ESTNN awards Counter-Strike’s Team Of The Year.
It’s that time of the year again when we sit down and judge teams carefully on their performance throughout the 2021 season. Battling through the uncertainties of pandemic, CS:GO had kept a pretty busy schedule of tournaments this year. While some tournaments were online, they played others at LANs after a very long break. It was refreshing to see teams and fans enjoying one of the best games on the planet in action.
Talking about best, after considering multiple teams, it wasn’t very difficult to choose Natus Vincere. Not only did NAVI outperform every other team in the mix, they have become an unstoppable force in the game.
Achievements in 2021
NAVI started their 2021 campaign with a win in the BLAST Global Final 2020. However, they faced a setback in the IEM Katowice, where they lost to Gambit in the quarterfinals. Their performance in the 13th season of ESL Pro League was nowhere near the NAVI we associate with. Losing to Complexity Gaming at the very start of the Playoffs, the Ukrainian organization were out of the competition.
Natus Vincere didn’t stay in the shadows of their losses, they bounced back in the DreamHack Masters Spring competition by defeating in-from Gambit Esports 3-0 in the Grand Finals. However, Master Spring was just the start of what was going to be one of the most NAVI dominant seasons in Counter-Strike history.
After a defeat against Gambit in the BLAST Premier Spring Final NAVI were runners-up in the competition. The CS:GO giants then bagged in StarLadder CIS, IEM Cologne 2021 and the ESL Pro League Season 14. NAVI won these silverwares back to back, which just goes to show how consistently the team was performing throughout the season. The squad was unbeaten in the BLAST Premier Fall Groups. However, they came second in the IEM Fall tour of the CIS region, where Gambit Esports were leading.
NAVI’s reigning authority over the game continued as the team took the PGL Major Stockholm title and the BLAST Premier Fall Final and World Final crowns.
NAVI Is Not A One Man Show
“We always told each other that we need to believe in ourselves and one another”. Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev shared his thoughts on how important it is to trust each other in a team during an interview with HLTV post the PGL Stockholm Major.
Although s1mple catches the most attention because of his high intensity and fearless play, it is important to understand that the entire NAVI team is a unit and they work off each other. Here is a quick look at the star lineup of NAVI in 2021:
Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhaylov
Boombl4 is a 22-year-old Russian who joined NAVI towards the end of May, 2019. He has established himself as a successful In-Game Leader and an exceptional entry fragger for the team.
Denis “electronic” Sharipov
Electronic is a rifler for NAVI. He is a 23-year-old Russian professional who joined the team back in 2017. Often overshadowed by s1mple, electronic is an outstanding player who can land some crazy frags and clutch multiple rounds in a game. That said, the recent performances have made the community appreciate his skills even more.
Ilya “Perfecto” Zalutskiy
Perfecto is NAVI’s rifler who also plays as a support/lurker in the squad. The 22-year-old Russian has been a major part of the team's success in recent times. He has surely found a lot of confidence from winning events and could improve even more as a player in the future.
Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev
The legend himself. S1mple is one of the most successful players to play the game. He is also right up there with the best players in the history of Counter-Strike. The 24-year-old Ukrainian professional has won many MVP medals and has surpassed different metrics in terms of performance. Although an awper, s1mple can produce some stunning displays of skills with other weapons.
Valerii “b1t” Vakhovskyi
The youngest player in the team, b1t is an 18-year-old who joined NAVI about a year back. The Ukrainian has already won what most youngsters dream of. However, it is not by a fluke that he is with one of the greatest esports orgs in the world. B1t is an exceptionally talented player who also does the entry-fragging and awping for NAVI. Lifting huge responsibilities at such a young age, he will only improve with time.
Andrei “B1ad3” Horodenskyi
It is surprising how often people forget to include a team’s coaching staff in the lineup. Of course, a coach doesn’t play, but is as important as a player. B1ad3 has been coaching NAVI since 2018 and his contribution to the team is immense. The former Ukrainian CS:GO player is like a backbone for the team. He constantly communicates with the players in and out of the games and makes sure the team is functioning like it should. The 35 years old has not only brought success but also made NAVI cohesive. It wouldn't be possible without help of analytics and other staff in the organization.
Natus Vincere In 2022
NAVI have achieved a great deal in the current season. However, during a recent interview with s1mple, the star mentioned the team wanted more and that they won’t stop at this.
NAVI will look to build on what they have achieved in 2021. It simply means the Ukrainian team needs to be consistent throughout the new season and have the same determination they had this year.