An Achievement “Not” Unlocked: CS:GO Ace “G2 NiKo” Almost Entered the Indian Scene in 2014
In a recent shocking stream from Indian CS:GO veterans Tejas “Ace” Sawant and Vishal “haiVaan” Sharma, it was revealed that Nikola “NiKo” Kovac, the star man of the current G2 Esports CS:GO roster, was almost on the verge of joining an Indian CS:GO team approximately 6-7 years ago, in the latter part of 2014 or the earlier part of 2015.
In the viral stream on Twitch, the Indian retired gamers also briefly talked about how the authorities and NiKo couldn’t go forward with the deal, as the salary which the G2 rifler demanded was far too ambitious for the Indian CS:GO fraternity at the time. Apart from that, everything was clear and good to go, since NiKo was raring to taste the Indian delicacies of gaming and move to this exciting part of the world. Although both NiKo and the Indian gaming community have moved on and reached extraordinary heights since then, it remains a case of what it could have been and what actually transpired.
The G2 hotshot was awarded the 4th spot on the Top 20 CS:GO Players of 2020 list published by HLTV. It’s even more painful to think that if he can reach that level at this age, what could he have achieved at the age when he was about to arrive in India.
But where was he headed? Let us take you more into the revelation.
Team Wolf is a popular Indian eSports organization which has been pretty successful in the recent past. They have subsequently impressed in the various games they play in, throughout the regional and international scenes. They have also managed to get into the Major tournament ‘ESL One: Cologne 2014’, a huge feat for an Indian CS:GO team even now. When they qualified for the major tournament, they used to be coached by Aleksandar “kassad” Trifunovic, the 34-year-old veteran Serbian coach, albeit for a short amount of time. Team Wolf failed to win even a single game in Cologne, but they could manage was to establish a stellar international connection through “kassad”.
As per haiVaan, the Indian veteran who was also a household name in the Indian gaming community back then, Team Wolf had a team member called Ritesh “RiTz” Shah who had a strong mental linkage with “kassad”. He used to converse with “kassad” about the internationally renowned CS:GO players who could actually bring in some much needed firepower and potential into their rosters and also into the Indian CS:GO gaming domain. The reply “kassad” gave to Shah multiple times was “NiKo”. Not the current NiKo, who is one of the hottest properties of the CS:GO world, and is playing for one of the most successful eSports organizations currently around, but who was just a young prodigy back then. At the time, NiKo was only an upcoming wonderkid and was still climbing through the various ranks with a view to reaching the peak, i.e. ‘Tier-One’ CS:GO action.
The unlikely trio including Kassad, RiTz, and NiKo himself even went on to take part in a Skype video call together, and the Bosnian was completely convinced that he was ready to make his way to India, and most probably with Team Wolf as well. NiKo was trying to make his own way at the time, as he believed in his potential and wanted to try new things. Exposure was also something he dearly cherished. Taking all that into consideration, the lucrative move looked like a logical one for the Bosnian, as some of the prominent Indian CS:GO teams were already playing in several regional competitions on a regular basis, even back then.
The phone call was done, the mutual trust and interest were established, but the deal couldn’t go through at the end. Why? You might have guessed before, and probably guessed it right too. It was his salary demand.
Again, according to the aforementioned stream on Twitch, NiKo was looking for a salary that was around the $5,000 to $6,000 (2,97,379.5 – 3,56,855.4 INR) mark. The negotiation was completely done in the previously talked about Skype video call among Kassad, RiTz, and NiKo. NiKo was not static on his position, though, as he lowered his salary demands to get the deal done. He went down as far as approximately $3,000 or 1,78,427.7 INR.
But, still the Indian organizations that were in question, could not muster up the guts to pay the lad the salary he completely deserved, even at the time. But the lack of funds were evident at that time too, in the larger Indian gaming community, as sponsors and organizers were hard to come by then, unlike how it is nowadays.
During the whole stream, the disappointment was evident on the faces of Tejas “Ace” Sawant and Vishal “haiVaan” Sharma, as NiKo went from strength to strength ever since that Indian debacle, and has now he has become one of the most sought-after CS:GO pros of the whole world. If anything, his presence in the Indian eSports or CS:GO echo-system could have fast-tracked the development of the community as well as the industry, something that has taken the country too long to accomplish.
This is not the first time something like this has come out either. Earlier in 2018, another Indian CS:GO veteran and the former manager of TSM Entity, Siddhant ‘Sid’ Joshi, came out and spoke about the unappreciative nature of Indian gaming sponsors to hire or sign foreign players back in the time, even if they were willing to come.
The debate goes on as to whether the arrival of more foreign players would actually improve the Indian CS:GO and eSports scene, or whether it will backtrack the development of the sector in India even further. But if the news from the stream is true, then the loss was all India’s, as a player of NiKo’s calibre could really have turned the Indian CS:GO scene on its head and accomplished wonders.