‘We want Tradeit League to be the UK’s premier CS2 LAN tournament league, to do things that have never been done before and make history in the scene’ – interview with Tradeit.gg

Tradeit League event one winners from Plymouth 2023
With the UK & Ireland Counter-Strike (CS) ESL Premiership closing recently, this has opened the door for other tournament operators and events to emerge like the Tradeit League. Epic.LAN is still a staple in the scene, Endpoint are running the UKIC and events at its HQ, plus there’s still Insomnia LANs.
Now skin trading platform Tradeit.gg has joined the fray, with its first Tradeit League event taking place in Plymouth recently. Ahead of its second UK event this Sunday (December 10th 2023), Esports News UK editor Dom Sacco caught up with AJ, Chief Business Development Officer at Tradeit’s parent company ZenGaming, to find out more about their plans.

Please tell us about your first event that took place in Plymouth and how that came about.

I guess I got the inspiration from my first ever event in Cologne in August [IEM Cologne 2023, won by G2]. I was inspired to build something on a smaller scale, I spoke to my friends in Plymouth and they made me aware that Belong.gg still had a space there. 

They used to have a space by the Sundial in Plymouth but they closed years ago and I assumed it was gone, but it actually moved inside Sports Direct. That’s the model Belong have gone with now. 

I went down there, tested out some PCs, and I thought we could run a LAN here. So after months of building the frameworks and everything, it was a big success from day one. People could turn up and play. 

Now we have more plans for event two this Sunday (December 10th 2023). 

Who won the first event? I saw a tweet about it that was well-received by the community.

It’s all completely random teams, so the 20 players get put into random teams and pick their team names on the day. 

GGBET MPU blast gif - June July 2024

We don’t have a website yet, we’re going to build a whole new thing with a live leaderboard, rankings and stats. At the moment there isn’t much public access info.

Event two will be broadcast on Twitch and casted, so people can watch it and clip it up on the Tradeit.gg Twitch channel. We’ll also build a different section of the website for the Tradeit League in the future.

But yeah, we did have a video which blew up, it got 70,000+ impressions, bear in mind I only have 2,900 on my Twitter. It caught the view of some important people in the industry – like JW and KennyS – and more people were seeing it.

I must have had five or six UK teams reach out to me after seeing the video, wanting to work with me, as well as casters and admins wanting to get involved. So it really caught fire, I didn’t do any paid ads. It’s rare you get posts like that unless it’s a viral meme. 

We also had a Facebook post that had 15,000 impressions, we put £50 budget on it and it took five minutes to set up, and you can see the results. It’s more of what it is rather than how I did it.

Was the event’s £1,000 prize pool in Tradeit credit or cash?

It was £500 in cash and £500 in balance. So for the winners, each player took £100 home in terms of cash in their hand, and £100 in skins to spend on Tradeit.

For the second event, it’s the same main prize, but we’ve also added an MVP prize prize (£75 in balance), a second place team prize (£50 in balance for each player) and a third-place prize (£25 in balance for each team player). So most people will walk away with something, if they’ve spent six to seven hours playing at the arena, it must be a bit disheartening to walk away with nothing, so they’ll have something. 

We have a £30 VIP pass, which guarantees a seat on the day. You don’t have to buy one, it’s first come first served if you want to turn up on the day but there’s only a set amount of seats. There’s only ten passes available for each event, so it still gives ten other people a chance to turn up for free.

AJ, Chief Business Development Officer at Tradeit’s parent company ZenGaming

‘We want to add bigger locations, like Manchester, London and Birmingham. It’d be nice to have city vs city leagues, for example, at a bigger venue. There are a whole bunch of exciting opportunities that could come from this.’ 

AJ, Tradeit.gg

Are you looking to run one-off events or a more regular league in the future?

I’m trying to keep them as recurring events. We had some teething issues at the first Plymouth event and we’re hoping to get those worked out in the second one. If that’s the case and it goes smoothly, we’ll start scaling up.

I’m looking at Bristol next, and when that comes, we’ll do the Bristol event and the Plymouth event simultaneously, and we’ll keep moving up into the biggest locations, so, Manchester, London and Birmingham, and these kind of places. It’d be nice to have five or six events running at the same time simultaneously. 

At that point we could do bigger city vs city leagues, for example, at a bigger venue. There are a whole bunch of exciting opportunities that could come from this. 

Will teams from one location play against teams from another, or will they be individual events all running at the same time? 

It’ll all happen at the same time. The LAN players will play against themselves on the LAN servers. So, two sets of players, there will be eight teams plus a team of casters. 

It’ll be a fun operation, I want to see how we can sustainably scale it, because at the end of the day it’s not cheap. And once all that’s worked out, I want to have as many events running as possible, and get it to a point where we have 1,000 people playing in the arenas every month, and we can take them to a bigger venue with a higher prize pool, more teams, maybe 40-50 at once, and have a huge event, which is ultimately the goal.

Obviously we’ll take it step-by-step, we’ve got to take the small steps first. 

Tradeit League Season 1 UK CS Esports Interview
CS2 might not have an ESL Premiership anymore, but it does have good support from the likes of Epic.LAN, Endpoint and now Tradeit, which has partnerships with the likes of Vitality

Are the Tradeit League events exclusively at Belong Arenas? 

There’s no exclusivity to Belong, we just use their space to host the events. We pay them to hire it out. They don’t really help us with anything aside from giving us the space for it, and assisting with server management on event day. There is no partnership or business agreement. 

It’d be nice to have our own arena (laughs)! That’d be very cool – maybe one day!

Do you have any dates or plans in mind for those bigger events, or will you take it each day as it comes?

We’ll take it each day as it comes, looking at how it’s growing already, we could be at that stage in maybe six to 12 months, as soon as that. 

tradeit league vip pass
Tradeit League has a VIP event pass for those looking to guarantee their entry in each event

Tell us about Tradeit, your website says you have over 50m trades and 2.7m users – who’s behind it?

The platform was launched in August 2017 and we [ZenGaming] acquired it in the summer of 2020.

The site wasn’t in a good shape, it had a bad user interface and there were a lot of bugs and issues, with upset customers, so we took three years to really nail down and make it better in any way we could. We invested a lot of money and resources into doing that. 

We managed to sign many legends like KennyS and Olofmeister, I think we’re now the number one trading site as we have a crazy momentum now that keeps on going. We’re obviously doing the right things in the right areas.

Tradeit’s parent company ZenGaming is registered in the US and it’s the mother and heart of both Tradeit and LootBear.

“We have a lot of Silicon Valley investors backing us and it’s enabled us to have the resources to do what we wanted to do, in terms of scaling and business.”

AJ, Tradeit.gg

It started out as a 1v1 platform, so you could 1v1 for skins and prizes but it didn’t do very well. That was before my time – Zen has been about ten years in the making. I’ve been with Zen for eight years now. 

We started off with LootBear.com, we created that. It’s similar to Tradeit, but on LootBear you can buy, sell and rent skins. There are monthly subscription packages and a tier system, and you can rent up to $1,200 in items for $24.99 a month, and there’s a buying and selling marketplace.

Tradeit is very similar in that you can buy and sell items, but you can also trade items instantly. It’s cross-game and takes 15 seconds to complete a trade. So that’s essentially the structure. We’re at a position we’re it’s very fun and we’re able to do a lot of creative things. It’s getting recognised by the right people for the right reasons, so it’s looking good.

You guys are putting out a lot of content, and are getting involved specifically in UK esports.

Yeah, we’re trying. We just posted our Epic.LAN documentary too, from Epic 40

And in terms of UK teams, we just partnered with K10.

Which other partnerships do you have? 

We have over 100 partnerships in total that I manage day to day, it’s very diverse, we have streamers, YouTubers, TikTokers, websites, teams, the whole shebang. 

Vitality are the elite team we’re partnered with, and when it comes to the UK, I’m building the Tradeit League, we’ve signed with K10 for a year-long deal, so they’re our UK domestic team [we’re partnered with] and I’m also talking to Epic.LAN to discuss Epic 41 collaborations. That’s where the juicy stuff is, really, I want to do stuff that’s never been done before and make history in the scene. 

We’re also doing events and will scale them up through the UK and maybe in Paris too, as Vitality has a hub there, like Belong, so potentially we could do something there with the Vitality team. 

We’re also partnered with HLTV and are one of the main sponsors for its HLTV Confirmed livestreams. We’re quite close with those guys. 

You’ve also worked with popular UK CS streamer and player, smooya, is that right?

We worked with smooya for over a year, but parted ways as it was a lot to manage. Smooya is a very complicated character, and although I tried to accommodate him, we couldn’t see eye to eye for the future of our partnership.

So unfortunately we had to split ways, he’s moved on and we’ve moved on, and there’s no hard feelings.

“Vitality are the elite team we’re partnered with, and when it comes to the UK, I’m building the Tradeit League, we’ve signed with K10 for a year-long deal and I’m also talking to Epic.LAN about Epic 41. I want to do stuff that’s never been done before and make history in the scene.”

AJ, Tradeit.gg

Are you open to more partnerships?

Unless it’s an extremely good deal we can’t say no to, then we’re probably not looking for more. Only because we’ve pulled so much resource in the last three months, we have to focus on what we’ve got already and develop that before we start taking on more.

By mid next year we’ll be looking for more, I think we’ll be open to new ones. I told a tier one org recently we’d love to consider options with teams like that, but we only have a small team and we can only do so much. 

Are you the main UK rep? Do you have a UK office and how big is Tradeit in terms of staff?

I guess I’m the main UK rep and the face of the company in the UK scene. All our staff work remotely around the globe. 

We have about 25-40 staff including the contractors and freelancers which help us with the graphics and so on.

Do you encourage UK players and teams to enter? 

There’s nothing to stop orgs turning up, I’d prefer for local communities to go to these events as they’re local LANs, but at the same time, if it’s near to a team and they turned up, no one would stop them from playing. It’s randomised anyway, so a team wouldn’t be able to play as a set five. They could land on the same team but that’d be very unlikely. 

We had a player called Ollie from Esports Wales (which recently attained full membership in the European Esports Federation) coming all the way from Wales to play.

Thanks for your time, AJ, and good luck with Tradeit.gg.

Those interested can join the Tradeit Discord channel for more information

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments