"If we kick all Russians out, then you can forget about NAVI for a long time". NAVI COO on club's future, players' wives, and roster changes
Natus Vincere COO Oleksii "xaoc" Kucherov had a podcast with Olsior. They discussed the club's roster changes, their plans for Russian players, and other urgent topics. Escorenews translated the main parts of the podcast.
[On roster changes]
[Will other players stay on the team?] Yes, they are relocating, Perfecto is going to move really soon. Most likely, this is the only change. I'm not going to say that with 100% certainty, because it's difficult to find replacements, not just in CS, but in other games as well. On the one hand, we want to focus on Ukrainian players. On the other, there are not many of them. I think this is the last change in CS:GO roster, we will just test players for the last position for now.
We have a few options, but all of them have some things that need to be solved. It will take time to choose the replacement. And even if we decide on one, he will be picked up for the test first, not as a final pick. Most likely, it's going to be the same process we had with B1T, but we don't have much time now, Blast is very close, and we have to train and prepare for it.
[On rumors about YEKINDAR and buster]
[Olsior: "Are you ready to disprove the new rumors?"] About buster? I spoke with Dexerto. We do not hide the fact that we are really interested in buster. We would like to play with him and see how it works. But we are not ready to negotiate with VP. If the player somehow negotiates with them, buys himself out, and becomes a free agent, then we can work with him. And if he can't, there will most likely be another player.
[On the the players' wives' statements on social media]
We cannot censor what they write on social media. When we saw that stuff, we decided to find out why this had happened and discuss it. Now you can see the result of the discussions. <...>
If we talk about Boombl4, a few weeks ago he expressed his position. Everything is OK with his position, but the reputational risks associated with Boombl4 are too high. He played in the club for three years. We know that everything is OK with him, he is a normal dude. But what is happening around him is something that we are not ready to endure right now.
[Why NAVI cannot build mononational rosters?]
Of course, we had no option to remain silent and not to change anything at all [in the squads]. We really thought about the option to kick all the players from Russia and Belarus. I read a lot of comments, for example: "Sign Ukrainians for this or that discipline." But we must understand that... Unfortunately, there are simply not so many Ukrainian players. We are focusing on changing this situation. We try to include more of them in our lineups.
You need to understand the proportions between Russian and Ukrainian audiences. The proportions are 4 to 1, in terms of players they are quite the same. We seem to be focusing on Ukrainian players and trying to take them to our academies. But this does not always work out, there are not as many of them as we would like to have.
If we talk about youngsters, we need a long period for bringing them up. Let's take B1T. The guy spent two years in the academy before he was allowed to play one map. He had been playing the same map for several months and only after that he started to play more maps. Then he became the fifth man on our roster. You need to understand that if you place such a promising player as B1T on all the maps at once, he can break down.
[Will NAVI sign players from Russia and Belarus?]
We are ready to work with Russians if they have an adequate position and will do everything we have talked about. If we talk about swedenstrong, he is already in Serbia. There will be a video soon in which you can get to know the player better and find out his position. For us, this policy applies to the players that we already have and to those who may be signed.
Our focus will always be on players not from the Russian Federation and Belarus — that's for sure. Unfortunately, we haven't grown dozens of good players in Ukraine yet. Unfortunately, we will sometimes sign Russian players. We should understand that there is simply no other way. Or we need to disband all Russian-speaking teams and go to Europe — there are no other options.
We won't be able to assemble rosters for PUBG Mobile, CS, or Valorant in Ukraine. There are simply not enough players. Therefore, we should work with players from Russia if they meet our requirements for relocation and position, or say goodbye to every Russian. But if we kick them all, then you can forget about NAVI for a long time. If we say goodbye to all Russians, then there will be no more cases when the Ukrainian flag is shown in the arena, roughly speaking, for two million spectators.
[On NAVI players' political positions]
If we talk about NAVI players, then many of them have written and spoken about the current situation in the world. For example, the players from the CS roster. However, a lot of people did not notice this and say that they couldn't find their position.
We have no moral right to demand a radical position. Very often the player cannot afford this. There are players who deliberately completely moved from the Russian Federation. They realized that they can cut all ends, and they radically express their position. Some of them live in Kyiv, you know. [Olsior: "Who? I don't know them."] Solo, don't you know? There are different situations, but you need to take into account that the players have parents and grandparents who live in Russia. <...>
There were even requests among the players to somehow get Ukrainian citizenship. Now it's not possible at all. Now you can't even return a Russian to the country, even if he has a Ukrainian residence permit. The citizenship is impossible now, and even before it was also very difficult, it required several years of work. This is a long process and there is no 100% chance that you will receive citizenship.