Steven R. February 22, 2019
If Natus Vincere has some interpersonal drama going on, it isn’t yet affecting the team’s play.
The Ukrainian squad took a strong win over Avangar on day three of the Katowice Major’s Legends Stage, exploiting the Kazakhstani team’s timidity to seal up a 2-0 series win. The victory was a much-needed return to form after Na`Vi struggling against Team Liquid on day two.
Na’Vi sent a powerful message to its CIS rivals on Dust 2. Despite playing on Avangar’s map choice, the Ukrainian side posted arguably its best game of the major thus far. Egor "flamie" Vasilyev stole teammate Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev’s swagger and sniped his way to a massive 26-kill, 120 ADR performance that denied Avangar any chance to find success on offense, leading to a lopsided 16-6 win.
Things didn’t go much better for Avangar when it moved onto Na’Vi’s turf, Train. Despite enjoying some early success on the CT side and sprinting to a 6-2 lead, Avangar couldn’t bottle up Na’Vi for long. Clutches from S1mple and steady output from Ioann "Edward" Sukhariev turned the tide, giving Na’Vi the map 16-11 and the series 2-0.
Despite being an exceptional team on paper and regularly posting strong performances at LAN events, questions about infighting within the Na’Vi lineup have lingered for months. A rocky showing at the GG.Bet Ice Challenge in January had many wondering if things were coming to a head with Na’Vi, and if their performance in Katowice would suffer as a result.
But to this point it has been business as usual for the team. Starting off in the Legends Stage, it opened by thrashing G2 Esports and besting Vitality in a triple overtime nailbiter. A 2-0 loss to Liquid threatened to undermine the team’s unity, but it reestablished itself as a force by sweeping Vitality.
Now 3-1 in the Legends Stage, Na’Vi advances to the Champions Stage playoff alongside Astralis, Team Liquid, and Renegades. Meanwhile, Avangar will return on Sunday for an elimination series.