Team Liquid rifler Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev will join the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team Natus Vincere (Na'Vi) in the coming weeks, sources close to the player and the team tell ESPN.
Sources say the interest in s1mple comes after his breakout performance at ESL One Cologne as a stand-in for Jacob "Pimp" Winneche. At Cologne, s1mple and his impressive play led Team Liquid to the first major final for any North American team after it beat Na'Vi in the quarterfinals and Fnatic in the semifinals.
S1mple is currently still under contract with Team Liquid and Na'Vi will likely have to buy him out of his contract for him to join the squad.
S1mple is set to most likely replace the team's longest-standing member, Daniil "Zeus" Teslenko. Zeus' actions recently may point to a move in this direction. On Friday, Zeus tweeted, "I hope my relevancy won't fade away as fast as my goal of winning a major." After some encouragements from the likes of fellow pro Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo, Zeus deleted the post and apologized to fans for being emotional.
Sorry for that "emo" tweet, those were the feels talking not me))
- Daniil Teslenko (@navizeus4444) July 30, 2016
Speculation about s1mple replacing Zeus on Na'Vi has run rampant for almost a year, following the team's coach Sergey "Starix" Ischuk taking over from Zeus as the team's in-game leader in September 2015. That speculation began anew following tweets on ELeague's account from veteran esports journalist Richard Lewis that Na'Vi, alongside Team EnVyUs and Fnatic, may make changes after the end of Season 1.
I'd pay particular attention to EnvyUs, fnatic and Na'Vi. @sdaohR
- ELEAGUE (@EL) July 26, 2016
S1mple has had one of the most interesting careers in Counter-Strike. Often criticized by former teammates and the community for being allegedly "toxic," the player has joined and left the rosters of multiple teams. However, he is widely considered one of the best Counter-Strike players in Eastern Europe by the likes of ELeague analyst Duncan "Thorin" Shields and others.