Na’Vi are one of the fringe contenders at IEM Katowice. They have one of the best players in the world in s1mple, and their team is constructed accordingly, placing a large burden on his shoulders. If he can handle the weight, we might be seeing him in the grand finals.
What Has to Go Right?
S1mple Play Well
It’s impossible to talk about Na’Vi without talking about s1mple. Ever since he donned the yellow and black in late 2016, he’s been a consistent contender for best player in the world and has been one of the driving forces within the team, keeping them afloat as a top 5 team in the world.
So far in the New Legends stage, s1mple has been one of the top performers, trailing only device and, surprisingly enough, coldzera. S1mple top fragged in most of their games, including their 2-0 over AVANGAR to secure their spot in the playoffs.
Unfortunately for s1mple, Na’Vi isn’t going to make it to the finals, or even the semi-finals, if there is anyone at the tournament playing better than him. Na’Vi is constructed almost entirely around him, and their game plan relies heavily on him hitting his shots, every time.
Presumably this is how s1mple likes it. In every team he’s been on he has insisted on being the focal point and carrying the burden for his teammates. This tends to work well against worse competition, and drives up his stats, but it can make his team fall flat against the top tier.
Flamie Keep It Up
Flamie has been a welcome surprise for Na’Vi so far in the tournament. He has been a crucial part of their run so far, putting up big performance after big performance. He especially showed out in Na’Vi’s 47 round slugfest against Vitality, putting up 39 frags on a +16 differential with 89.2 ADR, which was a server best number.
Before Na’Vi acquired electronic, flamie was heralded as the help that s1mple needed to lift Na’Vi into the upper echelon and turn them into perennial championship contenders. That didn’t work quite as well as Na’Vi might have hoped, due mostly to flamie’s inconsistency.
When flamie gets hot, he can bring the whole team up a notch, which is exactly what happened in the Vitality game. No one else on the team even went positive, with two of their teammates failing to hit 30 kills in a 47-round game. Flamie had several big rounds, especially in OT, where he swung the outcome of the game with big flashy multi-kills, or by holding down his site on CT side.
The way the team is constructed gives flamie a chance to make a huge impact every game by alleviating the pressure. With s1mple and electronic as the focal point of the team, flamie is given space to breathe and work the map as he pleases, as long as it fits Zeus’ game plan.
What Could Go Wrong?
Supporting Cast Fall Off
S1mple is far and away the most important player on the team, and he can come as close as anyone in the scene to “doing it on his own”. He has had plenty of big games where he put up absurd numbers and pulled his team through by sheer force.
This time, unfortunately for him, that won’t be enough. He is going to need support from his teammates if he has any aspirations of even making the finals at this tournament. Na’Vi got manhandled in their best-of-three against Liquid, which has a lot to do with electronic’s underperformance.
S1mple and flamie both played about as well as you could expect in a 2-0 loss, both having >80 ADR and 40 kills, give or take. It was electronic’s 29-34 score line on 64 ADR that sunk their chances of taking that 3-0 spot from Liquid.
Lose Faith in Zeus
Na’Vi seems to be suffering from some internal problems. There was some interesting messaging coming out of the team before the Major, with Zeus downplaying the importance of the Major, and then s1mple trying to walk that back before the tournament started.
So far in the tournament, although they’ve been winning T side rounds, they look like a team that has lost faith in their in-game leader. They’ve been playing sloppy, uncoordinated CS, which has been buoyed by s1mple and flamie.
While that may work against the dregs of the New Legends stage (G2, AVANGAR), it won’t work in the finals bracket, and could mean an early end to their run at the Major.
Luckily for Na’Vi, so far in Katowice the meta has looked incredibly CT dominant, which allows for some wiggle room on the T side. As long as Edward and, more importantly, Zeus are able to hold their own on CT side, and not be singled out and abused by a well called T side, they may have a chance.
Expect to see the CIS Legends struggle on the T side throughout the rest of the Major. It’s difficult to play on the T side when you have multiple capable playmakers, which isn’t something that Na’Vi has stressed when constructing their roster.