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Pictures of NaVi's coach Blade, for an interview with him on Monster website.
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Digging Deeper: Coach Insight into the Beast of Natus Vincere

May 062020

Na’Vi, one of Monster Energy’s elite professional gaming squads, has been tearing the esports world apart this spring, winning loud at the IEM Katowice. Despite the fresh roster updates, the guys demonstrated total dominance and full control over the game during the entire tournament, shutting down the already closed Spodek arena with a blasting Grand Finals against G2. This win catapulted them to the #1 spot in the HLTV rankings for the month of March!

So, what can be more exciting than speaking with the strongest CS:GO crew in the world? Yeah, a conversation with the coach that led them to victory!

Prior to another tournament – ESL Pro League – we sat down with Na’Vi CS:GO coach Andriy “B1ad3” Gorodenskiy. If you are at least a bit into professional CounterStrike, you’ve definitely heard of Blade – this man has been around the pro-gaming since 2005, eventually taking over as a coach at Flipside3 Tactics and Gambit Esports at a later stage. Before putting his hand on the Na’Vi CS:GO coach position, Andriy performed as a Cybersports Director of the entire club, where he worked on the player and transfer policy, team preparation system and club infrastructure at large. In short, he’s got something to say. So we asked! Below is a conversation on the strategy, plans and direction of the beast Natus Vincere in the future.

"OUR BIG GOAL IS TO TAKE OVER THE MAJOR"

Congrats on a big win at IEM Katowice! How would you compare the feeling of victory while being in a role of a coach vs being an actual player?

Thanks a lot! It’s definitely a blast, however does not differ much from what a player might experience. In fact, I am constantly in the game – analyzing our decisions and rival’s play, sensing the mood of our players. At times it feels even a bit more stressed than it is for others, as I am able to see a bigger picture staying behind players’ backs, something which may not come into their sight while keeping the momentum in the round.

Has the empty Spodek somehow influenced the game? How important do you believe physical fan presence is?

It wasn’t an extra challenge, since playing on such stage itself stresses your comfort zone. Nonetheless, fan presence is critical for the vibe and the atmosphere. It’s way more teasing and epic to dominate the game, whilst the arena is chanting champion’s name. The emotion to remember.

Reflect on that fantastic performance at the IEM Grand Finals. Where did this 16-2 come from? You say you adapt your game style (and the corresponding level of player freedom) to particular opponent. What was the case with G2 – momentum or strategy?

We are well aware of our capabilities and knowing that we are stronger than G2 was the key factor to drive results. Homework was done well – we’ve examined the opponent and outlined a specific and effective game plan. Moreover, we’ve presented G2 a chance to select maps, for us to be able to select the stronger side. Confidence was there and we knew that kicking off properly on the defending side will create additional pressure for a roster as unexperienced as G2 was.

Now that you have ranked world’s #1 CS:GO team according to HLTV and ESL, what will be the next big goal and aspiration for Na’Vi?

Our big goal is to take over the Major, which is due in November. As for now – everybody went online, hopefully not for too long, as it’s a different Counter-Strike at the end of a day. The next big bet for us is ESL One Cologne – we are looking forward for it to be LAN.

Any special approaches to keep the right mindset and manage level of stress in the team? There’ve been talks about introducing nutritionist, psychologist, fitness coach…

There is a psychological session prior every game, for everybody to be on the same page and in the right mindset.

After tapping into other disciplines as an Esports Director at Na’Vi, what extra bits were you able to add on top of your tremendous CS:GO expertise?

CS has a long-haul history itself, leading its way when it comes to the game “maturity” process and the approach to the game at large, as compared to other disciplines. Even though Dota2 requires fairly larger volume of analytical data due to the variety of heroes, CS:GO keeps a benchmark from the game process analysis perspective.

Perhaps, the NaVi roster is now stronger than ever before. What challenges do you set to combat this season in order to enable your team to win the Major? Do you see any challenges in the internal clash of ambitions between talented players? Recent roster shuffles?

We got to work on the unified vision of the game, universal game analysis system. Every roster update resets this process, as you integrate a player with a new vision and own CS heritage. We strive for coherence and unity, aligning ambitions into one direction.

As there’ve been discussions around “eligibility” of Boombl4 to take over as an IGL, please reflect what enables a person to step up from a player to captain? What makes a leader and what sort of experience really matters here?

BoombI4 fits into IGL perfectly, he’s just getting to know all the peculiarities of this role, therefore struggles with coordination sometimes. You just can’t nail it at once, whereas the primary source of knowledge is official tournaments. So, experience matters here. To be a competitive IGL you got to be multifunctional, have analytical mind and leadership traits.

Last couple of months have been quite a stressful period for Na’Vi due to the lack of free time to practice and adapt to roster changes. Now after a big success in Katowice, did you have a chance to advance from that little gap between the tournaments? How strong has the team entered the ESL Pro League now?

The time for practice has now extended, so the opportunity to master the rest of the maps is there. We’ve entered the ESL Pro League 60% ready, but it’s still a challenge for us to perform to the fullest online.

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