Top 20 players of 2016: flamie (12)
Egor "flamie" Vasilyev returns to the top 20 ranking for the second time after he broke out in 2015 and earned the 14th spot. In 2016 the 19-year-old moved up to 12th place thanks to incredible play in the first four months, during which he received an MVP and three EVP's.
Egor "flamie" Vasilyev emerged in our records at a very young age, a week away from his 16th birthday during Copenhagen Games 2013, at the time one of the bigger international events.
Famed for funding his mix-teams which always carried the name Nostalgie, Alexey "OverDrive" Birukov brought the youngster to Denmark's capital for his first offline event, alongside veterans such as Dmitry "hooch" Bogdanov and Eduard "ed1k" Ivanov. Despite Nostalgie losing all seven maps, mostly in one-sided fashion, flamie showed his talents and got to play against one of the best teams in the world at the time, the CIS version of Virtus.pro.
"I was playing a lot of Russian mixes called CIS Gather I think, there were a lot of good players from CIS like old VP, Na`Vi, etc. Hooch decided to invite me to his stack with OverDrive because he believed that I could show my best."
After his first showing in late March, flamie didn't reappear in our database for more than one map until August, shortly before his first longer tenure started in USSR. He stayed in that team for the better part of a year and got much-needed experience against some of the world's best teams in two seasons of SLTV's league, before Andrey "B1ad3" Gorodenskiy's dAT decided to take a chance on him in July 2014.
With dAT, flamie qualified for ESL One Cologne 2014 and attended his first Major, where he held his own while the rest of the team crumbled under the Polish Virtus.pro and iBUYPOWER. However, the team only played in online competitions throughout the rest of the year, as they failed to qualify for numerous offline events.
flamie entered 2015 under the HellRaisers banner and attended two more events with them, including his second major, ESL One Katowice. At that point he got the offer of his career in Natus Vincere. He was on trial in the beginning, but a month-long period was enough for the team to sign him on a permanent basis.
Winning four titles and finishing runners-up five times, which included DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca, flamie helped Natus Vincere reach new heights in the remaining nine months of 2015. Thanks to his fantastic play over the year, he earned the 14th place in 2015's Top 20 players.
Before 2015 came to a close, flamie carried his team to a second place at ESL ESEA Pro League Season 2 Finals, where fnatic triumphed after an incredibly tight series. At the beginning of 2016, he and Natus Vincere picked up where they left off. flamie continued to play well throughout SL i-League StarSeries XIV Finals, although he was unable to repeat his great performance in another disappointing final against the Swedes and Na`Vi began to develop a mental block in the finals, which we asked flamie about:
"I think we had some mental problems with fnatic, when we met them we always lost without any chances. From my side, I didn't see any extra pressure [in the finals], but sometimes I played worse than in quarters and semis."
flamie outshined everyone from his team at the following two events, DreamHack ZOWIE Open Leipzig and IEM Katowice. At the former, he exploded in the grand final against Luminosity and put up a 1.48 rating in two overtime-worthy maps, which gave him his one and only MVP last year.
IEM Katowice wasn't as successful for Na`Vi, who finished 3rd-4th after the Brazilians were the ones to get away with the win that time, adding two more mouth-watering maps to the already extremely close rivalry. However, flamie was the main reason why his team got through a tough Tempo Storm quarter-final and he made an incredible effort in the narrow semi on his way to an EVP award.
flamie carried Natus Vincere to semi-finals in Katowice
"Yeah, I played very well at DH Leipzig and IEM Katowice. I remember the match against SK on Overpass in Katowice, that was the match where we showed our boost I guess, and I remember FalleN's magical 1v3 clutch."
The Russian youngster cooled off at Counter Pit League Season 2 Finals while Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovács carried Natus Vincere to their second title in 2016, but he was back to his old self just in time for MLG Columbus.
The Major saw flamie in solid form, helping Na`Vi pass through Cloud9 and Virtus.pro in groups convincingly. The quarter-final match-up against a Jacob "pyth" Mourujärvi-less NiP proved to be another comfortable encounter for Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko and company, and Astralis only put up a fight on one of the two maps in the semi-finals. Na`Vi advanced to the Major final without losing a map on the back of stellar play from Ioann "Edward" Sukhariev and flamie, but they couldn't make up for an injured GuardiaN in yet another encounter with Luminosity.
"The most memorable [moment] for me is the MLG Columbus Major, we were playing so well in all matches before the final and we were like a super team, except in the final game."
The Slovakian player took two weeks off to undergo treatment and Natus Vincere used Sergey "starix" Ischuk for the group stage of DreamHack Masters Malmö. After they survived against GODSENT and CLG in groups, GuardiaN came back into the mix for Na`Vi to complete the tournament in their full lineup. The first two stages of playoffs against TYLOO and Envy went Na`Vi's way one-sidedly once more, but yet again they couldn't overcome the final boss, NiP. flamie returned from Sweden with another EVP to his name, his third in a month and a half.
flamie's fantastic play gave him three EVP's in a month and a half, including one in Malmö
After two big events in a row, Na`Vi attended a medium one, SL i-League Invitational #1, where Virtus.pro were the only other elite-level team present. Shockingly falling short to Dobry&Gaming in the first round, starix's squad had to fight their way through the lower bracket. They did just that, defeating FlipSid3, GODSENT, and the aforementioned Poles on their way to the final. flamie had been fluctuating throughout the entire event, which didn't change in the final against Wiktor "TaZ" Wojtas and co., where Natus Vincere once again fell short.
With a month-long break from offline events, it was time for Group E of ELEAGUE Season 1, which included FlipSid3, mousesports, and Echo Fox. Na`Vi won four out of six maps in the round-robin and then passed the bracket stage without a flaw, with flamie playing well in the wins.
That trend continued at ESL One Cologne. In the group wins against FlipSid3 and NiP, flamie recorded well-above-average numbers, as he did in the first map versus Liquid. However, in the following two, he dropped to alarming levels while Natus Vincere exited the Major in quarter-finals.
After two consecutive silver medals at Majors, Na`Vi finished 5th-8th in Cologne
Returning to Atlanta with a disappointing journey at the Major, Na`Vi survived a narrow encounter with Cloud9 in ELEAGUE Season 1 quarter-finals. In the semis, they lost another big series to fnatic, who dominated Cobblestone and got the edge on Train.
During the ensuing off-season, Na`Vi bid farewell to their longest-standing member Zeus and welcomed Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev, who had become a free agent with his tenure in Liquid coming to an end.
"My role was a support player with Zeus and it's the same with s1mple, but now he is like more of a star player in our duo, that's why I don't have as many frags as before, but I'm OK with that, all for the team."
With nearly a month worth of practice behind them, the new lineup debuted at SL i-League StarSeries Season 2 Finals. The change didn't go as planned; s1mple wasn't his usual self while the team got upset at the hands of TYLOO and dropped to Astralis after overtime. flamie fought valiantly against the Danes and finished the event miles away from his teammates, but to no avail.
Due to the new coaching rules being in place for the first time at Natus Vincere's next event, ESL One New York, they were forced to switch leadership to Denis "seized" Kostin while coach starix had to transition into a much less active role. That didn't seem to affect the team much in the short term. Na`Vi powered through the Swiss group with ease and edged Liquid in semi-finals, as flamie peaked in the 16-13 win on Train, massacring the North American team with a 39-19 score (1.90 rating). He dropped dangerously low in the grand final against Virtus.pro, but GuardiaN and s1mple made up for the lack of performance for Na`Vi's first title with the new player.
"Yeah, I remember the map against Liquid. I don't know what happened, but I was shooting almost everything in that game. Sure, I was happy, because it was our first win in 250k tournaments and I know that I helped my team with that Train performance."
EPICENTER: Moscow followed, where flamie recorded his only poor showing in 2016. While he and GuardiaN didn't show up to most of the groups, s1mple, Edward and seized pushed Na`Vi in their three wins. That was enough for first place in the group due to round difference, as all teams finished with the same record. flamie picked it up in the first two maps against Dignitas in the semis, but he disappeared again on Nuke, a close deciding map.
"I don't think that I was on bad form, but I just played bad almost every map at EPICENTER. Sometimes it happens, you can't always play well, unfortunately it happened in my home city where everyone from my family was on stage."
EPICENTER: Moscow was flamie's only poor event of the year
For the third time in 2016, Natus Vincere traveled to Atlanta for ELEAGUE Season 2 groups. There, they fell to SK on two occasions, in the opener and the decider, and exited the event in 9th-12th place.
To finish the year on a rather low note, Natus Vincere added a third group stage exit to their resumé at IEM Oakland, losing three out of five matches in the round-robin. Apart from the initial loss to Liquid, flamie stayed around the average performance, while no one apart from s1mple excelled.
flamie said the following about his improvement in the ranking in 2016:
"I'm proud to be better than last year, it was very tough to be better because 2016 was much more competitive. Personally, I don't think I played a lot better than last year, in the last three months I played really badly, maybe because s1mple joined our team and I changed my role, but maybe it's just because I don't feel confident right now."
We also asked about his goals for 2017:
"My personal goal is to be a top 10 player next year, I will work more on my individual skill and team play, I will try to fix my mental problems, and I want to be one of the best players in the best team in the world."
Why is he the 12th best player in 2016?
flamie earned the 12th position in the top 20 with five exceptional displays throughout 2016 and overall solid play in all but one of his events. He was the biggest contributor to one of Na`Vi's three titles at DreamHack ZOWIE Open Leipzig, the most stacked medium-sized event, for which he earned an MVP award.
All of flamie's four EVP's come from big events, including the MLG Columbus Major and one of the most competitive non-Major tournaments, IEM Katowice, where he carried his team to a semi-final finish. The 19-year-old also holds the 10th place in rating at Majors (1.11), although mainly thanks to his performance in Columbus.
He played a pivotal part in the team's success throughout 2016, recording a 1.08 rating in fifth-most 51 big maps played (compared to his 1.07 rating overall), the most notable of which are the DreamHack Leipzig grand final and the semi-finals at MLG Columbus and ESL One New York.
From January to April, flamie was Natus Vincere's best player and one of the best players in the world at the time. However, he dropped to third place in his team for the remainder of the year due to a lack of impact and standout performances, which cost him a higher spot in the top 20.
"I think HObbit has a lot potential to be a top 20 player next year if he keeps playing like he did in the past months, he is a very talented guy and I believe he can be in the top 20 next year."