BIG CEO: Why we invested seven figures into BLAST Premier’s CSGO circuit

Published: 28/Jan/2021 14:49 Updated: 29/Jan/2021 11:26

by Adam Fitch


German esports organization BIG cemented themselves among Counter-Strike’s best in CSGO’s online era. Now, they’ve invested heavily to become the latest partner in the BLAST Premier circuit.

2020 was unusual in CSGO, given that the majority of official matches were played online. But there’s no doubt that it benefited BIG’s German roster, reaching the top of HLTV’s world rankings midway through the year. After proving they’re among the best, they’ve now joined forces with one of CS:GO premium leagues.

Sources have informed Dexerto that BIG’s investment in BLAST Premier was in the seven figures, parting ways with over $1 million to rub shoulders with the world’s best squads. This bold move sees them take over the vacant spot previously held by 100 Thieves, securing top-tier competition for the year ahead.

As BIG’s CEO Daniel Finkler explained to Dexerto in this exclusive interview, this is firmly an investment in the future of the organization, as they look to establish themselves as a major player in the overall esports landscape.

BIG joins BLAST Premier 2021
BIG was announced as the 12th partner of BLAST Premier on January 27, 2021.

A BIG investment in BLAST Premier

“BLAST has established itself in recent years as a world-class league that attracts top teams from all over the world. As a leading esport organization, you want to be a part of BLAST,” Finkler told Dexerto. “This membership and attendance at events will help us establish BIG as a force in CS:GO and continue to grow as a brand.

“The fans are offered world-class Counter-Strike at the highest level at BLAST, which is again proven by the significant and rising audience figures. The tournament model focuses on investing in the ecosystem and teams competing in it, with their participation fees a prime example and this will help us to build a sustainable future for the organization. The investment we made is 100% worth it, because BLAST will shape esports in the coming years, and we want to be part of their success story as a permanent member team.”

It wasn’t as simple as just coughing up millions of dollars, though. With many tournaments that utilize franchising or long-term partnerships, tournament organizers are careful about the companies they allow into their ecosystem. BIG’s involvement in BLAST Premier as a partner. only came after a strenuous and stressful pitching process.

“All applicants had to go through an intensive process,” BIG’s CEO said. “In addition to the financial bid, strategic business operations and esports aspirations were of course also important. To be honest, it was very nerve-wracking because the demand was very high, and we couldn’t be sure until the end. However, BIG has developed excellently in recent years, both in terms of performance as an esports organization and the business side. Fortunately, we were able to prevail over other top teams in the bidding process in the end.”

There are narratives traversing the industry that CS:GO esports is in a rough patch. While the casual player base is has remained impressive, there’s no denying that the scene has gone through some changes. A lot of North American rosters have been dropped and plenty of professionals have transferred over to Riot Games’ Valorant — most notably, nitr0 departed Team Liquid to represent 100 Thieves in the new shooter.

BIG came in third place at BLAST Premier: Fall in December 2020.

BIG CEO: “It’s a very emotional, but well-thought gut decision”

Finkler isn’t worried about the future of the franchise, which is demonstrated by the fact that his organization is continuing to invest in the title. It’s not cheap to sign good players, nor to buy in to a circuit like BLAST Premier. He remains confident despite the changes 2020 brought upon the landscape.

“Counter-Strike has been a leading esports title for 20 years, and there are good reasons for that. I firmly believe that CS offers many advantages that other games do not in the same way. For me, there is no other title that can create such emotions, and the entertainment factor is incredibly high. Even spectators who don’t play the game themselves are quickly captivated.

“I firmly believe that Counter-Strike will continue to significantly influence esports in the coming decades. We can see that the demand is still clearly there with the number of viewers tuning in for every event, this month’s BLAST Premier Global Final showcased that, with the tournament posting the most-watched online CS match in history. We want to be a part of this continued growth in the years to come. The main reason we did it is simple: we just love the game, and we really want to play at the top in the coming years. So it’s also a very emotional, but well-thought gut decision.”

A bet like this, a seven-figure amount, is no small feat. Especially in a title that some believe is “dying.” It’s actually symbolic of a wider play by BIG, who are looking to establish themselves in the conversation among the most prominent of organizations — alongside the likes of Team Liquid, Cloud9, TSM, and FaZe Clan. The fact they’re continuing to invest major amounts of capital into esports during an unusual, unforgiving time (the result of bans on travel and large-scale events) demonstrates how keen they are to raise their profile and be competitive. They’re being calculated in their moves despite their bullish behavior, however.

“We will do whatever is needed to become one of the most prominent esports organizations in the industry,” Finkler told Dexerto. “That means we are willing to invest further in the future, but at the same time, we want to run a healthy business. We have succeeded with this approach since being founded in 2017. Marc Staperfeld, who supported our ambitions to invest in a membership slot at BLAST Premier and provided the budget, is also heavily involved. I am happy that we have so many passionate people on board.”

BIG playing CSGO
BIG’s mainly-German roster are hungry to reclaim the top spot in the world rankings.

2021: Go BIG, or go home

Now BIG have established themselves as one of CS:GO’s finest — at the time of publication they’re sitting in fourth place behind Natus Vincere, Team Vitality, and Astralis — what are BIG aiming for now? The aforementioned teams are used to being ranked at the top of the scene, but that’s not quite the case for BIG yet. They’ve had a taste of success and, understandably, hope to keep the ball rolling as LAN events (hopefully) start to return later in 2021.

“We will continue on our path and learn from previous mistakes,” he said. “BIG has had difficult moments in recent years, but we overcame them and are now in an even better position. It is precisely these experiences that help us on our way. In Berlin, we now have an excellent infrastructure for teams, partners, and employees — which is a crucial success factor for the future. We will continue to build on this. It’s our goal to become the most successful Counter-Strike team in the world.”

The jury is out on whether BIG can climb back up the rankings to reclaim their title as the best, but their investment in BLAST provides plenty of opportunities to practice and compete against titans. BLAST Premier has a bevvy of exciting events planned for the year ahead, and the German organization can now count themselves as a staple in the top flight of Counter-Strike.


How does Addison Rae make money? TikTok star’s revenue streams explained

Published: 24/Feb/2021 16:04 Updated: 24/Feb/2021 16:27

by Adam Fitch


When you think of the select few who are at the forefront of the current wave of influencers-turned-entertainment-giants, Addison Rae Easterling comes to mind. The TikTok star has blown up, especially over the past year, and she’s poised to make millions of dollars because of it.

The 20-year-old is traditionally a dancer, competing in the sport across the United States since the age of six. After blowing up on TikTok from, unsurprisingly, dancing, in late 2019, she’s amassed millions of followers across all major social media platforms.

The typical method of monetization for influencers comes in the form of sponsored posts and brand deals, and that certainly was the case for Addison early on. Though, after signing with talent agency WME in January 2020, she has her sights set on devising major revenue streams across multiple mediums.

From pretty standard ways of making money like advertisements on YouTube to launching her own beauty line, Addison is proof that social networks such as TikTok can serve as launchpads for a career that’s much bigger than any single platform. As she continues to expand her footprint and command higher paydays, it’s worthwhile looking at how she’s building an empire that may well set her up for life.

How Addison Rae makes money


Addison Rae Mama Knows Best Podcast
Spotify are hoping to bring more teenages to their platform with Addison Rae’s podcast.

Addison Rae is a major force in the world of content creation, it’s even been reported that she was the highest-earning TikToker in 2019. The majority of her income, which was said to be $5m that year, was from posting sponsored posts for the likes of Rebook and Fashion Nova.

When going live on TikTok, viewers can donate in the form of gifting. Addison Rae, once living in the Hype House — a collective of content creators in Los Angeles — has gone live with her friends to give further insight into her lifestyle, an enviable one for her many young fans. So, from TikTok alone, she’s made plenty from gifting and branded content deals.

Then, as you’d perhaps expect, there’s YouTube. The Google-owned video platform isn’t Addison’s main platform but she’s proven that she is a hit on there whenever she chooses to post. With 4.64m subscribers at the time of writing after posting only 16 videos, she makes money from adverts on her content and sponsorships from brands.

It’s clear that sponsored content is a big driver of revenue for the dancer, and that translates over to Instagram too. Companies such as American Eagle, Disney, and Daniel Wellington have all paid healthy sums to have a presence on her ever-popular feed.

Moving away from video content, Addison Rae signed a podcast deal with Spotify in July 2020. Published weekly, Mama Knows Best is an original audio product from the TikTok star and her mother, Sheri Nicole. The show is produced by Spotify-owned Parcast. There’s no word on how much she’s being paid for this endeavour but if it’s even a fraction of the deal Joe Rogan closed then she’s receiving handsome cheques for her weekly show.

Other ventures

Addison Rae Merchandise
The internet celebrity’s merchandise range features lines based on popular phrases she coined through TikTok.

A fairly typical avenue for content creators to go down when they amass popularity is merchandise, and that’s no different with Addison Rae. She launched her own self-named merchandise store, in collaboration with Fanjoy, on May 1, 2020. Products available for purchase include clothes, phone cases, notebooks, and mugs.

An extension of her popular Instagram is a blossoming modelling career, one that was kickstarted by posing for Kim Kardashian’s SKIMS brand. She found herself blown up on a billboard in New York City in some of Kardashian’s line and has since publicly spoken about how much she enjoyed the experience. As she continues to grow in popularity, she’ll be tapped to be a face of major brands.

Getting further into the world of business, Addison Rae launched a joint venture with Madeby Collective in August 2020. ITEM Beauty is a makeup line that is said to be cruelty-free and vegan-friendly. It launched with just a handful of products but that’s to be expected; you wouldn’t want to invest too much into a new business initiative just to find out it wasn’t in-demand. More products have been launched since, perhaps indicating that it was received well by her audience.

Addison Rae ITEM Beauty
Addison Rae’s beauty line ITEM launched with a limited range but has since expanded.

Film & music

In September 2020, Addison took a major step into the world of traditional entertainment when it was announced that she had been cast in a movie. ‘He’s All That’ is a remake of the 1999 comedy ‘She’s All That’ and she’s occupying the main role. At the time of writing, she’s busy at work filming her Hollywood debut.

While not confirmed, it appears as if she has other ventures in the works too. As expected based on her desires to pursue many facets of the entertainment industry, there are rumors that she’ll soon be launching a music career, including a Nicki Minaj collab, and that she has a reality television show in the works. One thing is for certain though, and that is she has no interest in being pigeonholed — there’s no doubt she’ll make a killing financially along the way, too.