As if Operation Wildfire and the new de_nuke update weren't enough, this week has brought two more big pieces of news on the Global Offensive front. $1,000,000 PRIZE POOL FOR MAJOR CHAMPIONSHIP In a recent blog post, Valve announced that, starting with the MLG Columbus 2016 championship, each CS:GO Major Championship prize pool will be increased from $250,000 to $1,000,000. As HLTV.org has pointed out, "the initially crowd-funded events have featured a $250,000 prize pool since their inception at the end of 2013, with 7 such tournaments having taken place so far." MLG have also revealed the distribution of the prize pool money to the 16 teams that participate, and it goes as: 1. $500,000 2. $150,000 3-4. $70,000 5-8. $35,000 9-16. $8,750 MLG Columbus 2016 will take place March 29th - April 3rd in Columbus, Ohio. The final qualifying round for the remaining 8 teams to move on to MLG Columbus takes place this week, February 26th - 28th. LIGHTING AND SHADER IMPROVEMENTS And with the introduction of the update to de_nuke, Valve have added a number of upgrades to CS:GO's lighting and shader systems. As described on CS:GO's Workshop summary page, the main improvements are: Lighting Improvements Static Prop Model Lighting Improvements Displacement Surface Lighting Improvements Normal Mapped Static Prop Lighting Improvements Cascade Shadow Maps (CSMs) New Shader Features Phong Specular highlights on Lightmapped Materials 2nd UV set support for Decals Normal Map Blending Anisotropic reflection emulation Cubemap Lighting Influence Drop Shadows and Highlights on Displacement Blends $notint Hammer Editor Improvements Modularity One of the coolest updates, in my opinion, is the upgrade to Hammer. Valve says that they've increased the memory available to Hammer, and so this allows for things like better support for modularity of assets. For instance, assets are now more flexible in that they can be interconnected with each other, and they can contain multiple surface types (or skins). As Valve puts it, "the idea being that we only need to build one prop set that can be re-used in an almost infinite number of scenarios." All of these improvements are now available in the CS:GO SDK - for free!