NAVI ownership allegedly changed hands behind closed doors two years ago and no one knew

The Ukrainian Esports organization Natus Vincere (NAVI) has changed hands in an allegedly under-the-table negotiation that draws more questions than it answers.

The organization’s new owner, Maksym Krippa, has a background definitely worth looking into. 

NAVI’s Counter-Strike esports team laid the groundwork for the org to eventually propel itself into the giant it is today. The success of their CS teams pushed them to branch out into different games and exciting titles, like their recent introduction into the VALORANT professional scene.

Since 2012, the NAVI organization has made $18.7 million in prize money across a variety of video-game titles and has stars like Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, an example of the caliber of players they host.

Oleksandr Kokhanovsky was the founder and owner of the CIS organization. However, he registered the business legally through the British Virgin Islands and only in July 2022 was it discovered to have changed hands. 

According to reports from Forbes Ukraine, an undisclosed transfer of ownership happened in 2020 to Ukrainian businessman Maksym Krippa, leaving questions as to why the change was hidden for so long. 

Who is Maksym Krippa?

Krippa is a character, to say the least. He has been a part of and even founded several companies involving advertising, software production, rental of machinery and equipment, and trading.

Weirdly, he’s an expert in volcanoes, with a diploma from the Institute of Volcanology of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He allegedly has former business connections to Maksym Polyakov, a man whose portfolio ranges from missiles to adult websites.

Krippa is also associated with online casinos. His known associations involve companies like GG.BET and Vulkan Bets, betting sites widely known amongst the esports community. GG.Bet is also sponsoring the upcoming Dota 2 The International 2022 tournament. The previous The International event dropped jaws with a £38 million prize pool in 2021. GG.Bet is allegedly owned by none other than Krippa. 

NAVI’s sponsor from 2017 to 2020 was GG.Bet, eventually transitioning to a new sponsor, 1xBet. While Krippa became the owner officially in July 2022, suggestions have circulated that he took ownership in 2020 behind closed doors. Not long after in Jan. 2021, GG.Bet came back into the fold and replaced 1xBet as NAVI’s sponsor. 

It’s been suggested that the chop-and-change of sponsors was designed to distract from the ownership overlap between GG.Bet and NAVI. However, despite the common Cypriot roots of their vast associated entities, there have been no conclusive connections drawn.

When betting companies fraternize with professional esports organizations, there are reputational risks and teams may not be able to compete due to a conflict of interest. 

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