Sukhariev the Brave: the persistence of Edward

Part of Na'Vi since 2013 and a legend from 1.6, Edward has seen himself overshadowed by the big names in CIS. Should his place on the team be questioned?


Photo Credit: (DreamHack)

Ioann “Edward” Sukhariev is one of the most storied players in Counter-Strike. From the days of 1.6 when he first competed as a teenager and established himself as one of the best players in the game, to his transfer to GO under Natus Vincere, his home team for all but a brief period in the ‘CIS superteam’ of Astana Dragons in 2013.

Neonatal

Edward rose to great heights initially in 1.6.  Alongside Danylo “Zeus” Teslenko in 2007, he joined the previously all-Russian Virtus.Pro and won the Intel Challenge Cup and placing second at Rekrut.ru Championship to mTw. While the results with VP were modest, Edward’s skill level was becoming clear to those who watched him.

Following his time on pro100, DTS Gaming and HellRaisers, Edward joined Na’Vi at the end of 2009. The team became the first Counter-Strike team to win three Major tournaments in one year in 2010, winning Intel Extreme Masters IV, Electronic Sports World Cup and World Cyber Games 2010. In each case, Na’Vi conquered Scandinavian challengers, beating Fnatic, SK Gaming and mTw respectively. On top of the Major victories, an incredible ace at the Arbalet Cup against Fnatic led to Edward being crowned the ‘pistol king’ in the same year and his status as one of the game’s best aimers was undeniable.

Born to win

In the qualifier for the first CS:GO Major, DreamHack Winter 2013, Edward played in one of Alexey “OverDrive” Birukov’s infamous mix teams under the ‘nostalgie’ name and narrowly missed out on a spot to Mathias “MSL” Lauridsen’s Reason Gaming. Having played in every other Major since then, Edward has made the playoffs in 10 out of the 12 Majors he has attended, wearing Na’Vi colours in every single one.

Outside of Majors, StarLadder StarSeries IX in 2014 saw Na’Vi go 10-1-3 in the round robin, beating Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev in Courage Gaming along the way, before a clean playoff run against NiP and Titan to win the event. Always a threat but rarely finding success, the addition of Egor “flamie” Vasilyev in 2015 enabled Na’Vi to reach greater heights, winning IEM San Jose against TSM and beating Luminosity Gaming at DreamHack Open Leipzig, before losing to them in the grandfinal of the MLG Columbus Major.

The further addition of s1mple in mid-2016 and removal of long-time teammate and leader Zeus saw Na’Vi win ESL New York 2016. It wasn’t until a year after Zeus’ return from Gambit after winning PGL Krakow and the addition of Russian prodigy Denis “electronic” Sharipov that Na’Vi had the true winning formula. The trophies for StarSeries & i-League Season 5, CS:GO Asia Championships, ESL One: Cologne were claimed by Na’Vi in the span of just over a month. A second place finish at the FACEIT Major in London was expected against the sheer might of Astralis who didn’t drop a map in the playoffs.

Postnatal

After s1mple and flamie were dragged back into the Na’Vi fold after the pair were about to sign with SK Gaming in March, everything has seemed to settle apart from a minor stumble before DreamHack Masters Stockholm before the FACEIT Major in London. As the team sits under a dominant Astralis, questions about Edward and Zeus are raised when considering what Na’Vi needs to be a true challenge to the Danes.

Playing alongside most of the biggest names in the CIS region, Edward has perhaps been an underrated talent throughout much of his career. With possibly the strongest ever duo in the form of s1mple and electronic on the roster, and Gambit putting many of their players on the transfer list, many are now saying it is Edward’s time to leave.

At 30 years old, Edward is one of the few top 1.6 players still active in the scene. Out of 28 unique players named on HLTV’s top 1.6 players of 2010 and 2011, only 11 are playing on top 30 teams right now (if Mikhail “Dosia” Stolyarov is included due to Gambit’s status being somewhat unknown), while Danny “zonic” Sorensen is coaching Astralis.

In terms of rating, Edward is at a career low in 2018, yet at the FACEIT Major London, he pulled impressive numbers as Na’Vi dominated BIG and MIBR in the playoffs. Edward’s skill that has been present for over the last seventeen years enables him to still have incredible games, even if some games seem like a struggle. 

Having played alongside the likes of Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovacs, flamie, s1mple and electronic recently, it is perhaps no surprise Edward is not looking like the star player he once did. When you have some of the best players of all time on a team, it shouldn’t be expected of the veteran to be the topfragger.  However, Edward’s level has dropped to the point that it is inconsistent and often a hinderance for Na’Vi.

While Zeus’ mechanical skill is far worse than Edward, Zeus fulfills the role of an IGL and brings the structure Na’Vi clearly needs to succeed. There are other players who could potentially slip into Edward’s role and positions with more consistency, but other teams have seen recently that replacing a ‘support’ player with ‘poor stats’ can sometimes be more damaging than keeping that player and allowing the team to play comfortably around them. 

The reality is that Edward is the only true ‘replaceable’ part of the current Na’Vi team. With the community mob at Na’Vi’s door, further disappointment will likely see Edward out before Zeus and a replacement from the huge pool of CIS talent should not be hard to find. Where would Edward go if he were to leave Na’Vi is a big question at a time where the region looks primed and ready for a shuffle. Gambit’s confusing position, FlipSid3 laying dormant, an inactive trio in Winstrike means there are plenty of options should the time come soon.

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Phoebe Dua

I'm a UK-based student who enjoys sports of multiple varieties, but has a soft spot for esports.

I used to co-host the Clucking Karambit podcast, now podcastless.

Follow me on Twitter - @Dualism97!

 

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