It sounds counter-intuitive, but it may be that Oleksandr Kostyliev, or "s1mple" as he’s known wherever CSGO is played, has got so good at CSGO he’s starting damaging his own career. This might seem illogical, but that is the place he has arrived in as part of the Natus Vincere team, and if he stays much longer it will only get worse.
The latest incident in a long line of moments that have given viewers reason to pause came at StarSeries & i-League Season 7 in Shanghai, where Na’Vi were taking on Ninjas in Pyjamas. Neither team is in a great place, but while NIP were focused on the game, it appears there was a serious rift opening in the Na’Vi camp, with in-game leader Zeus and coach Kane clashing with star man s1mple, eventually leading to Kane leaving the stage.
It's still not 100% on what caused the problem, but guessing isn't hard. This is far from the first incident we’ve seen (even that day) that suggests dysfunction in the Na’Vi camp, with video emerging of Kane and Zeus clashing on multiple, as well as many clips from in-game "conversations" that have a distinctly combative feel to them. It has clearly gone beyond the point of normal friction, and devolved into chaos.
Money or gold
Now, as with many teams right now, there is a logic behind the Na’Vi project, but one that seems to be more based on shirt sales and marketing than pure competitive success. MIBR, Fnatic, G2 and NiP are other organisations that are guilty of holding on to big names despite the fact the likes of JW, GeT_RiGhT, f0rest, fer, kennyS and shox have not looked like game-winners for some time, let alone the sort of players to make an impact that wins you a tournament.
On the other hand, you have the likes of Astralis, NRG, ENCE and Renegades moving up the rankings, not with signings that excite the fans, but long-term plans built on tactical solidity and shared values. Magisk instead of k0nfig, or not signing suNny might seem like odd choices on the face of it, but those orgs clearly value the team over the names contained within it, and have benefited as a result, albeit not always by choice.
The idea that s1mple is too good for Na’Vi is not a new one, but it has to be about time that it permeated the head of s1mple, and he is left with two choices once that occurs. One allows him to live his dream, but could be very difficult indeed, while the other is slightly easier in theory, provided he lucks out with the result. He either has to destroy Na’Vi as we know it, or destroy it for a long time, maybe forever.
Try to take over the world
Plan A is obvious, and nearly took place a year ago. S1mple was on the verge of joining MIBR when Na’Vi pulled some kind of trick, maybe involving more money, or possibly leveraging his famous love of home, to get the world’s best player to pull out of what would have been a record move. Today there would still be suitors if he decided to move, although he may have to sacrifice his choice location and move to NA with FaZe unable to spend big.
Plan B is probably less likely to occur, but in the long-term it would be better for s1mple and Na’Vi. In this scenario, the player has to make it clear he no longer wants to work with Kane, Zeus and maybe Edward, and that the choice lies with Na’Vi. They can then either move to get better pieces for their project, or accept s1mple has to play elsewhere, and while this looks potentially risky from a PR point of view it might be time to take that risk for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, it is now pretty much universally accepted that s1mple is the best we’ve seen to this point, and even with electronic on board Na’Vi are essentially lost without their star. Given that, it makes sense that he would want to play at the highest level, and it’s unlikely more than the most dedicated Na’Vi fans would blame him for wanting to jump out of the ship currently being holed to oblivion by the "leaders" of the pack.
Time to rock the boat
Perhaps more importantly for s1mple’s PR, it is also a great time to publicly denounce Zeus and Edward, as the number of people who still believe that pairing is capable of world class performance has dwindled drastically over recent months. You’d still hear a bleat of "but they’re legends" on the breeze, but there aren’t many who would still stand with the deadweight after many months of dragging the stars down.
If he does neither, and decides to stay in this team, then it may be time to say s1mple does in fact have a flaw that is holding him back from being the true greatest of all time, and that is outside of the server. It is great if you can win with your mates, but for many true greats of the game that is not an option, and the likes of NiKo, Guardian and ropz are all examples of people that had to go outside their comfort zone to play at the level that befit their ability, something s1mple is not currently doing.
If he decides to detonate the bomb only he can plant under the Na’Vi project then 2019 could still be saved for them, but right now he is in a prison of his own making, and unable to escape. Simply put, he is playing so well that Na’Vi never seem lost, but they should be so much better than they currently are, and they’ll never get there with this team. The answer to all Na’Vi’s problem’s is s1mple, and now is the time for the player himself to push the issue, or risk missing his window for immortality.