The CIS squad seemed ready to cruise to a victory after racking up an early lead over G2 Esports, but wound up stumbling their way to an overtime loss.
Natus Vincere was in complete control early on. Egor “flamie” Vasilev and Danylo “Zeus” Teslenko anchored the team while Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev and Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhailov made strong individual plays. The entire lineup was firing on all cylinders en route to a solid 10-5 start to the game.
A hot opening in the second half from G2 put Na’Vi in a precarious position and allowed the French squad to tie up the game. Natus Vincere composed themselves and advanced to map point, but massive output from Kenny “kennyS” Schrub and some well-timed clutches from Audric “JaCkz” Jug allowed G2 to force overtime.
After being generally quiet during regulation Richard “shox” Papillon finally started to make his presence felt in overtime and JaCkz once again stepped up to seal the deal and take the 19-17 victory.
Though this technically goes down as an upset, this is an on-brand turn of events for Na’Vi.
The team has long boasted a remarkably talented lineup but struggled to convert that to crucial victories on the biggest of stages. They opted to go all-in on this major, taking an uncharacteristically light schedule in the summer, competing in just one event since May. For one half of one game, that seemed like a great idea. Now, the team’s prospects are very uncertain.
Na’Vi is in position to bounce back as they take on DreamEaters in round two of the Legends Stage, but the Russian squad is not one to sleep on. They managed to navigate their way through tough competition in the Challengers Stage and looked strong enough to make a run here.
Both sides will be looking for a statement victory tomorrow, but if Na’Vi comes out on the bad end of that game, their trip to Berlin might just be a short one.