CS:GO

S1mple and crew have found the winning roster for a new NaVi era

History is replete with teams finding a new hero in the face of adversity just before the start of a big tournament. Plenty of time in history a team lost the star player, only to go on a bull run to win entire seasons undefeated.

Natus Vincere lost former in-game leader Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhaylov just prior to their Blast Premier Spring campaign, because of “high reputation risks”. The team still went on to win the event with newfound superstars Viktor “sdy” Orudzhev.

Losing a leader, gaining a crew

The former captain (Boombl4) was one of the pillars in NaVi’s title success in recent times. He arrived in May 2019 and quickly took over the role as an in-game leader soon after. In 2020-21, under his leadership, NaVi rose to become one of the most feared international CS:GO outfits, winning titles for fun. They won the IEM in Cologne, ESL Pro League Season 14, PGL Stockholm Major in 2021 and most recently the Blast Premier World Finale.

Despite being a player of such stature, he wasn’t going to escape social media scrutiny, especially in volatile times such as this. Geopolitical references and some “remarks” seen as inflammatory didn’t help his cause. The powers that be couldn’t justify those remarks, even if it were made by his wife. On top of that, ongoing strife out of the team and in his personal life has put the team off-balance.

As a result, NaVi dropped him unilaterally and brought in Viktor “sdy” Orudzhev, also known as somedieyoung, as a temporary replacement. Such a massive move prior to a tournament can be unsettling, but NaVi hardly showed traces of upheaval. Even if there may have been some flutters in the camp, clean domination at the event put that all to rest.

New Leader, New Power

While releasing Kiril left them without an in-game leader. They didn’t unravel easily. ElectroNic quickly announced he would occupy the role of the new IGL at NaVi. Their stand-in Sdy was a key player in the win at the Spring final. Having moved to NaVi on loan from MAD LIONS, a team that transfer-listed all their roster in April.

Despite having little to no time to practice ahead of the tournament, Viktor made clutch plays and made NaVi look at form almost identical to what we saw last September. Everything was clicking and everyone was banging headshots. Even Vitality’s own apEX had to pay homage:

His rating overall was lower than every single colleague, but he cocked a snook at the critics and conventional wisdom by contributing vital plays at different times during their campaign. His multi-kill against Vitality in the finale aline was worth its weight in gold.

Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, a bonafide NaVi legend and MVP of the Spring Final, made it clear he would like to keep playing with sdy going forward. He wants it to be a temporary arrangement no more. S1mple averaged a 2.0 rating of 1.37 across 12 maps at the Altice Arena at the Spring Final. s1mple and co’s only loss was to OG Esports in the event’s opening match from a backs-to-the-wall situation, especially while in the elimination bracket.

When NaVi signed sdy, it was a common understanding that his contract could be extended based on performance. After such an impactful show, it’s hard to imagine him being benched or not considered going forward. The MVP title win made s1mple the first ever player to surpass Nicolai “device” Reedtz who currently holds 19 MVP trophies under his belt.

In their history so far, NaVi will also count the BLAST Premier Spring Finals as their best-ever under the guidance of s1mple and electroNic, with s1mple racking up an overall KPR of 0.88. Their next big challenge would be the forthcoming IEM Cologne 2022, where NaVi are still considering their combinations before finalizing their roster.

One thing is for sure: the debate around sdy isn’t going to be prolonged. Having literally burnt the door down with his performances, he’s eyeing world domination.

Nikhil Kalro

[Staff Writer] With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, tennis and esports betting.

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