Counter-Strike: Global Offensive pro players sport incredible skins during big tournaments, but where exactly do they get them from?
Skins and competitive play are two major parts of CSGO culture. Pro players provide figures to look up to in the community and champions like Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev become icons across esports. Skins are a way for players to express themselves, and their complex rarities can draw in heavy investment.
Unsurprisingly, it seems like pro players always have pricy cosmetics during tournaments. Here’s why pro players get access to tons of expensive skins.
First, let’s take a look at what pro player inventories are like. Who better to use as an example than Natus Vincere AWP master s1mple? Just a quick glance through his public inventory reveals a laundry list of top-tier cosmetics. From a super clean sapphire Butterfly Knife to multiple best-in-class gloves, s1mple’s inventory easily contains hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of skins.
But even after winning more than $1.6 million in prize money, s1mple almost assuredly doesn’t own these insane skins. Instead, he gets to use them for free. Why? Because when s1mple uses a certain knife, that knife suddenly becomes a lot more valuable.
How pro CSGO players get expensive skins
The majority of luxurious CSGO skins used by pro players do not belong to them. They are often borrowed from traders and only used temporarily.
Instead of personally purchasing perfect blue gems and full Katowice 2014 crafts, pro players are often approached by big skin collectors and offered skins to use. This is especially common for big events like majors. The pro gets to use an awesome skin in the tournament, then give it back to the trader afterward.
For example, the sapphire knife in the image above belongs to a high-roller named _Yz_. In fact, the Chinese trader loaned the exact same knife to s1mple’s teammate Ilya “Perfecto” Zalutskiy less than three months ago.
There’s always a chance that a pro player takes the skin and runs, but such an incident would ruin a system where everyone already benefits. The pro players get extravagant skins to use at major events and the actual owners can potentially make money from the visibility. Knives used by pros can spike in price leading to profitable trades.
In another example involving s1mple, he used a pristine StatTrak™ Ursus Knife | Crimson Web at the Antwerp Major. This created a remarkable price spike on third-party trading websites. After the major, s1mple returned the skin to the original owner. It’s since been loaned out to Na’Vi standin Viktor “sdy” Orudzhev.
While the price of clean Crimson Web Ursus Knives remains higher than before, the exact knife s1mple personally used now has a unique X-factor raising its value.