A brief look at CS:GO contracts

Virtus.pro signing two year contracts opens up a whole new sector of CS:GO up for discussion - contracts, and everything that comes with them.

Since the days of the first Counter-Strike teams being signed to contracts a decade or so ago, it has been the custom in our game that each team is contracted one year at a time.

Now Virtus.pro have shaken up the status quo by extending their Polish team's contracts by two years at once, and even given a vague idea of the team's pay scale.

This change in the contract dynamics and the transparency shown by Virtus.pro send a clear message, while the situation has the Poles bearing some risk, but for understandable reasons.

In this short article we take a look at all of the above, and the general situation that has prevailed in professional Counter-Strike for more than a decade.

This roster will be donning Virtus.pro's colors for a while longer 


Status quo

Generally when an organization decides to sign a Counter-Strike team, they offer the entire team contracts that are more or less identical. Often the entire team gets paid the same amount of money, receive the same perks, and have their contracts expiring on the same date.

Though some teams, for example SK and fnatic in Counter-Strike 1.6, have paid their players varying amounts, to my knowledge most teams receive the same amount to keep players happy in the team. It's an understandable way to look at it - you don't want role players chasing frags in order to look better, and to be able to get a higher salary next year - though it is a problem in real sports as well, especially the NBA.

Since professional players' perks are often equal to their share of prize money, it's obvious that part should by all accounts be the same to avoid internal issues within the team. Organizations should also have the players' contracts expire on the same date, as teams are just that - teams - and one player alone being under contract won't help an organization.

These contracts are often signed for six or twelve months, or from whenever they are signed until the end of the on-going year. For established teams renewing their contracts, signing on on an annual basis is usually the standard procedure, and it's hardly ever discussed, as far as I know.

Cloud9's compLexity contracts expired in August 


The message

Virtus.pro deciding to sign their aging - yes, it's true Filip "NEO" Kubski and Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas are starting to get old - Counter-Strike team on for two years is a huge sign of confidence in the game. If they did not believe CS:GO could continue growing for the coming two years, as it has been since the first major a year ago, they would not have signed this team to what they called "possibly the most expensive contracts" in Counter-Strike history.

It's also great for everyone involved that the Russian organization is so transparent about all of this. Though in sports releasing contract details - whether via official means or simply always being accurately leaked - is standard protocol, no one has ever truly known what kind of contracts professional Counter-Strike players are signed to, and it has often been something the fans have been interested in as well.

Though the details of Virtus.pro's contracts are still unknown, simply stating the contracts are possibly the most expensive in Counter-Strike history send a clear message. There have been plenty of well paid teams in the past, and there are right now as well. There is no way Virtus.pro would make such a statement - or that the Poles would allow it - if it weren't at least in the ballpark of being true.

The added transparency may help other teams negotiate their contracts and put pressure on their organizations to pay their teams more - possibly a tactic by the Russian organization, and a clever one at that - thus promoting the entire scene. Transparency more often than not leads to good things, and though the exact numbers do not mean much to us, it would actually be great if teams would be open to sharing at least information such as contract expiring dates with us, so we could create a database of it for those who are interested.

Virtus.pro is betting CS:GO's growth is not done 


The risk

Naturally you can't sign a team, an aging one at that, to two year contracts without any risk. Though Counter-Strike contracts have been infamously easy to break and I'm not sure if they have ever led to actual law suits - but I hardly doubt it - there's still no reason to take an uncalculated risk by doing something you do not expect to pay off, considering the consequences it could have on the Virtus.pro organization, if they simply ditched the team too early.

There's real risk that Virtus.pro could stop performing within two years. They have been fairly inconsistent for the past twelve months, though they haven't placed outside of the top eight and scored two top four finishes at the majors. Key players could find themselves out of motivation, the older guys could want to quit, and you never know how team dynamics change over time. However, money will help with all of that.

Another risk - one that the Virtus.pro organization clearly isn't afraid of - is that CS:GO could simply stop growing, or see its power in eSports diminish, thus making their team overpaid. It's a realistic concern, though with how well the economics of CS:GO work around the majors being funded by skins and stickers, it doesn't seem too realistic. Which leads us to the other side of the coin, the risk for the Poles who signed on the dotted line.

There does exist a real risk that Counter-Strike will blow up within two years in a way that will make even "the most expensive Counter-Strike contracts of all-time" seem too little. There is a real chance CS:GO will be big enough in a year that the Polish side will be underpaid by then. Of course, terms can always be re-negotiated, and there may be clauses for performance based bonuses for the players. Still, the risk is never fully eliminated; it can only be hedged.

What if this is just the beginning? 


Why they did it

Considering the previous risk for the players, one might wonder if it wouldn't have made more sense for the Polish players to negotiate a customary one year contract to guarantee their security for 2015, before looking into years past it. However, there's a lesson to be learned from the history of the team's core, consisting of NEO, TaZ and Jarosław "pashaBiceps" Jarząbkowski - and it completely explains their behavior, and help anyone understand why they chose to take a risk in this situation.

Throughout their careers, and this especially applies for the first two, the Poles have struggled to find solid organizations despite constantly being a threat at every event to win, winning multiple major titles dating back as far as 2006, and being one of the teams with the most supporting fan bases around. They've had some bad luck, and they've made some bad choices. However, now they have a strong backing from Virtus.pro, so why risk it?

It may well be that especially in the latter days of their careers, with some players starting their families and possibly at least subconsciously realizing their careers can only extend for so long, they have started to appreciate consistency and security. Wondering whether a paycheck will, or will not, come in on its supposed date, is not a feeling anyone should have to feel. Add in the high variance of payoff durations for tournament winnings, and it actually makes perfect sense for a professional player who lives off of Counter-Strike to secure their salary.

NEO & TaZ have always struggled with organizations 


This is another interesting side of Counter-Strike that has never been discussed much and hasn't been very relevant because so little official information has been available.

Hopefully Virtus.pro announcing the contracts with this much detail - a hilarious way to put it considering how little we know, but still a big change - will lead to others following suit.

Follow HLTV.org's @lurppis_ on Twitter.

Poland Wiktor 'TaZ' Wojtas
Wiktor 'TaZ' Wojtas
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
Poland Filip 'NEO' Kubski
Filip 'NEO' Kubski
No team
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
Poland Jarosław 'pashaBiceps' Jarząbkowski
Jarosław 'pashaBiceps' Jarząbkowski
Rating 1.0:
Maps played:
gj lurppis
2014-12-01 18:07
i can smell a lurppiss article from a hundred miles.
2014-12-01 18:14
2014-12-01 19:38
+1 it smells like minced meat
2014-12-01 19:42
I think all of Finland smells of minced meat
2014-12-01 22:39
Hong Kong SHiFT^up 
2014-12-01 23:45
The titles really give it away
2014-12-02 09:33
it could also be the fact i am the only one on this website who writes "articles", but who knows
2014-12-02 12:55
2014-12-01 18:06
2014-12-01 18:07
mason | 
Tunisia mason~ 
nice :D
2014-12-01 18:07
2014-12-01 18:07
Mexico Moxw 
2014-12-01 18:07
very nice read :D
2014-12-01 18:07
They deserve it. Taz had a great tournament at DHW, and I bet Neo will shine on an individual basis the next two years aswell.
2014-12-01 18:07
Liechtenstein Chamele0n 
Looks like the good old ingame leader juice has made some adjustments to its ingredients, both TaZ and Happy has stepped up their game ALOT. I think if NEO moves over to the supporting role and SnaX gets more consistent, we are sitting on the best team in the world.
2014-12-01 18:25
Isn't neo calling and not taz?
2014-12-01 18:29
Snax is calling, if I am not mistaken
2014-12-01 18:40
NEO | 
Poland Angu5 
It was changing very often. In Katowice it was neo, later Taz. For a short period of time it was Snax as well but I'm pretty sure that neo is again igl in this team. And I'm sure that they will grow big again. We have to wait until pasha's situation will stabilize (I mean baby, flat etc.) and they will work as hard as earlier. This money will be a hudge kick for them. Personal skill of each other is high as always, but they have to play in team a lot. Just look how strong they were on DHW. Even if they end up in 1/2. And about neo... Guys, he is a true legend of this game. He's knowledge is incredibly huge. I was watching final from Katowice with their TS server and was shocked about what he knows about this game and their opponents (NiP in this situation). Even if he dont frag a lot, he is very important for the rest of the team. I think that the most important imho. So when you're doing threads "-neo +someone" you only show how little knowledge you've got about this game and playing in a team.
2014-12-01 19:23
where can you view the final from katowice with their TS, not that i understand polish, i just want to know where/who recorded it
2014-12-01 20:05
check out the esl_pov1 and esl_pov2 twitch channels, it's probably on there. ESL has been doing pov streams with TS for a while.
2014-12-01 23:02
Yo, type in youtube "Virtus Pro vs. Ninja in Pyjamas (VP full TS) ", I'm sure you will find it
2014-12-01 23:37
Liechtenstein Chamele0n 
Only htlv kids (wut wut?) say -neo, I just say that people need to realise that he is not the madfragger he used to be
2014-12-01 20:41
Sad that we have not that kind of strong teams on my country, we have some living "legends" (Musamban1/FlipiN) but is not the same case.
2014-12-05 23:46
VP dont have hard shotcaller, they are talking and throwing ideas. In bad moments in last mounths NEO was calling. Snax only in a single matches for experience and test. On DH was calling TAZ. Taz and Neo are changing every few months. Someone can confirm? #PashaEnglishTeacher :D
2014-12-01 19:31
Yes. Taz was IGL on DHW.
2014-12-01 19:39
yes, only byali is useless and do nothing
2014-12-01 19:44
you must be kidding..
2014-12-01 19:51
ofc in tactical aspects. he frags
2014-12-01 20:04
snax called only in 2 online games a few months ago, same for pasha. mostly neo calls, sometimes taz
2014-12-01 19:43
youtu.be/Sp_KNNq6liI?t=54s TaZ called DHW :)
2014-12-01 19:58
I hope you are right lurpis.
2014-12-01 18:09
NEO | 
Poland camarpl 
it's all because of stickers
2014-12-01 18:09
2014-12-01 18:11
gogo VP!
2014-12-01 18:11
nice article!
2014-12-01 18:11
LUq <3 <3 The best awper in 1.6
2014-12-01 18:11
I actually took legal actions with a team, and we have now settled it out of court with 3 out of 4 players it was about.
2014-12-01 18:13
who r u?
2014-12-01 19:45
Im the owner/founder of www.team-xapso.com
2014-12-01 19:59
what is the context of your post?
2014-12-01 20:01
I wrote it since lurppis wrote: The risk Naturally you can't sign a team, an aging one at that, to two year contracts without any risk. Though Counter-Strike contracts have been infamously easy to break and I'm not sure if they have ever led to actual law suits - but I hardly doubt it - Just to mention that we/I had taken legal action against a team.
2014-12-01 20:04
did u win?
2014-12-01 21:39
All players agreed to a settlement out of court.
2014-12-01 21:40
Would you care to expand on the case?
2014-12-02 00:01
Im not sure i know what you mean. I can't go into details since its been taken care of out of court.
2014-12-02 08:59
well deserved for the VP players, they've definitely earned this confidence from the VP orga.
2014-12-01 18:13
Good on you lurppis.
2014-12-01 18:14
For first time after 6 years on hltvorg I will say.. "gj lurppis".
2014-12-01 18:15
Interesting read, great lurppis.
2014-12-01 18:15
I don't really consider 29-30 being too old for counter-strike. It's not a kids game and they have tons of experience, I don't know why there is put a bunch of weight into this. It's not football or any physical sport, you just have to sit down on a PC. The age in that case doesn't make any difference. I am pretty sure there is plenty of reports/stats/facts that shows reflexes etc. are absolutely the same for a 20-30 player as those who are younger when it comes to gaming. Furthermore a lot of football players are even at their 40's and they are still playing. Not sure why a couple of years even 5 is a problem for neo and taz. It isn't.
2014-12-01 18:17
Switzerland Sylleo 
agreed, people quit young because of life commitments and the urge to get a stable income, not because they're physically too old to play games. Now with more money in the scene, the career of a top player can be extended.
2014-12-01 18:25
2014-12-01 19:05
Agreed! I play w/ a bunch of teenagers. But you'll see at times that experience comes with age and knowing what to do in situations they may not know of because of a lack of experience. Not saying they're bad, but if you've been playing a long time, you've seen things man...I've seen things. +sarcasm Also being older you need more sleep, damn young kids staying up late! Oh and get off the mic and go to bed ya lil punk! Get Wrecked! ;)
2014-12-01 19:51
No idea why contract details is never publicly announced in the media, atleast parts of them. What do the organisations gain on keeping them secret?
2014-12-01 18:18
Switzerland Sylleo 
my guess if i know a worse team earns more than I do, I'll contact my boss for a raise or at least explanations. Also if the fans know i'm the best paid player in the scene, I'm highly expected to perform better than anyone otherwise I'll be flamed for being not only overrated but also overpaid (like football stars ^^) I think those two reasons protect organisations and players.
2014-12-01 18:34
but vp already said that this deal maybe the highest contract in cs history, so the expectation you mentioned is there right now.
2014-12-01 19:54
But wont the pro players who seem to be a really tight community talk to eachother at lans etc about salaries, it should atleast come up now and then? I can see why low paying orgas wouldnt mention their contracts, but just like VP did this time a statement where they show that their players gets a good salary only boosts the credibility of the orga in most peoples and sponsors eyes. I wonder why not more orgas (like NiP, fnatic etc) do it.
2014-12-02 23:40
nice read
2014-12-01 18:20
Sico | 
New Zealand jscrim 
Another great article thanks lurppis
2014-12-01 18:21
dktenso | 
Brazil lgzn 
awesome article, read it all... if I remember correctly the G5 as we know started with Pentagram G-Shock, then Meet Your Makers, then AGaiN, then Frag Executors, then ESC, the AGaiN again, then VP? Was that it?
2014-12-01 18:23
They were Vitriolic at some point in 1.6, and also Universal Soldiers in GO before becoming VP.
2014-12-01 18:28
Poland jMS 
also Wicked e-sports To be precise, it all started with fusion of 2 biggest clans in Poland, Aristocracy and SPECNAZ
2014-12-01 18:34
Do you know something about Luq, Loord or Kuben?
2014-12-01 19:30
Where are they, I mean
2014-12-01 19:30
Poland jMS 
Loord's playing for INSHOCK, Luq's working for CD Projekt/CENEGA, dunno about Kuben
2014-12-01 19:32
Nice! Loord is still playing. Thanks for the answer, btw
2014-12-01 19:36
Poland venomstw 
kuben is playing GO often lately, his nickname is czolowy dens
2014-12-01 19:49
kuben was abroud to make money, now he is jobless in poland
2014-12-01 19:51
wrong~! first specnaz(neo) merged with ster and they became specster, then specster merged with aristorcracy(taz,luqu)
2014-12-01 19:50
Poland jMS 
yup, but fusion of 2 teams mentioned by me lead to estabilishment of Team Pentagram
2014-12-01 19:51
no, there was no such fusion, it was arcy+specSTER
2014-12-01 20:03
Poland jMS 
There was, SPECNAZ (with Neo in squad) and Aristocracy (with Taz and Luq) formed Pentagram.conneXion (LUq, Neo, pitrek, TaZ, zibi) SpecSter was Neo's previous team if I can remember right. Whole history was briefed here cybersport.pl/artykul,24314,historia-zlo.. (if you are Polish speaking)
2014-12-01 20:32
tam jest blad, jak niby specnaz mogl sie polaczyc ze sterem skoro wczesniej niby sie poloczyl z arcy? wez sie zastanow :D
2014-12-01 23:13
Left out WiCKED and Vitriolic!
2014-12-01 18:33
PGS between Pentagram and MYM as well.
2014-12-02 16:13
2014-12-01 18:23
A brief look at lurppis: He shouldn't make statements about rumours.
2014-12-01 18:24
"and even given a vague idea of the team's pay scale." give numbers pls. what do you think they earn?
2014-12-01 18:27
I miss lurppis mustache :(
2014-12-01 18:28
Wall of text stating that's nice for older players to get more stable income not showing single digit...
2014-12-01 18:28
Finland coswell 
Interesting read. Would be nice to know more about the contract :)
2014-12-01 18:29
1st year of contract is for a good performance during year. 2nd of contract is becouse of pasha popularity. Maybe i'm wrong.
2014-12-01 18:30
Finland coswell 
Biggest thing now, is to add: "If you cheat, you will be sued for as much money as the team loses on the consequences"
2014-12-01 18:32
They biggest amount of supporters came with joining MYM
2014-12-01 18:42
Latvia Ke]R[4u 
those who join after switching orga leave just as fast
2014-12-01 18:56
2014-12-01 18:43
China Ava1ondraGon 
taz <3!
2014-12-01 18:45
LUQ Best AWP in 1.5 _/
2014-12-01 18:48
nice read as always
2014-12-01 18:56
Ayy lma0
2014-12-01 19:07
great read. As always. Keep it up lurpisso
2014-12-01 19:14
i hate lurppis articles.
2014-12-01 19:21
You hate lurppis, not his articles. Don't try to make yourself hate on a things which just cannot be hated. All of his articles are made with good preparation, nice usage of English and are very well written.
2014-12-01 19:37
2014-12-01 19:24
Lurppis is da best.
2014-12-01 19:27
The G5 are the most people who struggled with organization, now they could feel comfortable and focus on their gameplay and consistency even more and more. I have one fear tho, with the expansion of the contacts and being paid a huge money, this could change into the football scenario where players care only about the paycheck wherever they go. Anyways, good luck VP
2014-12-01 19:29
Lurppis, I really appreciate your news and I love your type of writing. Your English is very flawless and professional. I just really don't like your still partially opinion based bits. If you'd write all neutral and not too negative (i.e. "There's real risk that Virtus.pro could stop performing within two years. They have been fairly inconsistent for the past twelve months [...]" and other parts) then I'd lean towards saying you're a highly gifted newswriter on HLTV and similar scene sites. Not hating at all :)
2014-12-01 19:33
nice read!
2014-12-01 19:33
is that *sniff* *sniff* a lurppis post? i can smell those from miles ago
2014-12-01 19:41
lurppis keep publishing awesome articles, and then there are some braindead people on this website that blame him for his bad behaviour and saying that he doesn't bring anything good to the csgo scene. Oh well ._.
2014-12-01 19:41
Well usually he drags Fifflaren into the article and blames him for something. I like hes articles but the whole bad boy act is just funny. :F
2014-12-01 19:55
I don't care!
2014-12-01 19:44
Why didnt lurppis share some info of his contracts when he was a professional player instead of put in "beautiful" words what we all already knew?
2014-12-01 19:56
love it
2014-12-01 20:12
Hope they now have some good sticker clasule, because they had to bring in 100% of the stickermoney before.
2014-12-01 20:39
Austria gex0r 
if i had to give one team a 2year contract it would cleary just be nip (which i wouldn't do now witih a new player) or VP.
2014-12-01 21:47
Nice read
2014-12-01 21:51
We need more of these articles
2014-12-01 22:51
if only you could reveal how much you received when signing contracts back when you were playing (1.6 ofc).
2014-12-01 23:14
2014-12-01 23:59
Boring article, nothing new, care to share some details about the salaries/terms?
2014-12-02 00:02
ok you promise us quick look in title but there a no pictures of contracts? why are hltv.org admins lying? i wanted to see how much salary is please admin please /delete
2014-12-02 00:03
""There's real risk that Virtus.pro could stop performing within two years" bla bla same shit as always lurrpis
2014-12-02 00:31
That can be said about every team. And talk about taking out of the context...
2014-12-02 01:20
NEO | 
Brazil tegin 
LUq we miss you :( very good ex-player!!
2014-12-02 03:58
Congrats to VP! Well deserved and I'm glad to see the investment. #VPgaming #LivingTheDream
2014-12-02 05:09
First photo, look at snax, kiddos come ahead, we know that you are fat. Don't hide behind.
2014-12-02 06:47
Very good. I think that the thing preventing CS from enstablishing itself as lifetime work in esports is question about how long it takes for a regular esports viewer to get bored from watching it, aka the diversity of gameplay. Cs 1.6 could have lasted for that lifetime, but in CS:GO's case gameplay in terms of action is less diverse, although there are many points making up for that in comparison with 1.6. My point is - I think that there is way to make Counter-Strike franchise as competitive esports game to last for generations and decades, which I think would be something what could truly bring it up in terms of ensurement that CS:GO will last as long as no pro player would have to worry about what to do after they retire. It's the kind of thing I'm concerned about when talking about CS as esports game. I really wish it continues on as succesful and keeps growing, but I think that there are things whose needs to be completely changed if a single version of CS wants to become into ultimate version of CS. I don't want for community to split once again, but then again still hope for a better version of CS to get released in future.
2014-12-02 09:20
Lurpiss loves money lol
2014-12-02 10:25
Haha "the risk can only be hedged" Lurrperino knows his economics
2014-12-02 11:29
they fkn deserve it, for so long won a lot of majors never had well paid organisation now its the time!
2014-12-02 12:31
Good Article well written ;) i would really like to get some more information about professional CS Players contracts... waiting for the next article ;)
2014-12-02 17:37
You are right, e-sports is still in it's babyshoes!
2014-12-02 23:42
Login or register to add your comment to the discussion.