When FaZe Clan signed Nikola “NiKo” Kovac to its Counter-Strike: Global Offensive roster last week, the organization not only secured one of the best players in the game to date but also broke the record for the highest-reported buyout of a CS:GO pro.
NiKo’s transfer fee from mousesports to FaZe was worth around $500,000, sources close to the situation told Dot Esports. The buyout beats the previous record, when Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom transferred from Gamers2 (now G2 Esports) to Titan in Sept. 2015, for around $160,000—only taking publicly-reported buyouts into account.
Top-notch rifler, flashy AWPer, pistol-ace, and high-impact in-game leader—NiKo has it all. Considered one of, if not the, best individual Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player in the world right now, NiKo was the heavy-lift rocket that carried mousesports to their biggest achievements over the last two years.
A hefty price tag to buy him out isn’t really surprising. Despite NiKo’s incredible efforts and performance, mousesports wasn’t able to consistently compete among the top teams in the world. Esports analyst Duncan “Thorin” Shields put it this way:
“The mousesports team is critically flawed in ways which have led to their eliminations becoming both predictable and inevitable. With most great players, a top drawer performance ensures their team victory, while NiKo must manifest such brilliance simply to give his team any chance against the world’s best sides.”
The narrative of star-player NiKo needing to be freed from his teammates on mousesports to finally find some reward for his amazing skills became omnipresent.
Aside from the personal story that unfolds around the deal, a step back to look at the bigger picture is arguably even more interesting. Impressively, the highest-reported buyout in CS:GO increased by about 230 percent over the last 16 months. When ScreaM left G2 Esports in Sept. 2015, then still known as Gamers2, his confirmed buyout of around $160,000 was the highest-ever in the scene. Only 16 months later, this upper boundary has reached about $500,000.
Before the actual transfer, the deal was even reported to possibly extend into the $1 million range. Confronted with this figure after the transaction, FaZe Clan felt the need to address concerns over inflated numbers.
“As we’ve now been involved in multiple highly publicized transfers during our short time in the Counter Strike space, we believe it’s important to also do our part in protecting the scene from creating an inflated bubble,” FaZe Clan stated. “We would like to make it clear to those interested in the ecosystem within professional Counter Strike, to not put too much stock into the numbers being falsely reported around this transaction.”
While it’s good to hear that esports organizations are aware of the destructive potential of inflated numbers, FaZe Clan didn’t deliver “the correct information” either.
NiKo’s buyout is the highest reported in CS:GO, to date. And even if it was projected to be higher initially, it raises the bar for future transfers.