Natus Vincere have announced that they have allowed Egor ‘flamie’ Vasilyev to explore his options as a free agent. The 24-year-old Russian had been on the organization’s books since May 2015.
flamie will still play for the organization’s academy team, NAVI Junior, in the second season of the WePlay Academy League. He will use this opportunity to pass on his knowledge to the team’s young players and to get back into shape while he searches for a new home.
The news marks the end of flamie’s six-year association with NAVI, having joined the famed organization in April 2015 after a successful trial period.
He lost his spot in the team’s starting lineup to Valeriy ‘B1T’ Vakhovskiy in April after a period in which the pair were rotated as part of a six-man lineup.
Since then, NAVI have won three big international events (DreamHack Masters Spring, IEM Cologne, and ESL Pro League Season 14), establishing themselves as the undisputed No.1 team in the world ahead of the 2021 Major.
In a statement, NAVI COO Aleksey ‘xaoc’ Kucherov explained that the squad’s new-found success and the penalties imposed by Valve on teams that substitute out players in the Major circuit convinced the management to release the player from his contract.
“Taking these factors into consideration, as well as Egor’s contribution to the development of the team and the club in general, we decided to give flamie the status of a free agent so he doesn’t come across possible restrictions for his further development,” xaoc explained.
“Despite the fact that Egor is a NAVI veteran, he is young, motivated, experienced, and has fantastic aim. These characteristics are definitely demanded in ambitious teams.”
Rise and fall
During his time with NAVI, flamie won several international tournaments and picked up two MVP medals (ESL Pro League Season 2 Finals and Dreamhack Open Leipzig 2016). He also made HLTV’s Top 20 player-of-the-year ranking twice, in 2015 (No.14) and 2016 (No.12).
While he started strongly with NAVI, his influence faded as the years went on and he became the target of constant criticism. Andrey ‘B1ad3’ Gorodenskiy, NAVI’s head coach, revealed in an April interview that pressure had gotten to flamie and that the efforts to make him comfortable in the game again had proved fruitless.
“Additional work and involving a psychologist haven’t been of much help because there’s still the pressure factor,” B1ad3 explained back then (timestamp 6:50).
“I think that, in order to make progress, flamie needs to take some time off, work on himself, reflect on some things and come back with renewed vigor.”