Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev finished the grand finals of the IEM Cologne 2022 CS:GO tournament in second place and celebrated in the most unexpected way. The Natus Vincere star and his teammates got onstage as the runners-up to FaZe Clan, and s1mple proceeded to toss his medal to a fan in the crowd before proceeding to his dressing room.
S1mple was awarded the medal by the Intel esports marketing manager, George Woo, after suffering a 3-2 loss to FaZe Clan earlier. After it was placed on him by the marketing manager, the Ukrainian superstar reportedly took it off his neck, glanced at the medal, and seemed to get into a conversation with a fan standing not far from the stage. The conversation ended with s1mple tossing the medal to the fan as the crowd cheered.
While his actions can be perceived to have been born out of the anger of losing the opportunity to become the number one team in the world and partake in the huge prize money, s1mple gave another reason for his actions. While being interviewed by HLTV after the match, the NaVi star denied any claims that his actions were born out of his frustration of losing; instead, he remarked that his bag had little space for another medal.
“No,” s1mple said. “I’m just traveling all the time with my bag, and I don’t have place for the big DHL MVP [laughs]. And this medal is… too many medals inside this bag, you know, I need to save them for home.”
Besides the runner-up medal, HLTV gave the Ukrainian the title of the Most Valuable Player of the IEM Cologne 2022 tournament. Despite losing to FaZe Clan, he was said to have outperformed the best players in the franchise, such as Helvijs “broke” Saukants and Russell “Twistzz” Van Dulken.
Aside from the medals awarded, NaVi and FaZe Clan both won cash prizes of $180,000 and $400,000, respectively. NaVi have the advantage in the last seven head-to-head matchups, having won four times. FaZe previously won the 2022 PGL Major Antwerp after a clean sweep over NaVi.
The IEM Cologne grand finals best-of-five series started with FaZe taking an early lead. NaVi won the next two maps and were merely a map away from emerging victorious. FaZe ended up winning Mirage and tied the game at 2-2, forcing a fifth map. FaZe snatched the win in the final map to become champions. According to Esports Charts, the 2022 IEM Cologne grand finals became the most watched non-major CS:GO match, with a peak viewership of around 1.25 million people.
FaZe are now a tournament win away from emerging as the Intel Grand Slam champions and taking home the $1 million cash prize. If the franchise does win the prize in October during the ESL Pro League Season 16, it would be the fourth team to claim it. The previous winners of the tournament include Astralis, Team Liquid, and NaVi.
NaVi will make their next appearance in mid-August at BLAST Premier Fall Groups 2022 and thereafter at the ESL Pro League Season 16 by the end of August, before the 2022 BLAST Premier World Finals in December. Before either event begins, the players will go on a hiatus from all official matches.
The next few weeks will see NaVi decide on their roster for the upcoming tournaments. The team has yet to decide on the future of Viktor “sdy” Orudzhev, the stand-in who joined the starting lineup in place of Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhailov.