If Na`Vi can't support star player s1mple, what can it do?

Nick J. March 24, 2020

Last week, something strange happened. No, there wasn’t a surprise patch or a Krieg nerf. The most surprising thing that came to come out of last week was that Natus Vincere, the same team that crushed Astralis and G2 Esports on their way to the IEM Katowice trophy, turned into a different team. 

ESL Pro League’s Season 11 has been a wild ride thus far, especially considering the league's early beef with Flashpoint and the league being forced into online play during coronavirus lockdowns. One team, however, is having an even wilder ride than the others.

Navi win IEM Katowice

Na`Vi crumbling despite s1mple's dominance

Natus Vincere, the number one in the world and home to Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev, failed to win a best-of-three last week over an inferior BIG Clan. Just why is that so important? Natus Vincere has several statistics that have to be mentioned so everyone understands just how little sense their current performance makes.

  1. The team has a 57% win rate over the last three months, including a dominant 83% win rate on Mirage (5-1), 86% on Train (6-1), and a 100% win rate on Overpass over two maps.
  2. Natus Vincere has defeated some of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive's most dangerous teams. The CIS powerhouse defeated  Astralis in what could barely be called a competitive Counter-Strike match in the semifinals of IEM Katowice. There, Na`Vi crushed Astralis 16-5 on both maps of its best of three. Astralis never stood a chance.
  3. At the Katowice Grand Finals, G2 Esports put up a decent fight, but Na`Vi could not be stopped. Natus Vincere won its first tournament of 2020 in front of an empty Katowice arena.

Afterward, fans and analysts were convinced that Natus Vincere was the second coming of a 2014 Fnatic. Yet here fans are, only a month removed from Na`Vi’s historic run and wondering where it all went wrong.

Na`Vi is seriously off course, and Perfecto is part of the problem

Natus Vincere has lost two out of its four matches including a devastating 0-2 to North and another two-map loss against BIG Clan. The CIS team then narrowly beat out forZe 2-1 before another close win against Complexity led to a three-way tie for the final spot in Group B.

After playing fairly well in his debut at IEM Katowice, Ilya “Perfecto” Zalutskiy has been anything but perfect since then. To call his play a weight around his team’s ankles is an understatement, and the 20-year-old looks outclassed at every turn. How can a team lose a best-of-three in two maps when two of its players, s1mple and Denis “electronic” Sharipov, combine for more than 80 kills? Well, it can happen when Perfecto goes -16. 

It’s not that he’s devoid of skill either. In Na`Vi’s game against North, Perfecto popped off three instant entry kills on the SG553. He’s flashy. He can make plays. He can clutch. But he can’t do any of those things consistently right now.

s1mple dropping 81 kills isn’t enough, and that's a problem

As Counter-Strike fans have found out, s1mple is not a patient man. You either come into the server ready to perform, or you get out. Just ask Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács. 

Unfortunately, it isn’t just Perfecto’s performances that are weighing s1mple down significantly. Against BIG, s1mple finished with 81 kills. He finished +45 with a 119.1 ADR. He finished with a 76.9% KAST and 1.79 rating. And they still lost in a sweep.

A young team, full of firepower and fresh off dismantling the best team in the world lost to someone they don’t have any business losing to. Fans will cry that it was only online. But if this keeps up, this roster is likely to see additional changes.

S1mple can't carry his whole team if they want to win. He literally cannot.

No one expected Na`Vi to be this flat. Luckily for Na`Vi, the have some time to figure it out. With the news that the ESL One Rio Major won’t take place until November, s1mple’s team can figure what’s going wrong before s1mple decides he's had enough of trying to carry this particular squad to victory.