Where Do NAVI and Heroic Go From IEM Katowice 2023?
As the dust settles on IEM Katowice 2023, teams will begin to look forward to ESL Pro League Season 17. Two specific teams will look back at Katowice with particular disappointment, for various different reasons.
These teams are NAVI and Heroic, who must sense a series of missed opportunities slipped both teams by. The standard at the peak of competitive CS:GO is as high as its ever been, and both teams need to find an extra level at the moment.
Trouble at NAVI
In the aftermath of NAVI’s 2-0 defeat to Heroic, talisman s1mple delivered an explosive interview on stage, stating in his words that “on stage some players are still shitting their pants.” It hardly speaks to a team in harmony. While s1mple’s toxicity on the server is well documented, this felt like another level as he publicly outed his teammates on the world stage. It’s unsure exactly who he was referring to, with young guns npl and b1t the most likely candidates. It would be harsh on npl, who looked right at home in this NAVI roster at just 17.
NAVI finds itself in an impossible situation. With his status as the best CS:GO player ever cemented, s1mple is practically untouchable regardless of form, which hasn’t been great among the team’s other struggles. But his off-the-server antics can’t be helping NAVI, with the organization still crushed under the weight of expectations created by their 2021 form. Fans and players should treat this NAVI team as the work-in-progress that it is. If they focus on improvement on the server, they can halt their fall from grace and return to CS:GO’s pinnacle.
Looking forward to ESL Pro League Season 17, NAVI needs to move on quickly. If any of the players on the roster hold grudges, it’s a situation that could get very ugly.
Heroic: CS:GO’s Nearly Men
Heroic became the latest victim of G2’s near-perfect CS:GO run, losing 3-1 in the IEM Katowice 2023 final. It’s a familiar story for Heroic, who lost the IEM Rio Major final to Outsiders in November last year. Another final defeat will be a bitter pill to swallow for cadiaN, who faces becoming one of CS:GO’s greatest ‘nearly-men’. But if they keep getting to these finals, the victories will naturally come. It’s whether they have the mental strength and persistence through the failure to reach that point. If cadiaN’s career up to this point is any indication, we wouldn’t bet against it.
While Heroic won the recent BLAST Fall Finals, there’s a sentiment they should have more to show for their efforts. Heroic is a brilliant team, with no one player ever relied upon to carry. It’s unusual for a team this good to lack a star at its core, but cadiaN has built a roster so well-rounded that it’s not required.
Make no mistake, this is a very young team that will have plenty of opportunities for victory in the future. But right now, this loss will hurt, as they look to avoid making a habit of final defeats. An extra 5% from each player could be the difference between an era of victory and an era of failure. There’s no doubt this is a roster capable of very special things if they find that extra level. With over a month of CS:GO to be played, ESL Pro League Season 17 will be the perfect opportunity to show what they’re made of.