NAVI wants to keep promoting youngsters into the first team.
Natus Vincere had to make a roster decision after using both stand-in Viktor “sdy” Orudzhev and NAVI Junior’s player Andrii “npl” Kukharskyi at BLAST Premier World Final, the last tournament of 2022. Instead of signing the experienced sdy on a full-time basis, the Ukrainian organization decided to move on with the 17-year-old npl for 2023.
While many fans have pointed out that the reasoning behind the move was sdy’s lackluster performances throughout his stint with NAVIthe Ukrainian averaged a 1.00 rating while playing next to s1mple, according to HLTV it wasn’t exactly because of this and it had more to do with NAVI’s philosophy when it comes to signing players, according to the team’s coach Andrey “B1ad3” Gorodenskiy.
“Sdy wanted to continue with a more or less lengthy contract, but we saw the future with young players, not with him,” B1ad3 said in an interview with Ukrainian outlet Players. “I don’t think he will significantly develop further. He might become a bit better, but he didn’t fit our style with his game skills and style. We would never sign a player who is more than 25 years old. Of course, he’d have a chance if he would have played incredibly, and made no mistakes. Of course, we would have kept him.”
In the eyes of B1ad3, npl can still progress and grow into a much better player. He’s the second NAVI Junior player that earned a full-time spot in the first team after Valeriy “b1t” Vakhovskiy was awarded the same opportunity in 2021 and became one of the best CS:GO riflers in the world. M0NESY could have made it to the first team too, but NAVI were dominating at the end of 2021 and he didn’t fit the team, according to B1ad3.
With npl playing instead of sdy, NAVI secured a spot in the BLAST Premier Spring Final after the Spring Groups and most notably reached the semifinals of IEM Katowice last weekend. The 17-year-old is averaging a 0.93 rating after 26 maps played in 2023, according to HLTV, which shows that he’s still learning the ropes.
Npl will get more experience with NAVI’s first team at ESL Pro League season 17 during February and March. The CIS team were drawn in group D alongside Team Liquid, Team Spirit, ENCE, Astralis, Rare Atom, and forZe.