Staff Profile: Creative director of Natus Vincere

CS2 / News / 15 August 2018 — 07:35

Meet Alexey Kostyliev!

We've got a lot of talented people working at ua NAVI.GG.BET, each of whom has an interesting story to tell. Because of their job specifics, they often remain unnoticed, working modestly behind the scenes but this by no means belittles their contribution to the common goal. 

The guest of our today's Staff Profile is Alexey Kostyliev, Creative Director of NAVI. In the interview below, he spoke about the process of idea generation, self-improvement and his love for esports!

  • — Hi Alexey! Would you like to tell our fans more about yourself?
  • — Sure, let's do this!
  • — First off, how old are you? Where did you study? What were your hobbies growing up?
  • — I'm 31. I studied at two universities, Kyiv Institute of Cinema and Television and Kyiv National University of Culture and Arts to become an actor and a journalist and TV host. I did all sorts of things growing up! Basketball, football, kyokushinkai karate (I think I was a green belt and brown strip), attended electronics classes, tried mountain bike trials (I still can easily jump on a car or do a jump over a group of 8 people), skateboarding, skating, mathematics classes and the like. It's probably easier to think about what I didn't do...
  • — As far as I know, computer games, especially CS, have always been among your hobbies. How did you become interested in them? Where did the love for this shooter and games in general begin?
  • — When I was a child, we had an internet cafe in our district, it was on the second floor of a residential building. Someone brought a Counter-Strike CD from the States once (I think it was a beta). We all tested it but not for long due to having to wait until others finish playing the round, and we paid money for time (laughs.) But after a while, we got to try it again. And we loved it. We began learning configs, got acquainted with the teams... When I went to summer camps, Counter-Strike was the main thing everybody was discussing! (laughs). Later, I got into the Planet X internet cafe – by the way, it was the club which ZeroGravity managed and where he organized his first tournaments. Then it all took off.
  • – In an interview, your brother Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev said that you shared one PC and that you instilled in him the love for CS. How did it all happen?
  • – Yes, when he was very young, we had one computer for us two. I always played Counter-Strike and wouldn't let him use the computer. Sasha could play only racing games then. I then showed him how to play CS. He took an extra chair and took over a mouse for shooting, while I was on the keyboard. His favorite map was cs_arabstreets: he was always super happy when he heard the melody from it...

— And then your hobbies gradually changed, while Sasha became more immersed in the world of CS, correct?  

— Hm... He came into esports during its gold times, when the industry just began to develop dynamically, while I had won a couple of tournaments before this... If I'm not mistaken, the first place in the FIFA competition brought me 100 hryvnias, and I won a mouse or something like that at a CS event. That's when I realized that it was time to get out of esports. I think it was 2002.

— Was it still too early to speak about esports back then, or you and s1mple already understood its potential?

— He knew about it since CS 1.6, although it wasn't exactly the esports we see now. There were competitions between teams, where you could win and take home some prize money. Not to say those were big sums, but they seemed sky-high for a school student. I remember the competitions held when I was young, like WCG 2000. We all saw that what we did was competing in computer games, but no one could predict how large the gaming industry can become. We see regular competitions nowadays, with professional analysts, hosts and commentators which bring together the strongest players of the world accompanied by managers and coaches. Who would have thought that the number of tournaments will increase by tenfold! It seemed unrealistic back then. Sasha probably didn't see these prospects, too, at the beginning... He always said that he played only because he enjoyed Counter-Strike. He liked to win. He had no other motives.

— How did your passion for video games develop into the love for competitive CS? Who of you was the first to discover this "next level"?

— Sasha, of course. He started going to an internet cafe and played there. Our parents didn't like that. We have a very strict father. He never let Sasha go unless he did all his homework. Sometimes, I had to cover him up and even gave him money so he could buy a Snickers bar or a can of cola; I had once been there and understood how important it is to have some pocket money when you are at an internet cafe... Our parents never gave him any money for that then. It wasn't because they were greedy or something, of course not, we have wonderful parents, it all just seemed like video game addiction to them. Now it's ridiculous to even think about it, but they tried to place some limits on Sasha several years ago.

— What teams did you follow when you just discovered competitive CS? Did you have any favorites?

— Sure, I've known about NAVI since 2008, I think. I didn't cheer for anyone, but simply observed how esports was developing. I was interested in finding out more about the titles and not see them as computer games only.

— What was your reaction to s1mple starting a professional career? Did you watch his first games? Did you see right away how serious he was about it?

— I watched every match of his, from kz Astana Dragons to NAVI. I missed them only if I was traveling. It's very important to me to watch all Natus Vincere games, and it's great that it's the 21 century and you need only an iPhone and the Internet to join the stream. With Twitch on the audio-only mode, I can even ride a bike and listen to how the boys are playing. (Laughs.)

— You said in an interview that your brother dreamed of playing for Natus Vincere. Did you want to join the organization?

— Of course, I wanted to! In general, I want to address our readers who think that the organization is only those people who play computer games. It's far from it. This is a mechanism which runs like clockwork. It's incredibly interesting to work in the esports sphere, and working for NAVI really seems like a dream.

— You once said, "It seems that just recently we shared one computer, but today is your 20th birthday and we are working for the same organization". Could you imagine that one day you both will work for NAVI?

— Actually, I could. I don't know how to explain it. I watched videos and realized that I could contribute much to it, and not only that. I felt pretty sure that this was my thing, my place and that I could do it.

— How do your relatives and friends react to you both working in esports?

— It's all great now! (Laughs) Not everyone, of course, understands what we are doing. It looks especially weird for those who've never played computer games, especially the girls...

— Is it true that you entered esports only because of s1mple? If not for Sasha, could you end up in  Natus Vincere or any other club / project?

— No, no and no. It's just a coincidence that we work together, it's not connected to Sasha playing for NAVI.

— How did your NAVI story begin ? Did you have a job interview? How did it look like? What would you recommend to people who dream to join the organization?

— Yes, I went through many interviews. I was given a test task and had to work on it and present it. The selection process involved several stages and was very long. I think my first interview was in October or November 2016, and I started to work in April next year. As for the tips... I don't even know... Develop yourself, do not stand still, come up with different things and implement them, experiment, do your best... This is probably everything you need to know!

— You should have had an idea of how the work in Natus Vincere looks like, what employees do and what goals they set for themselves. Could you tell us more about it? Were your expectations in line with reality?

— Before joining NAVI, I worked as a creative director for several other companies. To be honest, its structure is not much different from the others, it's just the number of positions and directions that is very vast here.

— What about your colleagues? How would you describe the media team of NAVI?

— I adore my colleagues! Those are the people who really deserve to work in the organization of this level. They are great. We do not only work together, but also spend leisure time together. Overall, I spend a lot of time with our media team, as we constantly work on new projects and ideas. Each of us is a crucial cog of a big machine.

— How are creative ideas usually born and developed?

— We usually brainstorm, and the ideas can come from very unexpected sources. For example, we came up with the Comment Patrol series while listening to the "Police Academy" soundtrack that was playing on my laptop. We thought, Why can't we introduce it in the esports context to communicate with fans? We all liked it, discussed the concept and implemented the idea. You saw the result, we made it happen!

— You graduated from the cinema and television faculty as TV journalist, announcer and TV host. Does this knowledge come in handy now?

— It definitely does. I was always a good student. I had excellent teachers who were working on Ukrainian television, dubbing movies and doing English dubbing for all TV channels. We had theater and cinema actors as teachers. I really learned a lot of things and gained experience which has been very valuable in my work.

— You always look so confident and at ease on camera, can have great dialogues with players and keep the viewers interested. What's your secret?

— Just remember that you have to read a lot. If you want to become a host, you have to study your subjects and have a rich vocabulary. Coupled with the experience gained at the university, that's what contributes to the result you see on screen, whether on live streams, prepared interviews or videos of other formats. I hope you like what I do!

— I think you were involved in digital marketing and creative advertising campaigns. What does this experience mean to you? Do you apply any knowledge you gained then to your work at  NAVI?

— Yes, I built and developed some prominent brands, offering solutions for business development and devising digital strategies to build long-term prospects. We created websites, developed brand books... Some websites we created are and .

— You travel a lot with NAVI. Which trip was your favorite? Funny stories we know nothing of are also welcomed!

— There are too many stories! Once, when flying out of Krakow, we tried to find a route around the traffic. We had a truck ahead of us that pulled down the power wires with its antenna, and the hose fell right beside our cab! It wriggled like a dragon! It was super dangerous... There was also a situation with us coming late to a connecting flight in Sweden, so we had to fly six extra flights and spend another day traveling. 

— You had your share of work with both Dota 2 and CS:GO players. Are they really so different?     

— The guys playing Dota 2 and CS:GO indeed are very different. Dota 2 players, as I see it, are more peculiar (in a good way!), they are somewhat similar to video game characters, each with his interesting inner world that is not so easy to understand. CS players, on the other hand, are the guys who simply like shooting and throwing grenades; they like action and dynamics and always stand out.

— In your opinion, what helped our CS:GO team get back to the top after those difficult months?

— Although it may sound cheesy, I think it's persistence and practice. The boys really found synergy. Some time ago, the team was thought to be able to do this in a month, but it does not always happen so nowadays. It takes some time for the players to start understanding each other. Believe me, the process is very complex. But now I'm sure NAVI are heading in the right direction. They won four tournaments, but this doesn't mean much yet. They have to win a major.

— Do you think the team is now at the peak of the form?

— I hope we'll see the boys in the best shape at the major. This is far from the peak, however, everything is still ahead. They found the right way to do that and are working very hard.

— What are the plans of the creative team for the coming months and the fall major?

— We will proceed to do vlogs which will be even greater than those that we have now. We won't stop as we are always trying to get better.

— Stepping away from esports, what do you do outside the office?

— I really love sports activities. I ride a bicycle almost every day, enjoy tennis and basketball and love surfing. It's funny but despite this I hate going to the gym. Hefting dumbbells and straining myself is not my favorite thing to do. Sports should be fun. In childhood, I used to ride bike trials and go skating. I was doing kickflips. I always loved extreme. Nothing has changed over these years, I just don't have much time now.  

— Music is also an important part of who you are. You've made a pretty successful career as a DJ. What is your story?

— In 2000 or 2001, DJ Sender launched a "Bomb" radio show. He inspired me with his music, those were cool tracks with a touch of progressive and house. I decided to try it and learned everything myself.I read articles on how people work with it, went to internet cafes with my own hard drive, turned music on and got on everyone's nerves because the ping was so bad.

— What was your best concert?

— Actually, there were a lot of them. I DJed at some big festivals like Z-Games. It's such an amazing atmosphere... Everyone wants to hear the music of your soul. Summer, sun, beach, dawns, hot sand... It's unforgettable! I came back from Chernihiv recently, where I played at the "Peace no War" party at the Garden club organized by one of the largest club promoters in Ukraine. It was a great pleasure! It was a great open-air club and I played deep tech and techno.

— Where can we see you perform in the near future?

— In September, I will be at the Rixos Sungate closing party. Such artists as Timati, Vremya i Steklo and Vera Brezhneva will be there.

— Are you working on any other projects at the moment?

— Yes, I am working on a very cool project, Ninja Sushi. The best chefs, fast delivery, interesting things which no one has ever offered before. I won't even speak about the taste! I share all the details on my Instagram page, so subscribe and keep updated!


— Your favorite artist?

— I have millions of them: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lenny Kravitz, 50 Cent...

— Your favorite movie?

— "The Aviator", "The Game", "Fracture".

— Your favorite book?

— "Twelve Chairs" and "Golden Calf" by Ilf and Petrov.

— Your favorite place to relax?

— It depends on the time of the year. I like to distract myself from the hustle and bustle and just read a book or the news on the beach, dive into the ocean and surf.

— Your main achievement in life?

— I sometimes feel like I've achieved a lot, but every new achievement makes me realize how little I actually did. Everything is still ahead.