Steven R. April 8, 2019
Natus Vincere are the champions of StarSeries & i-League Season 7.
The Ukrainian team smashed its way into the grand finals and faced off with Fnatic. There, Natus Vincere scored an emphatic but hardfought 3-0 victory to seal up the first-place prize of $250,000.
The first map was essentially the Denis "electronic" Sharipov show. He carried Na’Vi to a 5-1 lead to start the game with a some solid gunslinging and never took his foot off the gas. Though Fnatic stayed right on Na’Vi’s heels, the Swedish team never actually retook the lead and never had one of its players step up as a real difference maker. That allowed Natus Vincere to kick off the series with a 16-13 win.
Fnatic’s top stars stepped up on second map Dust 2. Jesper "JW" Wecksell pulled off a number of key clutches while Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson led the team in frags. But once again, Na’Vi just stayed a step ahead of the the Swedes. While JW and KRIMZ posted strong solo efforts, Electronic was once again a force while Egor "flamie" Vasilyev and Ioann "Edward" Sukhariev posted impressive numbers themselves. That helped Na’Vi push its way to series point with a 16-11 victory.
Game three took place on Inferno and saw the greatest individual performance by a Na’Vi player in the whole series. Though he had performed well in the first two games, Flamie went wild in the third, pulling off one multi-kill round after another. KRIMZ stepped up big for Fnatic, but just wasn’t able to overcome the monster performance from Flamie. Na’Vi closed out the series 3-0 and took the top prize with a 16-10 win.
The victory is a huge one Natus Vincere.
The $250,000 prize is the largest check the organization has received in its Counter-Strike: Global Offensive history, and the tournament is among the biggest the team has won to date. It also comes at a time where Natus Vincere has been struggling to fully realize its potential, with the team entering as favorites to many tournaments but often falling short of the top prize.
Just as importantly, the victory was the kind of team effort that Natus Vincere often lacks. A running theme throughout many of the squad’s losses is its inability to capitalize on strong individual efforts from Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev. The team has routinely seen its star player post gaudy stat lines en route to a loss. This was seen as recently as the group stages of this tournament, when s1mple posted a huge 62-41 K/D in a three-game series against Vici Gaming but still endured a 2-1 series loss.
One series doesn’t cure the team’s ills, but this was the kind of performance that shows that Natus Vincere is capable of beating anyone in the world. If the squad can maintain this form into the BLAST Pro Series Miami tournament next week, it could easily take the top prize there as well.