On Wednesday NiP played their final ECS Season 3 matches with two stand-ins following Adam “friberg” Friberg and Patrik “f0rest” Lindberg’s absences. The Swedes managed to get hold of two Natus Vincere players in Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev and Egor “flamie” Vasilyev to cover them.
While qualification was near impossible, the move sparked discussion in the community with many saying that NiP shouldn’t have been allowed to use stand-ins from another top team with LAN qualification at stake. Although the team did not qualify, they looked good taking a game off of the ever-growing G2 Esports, which begs the question, what would happen if a player like s1mple actually joined NiP?
At face value many would argue that the language barrier would be too great of an issue to overcome to be a consistently top team. However, this stigma has been broken before. In fact, even both s1mple and NiP have been through this exact problem.
The latter was when Finnish AWPer Aleksi “allu” Jalli joined the Ninjas. The team stated that they used a mixture of Swedish and English to communicate which would work for s1mple as well. From NiP’s performances with allu, you can tell that the language barrier was no issue. The team still managed to make the major finals and the natural decline still occurred long after Aleksi had left.
On the flip side, s1mple joined American side Team Liquid in January of 2016. The Ukrainian is responsible for some of NA’s greatest international results, such as reaching the final of ESL One Cologne and the semi-finals of MLG Columbus.
The move demonstrates what adding one fantastically skilled player to a roster can do. S1mple was a few rounds shy of taking down Luminosity, now SK Gaming, in the MLG Columbus semi-finals with Eric “adreN” Hoag on his team which speaks volumes about his level of performance. It is possible that if the Ninjas were to make a similar move their form could instantly increase.
Part of Liquid’s surge in success was because s1mple is one of few top draw hybrid players. These rarities are exceptional riflers who are also competent AWPers and are often found playing as the secondary AWP in double AWP setups. Other famous examples of hybrid players are Marcelo “coldzera” David and Richard “shox” Papillon. S1mple took on this role in Wednesday’s matches where you could see he felt comfortable.
Since NiP already has a primary AWPer in the form of William “draken” Sundin, s1mple would be the perfect fit as he could pick the sniper up when needed or when he’s feeling confident. This would mean that f0rest could focus on his rifling which is his greatest talent.
The potential to actually sign s1mple is unclear. I don’t think s1mple himself would oppose the move if Na’Vi’s results don’t improve soon. In his Tweet regarding the drama surrounding his stand-in, he stated: “just want my favorite team that I always cheer for to win some points in @ecsleague.” It was well known in his rise to becoming one of the world’s best players that he held f0rest and GeT_RiGhT in high regard.
Just want my favorite team that I always cheer for to win some points in @ecsleague,that's all ,always pleasure to play for @NiPGaming
— Sasha (@s1mpleO) June 7, 2017
The greater issue would be between the organizations. It’s all speculation of course, but I would assume that Na’Vi has placed a very hefty buyout on the superstar which NiP may be unwilling to match despite having the resources.
Since they may not be able to overcome that issue, who else could the Ninjas pick up instead of s1mple? Oscar “mixwell” Cañellas of OpTic Gaming is another European who took the plunge to move to North American and garnered results. Similarly to s1mple, mixwell is a hybrid player who likes to switch between rifle and AWP depending on how he feels. He was the catalyst to OpTic’s success in their ELEAGUE win and their consistent playoff runs.
Another highly publicized pick up would be Valdemar “valde” Bjørn Vangså. Although he could not contribute as a secondary AWPer, his rifling is one of the best in the upcoming ranks and NiP could make up for the absence by retaining f0rest as the secondary AWPer.
My final option would be to re-acquire Mikail “Maikelele” Bill from Red Reserve. Although the team and Maikelele may be less willing to team due to their history, Maikelele proved he could AWP at the top level back in 2014. However, in my opinion, he would benefit greatly from only having to do it on certain maps and in certain scenarios. Maikelele could definitely fill in the gaps left by Draken.