Understanding the Move: Windigo
Just recently, Windigo announced the benching of Teodor “SPELLAN” Nikolov from the active lineup. The organization cited “recent inconsistent performance” as well as the “atmosphere during practice” as to the reasons for the move. The 20 year old in-game leader had been with the ex-Outlaws squad when they were signed before the Boston Europe Minor last year. At the ongoing ZOTAC Cup Master Europe Regional Finals, former MK player Simeon “dream3r” Ganev is standing-in for the team. Notably, Yanko “blocker” Panov is also standing-in for Nikolay “pNshr” Paunin.
Here I will take a look at firstly who Windigo should look at for replacements and secondly what SPELLAN should do or where he should go.
As for who should be the permanent replacement for SPELLAN, one thing should be stated first: dream3r is a poor option for replacement. I published a series of Tweets about this, admittedly before knowing that he is currently just a stand-in, and why it would be a bad idea. To reiterate and for those who do not know, dream3r has a VAC ban and is unable to play in Valve sponsored events. At the two Minors that the MK core attended (under E-Frag and Orbit), dream3r was unable to attend and pNshr was used as a stand-in. They still performed quite well, placing second and third in the first two Minors.
However, there are many players from Bulgaria now that can match the skill dream3r brings and don’t require a stand-in if the team wishes to play in a Minor or Major. The main three options I think they should look at come from BPro and MK. The two longest standing players from BPro currently, the aforementioned blocker as well as Valentin “poizon” Vasilev, have been putting up big numbers for their team in the many online cups they participate in, most recently the Esports Balkan League Season 2 and Stream.me Gauntlet: CIS vs EU #20.
On the MK side, the young Branislav “BrN” Panov has shown some decent potential, particularly at the first Esports Balkan League. Veteran Nikolay “niki1” Pantaleev has been playing exceptional, but considering the manner in which he left this Windigo team, it may be unlikely for him to return.
Either way, it leaves the problem of the in-game leader. At the upcoming ZOTAC Cup event, Viktor “v1c7oR” Dyankov will act as IGL, but I don’t see this as a long-term solution. Over the past few months, v1c7oR has been Windigo’s best performer, and the burdens of the IGL role would likely hurt his personal performance quite a bit. If all four current members are equal in their capabilities as tacticians and/or leaders, then it would make the most sense to put pNshr in the role considering his experience and current performance.
As for SPELLAN, his options are somewhat limited unfortunately (unless he decides he wants to go international of course). He could join one of the lower teams or create his own. Interestingly, Ivan “Rock1nG” Stratiev and Nikola “NK4Y” Radushev recently left their team Without Warning. These two were teammates of SPELLAN’s back on Outlaws, and this opens the possibility of a reunion of the majority of the former Outlaws players, obviously barring Tsvetelin “CeRq” Dimitrov who is shining in North America.
I already shared my opinion that the removal of SPELLAN was the wrong decision, leaving the team without a leader and strong fragger. SPELLAN was acting as the primary AWPer, but that likely won’t affect the rest of the team considering Kamen “bubble” Kostadinov has primary AWPed many times in the past. Either way, I don’t see this move as the right one, but hope that the Bulgarian scene can continue to grow.