Kostin represented the starting roster of Natus Vincere for over four years, assisting the organisation in achieving an array of playoff finishes and victories at international LAN events, the most outstanding of which being the second place at the MLG Major Championship: Columbus 2016 and the victory at ESL One: New York 2016.
Since his departure from Na`Vi in November 2017, seized has moved on to play for various organisations. In 2018, the 24-year-old had brief spells in CIS-based organisations FlipSid3 (on loan) and Gambit before founding his own team in UnderPressure.
In this team, he linked up with other two CIS veterans, Sergey "starix" Ischuk and Dmitry "hooch" Bogdanov, as well as young guns Alexander "scoobyxie" Marynych and Nikolaj "kalinka" Rysakov. After two months of playing alongside one another, the mix was signed to represent Runtime at the imminent CIS Minor, one of the regional precursors to the upcoming IEM Katowice 2019 Major.
Prior to the CIS Minor kicking off, on January 16, we spoke with seized to discuss the team's ambitions going into the event, his time on Na'Vi, Gambit's recent roster adjustments and his personal ambitions for 2019:
UnderPressure existed for just two months prior to being signed by Runtime - considering the comparatively short period of play you’ve had with one another, with what expectations are you going into the CIS Minor?
It’s true that our roster hasn’t existed for long, but this doesn’t change anything - we have a single goal, much like all teams, and that’s to make it to the Major. Any result outside of this would be unsatisfactory.
While predominantly featuring veterans, the roster also has relative newcomers in scoobyxie and kalinka. What served as the main deciding factors behind getting the two players on the roster?
The roster was assembled in a way where myself, starix and hooch decided to get together and see what we could do. When we discussed who else to take on-board, starix suggested we recruit two guys from his old team, k1ck, and that’s how we came to the existing roster.
Personally I was impressed by how well scoobyxie plays - over the course of a year, maybe two, he will definitely be one of the best players in the CIS region.
Runtime have an array of players who have experience in-game leading in yourself, hooch and starix. Who will be the main shotcaller on the roster going into the CIS Minor? Is this dynamic, or is there a set player who holds the leadership role?
When we assembled the team, we decided right off the bat that starix would be the in-game leader, seeing as I definitely didn’t want to do it at this period in time. Hooch and I assist him where we can. Every single player on the team can offer an idea here and there, but as with all things, this has both its pros and cons.
Delving into the past slightly, for over four years you were part of the Natus Vincere core. Since then you have played under the banners of FlipSid3, Gambit and, now, Runtime. What would you say are the main takeaways from your time with Na’Vi? How have you applied them in your subsequent rosters?
During my time with Na’Vi I went through it all, seeing as it was my first ever professional team where I learned about everything, both inside the game and out. I am very grateful to everyone I played and worked alongside, because thanks to them I became who I am. Any experience, good or bad, helps you in the future so the answer is clear.
Your stint with Gambit Esports was a short one, spanning just under four months total. Do you feel that with time the roster could have achieved results, or was it fairly obvious that the misalignment was too drastic for the team to work out in the long term?
As I said in the past, I was 100% certain that if we hadn’t come across laziness and ego issues, then Gambit would have worked out and we would have been a strong team. The funniest part is that over the course of my stay in the team, while only preparing for a single tournament under my leadership over a week, in time for DreamHack Marseille, we were 3rd-4th, which was the best result we achieved with that specific roster. I won’t go public with the reasons behind why it happened to be that way, but what happened, happened.
In any case, while the stay might have been brief, it was great - the atmosphere in the team, up to a certain point, was the best I had ever experienced playing in a team, and I’d like to thank them for that.
Gambit recently lost both HObbit and AdreN, two players who were widely considered to be star players on the roster. As a former player, would you say you expected this to happen? What issues may have led to their departure?
If I’m honest, when I was removed from the roster I knew 100% that it would turn out this way, seeing as the team would not be able to remain whole in light of what was happening internally. Publically, everyone always parts ways amicably, all love and wishing each other the best of luck, but very often this isn’t the case, so this was obvious to me.
Looking slightly ahead - you are part of the Team Russia mix represented at the WESG 2018 Global Finals. Last year the team experienced roster issues going into the event - how has the roster prepared to avoid this going into the Global finals? What results do you expect to achieve in China?
Funny thing - this time around we once again won’t be able to travel as the initially proposed roster - because of Na’Vi’s stacked schedule, neither flamie nor electronic will be able to participate. Despite this, we won’t lose confidence and will do our best to represent our country at WESG.
For 2019, what main goals have you outlined from both a personal perspective and with Runtime as a unit?
Personally, I’ve set the large and important goal of returning to my former individual level, one that I had prior to joining Na’Vi in the capacity of an in-game leader. I’m training a lot because I understand that I need to grind in order to make up for lost time. I’m sure that in time this will yield results and all will be well.
As a team we haven’t set any goals outside of the CIS Minor - for now this is our only goal, and our thoughts are aimed at it solely. As for the rest - time will tell.