After several failed attempts to win an official CS:GO Major, s1mple has finally done it, bringing Natus Vincere unprecedented glory, at least in this esport. This has certainly been the best year not just for Na’Vi, but CIS in general. The success of CIS teams in CS:GO has been coupled with the success of Team Spirit in Dota 2.
How Na’Vi Won the PGL Major
The tournament started well for s1mple and his crew. First of all, they didn’t have to participate in the New Challengers Stage because they were one of the 8 Legends. So all that was required of Na’Vi was a top 8 result in the New Legends Stage. And thanks to s1mple, b1t, and electronic, Na’Vi didn’t just qualify for the Playoffs. They knocked it out of the park with 3 consecutive wins against Heroic, Virtus.pro, and NiP. The team’s total round score for this stage was +31.
The only other team that had a similar result was G2 Esports. And it was clear from the start that NiKo and his crew were going to be the only worthy rival for s1mple. G2’s 3 W – 0 L result guaranteed that the two teams could only meet each other in the Grand Final of PGL Major Stockholm. And that’s exactly what happened.
G2’s path to the Grand Final was a challenging one. In the Quarterfinals they encountered NiP. The match ended with a clear victory (2 – 0) but both maps were tough. In the Semifinals, G2 had an even better opponent. Heroic had already defeated Vitality, Astralis, and Copenhagen Flames in the previous stage, and the team was known to be formidable. The first map was Nuke and cadiaN’s crew proved its versatility. Nuke was supposedly only its 4th best map. But it didn’t matter. The final score was 16 – 12.
On the 2nd and 3rd map, G2 was obviously much better prepared. Mirage ended with a clear victory in its favor (16 – 10) while Inferno was a complete nightmare. Heroic had a record of 8 W – 1 L on this map ahead of the match and looked more than capable of winning the match. But somehow, after a 15 – 15 result, NiKo found a way to win in just 4 more rounds. It was an anticlimactic finish that no doubt left Heroic’s players disappointed in themselves.
Na’Vi started the Playoffs of PGL Major Stockholm with a tough match against Vitality. The French squad had struggled during the New Legends Stage and had to make a comeback from 0 W – 2 L. But precisely because they were able to make this comeback, Na’Vi had to be extremely careful not to underestimate ZywOo’s roster.
The match only needed 2 maps to conclude, but both of them were close. On Dust II, Na’Vi won 16 – 11, while on Nuke the score was 16 – 13. Imagine how well Vitality played if they managed to win 13 rounds on Na’Vi’s best map. The CIS team was 10 W – 0 L on Nuke ahead of this match.
The Semifinals match was unusually easy for Na’Vi, even though the opponent was one of the teams that really knew how to beat them. Gambit Esports, their strongest rival in the CIS region, managed to win just 11 rounds in total. The maps were Overpass (16 – 8) and Mirage (16 – 3). If you would have watched the match without knowing what you’re looking at, you would have thought that Na’Vi’s players are smurfing in Gold Nova I.
s1mple had a rating 2.0 of 1.87. Boombl4 had one of 1.43. electronic also knocked it out of the park: 1.40. B1T’s was 1.31. Only Perfecto had a more reasonable score: 1.11. The MVP was s1mple with 50 kills and just 20 deaths. This was Na’Vi’s strongest match in the tournament.
In the Grand Final of PGL Major, G2 looked like the underdog almost from the start. On Ancient, Na’Vi won with a score of 16 – 11. The first half was close (8 – 7) but the second half clearly showed who’s boss.
The second map was Nuke. It’s a mystery why G2 didn’t ban this map considering that Na’Vi had won 11 consecutive matches on it. However, if we look at the score, it’s obvious that G2 had trained on this map for a few days ahead of the battle and that’s why they left it in the pool, hoping that Na’Vi would pick it. But they underestimated their opponent’s prowess on it. The first half was indeed solid for G2, who looked like they could do it (10 – 5). But then the score became 15 – 15 and in the overtime, Na’Vi won with a score of 22 – 19, crushing NiKo’s dreams again.
Photo credit: IEM|Sarah Cooper