A portrait of the fragger as a young man.
The young Ukranian star will at ESL One Cologne 2016. (Photo via HLTV.)

The One and Only: S1mple to Na’Vi

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The young Ukranian star will at ESL One Cologne 2016. (Photo via HLTV.)

It’s the end of an era. Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev has left Team Liquid’s CS:GO team in pursuit of greener pastures, joining the Natus Vincere roster as a replacement for longtime member and team captain Danylo “Zeus” Teslenko.

The departure of s1mple from Team Liquid is far from shocking. After MLG Columbus 2016, where his performance carried the team to a historic semifinal run, s1mple announced that he would be leaving Liquid after the ECS League finals and ESL One Cologne 2016, citing internal problems and homesickness as the primary factors in his decision.

S1mple: The LAN God

It’s tough to write an article about s1mple without touching on the issues that have been a common denominator over the course of his career. Known for his fiery temper as much as his sheer fragging ability, Kostyliev has frequently been criticized for his inability to accept poor play from his teammates.

But there are good players. There are great players. And then there are gods.

There’s no denying it: s1mple fits squarely into the last category. Watch this fragmovie and try to tell me he’s not playing a different game than everyone else on the server.

And that’s the deciding factor at the end of the day. Even in North America, where the ‘old boys club’ has decided more roster moves than accurate evaluations of skill, the opportunity to pass up a talent like s1mple far outweighed the need to prioritize internal comfort.

The results don’t lie–the addition of a player like s1mple is what carried North America out of the group stage at MLG Columbus. It wasn’t camaraderie or through the power of friendship.

Na’Vi: Solid Choice?

In a statement on the Na’Vi website, it became clear that the CIS-based organization was looking to recreate Liquid’s success with the acquisition of s1mple. Eugene “ugin” Erofeev, the team’s manager, had this to say:

“We realized that we can’t be complacent with second places. It is true that second and fourth finishes are always the most disappointing ones.”

It’s unclear at this point whether world-class AWPer Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovacs, whose form has suffered since sustaining a football injury before MLG Columbus, will be passing the mantle of dedicated sniper to s1mple. Few teams have one star AWPer, let alone two–and, perhaps even better, s1mple and GuardiaN are both supremely competent riflers. Star AWPers like Josh “jdm64” Marzano, who had joined Liquid after Columbus, are often unable to hold their own without a zoomed weapon, but this certainly won’t be the case on Na’Vi’s new roster.

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Will GuardiaN remain Na'Vi's dedicated AWPer?
Will GuardiaN remain Na’Vi’s dedicated AWPer?

In light of s1mple’s incredibly aggressive style and GuardiaN’s unparalleled ability to hold angles passively and win fights through superior positioning, and obvious, if unconventional, solution presents itself. Put s1mple on T side AWPing duty, and allow GuardiaN to shine in his natural defensive element as primary CT-side AWP. It’s unusual, especially at the professional level, but it would certainly play to the strengths of both players.

After Na’Vi announced the roster swap on their website, Zeus tweeted this:

Only time will tell.

J.P. Corner writes softcore CS:GO fanfiction and you should check out his deviantart whooboy is on Twitter.

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J.P. was introduced to Counter-Strike by his older brother in mid-2014, and has yet to play more than five hours of any other game since then. He is in his second season of serving as the in-game leader for his CEVO-A team, Good Intentions. J.P. has a degree in Literature from Bard College. You can contact him via Twitter at @JPCornerCSGO.
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