So far in 2023, no team has been on an upward trajectory in the women’s Counter-Strike scene quite like NAVI Javelins. After being signed by the NAVI organization in May 2022, the team has not finished below fourth place in a single ensuing events. These events include six ESL Impact Cash Cups, ESL Impact Valencia 2022, Katowice 2023, the Season 2 European Division, GIRLGAMER Esports Festival 2022: Ceuta, the IESF Female World Esports Championship 2022, and most recently, Gamers Without Borders Female 2023, which is where they scraped past NIP Impact 3-0 in a bitterly close grand final.
At this point, it’s hard to deny NAVI Javelins’ place as one of the preeminent Impact teams and it’s equally as likely to not discredit them as a major contender for winning the Season 3 Finals, which will take place in Dallas, Texas in early June. With that said, for fans, when they observe a team like NAVI Javelins, the question among them inevitably arises as to how this lineup came to be and what has enabled them to play so well.
With an eye towards the ESL Impact Season 3 Finals in Dallas, NAVI Javelins’ IGL Hania "Hanka" Pudlis sat down with BLIX to discuss the team’s continued development since Katowice, the decision to replace Danuta "Danuu" Grajkowska with Martyna "LETi" Owsik, and how this lineup was initially formed, among other topics.
Reflecting on Katowice 2023
Pedro Romero, BLIX: NAVI Javelins finished in second place at ESL Impact Katowice 2023 and first in the group to qualify for the Season 3 Finals. It’s certainly good days for the team so far as women’s CS is concerned. What is the current state of the team?
Hania "Hanka" Pudlis: We are very happy with our recent achievements, but now we are focusing exclusively on the tournament in Dallas to show our best side there. The previous wins gave us a lot of confidence, we can see the results of our hard work.
BLIX: Qualifying for the Season 3 Finals marks the first time NAVI will compete in a season finals for ESL Impact. How does it feel to qualify for the finals for the first time in your career with this team?
Hanka: This means a lot to us, especially since in previous seasons of the ESL Impact League we were one game away from being in the LAN finals. We finally beat the streak and we're headed to Dallas! We are very happy, especially since it will be the first tournament with LETi.
Competing in ESL Impact Season 3
BLIX: Four days before the start of Season 3, the team announced the signing of LETi following the expiration of Danuu's contract. What prompted the team to add LETi for Season 3?
Hanka: Changes were needed to refresh the lineup and it gave us new opportunities. LETi perfectly matched our expectations as a player and as a person.
BLIX: What has been the biggest difference in your eyes between playing with LETi and playing with Danuu?
Hanka: It's hard to compare Danuu to LETi in terms of CS because they both play different positions. However, the biggest difference is the mindset, LETi seems to be very confident, and I can also feel it when playing.
BLIX: Although there was pressure surrounding the team about whether they can continue their fine form from Katowice onwards, NAVI qualified for Dallas with a perfect 5-0 record. How did the team continue their form from Katowice until the end of Season 3?
Hanka: The third season of the ESL Impact League was a very good season for us. The first matches in the league were also the first official matches with LETi. But in the end, we dominated our group and showed that we are the top of the world.
BLIX: Who do you think was your toughest opponent in the season and why?
Hanka: I think 9Pandas were the toughest contender based on the rankings. The match was very easy and we finished 2-0.
BLIX: Who, among your team, deserves to be the MVP for NAVI’s Season 3 showing and why?
Hanka: The choice is obvious and it will be Wiktoria "vicu" Janicka. I think that at the moment she is the best sniper in the female scene, and I'm not saying that just because she plays with me in the team. [laughs] All the statistics show this fact - the girl has no equal this season.
Keeping an eye on the competition
BLIX: Nigma Galaxy have continued their dominance of ESL Impact by beating you guys in the Katowice grand final. However, with them losing to NIP Impact, there’s a growing sentiment that the gap between them and the rest of the teams is closing. How far or close do you think NAVI is to surpassing Nigma?
Hanka: I think we are getting closer to Nigma Galaxy with every match. The matches in Katowice were very even and if not for our own mistakes, who knows how it would have ended.
BLIX: Rewinding to the Katowice finals, NAVI lost excruciatingly to Nigma Galaxy on Vertigo by 22-19 despite being ahead 14-9. What do you think went wrong for the team in the late stages of that map?
Hanka: On Vertigo, our own mistakes caused us to lose this map. I’d say it was unlucky and you must keep working to improve it in the next meetings.
BLIX: Which other team outside of Europe that qualified for Dallas has caught your attention? What about that team makes them so appealing to you?
Hanka: I am very curious about the HSG team after Olga joined them. I think they might stir up the women's scene.
Origins of NAVI Javelins
BLIX: Before the world started watching this team as NAVI Javelins, it was once known as Totalne Gituwy, a free-agent team in Poland that formed in early 2022. How did this team form at that time?
Hanka: We knew each other much earlier. When we saw that ESL announced tournaments for women, we decided that we needed to build a golden women's five and it worked!
BLIX: What does the name “Totalne Gituwy” mean? Does it derive from Polish culture or something else?
Hanka: It has no deeper meaning. “Totalne Gituwy” means “Total Boss”. I don't think it can be translated into English. [laughs]
BLIX: How did NAVI contact the team with the intention of signing?
Hanka: We got a message on Discord from Olha Novak, our current manager, that NAVI was interested in us. From that moment on, we knew that we were very close to fulfilling our dreams.
BLIX: So far as this team’s history is concerned, it’s been on a constant upward trajectory from being a free-agent team to becoming one of the world’s best. What do you think was the biggest factor behind this team’s improvement since forming?
Hanka: It seems to me that our strength is the atmosphere that prevails between us. We're like really good friends in and out of the game. Thanks to this, we can talk to each other to come to the best conclusion.
BLIX: You mentioned to Sam, one of my BLIX colleagues, how playing in the Katowice event was one of the team’s dreams, so I want to know from you specifically, what it was like playing in your hometown and doing well in the event.
Hanka: Playing in Katowice was undoubtedly a dream come true for each of us. The fans did not let us down and it was very loud at our matches. When I remember this event, I get goosebumps, something wonderful!
BLIX: How will the team look to continue keeping their form for the Season 3 finals in Dallas?
Hanka: We are training very hard to show our best in Dallas. Soon we will have a boot camp and it will help us to prepare. We are confident and looking forward to playing on LAN.
Be sure to keep an eye on BLIX's CS:GO portal as we bring you more news about ESL Impact ahead of the ESL Impact Season 3 finals in June!