The Curious Economic Case that is G2 eSports: How you can have your cake and eat it too?
G2 eSports club, the team who currently is tearing apart the EU LCS and getting a foothold in the CS:GO scene, owned by the ever appealing eye candy that is Carlos “ocelote” Rodríguez Santiago, storied ex-midlaner for SK Gaming back in the ‘glory days,’ has to be one of the most economic cases in eSports to date. G2 eSports has been a staple, until recently, in the category of eSports teams that are ‘almost-good-but-not,’ having fielded multiple rosters in the EU CS and finally cracking into the LCS. Their CS:GO side, too, is storied, with the acquisition of a Polish squad that just never seemed to ‘make it all the way.’
Of course, this is all old news, ask anyone who follows the EU LCS and they’ll say G2 eSports is a top contender for the European throne. But it’s not their League of Legends team that is our point of interest: no, what makes G2 the strangest little economic story is their CS:GO lineup. Dropping their crumbling Polish squad, G2 went silent until they agreed with Kinguin, a competitor to Steam, to a kind of ‘merger’: G2.Kinguin would be born. Kinguin would be their chief sponsor, and G2 would become the team that would field an interesting European experiment.
Kinguin had made their foray into eSports from being a sponsor to being apart of a team with the creation of a European ‘super team,’ one made up of many different nationalities, with the main talent coming in Scream and Maikelele, a Belgian and Swede respectively. The team was rounded out by another Swede in Dennis, now playing for Fnatic, Rain, a Norwegian, and the Portuguese player Fox. Needless to say, the team was plagued early on by miscommunications and relying largely on the raw talent they all brought to the table. They had mixed results until their breakaway run in Dreamhack Cluj where they managed a 3-4th placement.
But now we move into our curiosity proper: Titan’s buying out of Scream’s contract to the tune of a whopping $150,000. That’s a lot. And, oddly enough, Titan didn’t seem all that much better for it, while G2 went on to turn themselves around, largely becoming a Nordic team + Fox. Maybe comms cleared up a bit, or maybe the team just started to gel more, but G2 just seemed to be a lot richer and doing just fine, having acquired Jkeam from a rebuilt-then-disbanded-again Copenhagen Wolves. All of this doesn’t really make for all that newsworthy of an article, especially because it all happened months ago: but it’s what happened next that makes it such a strange twist of fate.
Enter 2016: The year that, like every year, is when eSports is really going to make waves. While League of Legends saw more high investors buying team slots than ever, CSGO has also seen a surge in bigger money and bigger orgs getting in while the going’s hot. Just like EnVyUs and OpTic gaming before them (man those are weird to spell…) FaZe Clan wanted in on the newest (oldest?) FPS, so they got into talks with G2 eSports. It seems FaZe had some serious backings, and managed a deal for the team to the tune of, get this, $700,000. It makes sense: I mean, G2 seemed to be quite a rising star at the time, so maybe some investment and commitment to the team from an org could turn them into a top 4. But that means that, just in proper player management and acquisition, G2 eSports netted somewhere around $850,000.
So alright, that just looks like good business practice. I’m sure we’re all both sad that we can’t have those nifty little Samurai stickers anymore. But hey, FaZe is gonna look killer with foil. This story is what makes G2 eSports one of the strangest little stories in my opinion of recent eSports economic history: Titan, as an organization, folds in on itself, releasing all of their teams into the open seas. As sad as this was, given Titan’s tenure in the scene, it became the culmination of our G2 eSports story. G2 eSports just sold their CSGO team to FaZe not more than 12 days later they had a new team with a very familiar face: ex-Titan is signed by G2 eSports. And that means Scream is again wearing the G2 logo into battle. What makes this such an odd little story is just that G2 managed to sell, arguably, their most talented player for $150,000 and have that really turn into renting him out, as they eventually acquire him and a full roster of French speakers.
Only time will really tell which of the two teams has the potential to carry on and really make their mark, as the ex-Titan squad really seemed to be in a kind of slump as of lately, comparisons maybe to NiP being apt here: the team seems talented, but they just seem to fall short in the face of games they should close out. Maybe the CLG of Europe is a better way of putting it. But all of that really pales in comparison to the business maneuvers that the G2 eSports club managed to do in the CS:GO scene, and will definitely help buffer their coffers, if nothing else Ocelote can buy another few hundred scarves too.