Counter-strike has been around for a long time, it has seen a few generations of players come and go. Some of them had legendary status, but we had no market built around that during 1.6 or Source, to really see if in-game items attributed to these players would mirror their achievements. Sticker trading, and trading in general, became an option only a few years ago, and since then it has been a very interesting field of research – a new market with unprecedented events and its own laws and rules developed right in front of us.
We have already established in our previous analytical articles that sticker prices reflect teams’ performances at important tournaments, especially LAN events. Recently, with some players from CS:GO switching to Valorant, a lot of traders in the community started thinking in a similar direction – is investing in stickers of retired players worth it or not?
We’ve had the chance to observe lots of examples throughout the last few years and we’ve enough data on our hands to give a positive answer.
Fundamentally we have the following reasons to support this theory:
– Stickers of a particular retiring player become a limited supply item after his retirement. The only way for a player to get his set of stickers is by playing in a Major, which retired players for apparent reasons won’t do anymore.
– Stickers are consumables – once applied, they never come back into circulation on their own, so the supply slowly but steadily declines.
– Almost any item in CS:GO gets more expensive as it grows older, although that’s never the primary factor explaining why items appreciate.
Market reacts to players’ retirements
Earlier this year we had a couple of examples to illustrate what happens to the sticker prices after a player decides to call it a day and stop his career.
Sticker | SmithZz | London 2018
On February 4 2020 SmithZz announced his retirement and the news immediately caused a sharp spike in price – making his London 2018 sticker almost double in price from $0.10 to $0.19. As we can see, there was a period of accumulation before the real bull run began for this sticker, and the price climbed slowly, while the sale volumes were usually below 10 per day.
Sticker | Ex6TenZ | London 2018
The retirement of SmithZz coincided with that of Ex6TenZ, and across the stickers of Ex6TenZ we actually did not observe such significant price gains on February 6 when he made his announcement. However, only to prove our point – his stickers are now seeing huge gains after a certain period of stability.
Now to more recent examples: on June 4 2020 Hiko announced his retirement from professional CS:GO in favour of Valorant. As you can guess – the extremum point on this chart is the 4th of June: as people learned the news they hurried to scoop up the stickers, then there was a drop, but in the future, we will still see a stable upward movement.
Price chart: Sticker | Hiko | London 2018
It’s noteworthy that the market doesn’t care one way or another if a player leaves CS:GO for another game, or just quits esports for good – the pattern remains the same for sticker prices more or less.
Across all the examples we selected we’ve seen about 100-150% price gains, that can be expected to go further as scarcity of the players’ stickers starts to kick in.
So how to determine who is the next in line for retirement?
Luckily, the information is available online and here is the best part – you don’t have to manually compile it now.
Look no further, give this topic a huge thumbs up and follow the google sheets link in the post. Let’s give the person who compiled it due credit – not only it lists most pro players over the age of 27 (I’d go further and set the bar at 30 though), but it also lists some fresh sticker prices grouped by Major (year of issue).
When players retire traders notice it immediately and buy up the stickers from the market in large quantities.
The price then usually drops for a few days/weeks and then starts climbing up slowly but surely.
The more known the player, the more memorable moments he had given to the community throughout his career, the longer he will be remembered and the more expensive you can expect his stickers to become. (Just imagine S1mple eventually retiring!!)
All in all, it’s relatively stable, albeit not the best in terms of ROI (so far), an investment option in the CS:GO market. You only have to be smart and regularly pay close attention to news related to players, transfers, and players’ tournament performances in particular, as well as their interviews that touch upon topics of contracts and motivation.