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Monday, June 17, 2024

huNter – Coming of age & out of Niko’s shadow

Nemanja ‘huNter’ Kovac has been making waves in the Counter-Strike circuit with his raw ability and often unmatched precision. The hybrid star though, has often been compared to his cousin Niko ‘Niko’ Kovac and continues to remain in the Faze Clan superstar’s shadows. But, for how long?

huNter had a very disingenuous start to his Counter Strike Global Offensive career with iNation along with current teammate LETN1. His initial days on the roster were quite shaky, with unimpressive statistics on the server. But, the Serbian soon got a grip of the essentials of competitive play and began his slow but steady rise.

While 2016 wasn’t as impressive, 2017 saw huNter post an overall rating of 1.36 on Lan for iNation. The lineup was then snapped up by Binary Dragons and huNter produced staggering but steady numbers under the new banner.

Over the period of more than one and a half years, huNter posted a sub-1.00 rating in just 5 events. That the Serbian played a total of 35 events including qualifiers under the banner makes the aforementioned statistic even more impressive.

Interestingly, the lineup stuck together for the longest of times and continued to do so, albeit under the banner of Valiance. The lineup was untouched till February 2018 and despite just four months under the new organization, huNter had positioned himself amicably as a prospect to keep an eye on, recording an overall rating of 1.24 during the period, the highest on the team by a fair margin.

There have been different variations of the Valiance roster since then. But, in November, 2018, the organization’s decision to add OttoNd, nexa and EspiranTo is paying dividends, with huNter and LETN1 the only players left from the haydays of iNation.

While huNter is now surrounded by mechanically stronger players compared to previous iterations, the Serbian has continued to shine on the server, posting an average rating of 1.23, the highest on the current roster. But, with everyone pulling their own weight and more, Hunter is finally tasting success and getting chances to prove himself against the best of teams.

Dreamhack Open Tours was the latest example of just how impressive huNter’s skillset has become. The Serbian was the highest rated Valiance player as the lineup recorded impressive wins over Mousesports in a best of 1 and over G2 in the semi-finals over three maps before falling to mousesports in the final.

But, the event was enough to raise the expectations of the Serbian scene from huNter, if it wasn’t high enough already.

The player clearly stands out among the five Valiance players, despite the current roster consisting of the likes of nexa, who has played on Tier-1 teams for a fair bit and EspiranTo, who had tasted success in the semi Tier-1 or Tier-2 tournaments and has been hailed as a prodigy.

Photo: HLTV

While huNter’s competitive Counter-Strike history has shown a penchant for sticking to the same roster and the current iteration of Valiance does seem to be on the right path, there is no denying the fact that the Serbian looks ready for a big team.

There aren’t many options to consider when thinking of teams that will be a fit for huNter, both on the server and off it. On the low side of things, Cloud 9 could be an enterprising option. The North American organization are still looking for the best combination to take the organization forward in the scene.

In Europe, BIG have started branching out a bit and if Denis isn’t able to perform well enough upon his return to the organization, huNter will represent a viable gamble for the lineup, who did so with XANTARES and the Turkish superstar is finally starting to get into his rhythm in BIG.

There are obvious organizations that perhaps, would be the goal for huNter. Mousesports are known to bring in a gamut of mercurial stars and could very well target huNter in the next shuffle, if the current iteration fails to achieve a better status within the scene when compared to the previous one.

But, playing alongside his cousin at Faze Clan would surely take the cake. The North American organization are currently trying out NEO as the fifth, with the Polish veteran taking over the role of IGL from Niko.

But, should the experiment fail, we could see Niko return to being the IGL and Faze aim to bring in a raw talent like huNter, who would surely fit in well with Niko under the tutelage of compatriot YNk.

An alternative way in for huNter could be the departure of either Rain or Olofmeister. The two stars have not been lighting up the servers as consistently as earlier and could be on the chopping block in the near future.

Photo: HLTV

For now, huNter will likely be focused on continuing the momentum gained by the current Valiance to push for better results against top teams.

The Serbian might not be in a direct battle with his cousin. But, he is doing ever so well to not be called Niko’s cousin anymore. huNter has built up his own reputation in the scene with his performances. And it isn’t long before we see the Serbian being mentioned in the same breath as other superstars of the Counter-Strike scene.

Abhisek Bajaj
Abhisek Bajajhttp://www.talkesport.com
Conquering words, one letter at a time.
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