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Tactical Recap of NaVi vs Heroic - Quarterfinals of PGL Major Antwerp

20.05.2022, 22:33

The forlorn kings of a long-forgotten world are rising through the mist again. Their scary prints are making the remaining teams quake in their boots, and Heroic have become the latest victim of the Ukrainian wrath.

PGL Antwerp 2022Belgium, Antwerp, Antwerps Sportpaleis
$1,000,000Prize Pool
FaZe Clan
Natus Vincere
2nd Place
3rd Place

NaVi has reverse-sweep-ed Heroic to send the “villains” packing, and the FaZe vs NaVi pipe dream is one step closer to reality.

It was a difficult test of resilience and grinding, and Heroic did have a very real chance to kill the lions once and for all. But they missed their chance. They wounded the lion, but failed to kill it. And that cost them a seat in the Semifinals, as they pack their bags once more, thanks to NaVi.

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Inferno was a map of extreme mind games and advanced strats, with the following two turning out to be equally entertaining, in their own way. The fan favorites in Antwerp have defeated the volatile and chaotic Danes, and here’s how they did it.

NaVi vs Heroic


Inferno was Heroic’s playground, and they had already defeated NaVi on it in the RMR. Both their T and CT sides were some to be feared, and they showed us exactly that today in front of the crowd. NaVi chose to start on the T side, hoping to rack up some round wins on the CT side in the high-pressure late game.

Heroic went for some aggressive plays early on in their CT side. cadiaN constantly peeked down Mid with his Scout or the AWP. He also set up his teammates to go down Mid and peek into Alt Mid.

Whoever watched the game knows how littered it was with mind games and attempts to outsmart the other IGL. Some basic examples are how Heroic instantly stacked 4 on A after losing Banana and a player in it. The two IGLs were constantly getting into each other’s heads, and it was a genuine treat to watch.

NaVi were moving their pieces a lot because they knew of Heroic’s tendency to gamble stack. NaVi needed Heroic to spread out their players, and hence, they put pressure on both A and Banana constantly to keep the CTs guessing and get them to rotate prematurely. It was impressive to watch.

I saw a lot of different “standard” systems Heroic played. One of my favorites is getting Banana control, leaving the AWPer on Car, and then stacking four on A. Heroic were responding relatively well to NaVi’s gameplay.

NaVi were 9-4 down, and pushed it to 9-6, by moving a little faster than they usually do, and not faking a lot. They put heavy pressure on Banana, caused quick rotations from the CTs, and then won A thanks to great trades from Boombl4. They won B in the final round of the first half by overcoming a 3v5 deficit, and it looked like they were here to rumble.

But as it was in the RMR, Heroic were much stronger than other teams on the T side.

NaVi won the pistol and tied up the game at 10-10 soon, but then completely fell apart. Heroic kept NaVi guessing their every move, and thanks to great entries and map control, they pushed it to 12-10. In the 23rd round, everything ended for NaVi when TeSeS pulled out a monstrous 1v2 clutch to break the Ukrainian spirits on Inferno.

It was a round that NaVi is supposed to feed off of. It’s a round that lets NaVi get back into a game where they are in a backseat, and 6 months ago, this round would be one of those game-changing, script-flipping ones. But Heroic persisted and cleared that last hurdle NaVi so famously always wins. Heroic cloesd the map 16-10 after a cadiaN 1v2 clutch.

The second map was NaVi’s pick of Ancient. They had a 100% win rate on it; a 10-map win streak. They did extend it in the depths of the jungle against Heroic, saving a little bit of face after that loss on Inferno.

Heroic’s CT side was littered with pushing through smokes and aggressing endlessly. But there was a method to their madness. They constantly looked for information and recognized potentially weak spots to gain advantages, after which they sunk back into their seats and let the round play out. Heroic were confident in their late-round efficiency, which made these early-round aggressions quite powerful. Yeah, I know that Heroic only managed 6 rounds on their CT side, but without the aforementioned tactics, they’d be looking worse for wear.

NaVi had a great T half, one that will tempt a lot to download their demos. The pace and tempo control that electronic and b1t can offer to NaVi was the key trick for Boombl4, who used it to perfection.

Heroic had a few aces up their sleeves as well, though. They started the second half by winning 5 in a row to take an 11-9 lead. NaVi got their shit together and won 6 rounds out of 7 to make it 15-12. s1mple had a few of his moments, after a quiet game on Inferno. Soon enough, NaVi had won on Ancient 16-14 and avoided a humiliating 2-0.

There were a lot of strats that seemed “made up on the fly” but I’m pretty sure that both the teams had prepped hard enough and have their stratbook thick enough to make those mid-round adjustments to outsmart and outmaneuver the other.

Admittingly, NaVi made it much harder than it needed to be. There were instances when NaVi made some fundamental errors, not just here on the CT side of Ancient but in general. But all that was about to change. Much to the sigh of NaVi fans, the script was finally flipped in the third map.

The legendary matchup had taken us to Nuke. It’s a map that NaVi once reveled on, running rampant on the grounds of the nuclear wasteland. But Heroic were no stranger to glory, either on this map. They had defeated NaVi on Nuke in the RMR in quite a show. They humiliated NaVi’s defense back then, but in this event, they’ve had weaker shows of Nuke, especially against Team Spirit. NaVi, too, had a 25% win rate coming into this matchup, but as s1mple aptly put it in his post-match interview, “Maybe it’s a Major map.”

NaVi had grown into the match, and Heroic had to face the wrath of the Ukrainians on their former playground. NaVi won the CT-sided first half 12-3, a commanding victory. Heroic won another pistol round on their T side, but NaVi won the forcebuy and pushed it to an early lead of 3-1.

In the gun round, Heroic were poised to get their second, but they made what was possibly their first unforced error in the match: leaving the bomb in Lobby and letting electronic flank. With no time on their hands and a barrage of smokes and mollies in NaVi’s inventory, the Ukrainians took a 4-1 lead. It was quite a unique round that you don’t usually get to see.

Heroic got entries on s1mple twice but still weren’t able to convert the rounds. After falling to a 7-1 deficit, they finally converted a round where they had the numbers’ advantage. Heroic were testing all parts of the map to find some weaknesses and holes, but NaVi’s spacing and gap-filling were top-tier. It was a sight for sore eyes, and NaVi had bolstered their CS knowledge to take a convincing 11-2 lead. A fast A hit with some great supportive flashes was what it took to win another round for the Danes, but they failed the important, final hurdle to get that 4th.

s1mple killed TeSeS in a 1v1 and unloaded two mags of MP9 into his corpse before getting that final round defuse.

Heroic gave themselves a little breathing room by winning their third pistol in a row, thanks to TeSeS’ 3k. But NaVi won another forcebuy! s1mple clutched an important round to make it to 14th, and again, NaVi made it much harder than it had to be to win the map, and the match.

Eventually, they did win the map 16-8, thanks to a great s1mple headshot on cadiaN and a Perfecto 1v2 clutch. The Perfecto way to close a Quarterfinal, to mark the rise of the Ukrainians.

With hindsight and recency bias, it’s easy to say that NaVi was unplayable, but they were clearly flustered and lacked the explosive confidence they once boasted and fed off of. I can count the fundamental mistakes they made off the top of my head on any given match. As weird as it sounds, the former “onliners” were the masters amongst the crowd, and NaVi were silently fumbling. Even in the latter stages on Nuke.

NaVi were staring down the barrel of the shame of a loss from start to end, effectively playing into Heroic’s hands. Unfortunately for the Danes, NaVi is just a class apart when they come into their own, and there was no room for competition once the Ukrainians reached their peak.

s1mple was a shell of his former self today, but he’s recognized that already. “I need to step up, my team is carrying me” were the first sentence out of the 2-time HLTV’s Player Of The Year’s mouth. He had an interesting addition to his performance. “Sometimes I overthink what the opponents will do. I think they’ll do something smart, and sometimes, they just do something normal.”

electronic was the hero today, being the top fragger for NaVi in all the maps.

Glad to see papatronic turn into a legend again on LAN. This guy’s performance in an arena has no correlation with his age. A true legend. Once s1mple catapults himself into the man we all know and fear, ENCE will have practically no chance at this. (Veteran NaVi fans having PTSD after that line.) Regardless, FaZe Clan must be sweating right now.

But well, that’s a story for another day. We still have two spicy Semifinals ahead of us!

FaZe Clan vs Team Spirit and NaVi vs ENCE. Can’t wait enough.

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