With Season 10 of the LCS right around the corner, there’s already been some pretty hot roster leaks coming through for each team. One thing’s for certain though, the addition of Evil Geniuses, Immortals, and Dignitas to the league is not making anything cheap.
Many experts are attributing the addition of further organisations to a huge rise in expenditure, being done in regards to creating new rosters, and two big numbers that have been bandied about have been the 1.5 million dollar buyout for Vulcan by Cloud9, and Huni’s 2.3 million dollar contract from Dignitas.
Although these numbers seem huge, we took a look at what they actually mean in a historical context and present day context across many major esports titles. What were some other big deals across esports history?
The Greatest DOTA 2 Captain of the time - $81,000 
Just five years ago, it was announced that Xiao8 - a legendary Chinese DOTA 2 captain - would be purchased by organization Newbee for $81,000 in a landmark deal for DOTA’s esport scene. Xiao8 was regarded by all as one of the three great captains of that era, and had historically always taken whichever team he was on to the very summit of DOTA’s scene.
Later on in the year, Newbee - led by Xiao8 - ended up winning the first ever 10 million dollar esports tournament, netting each player of the winning team upwards of a million dollars each before reductions. Using Vulcan’s buyout as a metric, Vulcan is worth 185 Xiao8’s. It really goes to show how much the esports scene has grown in the past 5 years - even if DOTA was still a much smaller esport than League of Legends even then.
A European LCS Spot and Roster - $750,000 [Debut 2016]
When Riot’s new rules came in forbidding multiple team slot ownership, many European LCS teams were forced to sell off their slots. Team Dignitas EU was one of them. This is a particularly interesting contrast to today’s world, because not only was the slot to the LCS sold off, but four of the players within that roster went with it.
Dignitas sold their EU LCS slot, along with Wunderwear, Sencux, Kobbe and Nisbeth to Follow esports - who soon rebranded to Splyce, the team that recently made it to the quarterfinals of Worlds 2019. Although it’s true that extenuating circumstances may have lowered the value of the slot and roster together, it’s crazy to think that Huni’s contract could have potentially bought three such slots and rosters and still left over fifty-odd thousand dollars of change.
A North American LCS Spot - $1,000,000 [Debut 2017]
Rick Fox has not had a fantastic year in esports so far, with many things within the Echo Fox organization not quite going as planned. Back when he did join though, there was much fanfare around such a vocal member of an internationally recognized clique of athletes and actors making an investment into League of Legends.
The Echo Fox organization bought the spot by gravity gaming for roughly one million dollars. Although the spot did not come with a roster - this was by no means the average purchase, with other such purchases generally amounting to similar price tags with a few players added alongside. That’s still not enough for Huni contract or Vulcan’s buyout to be matched! A much higher buyout debuting together was the 2.5 million dollars spent on Cloud9’s second LCS spot - but that came with a functional roster who had played together and had a certain degree of social media following because of C9’s flag being hoisted over their heads.
This is all old news though, and we’ve known how fast esports has grown. What could you buy with those big numbers today in another esports title?
A Beloved Top CSGO Team - $3,000,000 
Home is where the 💙 is.— Evil Geniuses (@EvilGeniuses) September 26, 2019
After seven long years, Evil Geniuses will be returning to our Counter-Strike roots.
A big thanks to @NRGgg for helping it happen in time for #ESLOne NYC this weekend.
Full details, presented in partnership with @Xfinity: https://t.co/zoYXEQXTQh pic.twitter.com/Vjdpqzq0bx
On the 27th of September, it was confirmed that Evil Geniuses, a legendary brand unto itself, had purchased the entire NRG Esports CS:GO lineup for a total price tag of three million dollars. Although that exceeds Huni’s contract by a smidgeon, it’s still insane to imagine that a lineup that went on to be the second ever globally ranked first team from North America in CS:GO history, was bought at the same price as two Vulcans.
In fact, Evil Geniuses went on to be rank one at the same time when their main rival within the region - Team Liquid - was the primary contender for the same crown, within a month of their signing.
League of Legends as an esport title is still growing at a massive rate, but there have to be considerations for teams about how much return you can reasonably expect. The salaries and buyouts for players seem to be catapulted forwards ever since franchising, and eventually teams are going to end up having to stop and ask themselves whether it makes financial sense for them to keep investing into this particular game unless things change.
There are exciting times ahead of us though, as we get to see more and more crazy stories of off season contracts!