Ukrainian esports organization Natus Vincere, home to world-renowned player Aleksandr “S1mple” Kostyliev, is reportedly considering benching 17-year-old Andrii “npl” Kukharskyi after only six months and contemplating a move towards an international lineup, as reported by HLTV and Dexerto.
Despite being promoted from the academy team, npl failed to make the same impact as Valeriy “b1t” Vakhovskiy did a couple of years ago, with the team’s performance falling short of NAVI’s usual standards of excellence.
Known as the most successful Counter-Strike team in Eastern Europe, NAVI finds itself compelled to internationalize its roster if they wish to sustain their success. The organization is hesitant to sign contracts with Russian players in the transfer market, limiting their options for top-tier talent unless they transition to an English-speaking and international lineup.
NAVI’s CEO, Yevhen Zolotarov, expressed thoughts on this matter back in February. The organization still aims to retain the best Ukrainian players but is open to considering international players from outside Eastern Europe. Their Valorant team already features a Swedish and Turkish player.
Recent sources and rumors suggest that discussions have progressed during the summer break, as Counter-Strike 2 is on the horizon and NAVI has had a disappointing spring season. npl may not be the only player departing.
Currently, Natus Vincere includes two Russian players, Ilya “Perfecto” Zalutskiy and Denis “electroNic” Sharipov. According to Escorenews, they might also leave the team if the decision to internationalize is made. Adding fuel to the speculation, fans have already noticed that electroNic’s Steam profile no longer mentions his affiliation with NAVI. The duo has been rumored to potentially join Cloud9, which also had a turbulent spring season.
Escorenews also dropped a bombshell for Finnish fans. According to their source, John Knyaziev, NAVI is currently experimenting with Finnish captain Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen in their lineup. Virolainen was unexpectedly benched by Ninjas in Pyjamas just a week ago. Escorenews’ source claims that S1mple personally contacted Virolainen.
“For those who subjectively think that Aleksib doesn’t fit NAVI’s style and that S1mple overshadows him: We don’t know how everything will unfold. But S1mple reached out to Aleksib personally to invite him for tryouts,” the source reveals.
However, nothing is set in stone, and rumors are swirling during the players’ summer break. What is certain is that new rosters will emerge in July as Counter-Strike continues at the highest level.
NAVI’s current lineup is as follows:
Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev
Denis “electroNic” Sharipov
Ilya “Perfecto” Zalutskiy
Valeriy “b1t” Vakhovskiy
Andrey “B1ad3” Gorodenskiy (coach)
Andrii “npl” Kukharskyi (benched)
What you think about AleksiB Navi rumours? Will it be good or bad move to NaVi? Comment below!
Image: BLAST Premier