be like calling traditional sports teams "home team" and "away team" at all times and expecting a viewer to know who is on offense or defense. The goal should be to clearly convey a lot of information as simply as possible.

Think of it like this:

"The terrorists are moving up to the site."

"The offense is moving up to the site."

To someone who is watching the game for the first time, which sentence conveys more information?

Renaming the terrorists to offense (because they are the aggressors and plant the bomb) and the counter-terrorists to defense (they need to prevent the bomb from going off) instantly moves you past any reservations you might have about the terminology. You're focussed on the gameplay, nothing more.

It would be easier for analysts and commentators to illustrate plays for the viewer, too. "The offense is rotating toward A, so the defense is holding XYZ angles" is simply easier to understand. Removing the second step of remembering the counter-terrorists are on defense is a good thing.

And really, at this point, the terms "terrorist" and "counter-terrorist" are arbitrary and unnecessary. The only reason to hold onto them is the "authenticity" argument, but that feels exceptionally weak. Gameplay, maps, and even the models aren't about to change. The spirit of the game will remain.

Speaking of the spirit, there's no escaping the imagery that Counter-Strike conjures up: planting a bomb to blow up a site and/or eliminating the enemy.

That's not exactly appealing to big-name sponsors. Removing the imagery associated with terrorists and counter-terrorists presents an easy solution. Would you immediately see big-name apparel suppliers coming in to create jerseys? Probably not. But it might open some doors.

In the end, it's about getting the viewer from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible, offering an easier introduction to new fans, and offering sponsors an avenue to get involved in the game. Boiling CS:GO down to the most basic truth -- this is an offense vs. defense-style game -- is worth a try.