The competitive Counter Strike scene is, in contrast to some other games, freely accessible to both event organisers and players.
Organisers can start a tournament or a league at any time. In the same way, teams can join whichever tournaments or leagues they wish. The considerable freedom offered by VALVE to the community over the years has led to a wide choice of leagues and tournaments. A CS:GO League as such, however, does not exist.
There are many big LAN tournaments spread over the year, such as the Dreamhack, Intel Extreme Masters and ESL One. The teams are often invited on the basis of past performance or take part in a qualifier before the tournament.
The counterpart to the big offline tournaments are the leagues conducted online, such as the ESL Pro League and the Esports Championship Series. In the online leagues, the teams play weekly over several days, generally spread over three or four months. Since the leagues are online, all the participating teams are divided into different regions (North America, Europe, etc.), in order to avoid connection problems or ping advantages. The top teams of the individual regions then ultimately meet in an offline league final and compete for the title.
But CS:GO also offers a number of possibilities at the amateur and semi-pro levels. Thus, the ESL, FAZEIT, ESEA and also the German CS:GO community hub 99DAMAGE offer a broad range of leagues and tournaments, in which young and ambitious teams can compare their skills with others and climb the ranks.
However, probably the most important and exciting tournaments - both for players and viewers - are the Valve Majors, which take place twice a year.
The CS:GO Major takes place twice a year and - although financed by VALVE - is not organised by VALVE.
Teams which reached the top eight in the previous major qualify automatically for the next major. All other teams qualify through the so-called Minors and the subsequent Major Qualifier.
For each Major (America, Europe, Asia and CIS) four Minors are held in which eight teams compete against each other. The two best teams of each of this regions - making up eight in total - qualify in turn for the Major Qualifier.
In this tournament, the newly-qualified teams meet the eight weakest teams of the last Major. Here again - as with the Majors - the best-placed eight teams qualify for what is probably the most prestigious tournament of the CS:GO scene: the Major.
At the Major itself, the 16 teams first enter a group phase, then move on to a playoff, before the two best teams clash in the final to crown the new CS:GO champion.
Both sites offer an improved match-making system which includes far stronger players than in the ladder games offered by VALVE. With victories and consistently good performances, one can keep climbing on both platforms to ever-higher levels. The highest classes are the FPL (FACEIT) and RANK-S (ESEA). These two divisions are used by the real pros in order to keep in practice between training sessions and official tournaments.
Probably the best-known player who has played his way by his own efforts onto the pro scene on FACEIT is the Estonian Robin "ropz" Kool. "Ropz" is now under contract with mousesports and is considered to be one of the best players in the world.