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  • Grant 'sayNe' Dowling

The Success and Trust Gen.G Brings to CS:GO

South Korean esports organization Gen.G is rumored to be the next major name to make a move into Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. According to a DBLTAP report from Jarek ‘DeKay’ Lewis, Timothy ‘autimatic’ Ta and Damian ‘daps’ Steele, who are currently contracted by Cloud9, along with Bulgarian rifler Georgi ‘SHiPZ’ Grigorov, are the three names in discussion with Gen.G to be the starting pieces of a CS:GO roster.


Though Gen.G is a relatively young company in the world of esports, its reliable track record of success and good faith with the players they employ should be a welcomed sight for a scene that has been plagued with many instances of organizations not paying their players.


Founded in 2017, Gen.G currently franchises team in League of Legends Champions Korea, Overwatch League, won the first PUBG Global Championship, and launched its Shanghai-based team for NBA 2K League less than two months ago. This is the first NBA 2KL team outside of North America, though the team will train at Gen.G’s Los Angeles headquarters during the 2020 season.


NBA 2KL’s press release says this new relationship with Gen.G is one of “long-term strategy to grow the league’s player pool and fanbase with emphasis on Asia.” 2K seems to have picked the correct organization to partner with in expanding its umbrella overseas as Gen.G boasts that it is the “only major organization” to own and operate top teams in China, South Korea, and the United States.


This is a key point for what Gen.G should be able to bring into the Counter-Strike scene. In the last two to three years, more and more Asian teams have been breaking into the mainstream.

Organizations like China’s TYLOO and South Korea’s MVP have led the way for the Asian Counterstrike scene, qualifying for majors and headline tournaments - and actually producing some respectable finishes.


As for how Gen.G is run itself, the company has made plenty of impressive moves to build itself quickly since 2017.


According to TechCrunch.com, Gen.G announced it accepted investment earlier this month from the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator, a longstanding accelerator program based in New York City. The organization also attracted Chris Park, executive vice president of product and marketing for Major League Baseball, to come on as CEO at the end of 2018.


And as CEO, Park closed on a $46 million in funding from Los Angeles Clippers minority owner Dennis Wong, Will Smith’s Dreamers Fund, Stanford University, and others.


Moreover, an organization like Gen.G that has earned the trust of plenty of other established esports scenes like League of Legends should not only be welcomed into Counter-Strike, but accepted with a bit of desperate necessity.


Even though Counter-Strike has existed for nearly two decades now and its competitive scene has been well-established for almost as long, rosters fall victim to organizations who are quick to slight them in a variety of ways time and time again. Whether it’s not paying players the money owed, getting teenagers and veterans alike to agree to flimsy contracts, or overstepping roster control, like cutting a player and hiring another without the team’s approval, the players are always left the victim.


What makes Gen.G’s move into Counter-Strike even more welcomed in contrast to the organizations who have proven to be untrustworthy in the past is the fact that this organizational dishonesty has not been limited to smaller, lesser-known organizations that have not built a reputation of trust.


Organizations who had become house-hold names in Counter-Strike like Kinguin.GG, Denial Esports, and Winterfox were all exposed for issues related to not paying their players who were under contract.


The most recent and perhaps most notable example of this was the consistent outing of Epsilon, an old, formerly respected name in the Counter-Strike scene. According to a report from Upcomer.com, many players and teams across different esports came out accusing the organization of withholding payment, deducting salary to pay for travel, and even ignoring formal requests to follow through on payments owed.


Owen ‘smooya’ Butterfield, who was on Epsilon’s roster between June 2017 and August 2018, publicly criticized the organization, saying he had to constantly beg the organization to pay his wage. The same article says a source from Epsilon’s most recent disbanded team told Upcomer.com that about 90 percent of his payments were late and was still owed about $1,680 USD at the time the article was published (August 7, 2019).


Former H1Z1 players, who left Epsilon after the collapse of the Pro League, also accused the organization of having failed to pay them $16,000 in four months of owed money, according to agreed-upon contracts.


In August, Epsilon reportedly shut down operations, though CEO Greg Champagne told Upcomer that the organization would return in September after a major staff overhaul. Since then, they have announced their all-Belgish Counter-Strike roster on September 20th.


The roster then left not even a month later after taking what AWPer and IGL Steven ‘Stev0se’ Rombaut called “an offer we couldn’t really refuse” from their new home. Tenerife Titans. However, Stev0se also added that Epsilon “paid everything they were supposed to.”

It seems Champagne has thus far followed through on contracts agreed to since the organizational overhaul.


Epsilon has not replaced its roster since the buyout.


As this near epidemic of organizations essentially making money off the time, effort, and skill of players who are in turn not paid for their services seems to continue without an end in site, the entry of an organization like Gen.G should bode well for the future of Counter-Strike as an esport.


Though Gen.G is only two years into its existence, they have a successful, trustworthy track record through all of it and should be a welcomed organization to the scene. I would even venture to say that a legitimate way to eventually eradicate the problem of organizations not paying players in Counter-Strike is to continue to welcome organizations with proven histories like Gen.G so that one day, maybe the top 30 or 40 rosters in CS will be backed by honest companies.


What also shows the level of success Gen.G has become known for outside of South Korea is the fact that they are one of the most valuable esports organizations according to Forbes Magazine.


Gen.G was valued by Forbes at $185 million and ranked sixth on the list of most valuable esports companies as of 2019. The only names ahead of them are some that would be familiar to any esports fan: in descending order, Immortals, FaZe Clan, Team Liquid, and a tie between Team SoloMid and Cloud9 for the most valuable organization.


But this growth in value is not anything new for the South Korean organization. In last year’s Forbes edition of the most valuable esports organizations, Gen.G was ranked seventh.


And the other organization that was ranked ahead of Gen.G last year? One of the most successful teams to have an era in Global Offensive, fnatic. Now valued at $175 million, fnatic sits at seventh behind Gen.G, even after a $55 million growth in value from 2018.


What is perhaps the most indicative detail that pertains to Gen.G’s value is its $75 million increase in value over the past year, which was good enough to leapfrog fnatic.


Fnatic has not spent over a decade in Counter-Strike and esports as a whole without instances of mistakes and cutting corners. They denied that finances was the reason for letting top League of Legends mid-laner Rasmus ‘Caps’ Winther in 2018, and just this September were fined over one million SEK by the Swedish Tax Agency for not paying payroll taxes in 2016 and 2017.


But I digress, as fnatic has been and continues to be a respected name in the Counter-Strike scene, having won the second most Major championships in CS:GO in addition to a plethora of other titles across a six year period. Players of the organization have had little to no complaints in regards to treatment, with legendary names like Jesper ‘JW’ Wecksell, Robin ‘flusha’ Ronnquist, and Freddy ‘KRIMZ’ Johansson leaving and returning to the team with little to no issue.


For a young organization to have progressed so quickly and legitimately to be able to jump over the likes of fnatic in just two years should put how successful and genuine Gen.G is into perspective for Counter-Strike fans, players, and tournament organizers.


With just two years under its belt, Gen.G has built a sturdy reputation that does nothing but bode well for its future involvement in the scene should the rumors prove to be true.

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