Natus Vincere is heading home.
In the Berlin StarLadder Major quarterfinals, NRG Esports defeated Natus Vincere, taking the series 2-0. It’s a rough blow for a Ukrainian team that has focused all its efforts into this event and faces questions as to what comes next.
It was also an excellent performance from a North American squad that is looking to establish itself as the best in the region.
The clash started out on Dust 2, with Na’Vi taking the pistol round by defusing the bomb. NRG answered back by force-buying in the second round with their boosted funds and denying the conversion. They turned that into a 10-5 half, preventing Na’Vi from ever getting strategically settled or economically comfortable. The highlight of the half was Tarik “tarik” Celik shutting down four members of Na’Vi in round 12, crippling any rally before halftime.
Na’Vi started the T-side in a better position. Despite losing the pistol round, they fought their way to a 13-10 scoreline. However, without full utility Na’Vi struggled to win aim duels as star player Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev missed shots he would usually hit. NRG secured victory on map one 16-12.
The second game on Mirage started with the teams trading rounds back and forth. Na’Vi eventually gained the upper hand and shook any doubt that may have crept in by advancing to a commanding 10-5 lead at halftime.
Despite the strong start, the second half of Mirage was awful for Na’Vi.
The team struggled to hold back NRG’s strong offense, allowing them to take the lead and advance to map point. Natus Vincere showed their Major experience by maintaining composure and waiting for opportunities. They dug deep and held back NRG to force overtime.
The overtime period looked like it could be the start of a revival for Na’Vi and there were moments that suggested they could force a third map.
Tarik once again proved to be a difference-maker for NRG Esports in round four of overtime, making big plays around the A bomb site. The wins were expensive however, and NRG went into match point with barely any utility and two players with MP9s.
After getting the first kill, Na’Vi pushed to the B bombsite but wound up right in the sights of Tarik and Cvetelin “CeRq” Dimitrov. They were all gunned down, allowing NRG to steal the round, win the map 19-17, and seal the series 2-0.