s1mple on b1t: “I think he can be at the level NiKo played at in his prime”


After a year that fell short of his usual superlative level, and set against the backdrop of a switch to an international lineup, Oleksandr “⁠s1mple⁠” Kostyliev opted to step back from Natus Vincere and take a break from professional play to attend to his life outside of the game. Removed from the relentless grind of being a CS pro s1mple has clearly had time to reflect, and Thorin helped the Ukrainian superstar to articulate some of his thoughts in a Reflections interview.

Split across two parts the nearly two-hour discussion covered the breadth of s1mple’s career including his early days in CS:GO, his time in Liquid, his early days in NAVI all the way up to the current international roster he just departed. As a superstar player whose profile transcends Counter-Strike much of what was discussed has already been heard in other s1mple interviews, but there were still nuggets of fresh insight to be gleaned.

Interestingly, s1mple gave very little information on his future return to competitive play. The Ukrainian did touch on the flexibility playing in international rosters could give him, however, with Thorin specifically asking whether he could play with players like Nikola “⁠NiKo⁠” Kovač, or under leaders like Finn “⁠karrigan⁠” Andersen. “Maybe one day,” s1mple stated, laughing. “But still you need to learn a lot in an international team, before I can maybe in future try to play with [someone like] NiKo.”

But still you need to learn a lot in an international team, before I can maybe in future try to play with [someone like] NiKo

One of the more entertaining portions of the interview came when s1mple discussed the arrival of Valeriy “⁠b1t⁠” Vakhovskiy in Natus Vincere, with s1mple describing the young rifler’s naivety in comical fashion. “When he came into the team, I feel like he was just born because he didn’t know anything about the world,” s1mple reminisced. “He came from outside of the city, and when he was new he wasn’t confident at all.

“I remember how he bought a hair comb and was like ‘Wow, I never thought it would be so nice,’ and I’m sitting right next to him thinking ‘What the hell,’ it was so funny. I think this gave a good mood to our team because all of us were trying to teach him something, it was like with a kid, but he grew up so fast.” The naivety apparently extended to b1t’s gameplay on the server, with s1mple describing how “most of the time we were trying to tell him what to do.”

I remember how b1t bought a hair comb and was like ‘Wow, I never thought it would be so nice,’ and I’m sitting right next to him thinking ‘What the hell,’

CS:GO’s GOAT was incredibly positive about b1t’s talents, and predicted a bright future for the youngster. “Of course his mechanical skill is so good, his aim is even better than flamie and Edward had, and I think it’s even better than I have. I think he can be at the level NiKo played at in his prime, he just needs to play more and become more confident in himself.”

s1mple thinks b1t can hit the heights of a player like NiKo in the future

The discussion briefly touched on how the outbreak of the war in Ukraine affected Natus Vincere, which occurred in the middle of the team’s campaign at IEM Katowice 2022. s1mple gave a little bit of insight into how this impacted the team’s morale. “Before semis, three or four days before, it started. I remember when we were losing we had no emotions at all, I had no emotions.”

s1mple also briefly touched on what affect the outbreak of the war had on the team’s trajectory, and what might have happened had it not occurred, saying “I feel like we would win much more, I don’t know how we managed to go to the PGL Major Antwerp Final and were so close to beating FaZe.”

Inevitably the long conversation turned to some of s1mple’s closest rivals in the CS:GO GOAT conversation, with the Ukrainian giving his most interesting answers in regards to Mathieu “⁠ZywOo⁠” Herbaut and NiKo. He was asked about his thoughts on the rivalry with ZywOo, with whom he has battled for the title of best player in the world for the last few years. Specifically, he was asked about his opinion on the way ZywOo often downplays the rivalry in interviews.

I hope ZywOo saw that we can be rivals. Maybe he doesn’t want to say it in interviews, to not have drama and pressure from fans, but he should understand it

“I think he was thinking about this [the rivalry],” s1mple began. “Maybe not at the beginning, but I hope he saw that we can be rivals. Maybe he doesn’t want to say it in interviews, to not have drama and pressure from fans, but he should understand it, hopefully.”

As for his thoughts on NiKo, whilst complimentary about the Bosnians play, s1mple was of the opinion that even without the AWP, which many see as buffing the credentials of those who wield it, he would still be a better player. “I would play much better with the rifle,” s1mple stated. “I mean NiKo is insane, but I just know… I don’t want to disrespect, but I just know my power, I feel like I know more about this game, even if I go Warzone right now I know I will do a lot of damage.”

I was fighting against coldzera, against device, against NiKo, against ZywOo, and there was only me fighting against them in all years

He also described why, despite the apparent mechanical superiority of NiKo, he is still the better player, emphasizing his gamesense. “They used to say my crosshair placement is shit, but I just don’t need to always be… when I am clearing angles, my crosshair placement is ideal, but if I know there is no danger, I am just thinking and walking and looking at radar, I don’t even need to watch anywhere.”

s1mple also gave his own opinion on the CS:GO GOAT debate as a whole, confidently stating that he feels he is the GOAT. When asked why, he gave an appropriately simple answer. “I just feel like I got a lot of achievements and I was always fighting the best. I was fighting against coldzera, against device, against NiKo, against ZywOo, and there was only me fighting against them in all years.” He also answered the question as to whether he would become the best again upon his return to competitive play. “I definitely will.”



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