Counter-Strike is known for its cosmetic marketplace, but what is the pièce de résistance of CS:GO skins? In partnership with CS.MONEY, we take a look at the most expensive skins of all-time.
CS:GO sports one of the most expansive virtual trading markets in the gaming world. From weapon and knife skins to character cosmetics, there is an array of customization options that players can flaunt in the server.
However, the realm of skin trading can be somewhat complex when delving into the specifics of what makes a skin rare and therefore expensive. So let’s break it down before we look at the most expensive skins in the history of the game.
What’s the recipe for an expensive CS:GO skin?
First and foremost, some of the most iconic skins in Counter-Strike history have a story behind them. Take the AWP’s Covert Dragon Lore skin, for example…
As one of the most elusive and sought-after skins in the game, the Dragon Lore holds its own backstory and ties into Lord William’s castle — which is the stomping ground for the popular Winter Offensive map, Cobblestone.
Whether or not something can be deemed a ‘collector’s item’ or not, initially depends on skin rarity. This is categorized by tiers, of which there are eight levels. The most common grade of skin is ‘Consumer’ and the most rare is ‘Contraband’ — only one skin has been assigned this exclusive grading.
So why is the Dragon Lore a Covert AWP skin and not a Contraband? Well, in short, the M4A4 Howl was originally a Covert skin, but after a bunch of turmoil surrounding the skin’s artwork, or more specifically, theft of someone’s handiwork, Valve inadvertently created one of the rarest cosmetics in CS:GO history.
The original design (called Howling Dawn) was plagiarized by a Steam member. After catching the poacher red-handed, Valve reworked the design and bumped up the rarity to an entirely new classification, which they aptly named Contraband.
But what makes this skin even rarer, is that Valve stopped rolling out stock of the skin beyond what was already available in player’s inventories. Meaning that weapon’s finish became more sought-after than ever before. How’s that for a story?
Skin’s float value
Another variable to consider is the wear of a weapon skin, which is quantified by a metric called ‘float value’ or wear rating. Imagine a continuum from 0.00X-1.00, with 0.00X being the lowest, most pristine version of a skin, while 1.00 is the most worn iteration of the same skin. This is essentially how CS:GO cosmetics are assessed for their ‘condition.’
To help, they’re divided into five distinct categories, each representing a certain degree of wear. These are summarized below.
It’s worthwhile noting that not every skin has the full range of float value. Take the AWP Asiimov, for example, which is only available between values 0.18 (Field-Tested) and 1.00 (Battle-Scarred).
Top 20 most expensive CSGO skins
Alongside having different skin rarities and float values, there are specific skin variations that alter value. For example, the Doppler skin for knives has an abundance of patterns that determine the price. Below are each of the phases which a Doppler knife can take, with Phase 1-4 being the most common (Mythical).
Each of the true Sapphire, Ruby and Emerald variations are considered 'Legendary' and have 100% marbleized sapphire, ruby or emerald running through their respective patterns. The Black Pearl is the only 'Ancient' knife in CS:GO and is arguably the rarest knife pattern in the game, with a 100% pure black pattern phase and speckles of purple and blue running through it, rendering it almost impossible to bag one for your inventory.
The final variable that tends to bump up price, is a StatTrak™ variation of a specific weapon/knife skin. As you'd assume, a StatTrak™ weapon or knife clocks the number of kills earned by its owner. For example, a StatTrak™ version of the M4A4 Howl with a Factory New (0.009136963) wear rating sold for $5,186.78 — significantly higher than the average price for a regular version of the same weapon skin.
This places the M4A4 Howl just outside the top 20 most expensive skins of all-time on CS.MONEY. So what are the top 20? Let's take a look.
|Position||Weapon (Skin)||Wear (Float)||Date sold||Price (USD)|
|20||StatTrak™ M9 Bayonet (Doppler; Sapphire)||Factory New (0.010399505)||March 12, 2020||$5,259.57|
|19||Talon Knife (Doppler; Sapphire)||Minimal Wear (N/A)||N/A||$5287.5|
|18||StatTrak™ Karambit (Doppler; Sapphire)||Minimal Wear (N/A)||N/A||$5335.7|
|17||StatTrak™ Talon Knife (Doppler; Sapphire)||Minimal Wear (N/A)||N/A||$5695.32|
|16||StatTrak™ Karambit (Doppler; Sapphire)||Factory New (0.018374531)||January 30, 2020||$5,708.36|
|15||M9 Bayonet (Doppler; Sapphire)||Factory New (0.004930601)||March 11, 2020||$5,734.25|
|14||Butterfly Knife (Doppler; Sapphire)||Minimal Wear (0.078564681)||February 15, 2020||$5,866.31|
|13||StatTrak™ Butterfly Knife (Doppler; Sapphire)||Minimal Wear (0.073029414)||December 23, 2019||$5,942.25|
|12||Karambit (Gamma Doppler; Emerald)||Factory New (0.001643619)||March 8, 2020||$5,954.84|
|11||M9 Bayonet (Crimson Web)||Factory New (0.061083805)||February 16, 2020||$6,101.91|
10. M9 Bayonet (Gamma Doppler; Emerald) – $6,281.89
A pure emerald version of the Gamma Doppler M9 Bayonet sold on March 3 for almost $6.3k. Combining the Legendary pattern phase from the Gamma Doppler range and the M9 Bayonet earned this skin its place just inside the top 10.
9. StatTrak™ Bowie Knife (Crimson Web) – $6,368.00
Crimson Web patterns have three tiers, with three or more web centers on the blade being the most sought-after and therefore the most expensive. Add an excellent float value and StatTrak™ variation into the mix and this knife will set you back almost $6.4k.
8. StatTrak™ M9 Bayonet (Gamma Doppler; Emerald) – $6,745.82
While the float value on this pure emerald Gamma Doppler M9 Bayonet is higher than our 10th placed item, the addition of StatTrak™ technology to this knife bumped up the price by almost $500.
7. StatTrak™ Karambit (Gamma Doppler; Emerald) – $7,301.91
Given that Karambit knives are typically the most expensive blade by default on the market, it's no surprise that a pure emerald Factory New, StatTrak version of the knife sold for just over $7.3k — a true one of a kind for any collector.
6. StatTrak™ Butterfly Knife (Doppler; Sapphire) – $7,983.05
While Butterfly knives are not the most sought-after blades, there is a certain niche in the market for a low-wear, Legendary Doppler version of the Butterfly. Although, if this is your style, it will almost set you back almost eight stacks!
5. Sport Gloves (Pandora's Box) – $8,500.00
Pandora's Box Sport Gloves were among the original 17 gloves to be added to CS:GO through Glove Case update. Factory New variations of these gloves are few and far between, so one eagle-eyed buyer snapped them up for $8.5k at the beginning of 2019.
4. Sport Gloves (Vice) – $9004.5
Added as part of 2018's Clutch Case, the Vice Sport Gloves are a flashy in-game cosmetic for any hardcore players. Although, a Factory New version of these will set you back a cool nine grand — so be prepared to spend some dollar if these are what you're after.
3. StatTrak™ Karambit (Crimson Web) – $11,664.50
Making it into the top three skins of all-time is a StatTrak™ version of the Crimson Web Karambit. Add the fact that this knife has an incredibly good float rendered this knife the first skin to cost into the five-digit range at a whopping $11.6k.
2. StatTrak™ M9 Bayonet (Crimson Web) – $14,852.4
While Karambits are the most sought-after blade, the clean-cut M9 Bayonet is more to some people's taste. At least, for one person, who forked out almost $15k for this Factory New, Crimson Web iteration of the knife.
1. Souvenir AWP (Dragon Lore) – $19,632.80
You guessed it, the Dragon Lore is the most expensive skin in the history of CS:GO. Although, this isn't any old Dragon Lore... One lucky person managed to snag one dropped out of the Cobblestone Case from a Major tournament — Factory New, no less!
So there you have it, that rounds up the most expensive skins in CS:GO history. While knives dominate the rankings, the Souvenir Dragon Lore is the most coveted skin in the game. Although, it's only a matter of time before someone breaks the $20K mark... Perhaps someone will find the elusive low-float, Black Pearl and snap it up?