Widely considered one of the most skilled players to ever compete in professional Counter-Strike, Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev started his professional career in September 2014 when he was invited to join a Hellraisers team captained by Yegor “markeloff” Markelov.
s1mple immediately made an impact. His addition helped Hellraisers take a win over a surging Fnatic at DreamHack Winter 2014 and take second place in their group. Hellraisers would lose to Ninjas in Pyjamas in the tournament’s quarterfinals, but s1mple would lead the team in the loss.
The following year saw tournament organizer ESL host both Counter-Strike: Global Offensive Majors, a turn of events that didn’t bode well for s1mple. By February 2015, the young AWPer was halfway through a two-year ban stemming from a cheating incident and a subsequent ban evasion conviction from ESL. This left s1mple unable to compete in ESL tournaments, including the Majors, until 2016. s1mple’s inability to compete in CSGO’s two biggest events of the year pushed Hellraisers to release him from his contract in February.
Despite the ESL ban, Flipsid3 Tactics immediately scooped up s1mple’s contract only to release him just six months later in what would become a recurring theme of chemistry issues that seemed to follow the young star wherever he went.
s1mple becomes breakout CSGO star with Team Liquid
s1mple explored international competition for the first time during a four-month stint in North America with Team Liquid. His experience on the team was reportedly mixed, leading to both a benching and a sudden return to play at ESL One Cologne 2016.
Despite the unrest, s1mple was instrumental in Team Liquid’s historic run to become the first North American team to make the grand finals of a Counter-Strike Major. Team Liquid would lose SK Gaming in the finals, but s1mple’s performance caught the attention of a famous CIS organization with a long history in Counter-Strike.
Natus Vincere signed s1mple in August 2016 and has retained the player through multiple roster moves since. s1mple’s arrival coincides with a period of instability within Na`Vi that saw multiple long-time members of the organization depart, including in-game leader Danylo “zeus” Teslenko and nine-year Natus Vincere veteran and head coach Serhii “starix” Ishchhuk. Na`Vi additionally transfered star AWPer Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács to FaZe Clan and Denis “seized” Kostin to Flipsid3.
s1mple performs well despite Na`Vi’s struggles
While Na`Vi’s results were mixed during its transition to its current roster, s1mple’s individual results remained strong. By 2018, Na`Vi had added a host of great and complementary players, and with s1mple seemingly in command of the roster, Na`Vi began to tally tournament wins. s1mple and his teammates won three events in a row in the middle of 2018, taking home first place in StarSeries & iLeague Season 5, CSGO Asia 2018, and at ESL One Cologne 2018.
s1mple’s performance was key in these wins, as well as in Na`Vi’s top-four and grand finalist placements at the two Majors in 2018. His contributions earned him the top spot in HLTV’s player rankings for 2018.
2019 was a year of mixed results from Natus Vincere, but s1mple’s consistently fantastic play once again netted him a high individual ranking. He ranked second in 2019 behind only Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut.
Early 2020 saw s1mple mature even further, taking the reins of the Na`Vi roster as its effective leader and captain. While new addition Kirill “boombl4” Mikhailov called strategies in-game, s1mple did what he did best; frag and win games.
In an phenomenal performance that culminated in his lifting the IEM Katowice 2020 trophy, s1mple posted jaw-dropping stats against the best teams in the world, including FaZe Clan, Team Liquid, Astralis, and against a revamped G2 Esports in the grand finals.
b1t puts Na`Vi over the top as CSGO’s best team
For the first time since 2018, Na`Vi and s1mple found true consistency in the online era that followed IEM Katowice with the team placing in the top four at most of its events. That was reinforced with the addition of Valerii “b1t” Vakhovskyi to the roster as a sixth player for Na`Vi in December 2020. He had previously competed with academy team Na`Vi Junior.
b1t split time with Egor “flamie” Vasilyev for several months, which included a first-place finish in the BLAST Premier: Global Final 2020. A flop in ESL Pro League Season 13’s finals led to flamie’s benching from the team and b1t’s promotion to full-time starter status.
Outside the esports scene, s1mple was inexplicably banned from Valorant after hitting immortal rank. He also continued to struggle with being banned on Twitch, receiving four bans within a 14-month span of time between August 2019 and October 2020.
Despite this, the addition of b1t combined with s1mple’s continued CSGO dominance to usher in the “Na`Vi Era,” with the team going on an excellent run of events. The team took first place at IEM Cologne 2021 to win the third Intel Grand Slam prize, and followed it with another first-place finish in ESL Pro League Season 14.
After this, Na`Vi secured a spot in the Legends Stage of the PGL Stockholm Major through the Intel Extreme Masters Season XVI CIS tournament. s1mple led the team to the major’s top prize and $1 million. This cemented him as one of CSGO’s most decorated stars, with a major title, two Cologne championships, one Katowice championship, and an Intel Grand Slam prize all under his belt.
Following this achievement, Na`Vi and s1mple continued to dominate the scene. The team took first place in BLAST Premier: Fall Finals 2021 and BLAST Premier: World Final 2021 to close out a six-month span where the team won seven of the eight events it competed in.
s1mple closed out 2021 as the definitive best player of the year, with the highest rating on almost every single map in pro matches and an award for esports player of the year at The Game Awards 2021.