Natus Vincere have had all eyes on them recently, after a number of below-par performances concluded with disappointing results. Though it would be easy to scrutinise individual members of the roster for the team’s shortcomings, in reality Valve’s new coaching rule has played a huge part in Na’Vi’s slump.
Na’Vi have always been a dominant force in Counter-Strike, particularly CS:GO. However, during 2016 the team wanted to make changes to the long-standing roster, opting to replace Daniil “Zeus” Teslenko with the hot tempered, but incredibly skilled, Oleksander “s1mple” Kostyliev.
Zeus has since become the in-game leader of Gambit Gaming, helping to secure the team’s legendary spot at the ELeague Major last month. However, during the ELeague Major itself, in a video segment produced by Valve, Zeus revealed that the decision to remove him from Na’Vi had been made behind his back – the metaphorical bridge has been burnt to a crisp.
“He wrote me, at night, the message: ‘They kicked me out.’
“It hurt him very much. They did it behind his back.”
Anastasiya Afanasyeva, Zeus’ Girlfriend
Historically (with a few exceptions), Na’Vi have been able to make the finals of multiple tournaments (including the majors) and have then come up short in their attempts to win. S1mple’s recruitment was almost certainly to increase their firepower, even though it had been heavily rumored prior to this change that the Na’Vi players did not wish to play with s1mple due to his attitude issues. On August 2016, they took the young Ukranian star on board.
It is important to note that Zeus had relinquished his role as in-game leader at Na’Vi to the team’s coach. Sergey “starix” Ischuk. Yet shortly after s1mple’s arrival, Valve slapped the coaching restrictions onto the scene. This was a huge blow to Na’Vi, as it meant that starix was now unable to communicate with the team outside of tactical timeouts; it would seem that the team hasn’t been able to recover from Valve’s ruling.
Whilst Valve’s ruling on coaching created quite a stir, it should be noted that the publisher had reportedly communicated with many pros during both 2016 majors, the majority of whom supposedly expressed their disdain at teams like Na’Vi using coaches to fill up the in-game leader position.
As Valve considers the game to be 5v5, and the addition of the coach as the in-game leader pretty much adds a 6th player to a team, regardless of whether or not they are in the game itself. Valve’s ruling was fair and reasoned, and they had supposedly given the players fair warning, but they clearly hadn’t clarified their position/intentions well enough, otherwise Na’Vi may not have made the decision to cut Zeus under the assumption that Starix would be calling their strats.
If you say "s1mple made Na`Vi worse"
-I give you a car
-Someone steals your meds
-You blame getting sicker on my car
— Thorin (@Thooorin) February 19, 2017
Some have been quick to blame s1mple, as he is the most recent addition to the team’s roster, however this is not a fair assessment of the team’s situation. Na’Vi have not been a victim of s1mple, but rather a victim of circumstance.
It looks certain that the team will be forced to make further roster changes if their LAN performances don’t improve. The question remains as to who would be on the chopping block. For s1mple to be cut due to some incorrect correlations would be an unjust move, but it’s safe to say that Zeus probably isn’t too sympathetic towards his former teammates.