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s1mple is returning to Counter-Strike esports, but not with Na’Vi

s1mple

Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyljev is set to return to Counter-Strike esports and while many are excited for the game’s GOAT to be returning, it comes with the asterisk that it won’t be for Natus Vincere and will instead by for the Saudi-owned Team Falcons.

There’s been a hole in Counter-Strike esports, and not just because there’s so much content missing from the game since the release of Counter-Strike 2. s1mple, the game’s consensus best player of all time, has been on an indefinite leave since October 2023. While Na’Vi has performed reasonably well without him, fans have missed his impactful playmaking and cordial-but-intense rivalry with Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut.

The good news is that s1mple’s coming back to Counter-Strike esports and will play his first official matches in Counter-Strike 2. The bad news is that he’s not returning to Na’Vi and isn’t necessarily coming back for long.

s1mple making short-lived return to esports with Team Falcons

Team Falcons announced that s1mple will be joining its roster on loan from Na’Vi for one month. He takes the place of Mohammad “BOROS” Malhas, with the organization announcing his benching shortly before revealing the addition of s1mple.

As a result, the Team Falcons roster will be:

  • Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyljev
  • Marco “Snappi” Pfeiffer
  • Emil “Magisk” Reif
  • Pavle “maden” Bošković
  • Alvaro “SunPayus” Garcia

The addition of s1mple puts him alongside four-time major winner Magisk, a player that s1mple has faced in high-stakes matches on many occasions. Though s1mple has always been the bigger star, former Astralis and Team Vitality player Magisk has done his part to send s1mple home from many tournaments over the years, with the most notable instance being Astralis topping Na’Vi in the finals of the 2018 FACEIT London Major and the most recent being at Gamers8 2023, one of the last tournaments s1mple played before his hiatus.

Barring a surprise announcement, this will see s1mple return at the 2024 BLAST Premier: Spring Showdown. That’s the only tournament that Team Falcons is scheduled to compete in during that time, though the organization may opt into other, smaller tournaments after missing out on the 2024 PGL Copenhagen Major.

Is s1mple leaving Na’Vi?

s1mple remains a part of Natus Vincere, despite competing for Team Falcons. Team Falcons was explicit that s1mple is joining the team on loan from Na’Vi and is not a full-time member of the team.

Though details were not disclosed on the matter, there’s a high likelihood that s1mple was offered a hefty sum for an organization with significant financial backing and a questionable reputation. The addition of s1mple comes days after tenured esports journalist Richard Lewis discussed the team and the concerns surrounding its place in esports.

As for when s1mple returns to Natus Vincere, that remains unclear. s1mple reemerged to confirm that he’s not retired in January during the HLTV Award Show, but there isn’t a timeline or indication about when he’ll actually come back.

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Written by Steven Rondina

Steven Rondina has been playing video games since he was a toddler and appreciates every genre out there. He has earned the platinum trophy in every Soulsborne game, is regularly Master Ball-ranked on the competitive Pokemon ladder, and has spent thousands of hours missing shots on Dust 2. His work has previously been featured by Bleacher Report and The Washington Post, and he was an Assistant Editor at WIN.gg. You can follow him on Twitter / X at @srondina.

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