It wasn’t a good day for the Natus Vincere, as a whiffed spray from Kirill “boombl4” Mikhailov not only looked but also led to a domino effect for the struggling CIS team.
Natus Vincere’s IGL missed 14 out of 17 bullets while trying to entry kill Ninjas in Pyjamas’ Hampus “hampus” Poser before the Swedish surprise ended Na`Vi’s ESL One Cologne run. It’s a great example of how an engagement that lasted only seconds can effect an entire match.
Players whiff all the time, but what was supposed to be an easy kill for boombl4 turned into a missed opportunity. Hampus was warmed up after a 16-9 Overpass win, leading all players in kills with 24 frags to go along with a 1.28 rating.
It all went down on Train with up NiP on the CT side 5-3. The round was set up perfectly for Na`Vi. Its players started the ninth round with full rifle buys across the board and an AWP in Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev’s deadly hands.
Over on the defense, NiP’s economy was wrecked. Both Nicolas “Plopski” Gonzalez Zamora and Fredrik “REZ” Sterner had pistols with no armor while their teammates held two saved AKs and an AWP. But the real difference between the two sides was utility. On Train, the attacking side executes onto a site the majority of the time, using grenades to block off the map’s long sightlines. To ensure a round ten buy, NiP has decided to save and see what it could do with only one flashbang, two smokes, and two Molotovs on hand to stall for rotates. With few grenades to slow Na`Vi down, the CIS team was one execution away from a better score and a stronger standing on their T side.
It’s immediately clear what happened. Knowing that NiP had saved three weapons from the previous round, boombl4 thought NiP would do something Na`Vi does all the time and force into round nine. boobml4’s aggressive entry was a good call, but its execution was awful. Na`Vi never looked like it was on the same page from its opening moments.
Possibly playing against a potential flash, Ilya “Perfecto” Zalutskiy was yards away his leader behind the T main box. But Egor “flamie” Vasilev hadn’t even rounded the corner into T main. The in-game leader’s death was thus untradeable. When boombl4 missed 14 bullets and died to Hampus’s return fire, it was just the the beginning.
Although the missed spray affected the entire match, its forgiveable. The rest of Na`Vi’s reaction to it was not.
As its players struggled to make a decision, the CIS team became predictable. As showcased in WIN.gg’s tactical breakdown of Na`Vi from ESL One Rio, the team stereotypically ran down the clock down before being forced into T main during the round’s closing seconds. By that time, Plopski had retreived the AK and a dropped smoke from boombl4’s corpse and used them to eliminate flamie and Perfecto.
At the same time, a low-health Hampus scored his second kill of the round as Denis “electronic” Sharipov tried to take Ivy. s1mple was left alone and would have been the final Na`Vi player with eyes on site. Worse still, look at Na`Vi’s available utility when they decide to walk through Plopski’s smoke. Na`Vi gains no information, damage, or pressure despite its use of an entire team’s worth of utility, ending the round with the almost the exact same amount of map control it started with. The first image was taken at 1:50, while the second screenshot was taken with 31 seconds left in the round.
It’s a bad way to lose a round, but this isn’t a rare occurence for Na`Vi. Luckily for players, Na`Vi’s Train gaffe should be used as list of what not to do when down a player early. NiP defeated Na`Vi 16-3 on Train, sending s1mple and company home early from ESL One Cologne.
Check out WIN.gg’s case for NiP’s potential breakout right here.