s1mple: "We need to forget about old victories, we are not Major winners"
The "Undertaker" talked about Natus Vincere's expectations coming into BLAST World Final and the current lineup's future.
Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev and company arrive in Abu Dhabi to right the wrongs from their previous performance at BLAST Fall Final, where the team finished in 5-6th place after losing to Ninjas in Pyjamas in the first round of playoffs. The Ukrainian core will tackle the last big event of the year with a new system and Andrii "npl" Kukharskyi as an active sixth player, hoping to end 2022 on a positive note.
The champions of the Spring Final will begin their Abu Dhabi campaign with a match against Vitality on Wednesday at 16:00 . Both teams will look to challenge Fall Final victors Heroic for the top spot in Group B and the semi-final bye it would provide.
Natus Vincere's superstar sat down for a roundtable discussion ahead of the tournament to talk about his thoughts on the new patch, the team's struggles since the start of the war in Ukraine, and npl's integration in the squad.
Lucas Aznar Miles: Let's start with the new patch as it is different from the other events up to now. What do you think of the patch itself?
I actually like Anubis and my teammates love this map as well, but Valve should fix a lot of bugs, like a lot. There are around 15 molotovs that you can throw on the whole map, and I think teams like Heroic or Outsiders will do some interesting strats. There are a lot of molotovs like the Ancient one and it's weird because in some tournaments they can ban these, but at BLAST they were always allowed.
I actually thought that I was going to use the 20 bullets M4[A1-S], but when I played with the M4A4 I just changed to the 30 bullets one because it's much better, and the only good thing for the old M4 is the price. But still, if you aim to the head it's the same as before, maybe on long distances it's different.
Five [AWP] bullets, I think it's fine. You still have chances at the beginning of the round to do some wall bangs and you can easily reload and it's good that there are 35 bullets in the magazine. For example, in VALORANT you have 5/15 I think and it's worse than what we have in CS. Overall it's a nice update.
Arnav Shukla: We had some AWPers talking about Anubis in particular and that it is going to be an AWP rotation-heavy map. Is that something you have felt in practice too?
Yeah, I mean it's is like Dust2 in terms of rotations. But still, in the end, every team can do an easy execute on a site and it's hard for the AWPer. I think the AWPer might stay more on B than A, It's harder on A if they do smokes and molotovs.
AS: How's practice been so far in integrating npl into the system as a player in some maps and roles?
He surprised me with how he played. Yeah, we had him on bootcamp at the last BLAST in Denmark, but he didn't play. He was watching, and he had a lot of confidence that he was ready to sit and play. Basically, he will play some maps and some maps we'll play Vitya [sdy].
Thomas Bejder: Can you put some words on npl and how he is on the server?
He has a lot of confidence in-game. I think he has very good aim and his understanding of the game, for example, is better than b1t's when he came to the team. He's also very calm in-game, he never shows emotions or anything, even in life he's just focused and just playing. He's trying to learn a lot.
TB: He's one of the main talents coming from the CIS region at the moment with b1t, m0NESY, degster...
headtr1ck as well.
TB: Yeah, exactly, but why do you think CIS is so good at developing these talents?
I think it's because of the academy—It's actually like in football. I think NAVI and Astralis did it first together, I mean they expected in a few years to sell some players and bring new ones and actually had a really good system. Andrii [npl] worked with NAVI Junior and now has more responsibilities with NAVI and he's still helping them. All the young players really want to go to the main roster, go to some LANs, and prove themselves and I think it's like in football. I am glad that other organizations did the same with the academies.
LAM: I was talking to Magisk earlier because you guys are opening against Vitality and he was saying that of course, NAVI are a good team, but you guys don't infer the same fear into your enemies as you did before. How do you feel about that?
I think it's normal that when you start losing, you lose some confidence and other teams get more confident and for them, you are not as scary as you were in 2021. I still believe that our team can beat any team, but it depends on the players, I don't know but our game became worse. When you change one player, for example, Boombl4 before, we spent half a year at least and we brought b1t and he was a sixth player instead of flamie and we spent half year to become better.
We had Vitya, we have spent four or five months with him and there is another new player, so it's difficult to start beating everyone, especially when you have players that have never played in tier-one tournaments before. NAVI is still at the top all the time, that's why I always believe we can beat any team, but at the same time, we can lose to any team right now.
AS: The Fall Finals for you was a bit of a poor showing, losing to Liquid and NIP. Coming into this event with npl in the system, can you perform to a higher level and what are you expectations?
I think we can perform better because we can surprise our opponents. We changed some positions, we have npl on some maps, and he's hungry and we're hungry as well because the last time we won a tournament was in Lisbon and that was a long time ago. We just need to start well."
AS: Do you have any thoughts on the reported Cloud9-interz move? They are reportedly cutting him for another player.
I think they don't need to change anyone, I think he's playing a good role and overall his team is doing a good job. I don't know who they need to sign. They [also] need to sign some partnerships to attend more tournaments because it feels like they need some LAN experience. They have some huge LAN once every three or four months and it's hard, you can easily forget this feeling when you are on stage in front of people. I think that Cloud9 are still a strong team.
TB: Do you think it's a problem with all these closed circuits?
I think it's okay, but to attend this tournament you need to win other tournaments, right? I would be sad if I was in Cloud9 to not attend other tournaments.
TB: I want to talk a bit about electroNic as well, it started off quite good with him as an in-game leader by winning in Lisbon. How is he now as IGL?
I think he still needs more time. He was never an in-game leader, he was a second caller when we played with zeus and with Boombl4 he game some ideas, especially mid-round. Sometimes it's hard for him, and it's hard to tell everyone what to do, that's why B1ad3 tells us to help him as well because he's in his new role.
TB: Is that why tensions became a bit high inside the server for you guys?
It's not about his ability as IGL, it's because of losing and doing the same mistakes all the time. When you do a mistake once or twice you already discuss this, but when it happens five or six times, it's actually very sad.
At the last BLAST there was some emotion towards sdy. I always believed that for three or four months that we need to keep sdy because he can play better. From a camera perspective, it looks like I hate this guy and I want to remove him, but it was never true.
TB: Would you stick with him?
I don't know. I believed before, but it depends on how npl is going to play. As I said before, the organization needs to decide how we want to play our next season because we still don't understand 100%.
LAM: What do you think the team needs so that you'll be ready for 2023?
I think everyone needs to step up to the next level, everyone needs to work and there is a lot of work [to do]. We are losing our confidence because of individual performances as well. I know that if b1t played badly, he'll be really sad for the next games too, he needs to work on his mental. I tell my team that we need to forget about old victories, we are not Major winners, we just need to forget all of these results.
I just tell my team we should start from the beginning because now everyone is playing at a better level than one year ago and next year, teams will play even better than before. We should always progress, and I still believe that because of the war our team crashed. Because of the war, we lost our first event LAN event against G2 in the semi-finals of Katowice two days after it started. When you are trying to make an era and you are winning a lot, it [does not stop] because you kick a player or become something happened in the team, it's just because of war.
LAM: You are talking about how the war broke the momentum you were trying to build, with your era and everything. Do you think now in the situation you are in, going into 2023 you can find your path back to where you were?
I think so, we just need to practice as much as possible. For the last year we've only had two bootcamps I think, for 10 days while in 2021 we had five or six for two weeks. It's totally different preparation.
AS: When last year's HLTV top 20 was coming out you said that it was boring to know who was No.1 already, it it going to be the same this year?
No, now it's not boring. [everyone laughs]. Now it's interesting.