Natus Vincere may have made it to ESL Pro League’s Season 12 Finals, but Counter-Strike: Global Offensive’s IEM New York is a different story.
A stereotype that Na`Vi is inconsistent has existed for years, but it’s one that keeps coming back to bite them. While the trend has been around for the organization’s entire time in CSGO, stats show that since 2018, Natus Vincere can’t put together two great tournament performances in a row. Despite having the best statistical player in the world in Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev along with three young talents and a veteran anchor, the CIS region’s best team simply cannot catch a break.
IEM New York is a perfect example, where the team is currently 2-2 with one game left to play against ESPADA, a team that is 10-0 on Na`Vi’s best map and has come alive against highly ranked teams in the past three months. With Ilya “Perfecto” Zalutskiy’s availability currently up in the air, it would take something special for Na`Vi to win.
Why does Na`Vi lose more than they should?
It may be because Na`Vi’s opponents know what the CIS team will do before Na`Vi even does. Ilya “Perfecto” Zalutskiy’s illness doesn’t explain why Na`Vi just can’t hit a streak. The team’s early 2020 was a showcase of what it could accomplish when everything clicks. But the rest of its year has mirrored the ones before, as Na`Vi shows an impressive tournament performance only to fall short in the next. Na`Vi continues to live out the past, and the stereotype fits. Over the past two years, the team with wins against every team has seemed to take as many big losses.
At its core, there’s one reason why. Na`Vi has a shared playstyle with the majority of its region’s other teams. Coaches from the CIS region are known for enforcing the “wait and see” style, and its become something that casters and analysts point out time and time again during Na`Vi’s games. If Na`Vi had a tournament win for every time a caster said “…but look at the clock, they’ve done it again,” they’d be the best team in the world.
CSGO teams use the game’s utility to stall, and a team without it can’t drag out a result even if they want to. So while Na`Vi’s slow pace might work sometimes, CSGO’s mechanics have a built-in counter to that tactic. There’s only so much utility to go around, and it always carries an economic cost.
It’s been explored before, and it’s an even more interesting show when two teams that like to play slow go head to head. But even when Na`Vi puts the pedal to the medal, they can be stymied by simple mistakes. A team this experienced shouldn’t react that way.
The problem with Na`Vi isn’t its firepower, and it isn’t that s1mple isn’t carrying hard enough. It’s that the playstyle it uses has clear counters, and teams know how to play against it. If Na`Vi wants to break up their inconsistent record, they need to mix up their predictable style sooner rather than later.