One wealthy esports fan invested in the digital memorabilia of his lifetime. On Monday, one buyer on digital trading site OPSkins purchased a sniper rifle skin for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive for $61,052.63, one of the most expensive CS:GO transactions on public record.
The skin — here’s the item listing at OPSkins, which requires a login — notably features an “autograph” sticker by Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham. The day before, Latham’s team, Cloud9, became the first American squad to win a Valve-sponsored CS:GO event, the ELeague Major: Boston. Esports fans, personalities and pundits already consider the match to be one of the greatest moments in esports, featuring double-overtime at the end of the best-of-three match.
Fans around the world balked at the skin sale’s announcement, but skin collectors — and CS:GO fans in general — envy the details of the skin.
The skin, named Dragon Lore, is the rarest drop in a series of loot crates called Cobblestone Packages. Such packages are dropped during a Major, third-party events sponsored by Valve to promote and reward consistent gameplay by teams. This one was dropped during the Krakow Major; such crates are worth $31 at time of writing.
“Souvenir” crates are dropped when fans spectate games within Majors, with pre-attached and exclusive “stickers” for the skins. They also include “autographs” from players that participated in the matches. In short, only a limited number of Skadoodle-autographed crates exist in the world. There are also stickers that can only be obtained through the event’s souvenir crates.
Skins also have a factor of rarity called “wear,” with several tiers. The most common is Battle Worn, meaning the skin will have extreme visual wear-and-tear and a lack of graphic clarity. However, this specific skin was “Factory New,” meaning the skin’s visual clarity is crystal clear, an extremely rare occurrence. All of the skin’s stickers are “unscratched,” so they similarly maintain the visual quality.
In other words, this skin is a math problem of rarity. Not only is a Dragon Lore skin rare on its own, but there are also the additional factors of visual quality, the Souvenir label and the autograph.
Cloud9’s victory at the Major means that any other similar skins featuring the team or its players will likely increase in price as well.
And by the way, the skin is gorgeous:
This skin’s seller, an avid collector and player nicknamed “Drone,” told Polygon he originally bought the skin at around $35,000, and that the $61,000 price was agreed upon by both sides.
“We agreed on that price since that was the only price I was willing to accept,” he explained. “Otherwise I would have kept it.”
When asked about the criticisms of such massive transactions, he seemed unfazed.
“I didn’t originally get into this game solely for profit,” he says. “I just got very lucky a couple of times, and money is more valuable to different people. I’m very lucky in my financial state to where I can afford to buy these skins and it does not affect me.”
Polygon has reached out to the apparent buyer of the skin for comment.