Nick J. December 30, 2019
Natus Vincere star Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev hasn't been himself since the team's wayward AWPer, Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács, returned to the team.
Something odd is going on with Na`Vi, and its more than the usual early tournament exits and the team's signature inability to make it to a grand final. s1mple, inarguably one of the best players in the world, has started to see a sharp drop in rating following the addition GuardiaN from FaZe Clan back at the end of September.
s1mple will improve without Guardian
s1mple's rating has slipped sharply since GuardiaN has returned and taken over the AWPing role, leaving s1mple to transition back to a rifling position. Some may attribute s1mple's lack of production to the idea that s1mple is simply settling back into his role as a rifler.
Others believe that the two teammates are still learning to play with and around one another, or that s1mple's lack of production is a result of GuardiaN performing well.
They'd be wrong.
GuardiaN has seen an even worse drop in form than s1mple since he rejoined the Na`Vi roster that he helped make famous. Since posting a 1.19 rating in February of 2018, the 28-year-old Na`Vi stalwart faced a steady decline during his time with FaZe Clan that has continued through the end of 2019.
Although some thought reuniting with his old team might help GuardiaN regain his previously dominant form, it isn't really his team anymore.
Once s1mple signed with Natus Vincere, it was clear that the organization's CSGO territory was his to run no matter who the official head coach of the team was. Fans saw it back when s1mple was on the Team Liquid roster. The Ukrainian player reportedly forced the AWP role away from Kenneth "koosta" Suen and into his own hands.
The truth of the matter is that s1mple is both a better AWPer and rifler than GuardiaN is right now, and that trend is likely to continue given GuardiaN's age and his poor statistical performances dating all the way back to his time with FaZe Clan.
Na`Vi is suffering with GuardiaN's inconsistent play
In the right hands, the AWP is a weapon that can turn the tide of not only a single round, but of an entire match. If s1mple has shown fans anything in his professional career, it's that he is one of the few players that can do the things he does, especially with an AWP. The organization's decision to take Counter-Strike's most powerful weapons out of his talented hands has proven to be a mistake.
The departure of Na`Vi captain Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko in September was a blow to the organization, and they took the easy way out by bringing in Guardian.
It may not be right to describe Zeus as a tactical mastermind. Under his leadership, Na`Vi lost countless rounds to poor timings and general indecision. But he was clearly a strong leader for diverse and powerful personalities, and without him, the majority of Na`Vi's already thin strategic prowess has vanished.
There are only a few moves that can save Na`Vi from themselves. The smartest play would be for the organization to take a chance on Niels Christian "NaToSaphiX" Sillassen, the free agent AWPer/in-game leader hybrid that performed admirably during his stand-in with mousesports at CS Summit 5. While he didn't have the highlight plays, his steady presence helped mouz take home the first-place trophy.
This is a roster full of talented individuals like s1mple, Denis "electronic" Sharipov, and in-game leader Kirill "Boombl4" Mikhailov, and the young squad has the potential to become relevant in discussions about the top five teams in the world.
But if Na`Vi decides to stick to their current plan, fans of Counter-Strike won't likely see the premiere CIS team on a grand finals stage anytime soon.