Looking at the NAVI journey
Ukrainian esports organization, Natus Vincere (NAVI), won the Intel Extreme Masters Cologne 2021 (IEM), taking home their second Cologne championship. Playing their first CS:GO LAN tournament in almost 503 days, NAVI showed no signs of rustiness as they hit the ground running, without dropping a single series in the group stage and not one map in the playoffs.
They started their tournament with a victory over the Renegades, having taken the match 2:1, making short work of the Australians after a competitive first map (Map 1 – Inferno 10:16, Map 2 – Dust II – 16:6 and Map 3 – Nuke – 16:4). The win over the Renegades paired up NAVI with Team Vitality, which saw NAVI take the match 2:1(Map 1 – Overpass 14:16, Map 2 – Nuke 16:5 and Map 3 – Mirage 16:10), after solid performances from Perfecto and their talisman s1mple.
The win over the French team saw them face their old foes Astralis in the Upper Bracket Final, which would lead to a direct semi-final place. After a strong comeback from Astralis on Dust 2, NAVI dominated the Danish team by taking the match 2:1 (Map 1 – Ancient 16:7, Map 2 – Dust 2 19:22 and Map 3 – Inferno 16:5) with s1mple amassing 89 kills over the three maps.
The win over Astralis, saw NAVI get direct entry to the semi-finals, where they would face a resurgent FaZe Clan, who made it to the playoffs after getting whitewashed in their opening game. FaZe Clan though didn’t stand a chance against the NAVI juggernaut as the Ukrainian
team took the BO3 (best of 3) match in straight maps with a comfortable 2:0 (Map 1 – Inferno 16:7 and Map 2 – Mirage 16:7) margin. With s1mple once again leading his team to victory, the Ukrainian CSGO maestro was also knocking on the record books door, already having amassed three aces in the tournament, tying up for most aces by a player in a single tournament.
A dominating victory over FaZe Clan set up NAVI with G2 Esports, for the grand final showdown. In a BO5 (best of 5), the maps picked by the finalists were Dust 2, Mirage, Nuke and Inferno, with Ancient being left as the decider should it be needed. Starting off on their map pick with Dust 2, NAVI started strongly taking the first five opening rounds, but a fight back from G2, saw the first half end at 8:7 in NAVI’s favour. The second half was much more comfortable for NAVI, with s1mple notching up his record-breaking fourth ace of the tournament to give NAVI a comfortable 16:11 win.
As they shifted on the G2’s map pick of Mirage for the second match, G2 fought back strongly. Even though they lost the first half 8:7, they took four rounds on the trot in the second half to lead NAVI 11:8, and looking more likely to make NAVI drop their first map in the playoffs. That wasn’t to be though, with NAVI’s latest recruit B1T stepping up, as he matched s1mple for kills and impact to help NAVI take five on the bounce to secure the second map 16:14.
Heading into the third map Nuke, picked up NAVI; G2 knew they had no option but to win. A loss would mean NAVI taking the championship. NAVI once again started strong, posting five on the board before G2 could even post one of their own, and that left NAVI taking the first half 8:7, once again. After losing eco rounds to NAVI, G2 seemed to have conceded, with Spanish team managing to take only three additional rounds post their second half pistol victory.
The final also saw the entire NAVI roster step up to support s1mple with Perfecto and electronic putting in strong performances in the final to brush aside G2, taking the map 16:13 and win the championship with relative ease.
As championship, NAVI takes home prize money of $400,000 and 1800 ESL Pro Tour points and 3200 BLAST Premier Points. Heading into the summer break on the back of two wins at Cologne and the BLAST Premier: Global Final 2020 back in January, NAVI will head into the ESL Pro League Season 14 as strong contenders when gaming resumes on August 16th.