Natus Vincere builds first international roster ever ahead of Counter-Strike 2 launch

Natus Vincere builds first international roster ever ahead of Counter-Strike 2 launch

4 July 2023

One of the big moments for international esports this year will be the upcoming release of Counter-Strike 2, the official successor of the hugely popular esports title Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. Back in March of this year and after years of rumors, developer Valve confirmed the next edition of the game will be in stores this summer. We don’t have an exact date yet, but the news nevertheless shook up the international Counter-Strike community. Natus Vincere, for example, the Ukrainian esports organization that booked so many successes over the past few years, is building a new team in preparation of the Counter-Strike 2 release and for the first time in the organization’s history, they are building an international roster.

First international lineup for NAVI

With so little information available for the moment, teams and players are scrambling to get in optimal positions for what’s to come. An important part of that is roster management, which has recently been a priority for NAVI (Natus Vincere). The Ukrainian organization decided to replace no less than three of its CS:GO team members, namely Russian rifler Ilya “Perfecto” Zalutskiy, Ukrainian rifler Andriy “npl” Kukharsjkyi, and Russian in-game leader and star rifler Denis “electroNic” Sharipov. Their spots were taken by Romanian rifler Ivan “iM” Mihai, Lithuanian rifler Justinas “jL” Lekavicius, and new in-game leader Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen, the Finnish in-game leader and support rifler whose last team was Ninjas in Pyjamas.
The replacements make it so that Natus Vincere, at this moment, boasts just two Ukrainian players: Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyljev, one of the best and most successful CS:GO players in history, and Valerij “b1t” Vakhovsjkyj. Never before in this history of the organization contained a NAVI lineup so few Ukrainian players, as up until now, their rosters were always made up of a majority of Ukrainian players.

Even though the transfer prices were not revealed, experts and pundits alike estimate that the above replacements were made possible largely by the transfer of former NAVI player m0NESY to G2 Esports last year, for a total of about $ 600.000. This money allowed the organization to buy Aleksib from Ninjas in Pyjamas as new in-game leader, to pick up iM from GamerLegion, and to bring in jL from Apeks. The hope is that these new additions can help NAVI get out of the dip in results they have understandably experienced since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Debut in July

Fans of Natus Vincere and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive won’t have to wait too long to see the new recruits in action. The official debut of the new-look roster is planned for Saturday, July 8th, in a show match against French side Vitality, who recently won the CS:GO Paris Major. The game will be broadcast on the official channels of both NAVI and Maincast on Twitch. The first official event will be BLAST Fall Groups, which will take place from Monday, July 10th, to Saturday, July 22nd, 2023.