History reared its ugly head to rip apart the best CIS squad we’ve seen in the history of CS:GO. We will probably never know for sure how the confluence of family relations, relocation difficulties and political problems led to the crack in the current NAVI squad. One thing is for sure: Boombl4 is gone, so close yet so far from a repeat Major win. However, that doesn’t mean the roster will necessarily fall away – and that might be his greatest gift to them after all.
We will never know whether the 2021 iteration of NAVI could have ascended to an era-defining status: the next year, and everything it’s brought along, denied us this opportunity. It has also showcased just how irrelevant our little gaming activities are on the grand scale of things: the org’s founder literally went to the frontlines as lives are being ripped apart in Ukraine, figuratively and literally alike.
No one wanted to see this NAVI lineup break up, and especially not because of the sort of circumstances that led to the change now. Though it initially seemed like Boombl4 may struggle to fill Zeus’ shoes after his somewhat earlier-than-planned-yet-still-too-late retirement, he clearly grew into the role and found his voice, establishing a firepower-focused team that had no equal last year. Under his guidance, and with the astute assistance of B1ade as a coach, the NAVI squad finally went beyond the “s1mple and the dead weight” setup that plagued the best player in the world for so long.
In those days, the real determinant of NAVI’s performances was whether the rest of the team could live up to their star. It's a testament to Boombl4’s work that s1mple can now afford to have an off game or two without the team’s winrates falling off the charts. Perfecto and b1t both turned out to be excellent pickups, and all the deadwood has been cleared out after many years of struggles once flamie was also off the books.
No discussion of the end of this NAVI side would be complete without pointing out Boombl4’s poor individual performance in the PGL Antwerp Major grand final: he was by far the worst player on the server with a K/D of 23-45 and an ADR of just 53.2, a 0.72 rating. (To contrast and compare, karrigan finished 40-45, an ADR of 81.3 and a rating of 1.06, ahead of ropz and Twistzz.) Knowing what was about to come, it’s easy to see what might have been gnawing away at him.
Perhaps after so many years of seeing him don the black-and-yellow jersey, we can finally admit that the playoff run with Quantum Bellator Fire wasn’t a fluke after all. The stain of history will be too deep to wash off, but there is a new chapter to look forward to for everyone.
If NAVI remain competitive even after shuffling around the roles (should electronic take up the IGL mantle) and bringing on someone else to fill the hole he’s left behind, it will be just as much of a testament to the longevity of the system Boombl4 has created as anything that comes after him. As for the man himself, this is one of the rare roster moves at the highest levels of competitive CS that has nothing to do with performance-related reasons: his next adventure, should the world not fall apart even further, will no doubt be worth keeping an eye on.
G2 will combust. It’s just a matter of time now. It’s incredible to see such a star-studded squad and such a storied IGL play CS:GO matches in such a disjointed manner over and over again. There are rumblings of NiKo being NiKo again and running into issues with his IGL, only now as part of a package deal with huNter-. From NiKosports to Kovač2? We’ll see soon enough.
ENCE are established. Pro League, the Major, now this – is anyone left who’s thinking that this is all just a fluke? Even with a stand-in, they’re taking scalps. This is a legitimate top-five team in the world now, one that can give a good game to the big boys on any given Sunday. They were the only blot in FaZe’s copybook in Antwerp – they might catch them off guard again, though this time they’d have to do so in a best-of-three. It’s a testament to their accomplishments that the odds are nowhere near as long as you might expect.
The end of the last dance? Perhaps not yet, despite the disappointing early exit. The sample size is low to take either tournament result super seriously, but Imperial’s capitation to the team they just wrecked in Antwerp, in a convincing fashion, no less, is not a good sign. There is one aspect to this squad that no other top team has though: safety despite the results. The fanbase is so large and so committed that they have the time to work things out, just like how the old VP squad did. How far they are into the decay remains to be seen.
Photo credit: brcho_ via HLTV