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Credit: PGL



It’s safe to say that right now, Natus Vincere is in deep trouble

Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhailov’s situation has caused the Ukrainian team to remove him, or so we can speculate. They said themselves it wasn’t for performance reasons. That, and his missus was posing with tanks on her Instagram. You know, Russian tanks. At a military parade.

I’m not saying her entire existence since her introduction to our lives at PGL Stockholm 2021 has been a meme, but it kinda has.

This came out of nowhere, however, as everyone was expecting that it would be Denis “electronic” Sharipov getting the boot following his reluctance to leave Russia as the organization had requested.

For the sake of this piece, let’s assume that this isn’t the last we’ve heard of electronic’s future.

Both of these are immense losses. Boombl4 is one of the, if not the, best IGLs in the region, while electronic is at worst a top 10 rifler in the world. He’s been a consistent star for Na’Vi for years, providing Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev back up since the rest of the team was Ioann “Edward” Sukhariev, Danilo “Zeus” Teslenko, and Egor “flamie” Vasilyev. 

I’m not even sure which one of them is the funniest.

Dreamhack

It’s going to be a hard task to replace them. Something of a conundrum, one might say.

Let’s get into it.

Rules of the Game

Usually, I go into these with a region unlocked or knowing that certain players might be willing to cross into parts unknown. I don’t have this luxury this time. 

Unfortunately, due to… circumstances, Na’Vi has a bit of criteria to follow when replacing these players. So, therefore, I will also have criteria to follow, which OverDrive outlines here: 

It’s pretty simple, actually: No Russians

Although this does present a bit of a problem.

The best IGL in the region, who just so happens to be requiring a new team, also happens to be Russian.

Of course, I’m talking about Jesus himself, the Master of Saving, Lord of Jame Time – Dzhami “Jame” Ali. 

This move would create an era that I would be all in on: s1mple rifling. There’s no way Jame would give up the AWP, mainly because of Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis’ involvement, meaning they could cause the same devastation. 

S1mple would still be the best player in the world. It’s only due to him AWPing that Nikola “NiKo” Kovac has the title of the best rifler in the world.

He’s done it before too. When Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovacs had his interesting time on Na’Vi, s1mple was supposed to rifle and the Slovakian AWP. It’s a shame GuardiaN was far from the best we’ve seen then.

Starladder

But let’s be fair here, even if most of his impact comes after the round is lost, Jame is a much better player than GuardiaN was at that stage in his career. Him being an IGL only adds to this. 

It could’ve been so good…

This leaves us with a MAJOR problem. Take a look at the regional rankings. You’ll see. If it wasn’t made evident enough by Na’Vi having three Russian players anyway.

That’s right, Na’Vi already has the best Ukrainian players on their roster. All two of them. 

I guess there’s Daniil “headtr1ck” Valitov, but he already plays for Na’Vi Junior, and he’s hardly the prodigy Valeriy “b1t” Vakhovskiy is. 

ESL

The only real option in Ukraine is their current coach, the legendary Andrey “B1ad3” Gordenskiy, the man half of the CIS region owes their careers to. It would be fun, but I can’t see it working.

See what I meant when I said that Na’Vi is fucked?

Problem Solving

So with an incoming IGL unlikely to be from Ukraine, what options do we have?

We could go to Europe to find one. If the YEKINDAR rumor is true, then the Latvian pushes us one step closer to an International Na’Vi anyway – but I don’t see this happening.

Who could they get? Who could be worth the communication barrier?

In short, no one.

So can we find an IGL from within? B1t is way too young, way too inexperienced. He’s not got a chance. There’s also no way s1mple should be shackled by the weight of IGLing, either. We know how that goes. We’ve seen it too many times before. NiKo, Richard “shox” Papillon, stars ruined by their inability to trust others to lead them.

ESL

He would probably be incredible at it and probably still be one of the best fraggers in the world, but we can’t allow it. It’s not worth what we lose. It’s not worth what Na’Vi loses either. S1mple’s peak will need to be higher than ever with the losses they’re facing.

That leaves us with Ilya “Perfecto” Zalutskiy, who I sincerely hope is staying. He was the best Support player in the world, and if none of this were happening, Andres “xyp9x” Højsleth’s GOAT status would be under threat from him one day.

He’s an intelligent player, good in the clutch, and more than capable of ripping your head off in the entry. It might not be a bad shout.

It’s at least worth a try, especially when your other options are promoting your entirely unproven academy IGL; or pulling your coach out of retirement, who couldn’t hit a barn door when he was still playing.

So Perfecto is our IGL. It’s not the fantasy of Jame and the s1mple rifle era. But it will do.

I hope.

BLAST

Nah, I’m just kidding, but I had you worried, didn’t I? There is actually one option for IGL. A player also benched from Outsiders – Aleksei “qikert” Golubev. 

qikert hasn’t been the IGL of Outsider for a long time, as far as I’m aware, but the role was often switched up on the former AVANGAR/Virtus Pro team for a while. He’s from Kazakhstan, has IGLed before, and he’s not bad either. A 1.11 rating is solid enough. It’s better than Boombl4’s 1.04, although it would surely take a hit from IGLing.

If we’re not using Perfecto – which we shouldn’t – Qikert is the only option. 

Mambo No.5

That’s four of the members of the team filled, but one spot remains. 

OverDrive has said this is likely to be YEKINDAR, and it really needs to be. He’s a top 10 rifler, he has  29.4% opening kills attempts, which is absurd, and a 51% success rate. His 82 ADR also shows that even when doesn’t kill them, he’s going to make it hurt.

Not signing YEKINDAR could be curtains for this Na’Vi team. S1mple’s playstyle means that the team has always needed a solid second and third star. B1t and YEKINDAR can be that.

What about other options though, should that move fall through. 

Well, it’s kinda the same issue as the IGL search. 

Russia is just quite good at CS right now. The entirety of the Team Spirit roster that made the Top 8 at PGL Antwerp is Russian, as is all but H0bbit on Cloud9.

ESL

Entropiq is also similarly Russian, although there is Viktor “Lack1” Boldyrev, who doesn’t quite bring the star-caliber that we require. 

Aurimas “bymas” Pipiras? The same story as Lack1: he isn’t exactly an electronic replacement either.

Headtr1ck is an option, but as I said before, he’s no b1t. He’s not going to fire them to unprecedented heights as his former teammate did.

It’s got to be YEKINDAR. If it’s not, this team is dead. At least as we know it, it is.

Of course, the addition of two players under contract with Virtus.pro – the company barred from competition due to its ties with the Russian government – comes with a whole new set of problems.

Na’Vi won’t be eager to deal with the organization.

But maybe, just maybe, there’s a way for the players to cut their ties with the team.

What’s their agency again?

New Flags, New Faces

It’s not that without him, Na’Vi would be terrible. They wouldn’t. They still have some of the best players in the world. They’d just also be losing one and not replacing him properly.

Top 10, maybe even Top Five, but I doubt they’d ever be fighting for the top spot. However, with this team, they at least stand a chance of regaining that crown.

It’s not a Na’Vi we’re used to. Certainly not one any of us would have been expecting to see going into 2022.

But hey, life’s funny like that sometimes.

  • 🇺🇦 Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev
  • 🇷🇺 Ilya “Perfecto” Zalutskiy
  • 🇰🇿 Aleksei “qikert” Golubev 👑
  • 🇺🇦 Valeriy “b1t” Vakhovskiy
  • 🇱🇻 Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis
  • 🇺🇦 Andrii “B1ad3” Horodenskyi (C)
“It’s a shame about Boombl4, even more so about electronic. Qikert is fun and YEKINDAR is one of the sauciest boys about, I’d still root for this Na’Vi”
Jaxon