*UPDATE* 1:20pm: Sources inside SK said that, “The team has been looking to go somewhere and although nothing is 100% done by any means, we are close to working with another organization.”
Rumours surrounding the potential transfer of the SK Gaming CS:GO line-up have gathered pace this week, with those in the know now convinced it is a matter of when, not if the world number one team leaves the organisation. Their destination is Immortals, one of the few orgs in the world with the cash reserves to sign a team on that level, and an org that has been looking for a new CS team since the sale of their last group to 100Thieves, amongst others.
First rumoured before Christmas, the potential deal to take Gabriel ‘Fallen’ Toledo, Fernando ‘fer’ Alvarenga, Epitácio ‘TACO’ de Melo, Ricardo ‘boltz’ Prass and the world’s best player Marcelo ‘coldzera’ David to Immortals has been unofficially confirmed by a number of sources. As a move, it makes sense for both parties, with the main motivation from the SK team being dissatisfaction with the management at the organisation, and the owners of SK needing to divest themselves of conflicting investments in the CS scene, as well as having doubts about the long term profitability of team ownership.
This has already begun, with the media rights to Na’Vi reverting to the Zero Gravity Group, having been held for some time by current VP and SK owners ESForce, and was prompted by a World eSports Association (WESA) ruling on multiple team ownership given in March of 2017. With ESForce currently still financially invested in two of the biggest brands in CS:GO, it makes sense that they would have to reduce that stake further, although some would question the logic of dropping the current world number one team in favour of a VP that has failed to perform for some time.
In terms of player contracts, there may be complications with the fact that Ricardo ‘boltz’ Prass only joined the team in the last months of 2017, and could be on a different contract cycle to his team mates. However, both parties are motivated to make the move happen and Immortals recently invested in the legendary Made In Brazil (MIBR) brand in December 2017, further adding fuel to the fire. According to sources, the team is still under contract at the time of writing, but their contracts are set to expire in the near future, making the deal potentially cheaper for Immortals than it might otherwise have been.
If the move does go through it will create waves in the world of CS:GO, and reaffirm Immortals’ commitment to a game and scene that has not treated them kindly in the last few months. What it means for SK Gaming is another matter, both in terms of the loss of profile that will ensue and the withdrawal of ESForce’s financial support, although a smart venture capitalist looking to invest in the scene would be wise to consider a brand that has been in esports for more than twenty years, were it to go up for sale.
Rumours of this move were first discussed on the new By The Numbers podcast, featuring Richard Lewis and Duncan ‘Thorin’ Shields. SK Gaming are currently competing in the CS:GO Major without boltz, using João ‘felps’ Vasconcellos in his place due to roster lock rules, and look to have a good chance of winning that competition. They face Fnatic in the first round of the final stages, a game which unites two of the greatest orgs in CS history.