Alongside its competitive esports scene, Counter-Strike's player-driven economy is the beating heart of the game's mass appeal. While it will always be a game rife with tactical depth to its hardcore fans, Counter-Strike will never shake the idea that its competitive matches are a place to show off a player's flashiest skins.
At the top of CSGO's loot list are its infamous knives. Uncommon in the lower ranks, knives serve as something for new players to strive for as they get better at the game. While Counter-Strike players can't put a different sight on their gun or add an under-barrel, no one has beaten them on style just yet. CSGO's knives come in all shapes and sizes with most having unique animations built in by the game's developers.
When it comes to Global Offensive's bevy of knives, type and finish determine how much each is worth. Once a player knows what's popular, they can shop around for a nice balance between the two.
A quick tour of CSGO's market shows some of the game's most sought-after items, as well as its least-desired knives and finishes.
Stats show that the Butterfly knife is the end all, be all for Counter-Strike collectors. Its flashy animations come with a hefty price tag. A Butterfly Fade in minimal wear condition can be close in price to a Contraband M4A4 Howl. In other words, they're worth more than most pay in rent for a single month.
The trend continues with the Karambit and Talon knives, which have curved blades and a spinning animation almost as impressive as the Butterfly's. The top of the CSGO knife market is easy to understand. The more colorful the knife and the "cooler" the animation, the more expensive it is.
If flashy colors and animations lead, then the least popular finishes are the opposite. Often muted, dirty, or kind of ugly, these knives tend to sport Forest and Mesh patterns, as well as Rust Coats, Stained, and Blue Steel finishes.
Well-Worn and Battle-Scarred knives in this category rarely sell above $100, with most being around $80 to start. A patient buyer can easily find good opportunities just by skimming the market. After a few minutes of looking around, we managed to find a Huntsman Knife Ultraviolet, one of the oldest knives available with some color on it, that ran about $97 and averaged from $85 to $100.
From there prices only shoot upwards, and players can pay anywhere from $150 to over $1,000 for a knife. Here are the top five picks for a player's first Counter-Strike: Global Offensive knife.
5. Huntsman Ultraviolet, Well Worn
A Huntsman Ultraviolet in Well-Worn condition has averaged around $100 on the Steam Market over the past several weeks, making it one of the more expensive knives on our list. That said, the knife itself is large and imposing and its purple handle has just enough color to spice up an inventory.
4. Battle-Scarred Ursus, Safari Mesh
What this knife lacks in looks makes up for it in its special inspect animation. Someone spent time crafting the knife's flip animations and it shows when players hit the inspect key. Safari Mesh isn't the diamond ring of CSGO knives, but the knife is new and the price is cheap. That combination is a rarity in the CSGO market community.
3. Minimal Wear Shadow Daggers, Night
Coming in third on the list are the Shadow Daggers, in an almost perfect Minimal Wear. The Daggers aren't a popular knife, even with a rare inspect animation that makes an impact. Player's don't like them as much because they're a small knife, and therefore have little value as a flex.
That said, a Minimal Wear finish that sells for less than $100 consistently is a rare thing.
2. Field-Tested Bowie Knife, Forest DDPAT
Bowie Knives are somewhat rare in Counter-Strike, but the knife was made famous as Jared "summit1g" Lazer's blade of choice during his time playing the popular first-person shooter. The Forest DDPAT isn't summit's Bowie Fade, but it's a clean knife in field-tested condition. As a bonus, it might have the second-best animation when it transfers from holding to inspecting in the game next to the Karambit.
1. Field-Tested Navaja Knife, Slaughter
Our top pick is one of the newly-released Navaja Knives in the rare Slaughter finish. The Navaja knife doesn't have the greatest animations but finding a Slaughter pattern this cheap is almost unheard of.
There's only a few on the Steam Market right now, but the knife has averaged a reasonable $107 average since its release. The Navaja Slaughter could turn out to be one that players hold on to, even if they look to amass a collection of knives.
It's all cosmetic, but sometimes the flourish of pulling out a fancy knife as a player grabs the last kill for the ace will always be a tradition in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.