Owen “smooya” Butterfield, a British professional Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player, has elected to sit out the remainder of his contract with Epsilon.
The decision will see him sit out the majority of 2018, as his contract expires in December next year. Having previously competed with Belgian esports organization Epsilon—smooya was benched on Sept. 20, after the organization opted to recruit a fully-Swedish roster. But while smooya is currently on the bench with little chance of competing again, Epsilon still retain the 18-year-old via contract—a contract with a $100,000 buyout, according to smooya.
The sum is one that few professional organizations competing outside the very top of the CS:GO circuit can afford, and smooya’s options have, as a result, been dwindling since being benched. “I am done wasting my time,” smooya told HLTV on Nov. 7.
Smooya has since elaborated on his current situation on Twitter, and explains that his buyout is set at three times the value of his actual contract.
“I know I am responsible for signing a contract but I was a 17 yo kid who was grinding to become pro for over 2 years, so once the chance arose of course signed. Of course I didn’t realize I would get benched 3 months in for no reason at all. Hopefully something good comes from this. Thank you.”
Epsilon gave an update on the situation, saying that it encouraged the player to join other rosters as part of a loan. It also denies the price of smooya’s buyout, and claims that no other teams have approached him with a realistic buying price.
Competing on a semi-professional level, smooya’s apparent $100,000 buyout showcases just how much the monetary side of CS:GO has been inflated. Just two years ago, French superstar Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom was cited as having the largest buyout in the game’s history—at $162,000.
Steep buyouts for players have almost become par for the course in CS:GO. Organizations have attempted to retain talent through massive buyout clauses, aimed at either dissuading potential buyers from approaching specific players, or as a means of recuperating any potential losses or investment the organization has put into the player.
The largest recorded buyout in CS:GO so far was that of FaZe Clan superstar Nikola “NiKo” Kovacs—which was more than $500,000.