Na`Vi recently announced that veteran in-game leader, Zeus would be re-joining the roster as captain following his victory at the Major with Gambit. Zeus will be filling in the roster gap left by Guardian as he departed to join FaZe. This move puts an end to seized as the IGL, a role he picked up when Zeus was kicked back in October of 2016.
Na`Vi under seized's leadership failed systematically. Aside from their win at ESL One New York 2016, they achieved almost nothing of note, which was shocking considering the hype and potential promised by the lineup. Seized's role as IGL was one of the key points of criticism around Na`Vi's failings. And while conflicts between players and more deeply rooted internal issues could be pointed to as having an equally big hand in Na`Vi's lack of success, at the end of the day, seized clearly struggled heavily with the role.
This criticism, while fairly levied against seized in the context of the IGL role, unfairly paints a picture of who he is as a player. So with seized returning to his role as a rifler and Zeus back as IGL, it's worth reminding fans who seized was back in the old Na`Vi, what went wrong in this recent iteration, and what we can expect in the newly revamped roster moving forward.
As a rifler in the old Na`Vi lineup, comprised of himself, Zeus, GuardiaN, Edward, and flamie - seized could be very loosely defined as a 'support' player. On CT, seized was key in creating situations that resulted in his teammates having more space. He fulfilled the role secondary AWPer for the squad once starix became coach and, as time went on, became the small site anchor on more and more maps in Na`Vi's pool.
Let's take a quick look at round 15 from Na`Vi’s game against Mousesports at the ELEAGUE Season 1 groups, a round that really highlights seized’s AWPing ability as well as his CT side play when he is at his prime.
Here we see that he is positioned aggressively in apps with the AWP, taking an off-angle. The T’s are looking to do a standard B execute, with one man at short to split the site and 4 at apps to overwhelm seized. The first man is quickly picked by seized, and then he immediately falls back to site. From there he hits an impressive shot and then uses solid positioning and repeeking to kill the other two.
This is by no means a super ‘flashy’ AWP clip - the terrorists presented seized with four openings and he took each from the highest percentage positioning and with consistency. He is a very vanilla AWPer but his consistency and smart positioning allows the likes of Guardian and Edward to be more dynamic on Na`Vi’s CT sides. This philosophy also translated into his rifling as well.
Here's another example of seized’s great fundamental play under pressure. Playing against LDLC in the Grand Finals of StarLadder StarSeries XI, seized gets isolated on site after starix gets taken out. Seized manages to spray down one player and tag another heavily, but is forced to give up his strong angle to reload. Watch as he makes sure to shoulder peek first, baiting out a shot, and then peeks out to take down the tagged man. Rather than hunt for third kill, seized makes the smart play and tries to avoid dying, knowing he has a teammate in CT to support and bait out angles before spraying him down.
These two clips really show the philosophy and strength of seized back in the glory days of Na`Vi. His job isn’t to make a big shut-down repeek or to hunt for that third kill in a flashy way. He has some of the most talented players in the world beside him to do that. Instead, Seized's job is to be a solid base for his team by taking the toughest positions or filling in where nobody else wanted to play.
On T-side, seized could be defined as a lurker in the most standard sense of the term. He sits apart from the team and looks to punish any early rotations and deny map control responses from the CT’s. This style of passive lurking stands in stark contract to a more active player like MODDII. Let's take a look at how both players approach lurking on the T-side of Overpass.
First up we see seized playing a very safe, stationary and passive lurking role over near monster on the B site. The rest of his team is going to be playing a map control default, where they work as a team to creep up areas of the map, slowly taking map control and forcing the CT’s to expend utility. When we look at the map and see how the CT’s will rotate, we can see seized’s positioning acts as plan B , an insurance policy against flanks or over-rotates. It also gives him a very safe position to punish greedy CT’s looking for info in the early to mid round. Watch as we see seized do this job perfectly, shutting down the pushing CT with great spray control, then repositioning to kill the second aggressing CT before finally being traded by the third. This clip shows us the power of someone like seized in this position, forcing the CT’s to use far too many resources to take a portion of map control.
This is in stark contrast to someone like MODDII though, who lurks in the same spot as seized, but far more actively. We see on the map here that MODDII is splitting off from his team and going to lurk B solo just like seized did. However, this time, MODDII rushes to water immediately to punish the CT’s lack of control. He knows that the CT’s won’t rush this part of the map based off of Misfit’s patterns in the previous rounds as well as in the demos Heroic had undoubtedly analysed. The CT’s don’t expect him to be up there so quickly and he manages to catch one, punishing his push into water. Importantly though, MODDII doesn’t fall back. Watch here as we see MODDII confidently hold onto his map control, looking to fight against someone on full hp. Here, he is trusting his ability to win the duel and actively looking to make a play. Fortunately for him, a CT impatiently peeks the angle and MODDII wins the duel - killing two men like seized did, but gaining far more map pressure and not dying in the process.
MODDII’s play was impressive and made far more impact than seized’s, but that is the difference of systems and roles these players have in their team. Unlike MODDII, on either side of the map, with the AWP or with a rifle, seized is not the player that is meant to be making big plays or to be given lots of individual freedom to actively open up the map . It’s simply not his style, strengths or philosophy to approach the game this way. This is one of the many reasons why when he became IGL, Na`Vi fell apart.
Unlike Zeus who focused on very structured, mid-round, slow map control game-plans, seized called with the intention of giving his array of superstars freedom. With the burden of calling also detracting from his own individual gameplay, this lack of outside structure and focus on freedom saw seized’s individual stat lines plummet.
This problem was amplified even further given seized’s own lack of experience calling and the reported internal issues going on in the team at the time.
Taking this into account, it’s fair to expect a return to at least some semblance of form from seized. It’d be unreasonable to exactly say what seized’s role is within the new Na`Vi. Zeus might take the team in a different direction, looking to change up his system to effectively utilize the more volatile and explosive AWP of s1mple. A likely option considering both mou and Guardian, the previous two primary AWPers Zeus has worked with, had a more standard passive style.
In this sense, expect to see the same, fundamentally sound, vanilla play from seized. Hopefully though, you don’t mistake this standard play for being ‘boring’ or a factor of seized’s mediocrity. He is a player that will do anything to win and will fill any job required for Na’vi to succeed. This even means taking up the role of IGL, losing consecutively for nearly a year, being destroyed by internal issues and then going back to his role as rifler under the IGL whose role he once took. Seized is an exceptional player and watching how he will return under Zeus should be a story on everyone’s mind.