What pushed them to the edge?

20:30, 16 Jan 2021

Denial Esports has to be one of the most controversial teams in the history of competitive Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO). They were originally founding members of the C-Tier scene, but quickly gained attention for all of the wrong reasons. The American organisation went under a constant rotation of different managers which created lots of friction. Their revival in 2018 only led to a buyout from iBUYPOWER - and left fans confused. 

CEO Zachary Smith was hired to clean up salary allegations and rebuild the American dream for Denial Esports. His talents as an international CEO lasted for nearly two years and ended in bridges being burned.  Players and staff members were out of work while Smith stayed below the social radar. 


In 2013, Denial Esports signed an amateur roster to compete in local tournaments and online events. They played in one LAN event, but it only led to a couple of uneventful qualifiers. Their original squad included Neil "montE" Montgomery, Ricky "sLip" Cohen, Carey "frozt' Kertenian, Trey "tck" Martin, and Sam "DaZeD" Marine.

After a few months passed by, a majority of the team excluding sLip left to play for Homeless. A pickup team that was staking out Denial Esports for their potential free agents at the time. Keith "NAF" Markovic was moved towards the main roster, but in the end, left due to a potential team offer. 


Before their following season, Denial Esports went through two different rosters in under a month. Both lineups were eventually acquired by NetcodeGuides.com and iBUYPOWER in 2014. Some notable players included Tyler "Skadoodle" Latham, Eric "adreN" Hoag, and James "hazed" Cobb. Denial Esports started their redemption season off with players from MouseSpaz but were dropped two months later. Their main opponents at the time were iBUYPOWER due to their humble yet talented roster. 


They eventually earned their first big finish at the John Wick Invitational. An event that was sponsored by Lionsgate to promote the movie before its release date. Denial Esports scored ten thousand dollars after beating their rivals in the grand finals.


Nicholas "nitr0" Cannella joined Denial Esports near the end of 2014 leading up to the teams first official disband. Besides a first-place finish in the ESEA Premier Division, Denial Esports fell apart. They signed Lunatik eSports but were later faced with a consistent losing streak.

The team departed for Nihilum Gaming while Denial Esports was left with shock and disappointment. After months of hard work, the team wasn’t invited to the ESL Pro League but were instead replaced with Renegades. This news left people out of work, meaning Denial Esports sat out for their competitive season in 2016. 


Towards the beginning of 2017, players came in and out of the Denial Esports headquarters with little luck. After twenty different events, Denial Esports was at a loss thinking about the future. It was obvious that the team was struggling unlike their performance back in early 2014. They placed first at the iBUYPOWER GameFest but were eventually forced into retirement. This is around the time that Zachary Smith made his way into the org as their head operator. In December of 2018, Smith began to hire a team worthy of becoming champions across all platforms.


The team’s revival was slow, but that wasn’t considered unusual for teams at the time. As soon as trials were completed, Denial Esports signed ATK - a team based in South Africa that was looking to compete with a bigger org. Denial Esports offered the supplies while ATK provided a handful of talented pros. 


All of this came to an end once the ex-ATK roster began dropping like flies. They were burnt out and upset with their contract statements for the team’s comeback roster. Everyone in the CS:GO fanbase was excited to see Denial Esports compete for years on end. In just nine months, accusations smeared the news while Zachary Smith struggled to provide for his team.  


Denial Esports dropped their roster near the end of 2019 after an outburst on Twitter. Smith, being the bright-eyed leader he was, began telling the truth about his attempted revival. He admitted that the team was essentially doomed from the start due to their tainted name leaving little room to adjust. 

After months of holding it all in, Smith went on a rant that left people with sour faces. He felt that Denial Esports was just a large sum of money that blew up in his face. As a CEO, Smith was responsible for keeping everyone happy from dawn till dusk. 

Multiple teams under Denial Esports were scrambling to find another suitable org. The team that was once seen at an all-time-low in 2018 eventually hit rock bottom a year later. They will always be remembered for their drive to succeed, but no one will forget their spout on Twitter.

Images via Denial Esports 

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