NAVI coach Andrey ‘B1ad3’ Gorodenskiy has played down concerns about Denis ‘electroNic’ Sharipov’s ability to lead the team moving forward.
electroNic has taken over in-game leadership duties in the team following the removal of Kirill ‘Boombl4’ Mikhailov due to what the NAVI organization described as “high reputational risks for the club”.
The decision has raised concerns about NAVI’s chances to return to the top, with electroNic having little experience in the role. Boombl4 had soaked up plenty of knowledge from his brief time playing alongside Danylo ‘Zeus’ Teslenko and from the years he spent competing under B1ad3’s tutelage.
Still, it was only in 2021 that Boombl4 overcame some of his initial struggles and became a capable in-game leader in high-pressure situations, helping NAVI to dominate the CS:GO circuit before the war in Ukraine broke out and disrupted the team.
B1ad3 said that it’s still early to pass judgment on electroNic as an in-game leader, but he backed the Russian player to succeed in the role.
“We didn’t have a lot of time to practice [for BLAST], and we’ll need to see the mistakes that will be made during high-stress situations in games,” he told Dexerto.
“But electroNic’s potential as an IGL is much higher than Boombl4’s. He has a better vision of the game and more experience. It depends on how much effort he puts into this.”
B1ad3’s comments echo those of star player Aleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev, who said that electroNic “has more ideas” and a better understanding of the game than Boombl4.
It has only been a couple of weeks since electroNic took up the role, but leading is not something entirely new to him. In ESL Pro League Season 13 at the beginning of 2021, he was the team’s caller on Mirage and Overpass in their early matches after some promising scrims. The experience did not last, though, and Boombl4 returned to being the main caller on all maps following back-to-back losses to FURIA and Gambit.
But now it’s different. There is no fall-back plan, no one to hold his hand or step in if things go wrong. And because of this, B1ad3 said, electroNic is fully committed to making it work.
“At the time, he was not serious enough as an IGL,” B1ad3 explained. “It was something like, ‘Let’s give it a try’. You know that if it doesn’t work we will go back [to how it was]. You don’t give 100 percent of yourself because of this.
“Now it’s a different situation, there’s a more serious approach. Now he must work more on his role. It was his desire, his ambition, to try to lead. He said that he had a vision and that he knows how to lead.
“We didn’t ask him to do it, like, ‘Please, you must do it for the team, you must sacrifice yourself’, because if you do this, the lineup will not have a good future. But if he wants to do it, it’s worth trying. I think that he just needs some time.”
Doing it like Astralis
Every championship team needs a player who can share the load with the star, and for NAVI, that player has often been electroNic. Signed in November 2017 from FlipSid3 Tactics, he has been a valuable sidekick to s1mple, even taking over when the Ukrainian is having one of his rare off days. Proof of that is his four consecutive appearances in HLTV Top 20 lists, twice entering the top five and never ranking below No.7.
A common theme in the CS:GO scene is how high-fragging players see their numbers plummet when they become in-game leaders because of all the micro-managing that comes with the role.
But B1ad3 doesn’t think that has to be the case, pointing to Lukas ‘gla1ve’ Rossander’s performances during Astralis’ era as an example of a high-impact in-game leader. Still, he noted, there will be other players ready to put in extra work, including NAVI’s still-to-be-determined new fifth man.
“I’m not worried,” he said about missing firepower with electroNic’s new role. “It can come from the new fifth player, from b1t, or from Perfecto. As soon as we know the lineup we will have, we will start to build in that direction.
“But electroNic can be some kind of gla1ve. You cannot say that he was in anyone’s shadow during prime Astralis. I think he had a huge impact in terms of firepower. I think electroNic can easily be that kind of IGL. Not like karrigan, not like Boombl4. He can be like apEX.”
B1ad3 also used Astralis to explain why he felt it was important to hand the reins to someone who was already familiar with NAVI’s system rather than bring in an outside IGL with his own method and way of thinking.
“I think when Magisk was leading it showed that others players also have this knowledge [of the system] because you evolve as a team together and their strength was that they were analyzing their situations and building collective knowledge of the team,” B1ad3 explained.
“We’re trying to do the same. The IGL should be someone from our system. It’s much easier to control our players with somebody from the system. If we took someone from the outside it would be difficult, we would need to explain the system to that person or he would bring his own system. It is doable, but Plan A is to have one of our players lead.”
The early signs are encouraging: NAVI are through to the quarter-finals of the BLAST Premier Spring Final, where electroNic is averaging a 1.07 HLTV rating and a team-high 1.25 Impact. But the first real test will come today against FaZe — a match that will offer a better gauge of how the Russian can handle himself in the saddle.
B1ad3 is not too worried about the outcome of this match — or of the tournament for that matter —, even though he thinks the team still has a chance to win the trophy, based on their individual talent and the fact that they’re sticking to a system that has proven so successful.
For NAVI, electroNic’s growth as a leader will be worth more than the results they achieve here. This is merely the first stage of a transformational process that requires him to open his eyes to a new way of feeling the game.
“He must always remember that his first priority should be to control the team,” B1ad3 said. “He has played for so long as a star player that I can see that sometimes he’s still thinking like a player and doing some things automatically. It’s like a habit.
“It’s a matter of adapting. I think he needs to set the goal to become a great IGL and that’s it. He has everything.”