Dust 2 and Nuke were the staging grounds for a defeat that seemingly broke Astralis after the team cruised to the semifinals without dropping a single map. Natus Vincere took the series in two decisive maps and booked their tickets to the IEM Katowice 2020 grand finals
The semifinal started on Dust 2 where Na`Vi took the early lead off the back of dramatic plays by Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev and Ilya “Perfecto” Zalutskiy. Things quickly got out of hand for Astralis as they took massive casualties round after round from the kind of plays that make casual players drop from a server.
Na`Vi gave Astralis no quarter, conditioning the Danes to fear the long hit before a mid to B walk produced this masterpiece:
Star player s1mple was in rare form.
The world’s top-ranked team was systematically dismantled by Na`Vi as the CIS team put up a 14-1 scoreline in the first half. Na`Vi’s Kriegs were on full display for perfecto and Egor “flamie” Vasilev. s1mple, unleashed with Na`Vi’s release of Ladislav “Guardian” Kovács, put up a total of 19 kills in the first half.
Dust 2 was over before it began. Na`Vi gave up four after winning the CT pistol round, but Denis “electronic” Sharipov’s aggressive cat push in round 21 netted him a double kill and set up Na`Vi’s A-site defense for the map win 16-5.
The semifinal’s first map was a master class by s1mple and made the argument that HLTV’s crowning of Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut as the world’s best player was dead wrong. s1mple finished Dust 2 with a gaudy stat line of 25 kills, 11 assists, and just three deaths, He also had 123.5 average damage per round, a 95% Kill/Assist/Survived/Traded statistic, and an earthshattering 2.09 rating.
Astralis’ looked no better on Nuke, the map where Astralis once posted a commanding 31-map winning streak. Nothing could get in Na`Vi’s way. The Danes took the pistol round despite perfecto’s heroics. That turned out to be one of only two rounds that Astralis won on their Terrorist side.
Na`Vi won the ensuing force buy after flamie burned alive, but took two with him. Alongside this, Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhailov pulled off a cheeky decoy play that started a five-round streak for the CIS squad. flamie locked down ramp throughout the half, and posted an ace with just a Galil against a strong Astralis buy.
Astralis went into the second half down 13-2, completely unable to break through Na`Vi’s assertive defense. The Danish roster picked up three more rounds before Na`Vi decided they had had enough.
Finally, two sets of double kills from s1mple and electronic put Na`Vi on match point, and a clean final round from the team sent Natus Vincere to the grand finals. In the end, Astralis only managed a total of ten rounds over both maps.
It’s unfortunate that s1mple’s performance was broadcast to an empty Spodek Arena. Polish authorities revoked ESL’s permit to hold the event on Friday, citing concerns over the spreading coronavirus. ESL’s announcement that fans couldn’t attend IEM Katowice 2020 sent hundreds of fans that had already traveled to Poland scrambling to get home.
It was an unfortunate slate of semifinals to play out in front of an empty room, as s1mple’s outstanding performance came just after Kenny “kennyS” Schrub and G2 Esports posted an impressive victory of their own over Fnatic.
Natus Vincere will play G2 Esports on Sunday for the trophy at IEM Katowice 2020.