Nick J. March 18, 2020
At the beginning of January 2020, famed CIS roster Natus Vincere signed a little known 14-year-old Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player to its academy team roster. The roster, known as Na`Vi Junior, is an effort by the organization a pathway to the pro scene, helping its younger players understand not only what it’s like to work inside of a team, but also improving on more general skills that the players will use.
Ilya “m0NESY” Osipov has since skyrocketed up the FACEIT ladder and earned himself an invite to the highest level of solo queue competition a player can reach: the FACEIT Pro League. Not to be confused with ESL Pro League, FPL is a level of solo queue that few will ever reach, serving as both the gateway and gauntlet they must pass through as they start their professional Counter-Strike careers.
Even FACEIT’s FPL Project lead Milos “Mikey” Nedeljkovic was astounded at the young teen’s ability on the server. After m0NESY's invite was finalized, Mikey took to Twitter to congratulate the young man on the achievement.
m0NESY and current mousesports rifler David "frozen" Čerňanský have been invited to the top echelon of FACEIT’s ladder. There, m0NESY won’t just get to learn from pro players like Robin "flusha" Rönnquist and Robin “ropz” Kool, he’ll also be able to test his prodigious skill against them in round after round of Counter-Strike.
m0NESY reacted as any aspiring pro would, with a tweet of sincere thanks that forZe took notice of.
m0NESY has amassed an amazing amount of time in Valve’s games. He started his gaming career with Dota 2, pouring over 4,000 hours into the MOBA before making the switch over to Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. m0NESY is obviously very dedicated to his craft.
m0NESY's age might prevent him from competing in tournaments
Unfortunately, m0NESYmight run into some roadblocks at the pro level, at least for the next several years. Both frozen and US player Owen "oBo" Schlatter were both denied entry into tournaments until they reached the minimum age requirements set by tournament organizers. That aside, there’s something to be said for allowing a young player to develop slowly over time, allowing them to become accustomed to the rigors and demands of a job that often looks glamorous, but comes with a host of its own issues.
Na`Vi started its academy roster in the summer of 2019 by inviting a whole host teens aged 16-18 to join its team. Current head coach of Na`Vi Andrey "B1ad3" Gorodenskiy spearheaded the program meant to cultivate young talent into professional players. After the departure of Mykhailo “kane” Blagin after the StarLadder Berlin Major, B1ad3 made the transition to head coach of a Natus Vincere team that is coming into its own after crushing Astralis and G2 Esports to win IEM Katowice.
Regardless, m0NESYhas done something that only one person ever has done before, and it looks like we’ll see the gifted teenager sometime soon, judging by early reports.