How will NAVI's six-man setup work in Abu Dhabi?
The BLAST Premier World Final will mark the first time we will see a team utilize a six-man roster on LAN. Natus Vincere and BLAST shared some insight into how this will work in practice.
The coach said that the team is preparing to bring in academy player Andrii "npl" Kukharskyi for "some maps" at the BLAST Premier World Final to give him a chance to show his worth and to create competition for Viktor "sdy" Orudzhev, who now seems to be on thin ice after trialing for the team for the past six months.
This is a process that NAVI have already employed before when they contemplated possible improvements to their roster. In late 2020, at the height of the COVID-induced online era, Valeriy "b1t" Vakhovskiy joined the team from the NAVI Junior roster to play select maps instead of Egor "flamie" Vasilyev before he permanently replaced the Russian a few months later.
The difference now is that the Abu Dhabi tournament, which takes place on December 14-18, will mark the first time we will see a team utilize a six-man roster on LAN. This brings with it some question marks over how it will work in practice when Natus Vincere want to switch players in the middle of a series.
HLTV.org got in touch with NAVI and BLAST to ask about what this process will look like and to get some insight on how the tournament organizers will accommodate for the six-man setup.
NAVI COO Alexey "xaoc" Kucherov has reiterated that the plan outlined by B1ad3 is still indeed in place but left the exact details shrouded in mystery: "npl is going to play select maps instead of sdy, the same story as it was with flamie and b1t. How many maps and which ones, I can't say unfortunately at this stage. Let's surprise our enemies and see the results of his importance."
As far as mid-series player changes go, this has been allowed by BLAST ever since the likes of Natus Vincere and Astralis first experimented with the idea of extended lineups in online tournaments in 2020. The tournament organizer added a clause to its rulebook to outline the procedure that will be in place should a team wish to make changes between maps on LAN, as well as to make sure there are no delays on such occasions, which states:
6.8. Match substitutions: Teams may field a different lineup for each subsequent Map provided that they can set-up the Player in the Playing Area within the pre-scheduled break times. Line-ups for each Map must be submitted to the Tournament Operations Manager 10 minutes before the Map starts. If they cannot set up the substitute(s) in time, this may result in the substitute(s) playing on the starting Players' peripherals and/or settings. If a substitution is made:
6.8.1. The opposing Team will have two (2) minutes to confirm their lineup with the Tournament Operations manager; and
6.8.2. The substitution is final for that Map.
BLAST also further commented on what they are doing to accommodate for six-man rosters.
"We provide six player ready gaming setups in each practice room. This has been a staple for BLAST events for the past couple years. This has been used by NAVI on two occasions, once previously for headtr1ck and for npl in the recent Fall Finals," the tournament operator has told HLTV.org.
"The substitute will be required to do SSD set up with their team pre-tournament to ensure that they're ready, if they need to set up. Their set up time will be the 15 minutes allocated between the maps, we will not provide any additional time."
To summarize, let's say sdy plays the first map of a series and the map ends, and Natus Vincere want to bring in npl for the second map. They have the next five minutes to notify BLAST of the player change — at which point this change becomes irreversible for that map — and 15 minutes in total to switch the prepared hard drives and peripherals before the next map starts.