Na`Vi may have entered the game as the defending champions of IEM Katowice, but Virtus.pro’s made them work hard to look the part. Dust 2 was Virtus.pro’s map pick, where the team looked commanding from the outset. On inferno, both the teams engaged in a close fight until Na`Vi finished the series with a 2-0 sweep. Both maps saw one team get off to a strong early lead, but slow down in the second half.
Virtus.pro came out guns blazing on Dust 2 and stormed to a 11-4 lead in the first half on the T side. Star AWPer Dzhami “Jame” Ali’s shot-calling was absolutely perfect against Natus Vincere.
Virtus.pro had found Na`Vi’s weak link early on in the game, taking entry kills and getting quick plants on the B bombsite. Natus Vincere spent the first few rounds saving precious weapons as Virtus.pro butchered their bank. Virtus.pro tried hitting A site, but looked out of sorts while they were on it. The team still converted those rounds into wins as well. Thanks to Jame’s trusty AWP and impeccable captaining, the half wrapped up in Virtus.pro’s favour at 11-4. However, the team failed to replicate the performance on the CT side.
Natus started the T side slowly, with low-risk plays and A-site splits. A successful pistol round injected Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhailov and company with confidence, encouraging them to execute hard pushes. The scheme worked well, as Na`Vi closed the gap bringing the score to 12-11. A struggling Virtus.pro failed to bag even one round on the other side, giving up the first map to the reigning champions of Katowice.
Natus Vincere’s pick, Train, started exactly like Dust 2, in favour of Virtus.pro’s CT side. Timur “buster” Tulepov’s AWP did plenty of damage around the A site, locking down entrances. However, the match swung in Na`Vi’s when Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev got an AWP of his own. The team took over the B site thanks to s1mple’s sniping, levelling the score. Natus Vincere fought its way back to an 8-7 half, moving on to the CT site.
Boombl4 and company were an unbeatable force on CT, despite buster’s strong output. The game still looked doable for Virtus.pro as the team opened A site until Boombl4 went on a rampage and clutched two rounds, snatching the match out of Virtus.pro’s mouth. Boombl4 looked polished as he won some vital final rounds for the black and yellow brand, ultimately winning the series with a 16-9 score.
With the win over Virtus.pro, Natus Vincere will lock horns with FURIA Esports in the upper bracket semifinals of group B. FURIA is a tough draw for Na`Vi, as the team the Brazilian squad shook off some recent underwhelming results and stomped Ninjas in Pyjamas in its first match.
Virtus.pro gets is still alive in the lower bracket of IEM Katowice 2021. They’ll need to take out Ninjas in Pyjamas to keep going.