On Sunday, in the first Major final for Counter-Strike in two years, S1mple and Natus Vincere finally reached the summit of the game they’d been pursuing for years.
They took on G2 in the best-of-three Grand Final on Sunday, having dispensed of Gambit on Saturday and Vitality on Friday without dropping a map to either. In fact, Navi came into the Grand Final without having lost a single map in the entire tournament, putting them in position to be the first team in history to win a Major without dropping a map.
G2 had the first map pick and went with a surprising Ancient draw. Ancient, the newest map in Counter-Strike’s pool, hasn’t been played much by either team and was a very close affair.
S1mple shown, claiming 32 kills in 27 rounds. What was a close game going into the half was turned on it’s head by Navi. The only G2 player who ended the map with a positive k/d ratio was AmaNEk who finished out the map with an impressive 21-16 scoreline.
On the Navi side, S1mple was bolstered by rookie B1t, who continued his incredibly impressive rookie campaign includes a Major win, an ESL Pro League win, a Grand Slam and an IEM Cologne win.
B1t went 18 and 12 on Ancient including a great play when Navi was up 12-10. In a postplant one-vs-two, B1t killed both remaining G2 players enroute to helping Navi to finish out the map in just a few more rounds. For a rookie on his first Major stage, B1t was exceptional.
While map one was relatively close, map two was far more chaotic. Navi fell behind early, eventually sitting at 14-7 while on the CT side. Their victory and their 17 game Nuke win streak, seem to be in jeopardy. But despite it all, Navi dug in their heels and refused to go down.
Led once more by S1mple and this time Electronic, two players who have played together for so long with the hopes of succeeding on the Major stage, Navi fought back. They crept back bit by bit, managing to equalize the game at 15-15, then one overtime ending 3-3. It was a map eerily reminiscent of the Cloud9 vs. Faze major, right down to the fact that it was at one point 15-11, heading into the second overtime.
And there, Navi put their foot down. They went 4-1 in the second overtime, forcing their way through Niko and G2’s efforts. Despite a 33-29 score-line from Niko and a 33-28 from Hunter, G2 could not make it work for long enough. S1mple ended the map at +16 and Electronic at +6.
It was painfully fitting that Niko, G2’s star, was the very last to go down. Again, as in that Faze vs Cloud9 series, his best wasn’t enough. Because this time, S1mple and Navi made it over the finish line as Major champions, the first ever who won without dropping a single map.
S1mple claimed his first major MVP award, and ended years of struggle and frustration where Navi was good, always good, but never good enough when it was Major time to get over that line. Now they have.