Esports News: In a return to lost form, Natus Vincere claimed first place, and the $50,000 cheque that went with it, at this year’s DreamHack Winter 2017 at the Elmia Convention Center in Jönköping, Sweden.
Natus Vincere have been struggling all year long, resulting in multiple roster moves in an attempt to fix the struggling squad. The first major shift was the removal of AWPer GuardiaN for Zeus, as he himself returned to his former side after winning a Major with Gambit Esports. One other key roster move took place recently, with the exchange of seized for star electronic, bringing much-needed youth and firepower to the roster.
Na`Vi avoids the upset
Opening play in Group A, Na`Vi played a dangerous Heroic team, known for their ability to pull off upsets in these exact situations. The first half of Overpass was shaky for Na`Vi, as they surrendered eight out the 15 rounds while on the favoured CT side. It could have been much worse for Na`Vi, as claiming the final four rounds is what kept the match close. After losing the first two rounds of the second half (their T side), Na`Vi broke through in impressive fashion, closing out the match by winning nine of the next ten rounds for the 16-11 win. S1mple, as he would do all tournament long, led the way with 29 kills.
The next match was one of the longest offline matches of the year, with Na`Vi ultimately falling to Gambit Esports in five Overtimes at 28-31. Of note in the loss was s1mple’s absurd 65 kills, while teammate Edward only claimed 25. Na`Vi were forced to play Heroic in a best-of-three tussle to get out of the group, which they would win 2-1 (16-5 Inferno, 9-16 Overpass, 16-12 Train), giving them the second seed.
Momentum on Na`Vi’s side
Navi’s semifinals opponent were the first seed of Group B, Team EnVyUs. Beginning on Overpass, Na`Vi came out of the gates on an absolute tear, winning the first nine rounds of the match, surprisingly on the T side. With a 13-2 half, it seemed as though the match was over, but EnVyUs did make a game with it, fighting their way to 11 rounds before Na`Vi closed the door at 16-11.
The second map of Nuke was a much more hotly contested fight, with Na`Vi once again starting on the T side. Na`Vi slowly chipped away at the French side’s defence, claiming a round here and there, eventually culminating in a 7-8 deficit. After dropping the first four rounds of the second half, Na`Vi rebounded in emphatic fashion, grabbing nine of the final eleven rounds to pull off the narrow 16-14 win and a place in the final against mousesports for the championship.
Mousesports the final opponents
The opening map of Cobblestone saw Na`Vi once again take a commanding lead based on their T side, this time to the tune of 11-4. The momentum carried over into the second half as mousesports looked completely dejected, as Na`Vi swept the first five rounds of the second half for the 16-4 routing. S1mple went absolutely crazy in this game, dropping 26 kills in just 20 rounds.
The second and final map of the finals was Inferno, where Na`Vi finally found themselves in a poor bit of form. After trading the first six rounds (3-3), mousesports put together six rounds in a row to balloon the lead at 9-3. Na`Vi kept the half and game close by closing out the final three rounds for the 6-9 stanza.
Swapping to their T side, Na`Vi continued their run of successful T sides, this time beginning with six in a row. While mousesports did find a round or two, it was not enough as Na`Vi stomped the T side, claimed the victory at 16-11, and saw themselves crowned champions.
While successful, this event was also concerning for Na`Vi as a whole given how dominant S1mple had to be in order to pull it off. S1mple is usually expected to play at such a high level continuously, but asking him to put on this calibre of play over a tournament again would be ridiculous. Players such as flamie and newcomer electronic will have to step up if Na`Vi are to find any prolonged success.