Ever since the supposed trade between Natus Vincere and SK Gaming, the community was waiting for Na`Vi to fall apart. They may have had the best player in the world, but if Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostylievis was more interested in leaving and taking Egor "flamie" Vasilyev with him, Na`Vi was in trouble.
That's what everyone thought. Instead, the roster stuck it out and slowly improved over the summer as Denis "electronic" Sharipov came alive to help carry the team. It all cumulated with a victory at ESL One Cologne.
Now, it's time for Na`Vi to cement its legacy and prove it wasn't just a perfect scenario in Germany. ELEAGUE has brought together eight of the best teams in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Natus Vincere took its first step at claiming the trophy with a 2-1 victory over Fnatic.
I had the opportunity to talk to flamie over the phone after the victory.
Fusco: What would you contribute to the team's success ever since the rumor of you and s1mple leaving for SK Gaming?
flamie: "I think it's because we have had lots of boot camps. Lots of practice. When we decided to stay with the team, we tried to do everything we could do to better the team. We played as much CS as we can. Right now, we see that it works. We are playing really good Counter-Strike and playing as a team right now."
Fusco: How have you seen Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko grow as an in-game leader over the past couple of months. He seems to finally have figured out how to use everyone.
flamie: "Zeus is probably one of the best IGL in the world right now. I guess he is doing so well because of Mykhailo "kane" Blagin. Because they have very nice communication together and they are always watching demos together. They are good friends in real life. They do everything together. They think like one person. One guy. Kane and Zeus work a lot. They are one of the best duos, coach, and IGL in the world. I think Zeus improved a lot since the last time he was on Na`Vi and a lot of that is because of Kane as well."
Fusco: It seems that you guys found a weakness in Astralis. What did you figure out that other teams have been struggling with?
flamie: "We really wanted to beat them and we had a lot of preparation for them, but if we're really going to face Astralis and we're going to beat them, we had a good chance against them because even if they picked Nuke, we had the third map Inferno. I guess right now, maybe only us that can play them well on Inferno. It doesn't mean we have the best Inferno, but against us, they usually don't play that well especially compared to other teams."
"This tournament will show who is the best team in the world right now. If we win, we are the best. If they win, they are, but anything can happen."
Fusco: Fnatic put up a hell of a fight against your team today. Were you surprised that a team with two newer members were able to play so soundly?
"Yeah. When we won Mirage, we thought we would win 2-0. They did some good preparation and they won against us on Inferno. We weren't that ready for their style and what they called on Inferno. But after we lost, we decided what we wanted to do on Train and we won."
Make sure to tune in on Monday at 2 p.m. EST across Twitch.tv/eleaguetv, live.eleague.com or live.bleacherreport.com for more great ELEAGUE action. Team Liquid will face off against Astralis followed by a match-up between Natus Vincere and the winner of FaZe Clan vs. mousesports.
The interview was edited for clarity sake.
Photo courtesy of ELEAGUE