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Na'Vi surprises Astralis in ESL Pro League Season 12 Finals

After a month of competition, ESL Pro League's Season 12 crowned Astralis its champion after a dramatic 3-2 reverse sweep against Natus Vincere.

Both teams took different paths to book their grand finals spot, but both looked sharp in the grand finals. Na'Vi came into the ESL Pro League grand finals with a one-map advantage thanks to its red hot streak throughout the season. Over the course of 10 games, Na`Vi dropped only a single series on its way to meet Astralis. Despite the return of in-game leader Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander, the Danes' path was less simple the team still looked strong. Astralis dropped eight total maps, but those included a pair of double-digit map losses to a surging mousesports.

By the start of the grand finals, both teams came in ready to play.

Na`Vi crushed Astralis to start ESL Pro League 12 Finals

Na`Vi's Dust 2 pick went their way thanks to another carry performance from Denis "electronic" Sharipov. After posting ratings of 2.38 and a 1.43 against Heroic on Inferno and Mirage, electronic dropped a 24-14 line on Astralis to go with a 103.4 average damage per round. He was a rock on Na`Vi's A-site defense as well, involved in a team-leading 84.6% of engagements during a showcase of CT play. 

Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen's 2.00 opening kill-to-death ratio was complemented by a 100% success rate on the attacking side, but it couldn't compensate for Na`Vi's explosive T side. It's a great stat, but another shows the real issue.

Despite leading all teams in opening duel win percentage this year, Astralis was forced to retreat time and time again on its CT side. The Danes saved in six out of nine of Na`Vi's T-side round wins as Na`Vi outplayed them in opening engagements. Na`Vi's commitment to its strengths notched them a 16-12 map win.

Astralis barely stays alive against Na'Vi on Nuke

In a close Nuke match, one play can make all the difference. On a map that ended 16-14 in Astralis' favor, dupreeh gave fans that play. 

The win was critical in the context of the final score, especially when Astralis was stymied on its attacking side. Na`Vi showed it had done its homework and was ready for almost every execute Astralis attempted in the first half.

Astralis' legendary Nuke defense was on full display after halftime. A 10-5 defensive half completely shut down the CIS team as Na`Vi strategies couldn't outplay Astralis on a map where the Danes once held a record win-streak.

Astralis take Train in overtime as Na`Vi locks down

Train somehow became the series' most exciting map. Na`Vi's perplexing performances on Train often lose the team maps and series. The pick made even less sense against Astralis.

Despite playing a relative newcomer in Patrick "es3tag" Hansen, Astralis has preserved the synergy between its historic players and limited potential miscommunications during B-site retakes. Over EPL Season 12, Astralis was 4-1 on the map. After the finals, it is now 5-1, but Natus Vincere came to play.

Na'Vi was clumsy on Train with long waits and poor timings that were exploited by Astralis at every turn. es3tag was on a different level during Astralis' CT side. Heatmaps showing the locations of his victims show that he was a gamechanger. Kills in popdog showed his skill at flank timings as well as retakes, and his A-site kills show that he's precise at retaking lost ground.

es3tag's EPL 12 Grand Finals Train Stats

  1. 40-4-24
  2. +16 Kill Differential
  3. 70.7% Kill Participation

Thanks to es3tag, Astralis ended their first-half defense up 13-2.

But instead of letting its first-half performance affect the second, a typically emotional Na`Vi came out swinging. With a mirrored half where Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev and electronic posted above-average ratings, Na`Vi won 13 rounds in the second half to send Train into overtime. dupreeh, who had been a pivotal part of Astralis' CT side, slowed down near the end of the match, while both Nicolai "dev1ce" Reedtz and gla1ve ended the map with negative overall ratings.

Though Na'Vi had strong second half, Astralis managed to settle down and take the 22-19 victory in overtime.

Astralis win Overpass to take ESL Pro League Season 12 title

Astralis started Overpass on the T side, but they might as well have started on the winner's podium. After an 11-4 finish, Na`Vi showed signs of life on its own T side. It took the first three after the pistol round, and then another run of four in a row to almost even the score at 11-12, but Astralis shut them down.

Overpass was an anti-climatic end to what had been an incredible series thus far. Astralis' 16-12 win did come with an impressive highlight from Emil "Magisk" Reif, and it was clear from that moment that Na`Vi's roster was spent. Even s1mple, famous for fighting until a matches' final moments, seemed to slow down as Astralis mentally out-lasted Na`Vi.

dev1ce, quiet throughout the entire series, tallied 12 AWP kills and frustrated an already sluggish Na`Vi. 

The Danes surged past Na`Vi on Overpass and took the ESL Pro League Season 12 grand finals 3-2. The win marks one of two reverse sweeps in CSGO history when a team starts down a map by bracket advantage, the first taking place at DreamHack Masters Spring 2020 in BIG's win over G2 from the lower bracket. They now lead all teams in total ESL Pro League wins at three, breaking its previous tie with Fnatic.

Astralis is set to take a small break until the start of DreamHack Open Fall on October 15, while Na`Vi will have to gear up for Valve's Regional Ranking tournament IEM New York 2020 Online starting on October 13.

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Time zone: UTC (GMT 0)
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