The new Natus Vincere roster has turned back the clocks and won the Spring Finals to get the momentum rolling in their favor prior to IEM Cologne. It was barely a contest, as NaVi easily won 16-8 and 16-5 on the two maps.
It’s a pattern at this point. The opposite team picks a surprise map to punish NaVi, and the Ukrainians end up smashing them on it. It happened in the Stockholm Major Grand Final as well, where G2 picked Ancient as their map, thinking NaVi would be relatively weaker on it. Nothing worked out. NaVi continue their 18-month long streak of going undefeated to the Vitality core of ZywOo, apEX, and misutaaa, and that streak doesn’t look like it’ll be broken any time soon.
3.5 years ago, s1mple and co. had lost in the Grand Finals in BLAST Pro Series in this exact arena to Magisk, dupreeh, and zonic. The ex-Astralis core get the taste of their own past medicine, though, as s1mple completes his Playoffs revenge storyline.
FaZe Clan, OG, and now Vitality.
This was Vitality’s best chance at taking down NaVi. They hadn’t defeated the Ukrainian squad in 18 months, and honestly, with the level NaVi has been playing at, they never had a chance to. But not this time. NaVi was relatively weak and posting band-aid solutions to quite a few of their problems. Some of these problems ran deep, like the apparent lack of practice on their own darling map of Nuke, and what’s the bandaid solution? Ban it. NaVi banning Nuke was a traumatic sight I, a NaVi fan, was simply not ready to digest.
Regardless, the map pool was a mystery to all. NaVi had only played on Mirage, Dust 2 and Inferno, barring that one loss on Ancient. Picking one of Overpass, Nuke, and Ancient was Vitality’s best bet to make the game competitive. Clearly, they picked the wrong map. The fact that NaVi went on to ban Nuke makes me feel like Vitality picking Nuke would’ve made the game spicier.
— NAVI (@natusvincere) June 19, 2022
Mirage (NaVi’s pick)
s1mple was the top fragger, but b1t was the real star of the game on Mirage. On T sides, his Mid pushes and plays were phenomenal, and then on the CT side, his multikills, immediate or spread out, were make or break for NaVi. s1mple was the one to start the game for NaVi, of course. After losing the pistol, s1mple made a great paly with his hero AK to open the floodgates to a 9-1 lead for NaVi. s1mple did cool down in the tail end of the map, but not before handing the baton to b1t and electronic.
Perfecto’s B holds on the CT side were another thing of beauty, and NaVi looked very well-coordinated and rehearsed from start to end. There were not a lot of times when individual prowess was a must for NaVi to win the rounds, and that’s always a great sign.
Vitality never truly had a real chance to take advantage, with every single round they won offering nothing but a mere hope of the match not being humiliatingly one-sided.
Perhaps things would be better on their own map pick?
Overpass (Vitality’s pick)
NaVi let Vitality build up some hope early in the game. Vitality took a 4-0 lead on their T side, and it looked like the French-Danish fans finally had something to cheer about.
But as B1ad3 said in an interview, though Overpass is a map they didn’t get a chance to play on in BLAST, it’s definitely one that they’ve practiced on. Role-wise, Overpass is the simplest of maps, at least on the CT side. The A-B rotator position that Boombl4 used to play can be played by electroNic, and lo and behold, the B gap that electroNic leaves is exactly the position sdy used to play in in his past teams.
As it has been reiterated, the tactics remained more or less the same, with just roles being shuffled around to different players. So is it truly a surprise that a NaVi that makes me reminisce of a bygone time won 11 rounds in a row on their CT side?
NaVi managed to close out the map quite easily. Vitality did get one CT round on the board to boast it to the rest of the world, but the trophy went NaVi’s way.
s1mple breaks the MVP record
As it is in every event NaVi won, it’s the team that steps up. If it’s only s1mple that’s doing the heavy lifting, NaVi are not gonna win the event. And if they do, their will be at least 3 MVP candidates.
s1mple, electroNic, and b1t. All three were rock solid and stepped up in their own time to pull NaVi over the line round after round. But be it statistics or just eye test, s1mple was the deserving MVP.
He won his 20th career MVP to eclipse dev1ce, who sits inactive on 19.
— NAVI WON 💥 (@BLASTPremier) June 19, 2022
The two times when s1mple has won HLTV’s Player of the Year award, he’s won 6 and 8 MVPs in those years. That’s quite some numbers. This time around, I feel like even 1 or 2 MVPs will do. There’s no real competition for s1mple, with Vitality and G2 both facing issues post their January changes.
Cloud 9 have had their own problems, and broky is the only one who shone in the first half of the year.
Unless ZywOo wakes up and plows through his opponents in the second half of the year, I think 2 MVPs are more than enough for s1mple to be crowned Player of the Year for the third time, yet another record.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens of NaVi with sdy. s1mple showered him with quite a lot of praise and said he hopes sdy could join them in Cologne. Talking about the stand-in, he definitely had some good impact. He had practically no time to practice with this squad, and yet managed to post a 1+ rating. For a support player, that’s great. All we wanted from him was to not eff up too bad, and he did just that and then some.
Dreams come true. pic.twitter.com/odeXRPcwqe
— 🇺🇦 Viktor Orudzhev 🇺🇦 (@somedieyoungCS) June 19, 2022
With NaVi and Vitality finding their stride, and FaZe Clan being handed a painful lesson, Cologne has become a hundred times spicier even before it starts. Let the games begin.