Kinguin has been one of the most widespread brands in esports since it started sponsoring esports teams and personalities in 2014. It picked up its own professional Counter-Strike team in May this year comprised of many players aptly described as “fan favorites.”
Yet two days ago the Counter-Strike community noticed that two major organizations—Team SoloMid and Fnatic—had quietly dropped their Kinguin sponsorship without any official comment on the matter.
What happened? The business has recently gone through a restructuring process that has seen a drastic change of approach. It’s changed CEOs, with Adam Gouda replacing founder Viktor Wanli. Sources within the organization have also informed the Daily Dot that Giovanni Varriale, has been moved from his position as head of esports. In his place is Adam Davis, who moved to the company as business relations manager in June. While Davis is there to manage current partnerships, there will be no more sponsorships for esports until “at least September” when they will review their status.
The new focus for the business is “to make a profit,” according to a company source, and Kinguin would need to move away from expensive endorsements for “little return” in order to achieve that.
The same source also says that these changes were hugely influential in the decision for American organization Nihilum to drop its Counter-Strike team as well. “It was the Kinguin money that bankrolled the CS:GO team and enabled them to pick up a player like [Spencer “Hiko” Martin].With the decision to scale back on their sponsors it obviously made it difficult for Nihilum to keep the team.”
SoloMid and Fnatic apparently weren’t the only teams to be told they were no longer going to be sponsored by the game key company. Copenhagen Wolves have said they also had Kinguin withdraw as a sponsor, according to sources close to that team. The same will likely follow for other organizations, except for Kinguin’s own team.
That team’s future, however, certainly isn’t guaranteed. Another source who had worked with Team Kinguin in the past pointed to the likelihood that it would also look to sell its Counter-Strike team after the ESL One Cologne major this month. “Talks have already been underway with organisations” they told us “and it will almost certainly be either Origen, Gamers2 or Winterfox. There’s currently a bidding war and Kinguin will of course sell to the highest bidder. Unless someone swoops in last minute, those are the organisations in the running with Gamers2 as the favourite.”
We reached out to a Kinguin representative but received no response by publication time.
Image via Valve/Remix by Jacob Wolf