Stickers for Stars: SPY and GMB Won My Heart (and Wallet)

Mar 25, 2016

With the Columbus 2016 Major right around the corner, professional CS:GO players and their teams are all vying for their slice of your sticker money–many of them with creative advertising campaigns. Who can blame them? The stickers, in-game cosmetic items that bear a individual player’s personal signature or a team’s logo, with 50% of all proceeds from its sale going directly to the organization or player (the other 50% is sent directly to Valve’s underground pool of money for ‘processing.’). In other words, the stickers are as close as it comes to a guaranteed payday in the Counter-Strike world, especially with a deeply competitive tournament and little prize money awarded to those who exit the Major during the group stages. To give you an idea of how important sticker sales are, especially for smaller teams, here’s a fun fact: at ESL Cologne 2015, teams received $4.2 million from the sale of the in-game stickers, roughly 17 times more than the entire prize purse for the event.

Yeah. Stickers are a big deal. Arguably even moreso for the Challengers, who are unlikely to be picking up that $500,000 check. spending time and energy to increase the size of the sticker money check is, at least from a financial standpoint, simply playing the percentages correctly.

Splyce Stickers: What’s Cooler than Being Cool?

Splyce were a last-minute addition to the Major qualifier, after TheMongolZ were unable to attend due to Visa issues–the North American team, who did not originally qualify for the qualifier, was written off almost instantaneously by both viewers and analysts, but managed to be the first North American team to secure a spot in Columbus after two best-of-one victories in the Group Stage. (Check out this clip from the last moments of their game against Vexed–the team reaction after Abraham “aBE” Fasli clutches a 1 v 2 is genuinely heartwarming.)

I won’t sugarcoat it–their qualification was a little bit of a fluke. Their online performances as of late have been dreadful. And their first match at MLG Columbus 2016 is against Fnatic. For these reasons, it’s unsurprising that Splyce elected to go with a more tongue-in-cheek route for their sticker ad campaign.

No, your GPU isn’t dying. The video is supposed to look like that.

There are no delusions of grandeur in the Splyce camp. The players know that they’ll have to fight for every round in Columbus, but they’re going into the tournament with a fundamentally American kind of bravado. Splyce know they aren’t the best, but they’re better than the rest–and that’s enough of a reason to walk with swagger as anything.

Plus, putting Splyce stickers on your weapon skins will not only give you “better reaction time,” “faster movements,” and “more ELO per kill,” but these bad boys are “guaranteed to make you a Global Elite.”

They’re not kidding, either. I bought three yesterday, and I already ranked up to Silver 2.

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Dosia Sex God?

Oh man. There’s a lot going on with this one. Gambit Gaming, despite an impressive showing at the qualifiers, have mostly flown under the radar–the team has played only 25 official matches since the organization picked up the roster in early January.

With the exception of young Finnish player Jan “wayLander” Rahkonen, the Gambit roster is made up of players from the CIS-region, including vastly underrated AWPer Rustem “mou” Telepov and former HellRaisers stand-in Dmitry “hooch” Bogdanov.

The real star of the team, however, is none other than Mihail “Dosia” Stolyarov. Now, I’m going to attempt to explain a joke right now. Sorry. But it’s my job. As a journalist.

Here goes. The CS:GO community thinks that Dosia looks kinda silly. (I blame the haircut–he has a classically handsome facial structure.) Whatever–people are stupid. Sarcasm is essentially currency on the internet, and the community took to calling him “Dosia Sex God.” Thus spawning a quasi-serious cult following, complete with fanmade drawings.

And there’s even a subreddit.

All of these events have merely been pitstops on the road to the creation of this video. I can’t really describe it, so you’ll just have to watch.

I’ll say this–it’s nice to see Dosia ‘owning the joke,’ so to speak. It’s the best option for professional players who find themselves being the butt of a potentially hurtful joke. Just look at Jesper “JW” Wecksell of Fnatic–after the era of Fnatic hatred began following DreamHack Winter 2014, it was common to see jokes comparing JW to a pig and Twitch chat spamming “OINK OINK” whenever he made a play. And then, he decided to join in on the joke. It’s even in his Twitter bio: “Some call me Wonderchild, some call me pig, I like them both.”

It’s a slick move–turning your perceived weaknesses into a strength. I mean, Dosia’s in-game signature sticker actually says “Dosia X God.”

I bought two.

What Are Other Players and Teams Doing?

Nothing nearly as interesting as Splyce and Gambit, it turns out, although I’m eager to be proved wrong.  Most players are simply retweeting images from fans with their stickers. I asked a colleague with a background in marketing and advertising what they thought about the videos: ‘Anyway you look at it, these videos are a great branding opportunity and at the very least they will bring awareness for their organizations stickers. As long as the video’s production costs aren’t too high, every team should have something of a promotional effort.’

I don’t think Splyce or Gambit Gaming have any reason to be concerned about sticker sales–both teams have, in my opinion, the most aesthetically pleasing logos out of all the teams competing at Columbus. Following the success of Splyce and Gambit’s ad campaigns, expect more teams to frantically assemble promotional videos of their own in the coming days–I doubt they’ll be able to top these two, but I’ll be excited to see them try.

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J.P. Corner
J.P. Corner is Esports Edition's Executive Editor. He was introduced to the wonderful world of esports by his older brother in mid-2014, and has a degree in Literature from Bard College. You can contact him via Twitter at @jpcornerGG.
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