It is all but expected that when a Counter-Strike major concludes, teams will engage in a flurry of roster changes and overhauls. Less than a week removed from ESL Katowice, the process has already started.
The biggest news came from a pair of Eastern Europe’s top squads. Natus Vincere, long one of the biggest names in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, were once considered perennial contenders at the game’s biggest tournaments. But in recent months, the team has taken on more of a gatekeeper role, always strong enough to play with the world’s best but often lacking what it took to actually compete for a title.
The team offered hints that this would need to change in Katowice, and a quarterfinal exit wasn’t the change the group was looking for. Natus Vincere reacted by moving Sergey “Starix” Ischuk from the active roster to a coaching role.
It’s a huge move for the Ukrainian team. Ischuk has been a rock within the organization, and they could make no bigger statement than deciding to move on from his play, especially when a permanent replacement hasn’t yet been found.
In the short-term, the team will be joined by Egor “Flamie” Vasilyev. The Russian standout gained international notoriety last year with his play, and in January became part of an overhauled Hell Raisers team. But following that organization’s failure to move beyond the group stage in Katowice, Vasilyev has seen fit to seek out a better opportunity. His play will likely decide whether his stay with Natus Vincere is more than temporary.
Another team who were unable to emerge from the group stage, LGB Esports, have also brought in a big name on a trial basis. LGB have replaced Morten “Zeves” Vollan with Swedish sniper Mikail “Maikelele” Bill.
Joining LGB would seem to bring some closure to Bill’s odd journey with Ninjas in Pyjamas, which ultimately resulted in his being pushed out of the team in favor of Aleksi “Allu” Jalli in a very public fashion. Bill’s status with LGB is still temporary, but as is the case with Vasilyev and Natus Vincere, it will likely solidify should the team’s results improve.
It’s a familiar fate for Christensen, who just months ago was in the same position with this very team, having been booted from the Dignitas roster to make room for a new player. Christensen returned to the organization with a new team after Dignitas’ former squad was signed by Team SoloMid, but that return has now come to an end.