Natus Vincere claimed first place and the $150,000 prize that went with winning the CS:GO Asia Championships 2018 in Shanghai. Na’Vi have been on the rise for quite some time, with the team finally producing around superstar s1mple, who is considered the best player in the world by a significant margin.
Na’Vi ease through Group play
Na’Vi began play in Group A against Team EnVyUs, who entered this event without Happy and RpK, with xms and SIXER in their place.
The match was an immediate wake-up call for Na’Vi, with this rag-tag EnVyUs line-up pushing them close. However, Na’Vi were able to secure victories on both Overpass 19-16 and Inferno 16-12, placing them into the Winners’ Match against Ninjas in Pyjamas. This was also a team with a new look, in this case with Lerk0 recently joining in place of draken.
The first map was all NiP, with the Ninjas closing out Overpass briskly, 16-6. However, Na’Vi were able to recover, with victories on both Mirage 16-13 and Train 16-9 to give themselves the series victory and an automatic placing in the semifinals.
Rematch in the semis
Due to some interesting outcomes in Group B, Na’Vi once again found themselves up against Team EnVyUs after the French side had taken care of Heroic in the quarterfinals.
This semifinal was eerily similar to the Group A match-up, with Na’Vi narrowly edging EnVyUs on both maps; in this case Inferno 16-13 and Mirage 16-11.
This placed Na’Vi into a shocking Finals against Virtus.pro. VP have been one of the largest disappointments of 2018, struggling to find even moderate success before this event. Now challenged for the crown of best team in Poland given the rise of AGO in recent weeks, the presence of VP in the Finals was a huge surprise.
Na’Vi forced to bounce back
The first map was an absolute stunner, with Virtus.pro coming flying out of the gates, securing an absurd 12 rounds on the T (terrorist) side of Dust II. Na’Vi had no answer after half-time, leading to a swift 16-3 victory for the Poles. Byali led the way for VP as he had for most of the event, in this case with 21 kills.
Yet this is where the new age of Natus Vincere shone, showing composure and the ability to bounce back after a rough map; something they have notoriously lacked previously, being known generally as a front-running side.
Na’Vi absolutely dominated VP on Nuke, giving them a taste of their own medicine with their own 12-3 T-side. Na’Vi would let one round slip in the second half, leading to a 16-4 victory and leaving the series knotted at 1-1.
Unfortunately for the spectators, the final map of Train was another blowout, with Na’Vi carrying their momentum into yet another 12-3 T-half. Na’Vi quickly closed out the map from there, achieving victory with a 16-6 scoreline, which gave them the championship.
Growth evident in Na’Vi play
The development of Na’Vi throughout this year has been a slow process, with the team improving around the continuing incredible play that s1mple provides on essentially every map.
The most important change for Na’Vi has been the aforementioned shift in their mentality that has allowed them to come back even after brutal opening maps; although that has unfortunately also been a trend for this side.
The question for Na’Vi has always been about which second star will support s1mple at the top of the scoreboard, and oddly enough the team have risen to the point where at least one of flamie, electronic or Edward will find success depending on the map.
The presence of s1mple alone given his current status allows Na’Vi to have a fighting chance in every tournament, but the more consistent the players around him become, the higher chance they have of winning major tournaments.