Despite the ESL One Rio CS:GO Major being canceled due to the global health situation, some of the would-be competing teams made a lot of money through in-game stickers. NAVI, for example, raked in over $1m during the three-month sale, according to CEO Yevhen Zolotarov.
Esports as a whole took a hit when live events were forced to be canceled in 2020 and 2021, potentially losing money from prize winnings, on-site merchandise sales, and revenue share from event-based initiatives.
One of CS:GO’s biggest drivers of revenue for organizations are Major stickers — limited edition in-game items that commemorate the teams’ attendance at these flagship Valve-sponsored events.
Despite the qualification process taking place online, the ESL One Rio Major ended up being canceled altogether. Teams such as NAVI, however, seem to have recouped a lot of lost revenue from sticker sales for the event.
In the org’s annual recap video, CEO Yevhen Zolotarov said that NAVI made seven figures in revenue from the three-month sale of their own sticker. Dexerto has confirmed that the figure is in dollars, meaning that NAVI earned at least $1m from their RMR sticker.
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“Our league share is pretty high this year, and we hit big numbers in prize money as well as sticker earnings,” NAVI’s leader said. “Since there were no Majors for two years, Valve released the Rio stickers that were on sale for about three months — instead of one like always — and it’s a substantial amount.
“Yes, clubs share most of it with their players but it’s still seven figures, which is a big income for both.”
Valve’s announcement for the 2021 RMR stickers states that 50% of the money generated from players buying the stickers goes to the teams, though Zolotarov made it clear NAVI share most of their cut with the players.
While the ESL One Rio Major never went ahead, earlier this year PGL hosted the first Major in two years in Stockholm, Sweden. NAVI would go on to win the event without dropping a single map throughout the entire tournament.
The team’s success didn’t stop there, winning the next prominent event in the BLAST Premier CSGO World Final and breaking Astralis’ record for earning the most prize money in a single year.