Na`Vi vs NAVI - The Best Rosters Of Their Times
For the last 10 years, Natus Vincere has been the home of the best Counter-Strike teams in Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States. On August 1st, as a result of current player Boombl4 bragging to 2010 player ceh9 about his CS 1.6 skills, the current and 2010 rosters will go head to head. NAVI are the only organisation to have attended every CS:GO major, all but two of which have been with their legendary in-game leader Zeus. Zeus’ tenure with NAVI started long before the Global Offensive era though...
The rise of Na`Vi
The date is January 18th 2010. Zeus and the four other players that represented KerchNET have just qualified for the IEM Season IV World Championship in Hannover. A fifth place performance was enough to pique the interest of tournament organiser Murat “Arbalet” Tulemaganbetov, and with KerchNET falling apart at the seams, he acquired the roster.
Natus Vincere was born.
In an eerie repeat of the European Championship, Natus Vincere faced mousesports in the first round of playoffs. Na`Vi claimed Dust II 16-10, but mouz forced a tiebreaker by winning Inferno 16-13. Mousesports were favoured massively on Tuscan, however the Ukrainians took the fight to the German roster. After four hours, markeloff sealed the game 16-14 with a double kill onto Tixo and gob b.
Na`Vi easily dispatched the North American powerhouse Evil Geniuses (16-5, 16-13) to set up a final against the far more experienced side of Fnatic. It’s fair to say Fnatic won the pick/ban phase - the Swedes had swept every best of three so far, playing only on Train and Inferno - and Na`Vi allowed both through the ban phase. Against all odds Na`Vi not only won the series, but swept Fnatic (16-13, 16-14).
By the time 2013 and the Global Offensive era rolled around, Natus Vincere had become the only team to win all the CS 1.6 majors in a calendar year (IEM Season IV, ESWC 2010 and WCG 2010) and the only team across any iteration of Counter-Strike to win four consecutive majors (the previous three mentioned and Intel Extreme Masters Season V). Na`Vi’s performance suffered in CS:GO though, and in July 2013, Edward and markeloff left to join the Astana Dragons. The reign of Natus Vincere was officially over.
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The changing of the guard
The first of the players in the current iteration, flamie, joined Na`Vi in March 2015 on a trial basis. It seemed a fifth-sixth place finish in StarSeries XII was enough for them to accept him onto the team on a more permanent basis. If he hadn’t justified his place on the team already, by July he certainly had. Na`Vi won the first iteration of the ESL Pro League, Starseries XIII and ESWC 2015.
The AWP-wielding behemoth s1mple joined Natus Vincere in 2016 as a three-time major playoff attendee. His road to Na`Vi was far from “s1mple” though. He received a two-year-long ban in Spring 2014 for cheating and ban evasion in ESL events. Since this included the majority of CS:GO majors at the time his value to top tier teams plummeted. He was able to find a place at HellRaisers for DreamHack Winter in 2014, and remarkably they reached playoffs, but the fact an ESL banned player achieved this was overshadowed by the “olofboost” fiasco.
S1mple had a string of strong performances with Flipsid3 Tactics in 2015, leading to Team Liquid acquiring him at the start of 2016. With Team Liquid he reached major playoffs twice more but fell to the MIBR core on both occasions (think jumping AWP shots). In August that year, s1mple replaced Zeus on the Na`Vi roster.
It took a more than a 12th place finish at the PGL Krakow Major to convince Natus Vincere to make their next change. In November of 2017, on the brink of relegation from the ESL Pro League, Na`Vi recruited electronic from Flipsid3 Tactics in place of seized. The Russian prodigy almost single-handedly carried F3 back into Pro League in the Summer and was the obvious candidate at the time. Zeus had also returned following a major victory with Gambit Esports - 2018 was sure to be a great year for Na`Vi.
And great it was - Na`Vi reached the semifinals of an exceedingly stacked ELEAGUE Boston Major, survived ESL Pro League relegation then went on to reach the semifinals of the EPL finals in May, placed second in the FACEIT London Major, StarLadder & i-League StarSeries Season 4 and DreamHack Masters Marseille and won three $300,000 LANs in the space of five weeks. The roster rounded out their year with a win and a second-place finish at BLAST Pro Series: Copenhagen and Lisbon and a tied fifth finish in ESL Pro League Season 8.
The next roster change was forced by a weak tied ninth placement in EPL Season 9. Edward, who had been with Natus Vincere since his return the Astana Dragons in late 2013, was replaced by Winstrike’s Boombl4. The young Russian led his team to a playoffs finish at the Boston Major and would take over the role of in-game leading at Na`Vi after Zeus’ departure in September of 2019.
The modern NAVI
GuardiaN rejoined Natus Vincere after a two-year-long stint at FaZe Clan to fill the fifth spot on the roster, but a string of poor performances resulted in him being replaced by Perfecto. The young Russian rose to fame with Syman Gaming - the team were within one game of reaching the top 16 at the StarLadder Berlin Major.
Natus Vincere restyled their shortened name from Na`Vi to NAVI in early 2020, but the turn of the year also marked the start of a potential golden age for the organisation. Before COVID-19 forced all competitions online, NAVI placed second to mousesports in the ICE Challenge and won their BLAST Premier group. Poetically, ten years after the original Na`Vi roster won IEM Season IV in Hannover, this iteration of NAVI also won IEM Season XIV in Katowice.
The two rosters will face off on six maps across the two versions of Counter-Strike. First, Train, Inferno and Tuscan in CS 1.6, then Train, Inferno and Dust II in CS:GO. Catch it all live from 3pm CEST on August 1st at navi.gg!
Images via ESL | Natus Vincere