It’s been in the air for a while, but now it’s confirmed that the CS2 era will begin without s1mple, at least as far as the high-level competitive events are concerned. How long he’s looking to stay away and what he’ll be up to in the meantime still remains a mystery, but surely, the most exciting question is whether he will be able to return one day with the same sort of incredible form that we’ve grown to know and love from the man.
There are so many crazy things going on right now in Rostermania-land that it’s almost impossible to keep up with all of them. The Heroic soap opera, Shiro stepping down from Cloud9, the falcon-shaped moneybag hovering above everyone, the FaZe-Complexity thing, that decidedly average AWP ace that one redditor got…
How am I supposed to keep up with all this?
It’s a testament to s1mple’s impact on the world of Counter-Strike that his announcement immediately overshadowed any and all storyline. Who cares where cadiaN or dupreeh will end up when the CS:GOAT decided to temporarily hang up his mouse?
Make no mistake, s1mple’s the top dog of CS:GO matches. In terms of peak, longevity, and individual impact, not to mention flexibility across many roster iterations and multiple orgs, no one can hold a candle to the Ukrainian. In the end, dev1ce may have been winninger, ZywOo earlybaguetter, but if you wanted someone on the big green to have an impact, even when dragged down by two boomers and an outdated IGL, then Oleksandr was your man.
Ultimately, he got his well-deserved Major on top of all the individual accolades and close calls and heartbreaks, with the gold bars of the Intel Grand Slam an additional highlight of a short but sweet period of dominance.
Then the war came, and if we’re being brutally honest, s1mple has never been the same since. And who can blame him? He’s seen it all, he’s done it all, and now there’s an existential threat hovering above him and his nation, and the game has changed around him in a way that doesn’t seem to mesh well with his skillset.
If this sounds more like a farewell than a salutation, that’s probably not an accident. You see, I’m afraid s1mple is ill-suited for a big comeback in CS2.
While we’ve seen people like cadiaN grind their way to the top over many years, the only real example of an elite-level player looking to make a return after a long absence is dev1ce. (If you want a more worrying story, there’s also late-stage GuardiaN.) For comparison purposes, the fact that devve was also one of the best AWPers to grace the game certainly helps a lot.
A consistent 1.20-ish HLTV rating is nothing to sneeze at, but many of Astralis’ recent events featured online cups and lower-level opposition. While the team and its shady roster-building dumpster fire continue to be a unique issue, the fact is that dev1ce wasn’t able to individually drag his team to successful tournament runs since his return in a way s1mple could in his prime.
And that’s with an impressive and, again, flatly consistent form statline. Meanwhile, there has been a significant, long-term dip in s1mple’s stats over the past year, which, while understandable, is still quite extreme and something that hasn’t been really discussed with the cold, hard finality the HLTV graph provides.
Even if the world were to return to normal, s1mple is now seven years older than he was when he joined NAVI, wielding the most reflex-oriented weapon in Counter-Strike. Also, motivation and hunger must be considered as an issue, especially with CS2 coming around. Not many players are capable of retooling their game to a new kind of system – just ask kennyS what happened after the AWP nerf. And that’s before we consider the fact that the new engine and the MR12 economy make the big green a lot less effective than it has previously been, with fewer gun rounds to make the $4750 investment work, all while trying to stem the tide of the omega peeker’s advantage. His mention of a potential move away from the AWP certainly sounds interesting, but it’s just yet another huge adjustment to make on top of all the other existing ones.
With his longstanding tilt issues also resurfacing, and understandably having so much else on his mind, could you really blame s1mple if he rode off into the sunset? No matter what comes next, he is etched into the pantheon of Counter-Strike, the greatest to ever play Global Offensive on an individual level. An extended break, a burdened mind, a new game and a new world, with Father Time knocking on the door? The comeback might be over before it even begins.