Winner's psychology prevents from winning?


Recent SLTV StarSeries and ESWC Monreal 2015 victories of Natus Vincere CS:GO squad cheered a lot of their fans up and made them feel incredibly proud and happy. Indeed, the team seems to be doing extremely well, considering their results of the second quarter of 2015.


Recent results of the team:


  • ESL One Katowice 2015 — 5–8th place
  • SLTV StarSeries XII Finals — 5–6th place
  • ESL Pro League 2015 — 1st place
  • Gfinity Masters Spring 2015 — 3–4th place
  • Fragbite Masters Season 4 2015 — 3–4th place
  • DreamHack Open Summer 2015 — 2nd place
  • SLTV StarSeries XIII Finals — 1st place 
  • ESWC Monreal 2015 — 1st place
  • Faceit League Stage Two — 3–4th place


After team’s roster change, when starix was replaced with flamie, the results of our guys started to improve and, as a result, became truly outstanding. However, even though their progress is clearly visible, Na’Vi players still can’t figure out how to get their complete dominance back and show us that incredible level that could be witnessed in 2010–2011 in CS 1.6. Every single time when an important LAN-event begins, Zeus and the rest of the team fail to compose themselves and, consequently, can’t win. First prizes at ESL Pro, StarSeries XIII and ESWC 2015, after all, can’t give them full satisfaction, as these tournaments were not attended by certain stronger teams, main opponents of Natus Vincere. It is no doubt that the only thing that Na`Vi CS:GO lineup needs is to take a solid victory at a major-event that will serve as the foundation for their brand-new house of fame.

Success factors 


And before I can start thinking about the answers to the main questions, let’s take a look at the factors that help the team to show good performance and achieve solid results.

Out of game factors

1. Organization.


This is a key point. Organization (especially if it is something as big as Natus Vincere) is a huge support for every gamer. Thanks to it, the team has its coach, manager, sponsors and, as a result, comprehensive assistance that allows them to focus on the game entirely and do not worry about petty daily matters. The Poles from Virtus.Pro are a very nice example that proves this statement. Their results became considerably worse once they were left without the support of their organization, but with the new contract they returned to the previous level.


2. Financial stability


This is another extremely important factor. Joy, satisfaction, loving what you do are without doubt very important points, but they become less crucial when you are 25 years old and have a strong need to support you own family. And if younger players are ready to play just for the bright future, more experienced Zeus and Edward are far away from it — their efforts and hard work need to be well-rewarded financially. 

In-game factors
1. Good shooting skills

Shooting is the main part of the game and extremely important for achieving the best results. Even if your tactics are genius and all players are smartly using them, inability to hit the shot will most probably lead to the loss. And vice versa, excellent shooting skills allow players to quickly find their place in the world’s TOP. The success of JW, Flamie, kennyS, xyp9x, s1mple and many other young CS:GO stars proves it out.


2. Tactical skills


Undoubtedly, Zeus is one of the best CS:GO in-game leaders. Apart from quite good individual performance, he has a lot of other pozitive qualities to offer. His understanding of the game, ability to “read” the actions of opponents and adapt to their play rate are truly impressive. Daniil Teslenko is a strategist, psychologist, tactician and fragger at the same time. After all, all bright victories of Na`Vi were taken under his strong leadership, which is the best evidence of his professionalism.


3. Combination of youth and experience


Excellent reaction and incredible aim are the main assets of GuardiaN, seized and flamie. Zeus and Edward, in their turn, are not only strong in terms of shooting. They are true Counter Strike “old-timers” that have seen a lot and managed to win the tournaments of all kinds during their professional career. Sick aim and ardor of younger players plus experience and coolness of judgment of their older colleagues is a perfect formula for victory.


4. High motivation


Unbreakable desire to reach the top supported by wisdom and skills continues showing its results. This motivation was the most important aspect which the team was lacking back when transitioning from CS 1.6 to CS:GO. The Slovakian and both Russian players still haven’t tried the “taste of victory” at huge world championships. Ukrainian duet, on the other hand, has already forgotten this taste. This created a team of result-oriented highly-motivated soulmates.

Considering all above-mentioned, it seems confusing why the team has lost its dominance.


Factors of defeat


What exactly is “the philosophy of winners?”


In order to answer this question correctly, we need to look back in time. In 2010, after Na`Vi’s glorious victories at all three world championships (IEM, ESWC & WCG), many people were interested in finding out what helps the team be the best. It turned out that Zeus, apart from shooting and tactical practices, paid a huge attention to the development of psychology of winners in his teammates and himself. His idea was that all members of the team had to be powerful not only in the cooperation with each other, but also individually.


Each member had to be strong both physically and mentally. Zeus always said that it is not enough to have a good aim or understand the game. The most important qualities of a successful gamer (and person in general) have always been diligence and dedication. Sports help not only to build muscles, but also foster self-discipline and patience. Mental strength, on the other hand, can be gained in game. It consists of self-confidence, team faith and strong belief that your goal can be and will be achieved. Zeus philosophy was focused on self-reliance and fearlessness. If you are afraid — you lose. 

If you are confident — you win. If you are afraid to face your opponent and see who is better at shooting — you lose. Do you remember how aggressive and confident the playstyle of our team used to be? Do you remember those “breaking” eco-rounds, excellent tactics, and smart map control? All those things were achieved thanks to the psychology of winners, fostered within the team.


Why the philosophy of winners hinders from winning?


The game shown by our team nowadays proves that all above-mentioned rules are still respected and used. However, they don’t always work as effectively as they used to. Philosophy of winners can be helpful only if it is understood. It says that you shouldn’t rely on your shooting only; you need to be confident, trust your teammates, and, at the same time, focus on the result, not victory. By the way, last two notions are very different and are definitely worth discussing.

Play to win means put pressure onto your opponent, be aggressive throughout the whole match. You need not only to win, but also “break” him by outplaying in all firefights and clutch-rounds. Result-oriented captains use rational strategies according to which they can let their team die in clutch-rounds when they are playing on T-side, but if the bomb explodes — they are overall happy about how it went.

The biggest weakness of the current Na`Vi’s roster is that sometimes they play overagressively, and, consequently, make childish mistakes. If they always played as well as they are able to, they would never be defeated due to random deaths and "gifted" rounds.

Concrete examples of Na`Vi's mistakes 

Let’s take a few recent Na`Vi’s plays at Faceit League Stage Two within the framework of DreamHack Valencia 2015 as an example and analyze them. 

UkraineNa`Vi — United StatesCloud9, de_cobblestone 
The game against Cloud9 on Cobblestone is the first on our list. The second half didn’t go well for Na`Vi players, as they died one by one and couldn’t hit their shots. However, after the tactical pause, they gathered their thoughts and started playing better, quickly approaching Americans in terms of score. Unfortunately, a single round erased all their hopes to win. Cloud9 had very poor economy yet a 1-point score lead. Na`Vi were already thinking of overtimes and decided to rely on shooting, As a result, a few of them died without exchange and both round and the game were gifted to the opponents. 
UkraineNa`Vi — InternationalTeam Kinguin
We could witness similar mistakes in the match against Kinguin, but the result of the match differs fundamentally: Na`Vi managed to take a win thanks to their experience and, with big respect to opponents, higher skill. Yes, it often works when our guys are playing against weaker teams, but it definitely is not enough in matches against top rosters. 
UkraineNa`Vi — DenmarkTSM, de_mirage 

Another demonstrative example is the match against TSM. The first map was de_mirage. 9:1 score. The Danes, who were playing on T-side, entered A-plant. Na`Vi managed to kill almost everyone and were left 4vs1. Then flamie decided to kill the player in the pit but, instead, died himself. Fortunately, other teammates stayed on plant while the bomb was being defused and won the round, even despite the mistake. Maybe, they learnt from their own mistakes, as in ESL ESEA qualifiers we could witness a very similar situation, but with Zeus as a main character. He shot 2 and, being encouraged by previous frags, wanted to make the last kill as well, but was outplayed by his opponent. Instead of defusing the bomb, other teammates started fighting with him, too. As a result, the Swedish player killed the entire team and won 1vs4 clutch.


But let’s return to the match against TSM. Winning 13:5, Na`Vi as terrorists entered B-plant, planted the bomb, and secured safe cross-fire positions. Only flamie, for some reason, decided to haunt the player in the kitchen and died there, causing round’s loss. Another fail-moment took place two rounds after that, when GuardiaN instead of planting the bomb at the empty B-bomb sight ran towards two low in health Danes to kill them, but was killed himself. Fortunately, Zeus managed to win on his own and closed the map, but not without difficulties. If TSM sniper could hit his AWP shot, Na`Vi would most likely lose this round.

UkraineNa`Vi — DenmarkTSM, de_train 

And if on the first map the Danes couldn’t do anything to punish our guys for their mistakes, next two looked terrible for Na`Vi. With 2:1 score on the scoreboard, Zeus and the rest of the team as T entered A-plant. After a few kills they continued pressuring opponents that had a very poor buy, ignoring the fact that the idea of rotating to B seemed a lot smarter. As a result, low on health seized was left 1vs1 and finally decided to go to B and plant the bomb. Unfortunately, he was killed, and Na`Vi have lost the round. The same situation took place 6 rounds after that, and our guys rotated to B and won the round. But why couldn’t they do that earlier?!


14:5 on the scoreboard, Na`Vi as CT. At the end of the round seized and GuardiaN were left 2vs1 against TSM player. They knew exactly where he was, as a second ago he killed Edward from behind. Denis spotted the opponent, and instead of changing the position and setting a cross-fire with his teammate, started the firefight and lost it. Kovács was also killed, and Na`Vi lost all their hopes to bring the map to overtimes. The map score was tied 1:1. Why? Because instead of reasonably exchanging frags and winning key rounds, our guys rely on the psychology of winners and, as a result, lose. 

UkraineNa`Vi — DenmarkTSM, de_dust2 

The third map was a complete disaster for our team. The number of mistakes they made is even difficult to count. The first one was made when the score was 2:0 in Na`Vi’s favour. Our guys successfully planted the bomb at A-bomb sight and were left 3vs3, but, instead of securing safe positions and playing for exchange (especially considering TSM’s force-buy with no grenades), died one by one and, consequently, lost.


The Danes, in their turn, played with incredible discipline and concentration. The situation when Ladislav Kovács was left 1vs4 with 5:3 on the scoreboard is a good example. He managed to kill an aggressive Danish player near the box, but it didn't change much, The rest of TSM team reacted immediately: two players set the cross-fire from CT-spawn, and the last one came from behind. Na`Vi’s sniper could do nothing from this position.


Then, flamie and Edward were left 2vs1 against TSM-player, who tried to fake bomb defuse. Instead of playing safely and waiting for Edward, Yegor decided to kill CT on his own. Luckily, flamie managed to outplay his opponent and win the round. The economy of the Danes was weak two rounds after that, and when the score was 9:4, 4 Na`Vi players entered A bomb-sight. Zeus, for some reason, started fighting at cat in smoke, killed one of his opponents and was killed himself. Seized jumped down to CT-spawn and also died there. One of the most important rounds was lost, even despite the fact that Na’Vi had initial advantage in it.


There were a few other fails. In one of the rounds, NaVi, instead of playing on passive positions and killing opponents on long distances, decided to play separately and were killed one by one on different map spots. When the score was 13:5 in TSM’s favor, the Danes managed to successfully do a B-plant takeover and forced remaining Na’Vi players go for save. In this extremely important situation GuardiaN somehow managed to knife seized in the pit. As a result, de_dust 2 was lost and Na’Vi took 3-4 place at a very prestigious tournament. The saddest thing is that Na’Vi were prepared very well and weren't outplayed by better shooting or tactics. It was just the matter of mistakes.


Why the psychology of winners doesn't work anymore


The question is why this psychology has led the team to victories in 2010, but doesn’t really work now. In order to give well-based answer, we need to once again look back into the past. The thing is that starix, markeloff, ceh9, Zeus and Edward were developing this psychology of winners simultaneously, and every one of them had a large baggage of experience.


Zeus & Edward duo went all the way from pro100 and Virtus.Pro to Na’Vi, taking part in different tournaments and experiencing both loses and wins. Sergey “starix” Ishchuk managed to take the first place at numerous CIS championships and win the third prize with A-gaming. Makreloff played for DTS and gained reputation of an excellent sniper there. Arseniy “Esenin” Trynozhenko (now more known as ceh9) played on the famous Lviv team TreeezzZ. All of them found there right place on Na`Vi, and started developing their own team morale. This development, according to the players themselves, began with IEM, where our guys managed to tie the series 15:15 in the match against legendary mTw after disastrous first half (12:3) on de_train.


After such strong confidence boost, they confidently won IEM and were unstoppable after that. Our guys managed to outplay everybody at Arbalet Cup in Kyiv, the first match of which will always be remembered due to Edward’s famous -5 against fnatic. It was then that he got his Pistol King title. 


Unfortunately, Na`Vi’s Slovakian and two Russian players haven’t acquired this strong feeling of self-confidence yet, though they have fast reaction, do crazy frags, and impress with their amazing shooting skills. Thanks to the last tournaments, they’ve got a deep understanding of the game and valuable experience. However, they don’t have such unbreakable winners’ psychology, even despite all efforts of Zeus. You want to see the proof? Note how inconsistent all of them are, and compare to stability and strength shown by Zeus and Edward year after year. That’s exactly what you need in matches against such strong teams as Fnatic and TSM — coolness of judgment, rationality, thoughtfulness. You need to play for the result, not for victory.


By the way, Blad3 is a great example of this. He’s been a captain for over 10 years, and has got a very deep understanding of the game, high level of playing, and strong shooting skills. But in 1vs1 clutches he doesn’t rely only on shooting, and not because he understands that younger players, such as s1mple or flamie, are better at this, but because he is aware of his main asset, big experience. Na`Vi, on the other hand, are more dependent on their aggressiveness and something (either Zeus’ psychology of winners, or hot blood of the younger players) always pushes them to rush and kill. However, in the matches against such fraggers as olofmeister, JW, kennyS etc., you need to be better in all micro-moments and realize that every mistake will cost you a lot.


In 2010 all Na`Vi players were best of the best on their positions. Zeus the Captain was putting pressure onto opponents, confidently killing them, let alone the efforts he put into coordinating. Edward was named a king of pistol rounds and, overall, had a great aim. Markeloff, in his turn, was considered the best AWPer of the world. Starix made miracles at B-plants. Even though cen9’s shooting skills weren’t that outstanding, he could kill every top-fragger of the enemy team, felt timings perfectly and gave the hugest morale boost to the team.  Most of our players were ranked TOP-5 of the world.


Even though current Na’Vi roster is very strong and sometimes able to show incredibly good plays, as well, but it doesn’t have such a great advantage as they had before. Thinking reasonably, our team is, of course, still one of the strongest teams of the world, but it can’t pretend to be the best in all aspects anymore. This fact puts certain pressure on them and forces to play not like “I will kill everybody here”, but level-headedly and smartly.


Yes, our guys win some tournaments, but right after that they lose some. When they encounter TOP teams, they can’t show what they are truly capable of. There are visible results as well as the possibilities to win at major-events, but we don’t have such strong confidence, as at WCG 2010 final, anymore. Why? The reason is that the psychology of winners evolves only with the help of consistent victories. The streak of wins in the early 2010 made our team so strong and helped it to achieve the highest results no matter what. For example, ESWC 2010 group stage. Everything could turn completely different way and Na’Vi could stay aside from playoffs. But they won. And what we can see now? It is impossible to foster the psychology of winners if you lose, as every defeat makes you doubt yourself and leads you to failure.

How to get the dominance back 


Of course, it is easier to make conclusions from within, if you are the part of the team or simply acquainted with the players personally. However, the changes should be made very soon, reversing the direction of team's development towards the right path. Probably, advising Na`Vi how to play and what to do is not that smart, as these players have their own ideas and ways out. Anyway, the opinion of the stranger sometimes can help considerably.


So what can they do?


1. Stop relying on individual skill so much.

The team has to realize that shooting skills are important, but without tactics they can’t be used to their fullest.


2. Start exchanging the frags.

A great example is the second half on Cobblestone as T against Cloud9. That is how the team should cooperate and work together! Accurate timings, great shooting, and consistent exchanges will lead this team to victory.


3. Be result-oriented. Find balance between aggression and reasonableness.

All clutch rounds have to be played with understanding that the most important thing is the result. Guys need to be concentrated, set cross-fires, listen carefully, kill opponents from behind and take rounds easily.


4. Don’t lose self-confidence.

As a true fan of the team, I am sure that these guys have all chances to win and everything is still ahead for them. Don’t gift your deserved victories to your opponents, take them yourself. August is a perfect month to make right decisions and finally win a major tournament.


Author’s credit — Bogdan Nesvit.


AuthormJay Date 8 August 2015, 17:27 Views2469 Comments0
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