After the first LAN tournament in over a year finally drew to an end, only one team remained the undisputed champions of the world, Natus Vincere. Dropping only three maps in their entire run, the CIS titans have silenced their domestic and international competition to become the new frontrunners to win the PGL Major and finally realize the beast of Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev’s game.
Na’Vi’s Road to Glory
Natus Vincere defeated Astralis with some caveats in their upper bracket final, but still completely deserved their semi-final spot and awaited the winner of Gambit and FaZe. The stage was being set for the CIS rivalry that took the world by storm towards the end of the online period to now take place on LAN. However, the FaZe Clan revolution continued and took their biggest scalp yet against Gambit. A decisive 2-0 paved way to a new challenge for Na’Vi, one that they handled with ease.
Although the maps potentially boded well for Finn “karrigan” Andersen’s crew, s1mple was another level and decimated any hopes for the dream run to continue. A stomp on Inferno and Mirage led Na’Vi to take on G2 in the grand final. On the other side of the bracket, the European roster led by Nikola “NiKo” Kovac dragged through a tight series and finally broke their curse of semifinal finishes.
An in-form Denis “electronic” Sharapov, Valeriy “B1T” Vakhovskiy, and s1mple proved to be too high of a mountain to climb for G2 in the final. Repeating their result from IEM Katowice 2019, the Natus Vincere crew swept the Europeans once more 3-0 in the BO5 affair. NiKo and Nemanja “huNter” Kovac tried their hardest to pull a couple of maps over the line but simply could not match the caliber of skill Na’Vi displayed throughout IEM Cologne.
Records Broken and Excellence Realized
The core of Na’Vi fired on all cylinders at IEM Cologne, but s1mple remained an individual unlike any other to touch the game. The Ukrainian superstar broke the all-time record of most aces in a big event, landed a whopping 1.51 rating over 14 maps, and won 6 crucial clutches throughout his run. Perfection over a span of six years by s1mple should be recognized as one of the greatest players to ever touch the game of Counter-Strike.
With their win at IEM Cologne, now Natus Vincere also has three more opportunities to win the third season of the IEM Grand Slam. The next big title in their sights remains to be ESL Pro League Season 14 to take place in Malta. Once the player break concludes, the race to put an end to the greatness of Na’Vi will be in full force. The high octane Counter-Strike resumes August 16.
“From Our Haus to Yours”
All images courtesy of ESL Gaming