In CS:GO, skins and stickers are just as important as the game itself. For many players, waiting for a new case to be released is an exciting event that can set a new record for the number of active players. While some players strive to get the newest skins, others focus on creating unique sticker combinations that showcase their creativity and provide a sense of accomplishment.
Sticker prices, particularly the highly coveted Katowice 2014 stickers, have increased over the years. These stickers hold a special place in CS:GO's history, as they were the first team stickers to be introduced in a Major during EMS One Katowice. The event also featured iBUYPOWER, a team whose four members were banned for match-fixing the same year. As the game continued to grow in popularity, it attracted an audience with a great love for skins and stickers, leading to more demand and higher prices. While the game's popularity was a significant factor in the price increase, there are other contributing factors. Let’s break down all of those factors to answer the question: why are Katowice 2014 stickers so expensive?
The prices of stickers have been rising significantly every year. Nowadays, the best stickers can cost over $80,000, and this trend is likely to continue.
For instance, the iBUYPOWER Holo sticker cost around $3,000 in 2017, then doubled in price by 2019, and eventually reached the $10,000 mark in 2020. Other stickers have followed the same pattern of increasing prices, as illustrated in the graph below:
Why are Katowice 2014 stickers so expensive
One might assume the rarity and stock shortage are the root causes of the high price of the Katowice 2014 stickers. However, the issue is more complex since the ESL One Katowice 2015 stickers are almost as old and rare but never achieved the same level of popularity as the previous year's Major.
Several factors, such as the player base, unique design, sticker usage, and China's influence on the market, contribute to why the stickers are so expensive.
When sticker capsules were first introduced in CS:GO, the game wasn't as popular as it is today, with only 160,000 active players. At that time, players did not anticipate that the stickers would eventually be worth tens of thousands of dollars. As a result, many players applied or crafted the stickers or ended up with them locked in trade-banned Steam accounts.
It's important to note that a significant number of items, including over 550 Holo stickers and 200 capsules between the Challengers and Legends, are still locked in these banned accounts. Some of these items belonged to gambling websites that were shut down by Valve, which explains why they're so scarce today.
In the following years, CS:GO's player base exploded, averaging between 500K and 600K, which drew more attention to the game's cosmetics, causing prices to soar. At the time, the capsules were priced at around $400. Content creator McSkillet, one of the most popular CS:GO YouTubers at that time, opened tens of capsules for his audience and created a lot of content around the stickers, bringing them more attention and simultaneously making them China's favorite items to collect.
Undoubtedly, the rarity of the Katowice 2014 stickers is one of the key factors contributing to their high prices. However, their exceptional design is also an important feature. The clean background of the stickers allows the team logos to blend seamlessly with most skins, which is a huge selling point for collectors and players alike.
Moreover, the holographic effect of these stickers is one-of-a-kind. Unlike the tournament stickers that came after, each Katowice 2014 sticker has its own color scheme depending on the logo. This makes each sticker unique and more desirable among collectors.
While some tournament stickers, such as Stockholm and Antwerp, received a warm welcome from the community for not having a background, the repetitive holographic effect of these stickers on multiple logos was a letdown for many players.
Nine teams out of the 16 from EMS Katowice 2014 are no longer part of CS:GO's esports. However, they are an important part of its history and add historical value and high status. Having a Katowice 2014 item or craft will always be highly prized. That's why these stickers are and will forever be the most iconic items in the game.
The influence of Chinese Collectors
The hype surrounding stickers and their rising prices caused wealthy Chinese collectors to spend exorbitant amounts of money on skin marketplaces in an effort to obtain the most sought-after stickers available today. In 2018, these collectors created new sticker crafts on a weekly basis, further decreasing the already limited supply while increasing demand.
Today, the release of a new case drop can trigger another round of sticker crafts, resulting in further reduced supply and driving up the price of the original Katowice 2014 stickers. As a result, these stickers have become increasingly rare and expensive over time.
The unique design and rarity of the Katowice 2014 stickers have made them some of the most valuable items in CS:GO. Collectors are willing to pay whatever it takes to add these stickers to their inventory. Clearly, these stickers have left an indelible mark on CS:GO history and will continue to be appreciated by players and collectors for years to come.