S1mple Claims The Last Missing Piece In Stockholm
While the team effort and achievement should be the headline, it’s absolutely impossible to dissociate this Major title from the one individual everyone had their eyes on throughout the tournament. S1mple has finally done it and claimed the last missing piece to his storied CS:GO career. It seems unreal, after all this time, for a career that started all the way back in 2014 under the HellRaisers banner. Yet it’s only now, seven years later, that the Ukrainian prodigy gets his hands for good on a Major trophy.
From the get-go, it seemed that the question was not if, but when. As S1mple landed a permanent spot on the Navi roster back in 2016, this was the obvious goal. He was destined to eventually get his title. Parallel to that, Navi had come close twice already, at DreamHack Cluj-Napoca and MLG Columbus. Signing S1mple was the logical step to make sure another Major finals like that wouldn’t happen, that the trophy wouldn’t slip through their fingers again.
As history would have it, this would prove far more complicated than anyone imagined. Following the departure of Zeus, who would go on and win the PGL Major Krakow under the Gambit colors, Navi started off on the right foot with a win at ESL One New York but would enter a period of turmoil right after that. Five years later, and with no one but S1mple remaining from that era of Navi, the storied Ukrainian organization finally completed their trophy case. Countless tournament victories couldn’t palliate that central empty spot where a Major trophy should stand. Thanks to S1mple and a fully revamped squad, that central spot is no longer empty.
The Squad Behind S1mple
It’s this very squad that garnered some attention during this year and this tournament, although maybe not enough to do them justice. While all the spotlight was on S1mple, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that he’s come a long way from being a young prodigy and is now the veteran of this squad. He’s now accompanied by another generation of players that rose to stardom later on. While electronic has lived in S1mple’s shadow for four years now, the remaining trio has been key in making Navi the top contender and immense force it is today.
Their latest addition has been the biggest revelation of the year so far. Forget the Gambit players, forget the red hot young Danes, it’s time to talk about b1t. His first recorded match is from May 2019. In seven months, he went from playing for Navi Junior, the academy team, to winning a Major in his first attempt with the main squad. All this while providing a caliber of play which at times even surpassed S1mple. One would have thought the stage would prove too much, the crowd and the stakes apply too much pressure, or that inconsistency could strike the prodigy at the worst possible time. But b1t remained consistent, solid, and endured everything that came his way like a seasoned professional.
With the high-impact, multi-frag potential of the new headshot machine - b1t boasts an impressive 72.9% headshot ratio for Stockholm, against the best teams in the world mind you - Navi also fields two more discreet but nonetheless essential players in Boombl4 and perfecto. They may be less prominent than the aforementioned trio, but where S1mple, b1t and electronic contribute with their high firepower, perfecto and boombl4 contribute to the team effort in different ways - clutches, space creation, and relentless aggression - allowing the star trio to shine and find cracks in even the most rock-solid formations there can be in the scene.
This is why it would be criminal to sum it all up to S1mple winning the Major. He’s now surrounded by stars, and each of them magnifies each other’s brightness through their team play. Astralis had shown the limitations of the old Navi’s one-man army at the previous Majors, but what can you do when there’s so much firepower that works in synergy and shutting down S1mple already takes most of your team’s effort? The answer is straightforward, nothing.
Putting It Back In The Context Of GOATs
Yet, despite our best effort to give credit not only to S1mple but to the amazing squad around him, it remains that the main storyline is his. It is a paradox that in a team game, we have to focus on the individual. But such is the nature of S1mple. At times he made a team game look easy on the individual level, capable of besting whole teams all by himself. Such is also the nature of this Major, who pitted two teams fielding two other players, ZywOo and NiKo that, with S1mple and dev1ce, form the quartet of the best players to ever touch CS:GO.
Each of them brought some convincing arguments for that coveted #1 spot. Dev1ce has numerous Major trophies and countless MVPs. ZywOo landed twice at the #1 spot on the yearly HLTV ranking in his first two years of play. NiKo has been one of the best players in the world at times, carrying teams to stages they would never reach without him, with a style that can only be his.
Despite their talent, only one of the four has won a Major. Only dev1ce. More often than not, his trophies came at the expense of the others, his Astralis team denying the other superstars their chances.
With S1mple conquering this PGL Major, it feels like the balance between these four has changed. He has bested both ZywOo and NiKo’s team on the path to the title, while dev1ce faltered in the quarters with NIP’s elimination. He also earned what NiKo and ZywOo still miss, a Grand Slam and a Major title, making his case in the achievements departments way stronger than the French prodigy and the Bosnian powerhouse.