Counter Strike: Global Offensive is one of the biggest Electronic Sports in the market right now – arguably even the biggest. It’s not the most played game, usually ranking 3rd behind both of the leading MOBAs (League of Legends and Dota 2), but it constantly pulls a huge number of viewers during broadcasted tournaments on Twitch – the record for most concurrent viewers in a single channel is held by Eleague, when they peaked at 1.026.000 people watching one of their tournaments back in January 2017.
This high and still increasing number of viewers ends up attracting many sponsors, which in turn means more tournaments during the competitive season (especially by 3rd party organizers), and higher prize pools for the already existing leagues and events. This also results in more professional teams with the necessary infrastructure to compete at the highest level (gaming houses and various coaches in different areas), and more competitive salaries for CS:GO players, which is the focus of this article.
Many gamers and teams don’t disclose their salaries publicly, but over the years there have been plenty of leaks and confirmations about how much players are making in various squads. In this article, we’ll take a deeper look into the news regarding the CS GO competitive scene and analyze the growth of earnings over the years, and estimate how much the highest tier of players are getting paid right now. Europe and North American organizations also tend to have a little gap difference when it comes to contracts, we’ll take a look at those as well to see where and when it applies.
Salary progression over the years
Global offensive was released in 2012, but it took the game a while to really kick things off and claim a spot as one of the biggest eSports in the market. This means we don’t have much data to analyze and estimate from those early years, as there weren’t many events happening and not many sponsored teams with fixed salaries existed.
In 2014, NiP (Ninjas in Pyjamas) released a mini documentary discussing a lot of subjects – one of them was player salaries. In the video, fiskoo (NiP’s CEO) claimed that their guys were receiving “an average salary in Sweden”. Remember that this was still in the early stages of CS GO regarding its eSport trajectory.
Fast forward 1 year, in 2015 Team SoloMid, a North American organization renewed their CS GO roster and set their payments at $3.000 per month – we were starting to see the huge boom in earnings in the region.
How much do CS:GO professionals earn right now?
Richard Lewis is a very well-known personality within the scene, and also the host for E-league’s events. He’s as into the game’s landscape as anyone can be, so we can take his word with a high degree of trust when it comes to matters such as these. About CS:GO player salaries, he stated roughly 8 months ago (late 2016 – early 2017) that teams who can qualify consistently for the Majors but don’t place too high are paying around $4.000 to $6.000 monthly to each of their players.
One step above those orgs, rosters that have consistent deep runs and good results at the Majors throughout the year are, according to Richard Lewis, paying monthly around the $7.000 to $10.000 mark, per month.
And at the tip of the highest tier, we have the best teams in the world with player salaries reaching up to $17.000 USD per month. These guys are expected to perform at the very highest level and enter any tournament as the favorites to win it all. One thing to keep in mind when looking at these numbers, is that they don’t include any kind of personal endorsements a player might have.
And most of them do, especially the ones who stream – they can easily make more than their salary by doing it in many cases. Sticker sales in the game and through the steam market aren’t accounted for either, which is yet another big boost to the earnings (the players get a share of the price the playerbase pays when they buy one of their stickers).
Comparing to another recent and reliable source, we have an interview (translated from Russian) from Virtus Pro’s CEO, where he claims the average salary for his team used to be around 10 thousand Euros per month, and that the “superstar” players receive upwards of 20 to 25 thousand Euros monthly – if you consider the team is based in eastern Europe, this is an insane amount of money for the players. They’re probably making 10x or more than their parents already – and the scene is steadily growing, so we might see some even bigger sums of money not too far into the future.
Going forward to an even more recent source, we go back to NiP. Remember when I said a bit earlier that they were making “average salary” in Sweden back in 2014? Now in 2017 the owners of the team have disclosed publicly that their guys are making between $170.000 and $230.000 per year, which translates to roughly $14.200 – $19.200 per month – and the crew hasn’t even been performing all that well lately, to everyone’s surprise, and to the fans’ disappointment.
I could go on and on citing more sources and estimated figures, but I think we have covered enough, and you guys can have a pretty good estimate on how much CS:GO players are making – the ones on the top and even the smaller major contenders.
One thing that wasn’t touched on the article is regarding the rewards for the guys in lesser developed scenes, such as Southeast Asia and South America. Right now we have 2 Brazilian teams among the best in the world, and they got picked up by SK and Immortals (from Europe and North America respectively), but the squads still struggle to find sponsors and stability from local and national sources – in order to strive and make an impact on the scene, they need to leave the country and search for international sponsorship deals.
Hopefully, this can change going into the future and players are able to compete from anywhere in the world with decent compensation for their hard work.
Thanks for reading and see you soon in our next article!