When Natus Vincere picked up Counter-Strike prodigy Aleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev, they were supposed to be the best team in the world. After narrowly winning out in ESL One New York, the team was fairly underwhelming. Na’Vi reacquired Danylo ‘Zeus’ Teslenko and they were primed to be a top five team. This prophecy never came to fruition either; the public seems to be blaming s1mple, considering that Na’Vi, a franchise that was experiencing a lot of deep tournament runs prior to picking up s1mple, are now making group stage exits regularly. The real problem with Na’Vi has been Egor ‘flamie’ Vasilyev, as he has not brought the star power he did in 2016. S1mple needed another true star player to dominate with him, and now he has it.
Will electronic fit in?
One key problem I’ve noticed within Na’Vi has been how s1mple and flamie play. They are both very volatile, aggressive players. Well, flamie is supposed to be, but it looks like he is lacking confidence, as he is playing more passively. Either way, that should change with Denis ‘electronic’ Sharipov on the team. Electronic plays his best Counter-Strike as a passive player and rotator. His style of play reminds me a lot of former Na’Vi member Denis ‘seized’ Kostin, whom electronic is replacing. He is the perfect secondary star to pair with s1mple, as electronic is the type of player who can find ways to win clutch rounds.
Na’Vi now has the ideal team built around s1mple, with electronic, Ioann ‘Edward’ Sukhariev, Zeus and flamie. S1mple can now play almost the style of Counter-Strike Jesper ‘JW’ Wecksell was able to play in 2015; being able to make plays at will, knowing if he dies it isn’t detrimental to the round. This team reminds me of the Team Liquid that made it to the finals of Cologne. With flamie drawing comparisons to Nick ‘nitr0′ Cannella, Zeus being similar to Spencer ‘Hiko’ Martin, Edward looking like Josh ‘jdm64’ Marzano and electronic playing up to Jonathan ‘EliGE’ Jablonowski’s level. That last comparison is pretty loose though. My point is that they’re secondary playmakers for their respective teams.
In an ideal world, I would cut s1mple loose, and let him do whatever he wants to, basically, as long as he communicates it. He has played his most dominant Counter-Strike when cut loose (see MLG Columbus, ESL One Cologne 2016). While we don’t live in that ideal world, I foresee a lot more playmaking from s1 in the future.
In terms of rankings, I would personally slot Na`Vi back into my personal top 10, looking something like this.
- FaZe Clan
- SK Gaming
- G2 esports
- mousesports (edgy, right?)
- Virtus Pro
The Virtus Pro ranking is probably a bit questionable, but the potential is there as seen in previous classics. I stand fully behind the rest of the rankings though. Realistically, this team should be better than mouz, C9 and North on paper. However, I’m not falling back into the Na’Vi trap too quickly. I think it’s fair to put them at eighth in the world, just considering the firepower. Also, none of Na’Vi’s new big three are even 21 yet, and oozing with potential. I love their upside, and I would predict within the next three to five months that they creep into the top five in the world.
Featured image: Liquipedia
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