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Team Liquid tops Na'Vi, heads to IEM Katowice 2021 semifinals

Team Liquid has broken Natus Vincere's 10-match winning streak and sent the team to the quarterfinals of IEM Katowice 2021 after a close match to end the group stage. 

The two teams succeeded in winning their own map picks, something of a rarity in IEM Katowice 2021 to this point. But Inferno became a lion's den, with the two teams going to double overtime in the deciding game. Team Liquid had a great showing on the opening map, Overpass, with Keith "NAF" Markovic securing key kills. Natus Vincere was victorious on its Dust 2 thanks to incredible clutches and individual play from Denis "electronic" Sharipov, Ilya "Perfecto" Zalutskiy, and Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev rather than solid teamwork.  However, win on decider Inferno awarded Team Liquid a ticket to the IEM Katowice 2021 semifinals. 

Team Liquid starts shaky in IEM Katowice 2021 showdown with Na`Vi

Team Liquid didn't have an ideal start to its own map pick, Overpass. The Gabriel "FalleN" Toledo-led roster looked off-balance at the start as Na`Vi took the first four rounds, but the team was quick to bounce back. After Team Liquid got a feel for Na`Vi's defensive strategies, the team took over and won 10 rounds to close out the half with a strong 10-5 lead. 

s1mple fire back and brought Natus Vincere back into the game. The black and yellow took the pistol round and recovered from a failed conversion before threatening to steal the win from Team Liquid by winning five straight rounds. Wins on half-buys were crucial for Team Liquid's victory and kept Na`Vi from ever gaining the lead. Despite s1mple's 27 kills, Natus Vincere failed to outplay Team Liquid on Overpass and fell 16-14. 

FalleN's squad started Dust 2 with a strong pistol round marked by a flawless retake but strong multi-kill rounds from electronic showed that this was Na`Vi's map pick. Things were back and forth during Natus Vincere's T-side until s1mple had an AWP in his hands and used it to blow down doors to sites for his team. Team Liquid couldn't hold down sites, as Natus Vincere showed no respect. From there, Team Liquid couldn't seem to catch up, as Natus Vincere posted an 11-4 half on the board pointing towards a third map. On T-side, Team Liquid opened the half with a pistol round win, but it didn't gain the team any sustained momentum. Team Liquid's efforts come up short as the game ended in Natus Vincere's favor at 7-16. 

Team Liquid and Natus Vincere lock horns in a nail-biting decider inferno 

Team Liquid had a decent showing in the first half of the decider, Inferno. FalleN and company made Na`Vi sweat as they started the game with five wins. Kirill "Boombl4" Mikhailov eventually started locking down the B site, winning Natus Vincere its first rounds on the CT side but Team Liquid eventually picked up steam, and started cracking through to both sites. The comeback earned them 10 rounds on the T half, and put Na`Vi in a tough spot. 

Initially, things looked to be going in Team Liquid's favor in the second half, capitalizing on a slow start from s1mple. Na`Vi lacked firepower with s1mple posting a relatively weak game but took control in the second half and eventually took the lead. Team Liquid's Jake "Stewie2K" Yip found the clutches and key kills necessary to keep things competitive and force overtime. 

The first overtime initially favored Natus Vincere, as electronic was on fire with the AUG, but Team Liquid's strong team play carried the game to a second overtime. The second overtime saw Team Liquid take command, with a huge Grim triple kill setting up Team Liquid to close things out 22-19. 

Team Liquid has now qualified for the semifinals of IEM Katowice 2021, where they will face the winner of Virtus.pro vs. Astralis. Na`Vi is still alive in the tournament and will face Gambit Esports in the quarterfinals.