Natus Vincere, Team Liquid, and Dust 2 historically combine for great games, and this showdown at IEM Katowice 2020 was no different.
Denis “electronic” Sharipov came up huge for Natus Vincere in the opening pistol round, but Liquid denied the conversion and kicked off a winning streak thanks to procured AK-47s and Kriegs.
Natus Vincere wasn’t going to make this easy, though. Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev mustered up a stunning one-on-four clutch victory, which Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhailov followed with a big round of his own. Those plays set up Natus Vincere with a big winning streak to take over the first half and take a 10-5 lead.
Liquid got things together in the second half. Liquid won the pistol round and bridged the gap a bit, but Na`Vi newcomer Ilya “Perfecto” Zalutskiy played shutdown defense for Natus Vincere to regain the momentum and drain Liquid’s economy dry.
Natus Vincere advanced to map point, but a slip where nobody covered long doors gave Liquid a chance to force overtime. Instead, s1mple came through huge however and slammed the door on the rally with a big play to secure a 16-11 win.
Game two on Mirage was almost a shot-for-shot remake of game one. Natus Vincere took the pistol round, but Liquid denied the conversion and got off to a strong start of its own.
Natus Vincere turned things around with big plays from Egor “flamie” Vasilev and electronic. The ball was rolling for Natus Vincere and s1mple came up huge to keep it going. The star player posted three huge clutch rounds, and set up Natus Vincere with a 9-6 lead to end the first half.
A good pistol round let Liquid play catchup for a moment, but Natus Vincere broke off a streak to advance to match point. Natus Vincere has an unfortunate tendency of letting games slip away and that habit reared its head here. Apparent miscommunications saw Liquid break off a few rounds and creep in on forcing overtime. Lucky for Natus Vincere, flamie took it upon himself to close things out and end the game in regulation 16-13.
Natus Vincere has been one of the standout performers of IEM Katowice 2020 to this point. Despite being something of an underdog, the team has looked rock solid with wins over FaZe Clan and Ninjas in Pyjamas. The CIS squad looks like a real threat to win the tournament, despite being a heading into its semifinals matchup with Astralis.
The bigger story coming out of this series is Liquid’s continued struggles since the StarLadder Berlin Major. The North American squad went on an exceptional run in 2019, but washed out early in the major’s playoffs. That undermined Liquid’s swagger and while they remained a very strong team that posted strong placements in almost every prominent Counter-Strike: Global Offensive event they competed in, they haven’t been able to win an event or get the better of old rivals Astralis.
Outwardly, Liquid has remained a united front. The organization has expressed support for its current lineup and there haven’t been rumors of any kind of serious internal strife within the team.
IEM Katowice 2020 represented another chance for Liquid to reestablish itself as the best team in the game, and they fell short of that goal.