NaVi’s Repeated Failure in Major Finals

 

In September 2018, as the confetti showered red in the SSE Arena, the Astralis era was cemented. Much was to be lauded about their teamwork, quality and utter dominance of a Counter-Strike Major, the likes of which had never been seen before. The feeling within the Astralis lineup was completely fresh, one of confidence and pride after winning their second Major. The defeated finalists, Natus Vincere, had in fact felt how they did previously. The CIS powerhouse have failed three times in Major grand finals. Why?

The Defeats

DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca 2015

Lineup: seized, Edward, flamie, GuardiaN, Zeus

Final: 2-0 defeat vs EnVyUs (Train 14-16, Cobblestone 5-16)

Scoreboard:

DH CLUJ SCOREBOARD
kennyS put on a masterclass as Natus Vincere were soundly beaten 2-0. Image from HLTV.org.

MLG Columbus 2016

Lineup: seized, Edward, flamie, GuardiaN, Zeus

Final: 2-0 defeat vs Luminosity (Mirage 17-19, Overpass 2-16)

Scoreboard:

MLG COLUMBUS SCOREBOARD
The Brazilians performed the upset and won their first-ever Major, against a lacklustre NaVi. Image from HLTV.org.

FACEIT Major 2018

Lineup: s1mple, electronic, flamie, Edward, Zeus

Final: 2-0 defeat vs Astralis (Nuke 6-16, Overpass 9-16)

Scoreboard:

FACEIT MJR SCOREBOARD
Against a dominant Astralis, NaVi once again failed to win the Major. Image from HLTV.org.

Why?

Fragging Failure

DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca 2015

Throughout the entire tournament, Egor “flamie” Vastyliev was crucial to NaVi. The team only won a single map at the Major where he finished negatively on the scoreboard, a 16-9 victory on Train against CLG. In the final, his performance tanked; a 0.77 HLTV rating from the important NaVi player. Interestingly, the CIS titans fell to EnVyUs in the group stages and flamie had a 0.65 HLTV rating. flamie’s poor performances against EnVyUs, particularly in the final, may well have cost his team the Major.

MLG Columbus 2016

In Columbus, it was a team collapse combined with poor luck. Star AWPER Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovacs was suffering from wrist issues. He was left no choice but to play on a higher sensitivity, so it completely justified his poor performance. Danylo “Zeus” Teslenko was burdened with the in-game leader role, harming his individual performance. Ioann “Edward” Sukhariev was NaVi’s support player so was not expected to frag.  In the case of flamie and fellow fragger Denis “seized” Kostin, they needed to step up. Zeus’ strategies had no firepower behind them because of flamie and seized’s misfiring. Edward was propping up a team which were not performing, so NaVi were their own downfall.

FACEIT Major 2018

In the build-up to the FACEIT Major, Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev had proven himself as the best player in the world, a mantle he carries to this day. He had not dipped below a 1.10 HLTV rating in every LAN event since DreamHack Open Tours 2017. At the Major as a whole, he achieved a staggering 1.34. Somewhat similarly to flamie in Cluj-Napoca though, s1mple under-performed massively. He had his worst individual LAN match performance since EPL S5 Finals vs OpTic in May 2017. If only counting BO3 matches, it was IEM Katowice 2017 against Astralis on 3rd March 2017. Point is, s1mple catastrophically failed to perform when his team needed him the most. Had he shown his true self, NaVi could have made it “third time lucky.”

Quality Opponents

DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca 2015

It would be unfair to suggest NaVi have stopped themselves completely from Major championships. Going into this Major, EnVyUs were two places ahead of NaVi in the HLTV world rankings, coming in at a respectable fourth compared to NaVi’s sixth. In the tournament, EnVyUs only dropped two maps from a possible ten en route to the final. One a 9-16 to Fnatic on Mirage, then the other a shock 10-16 defeat to G2 on Dust2. In both matches, poor performances by Fabien “kioShiMa” Fiey and Nathan “NBK-“ Schmitt held back the Frenchmen. In the final, it was a different affair, with NBK- achieving an emphatic 1.27 HLTV rating. In the end, Kenny “kennyS” Schrub and NBK- halted NaVi’s hopes at their first Counter-Strike Major victory.

MLG Columbus 2016

After battling against Liquid in the semi-finals, Luminosity had shocked many by winning and reaching the grand final. Considering they were facing NaVi, the second-placed team in the HLTV rankings going into the final, the final step seemed to be too much. In actual fact, Luminosity were young in the scene, and so they came into the final with all guns blazing. Everyone on their roster performed excellently in the final, and everyone on NaVi’s did the opposite. Thus, NaVi failed for the second time to win a Major final.

FACEIT Major 201

Since adding Emil “Magisk” Reif into the roster, Astralis climbed the Counter-Strike rankings. Eight $250k+ prize pool tournaments have been won by the team in 2018, almost all of which were in dominant fashion. At the FACEIT Major, Astralis dropped just one map in the main tournament. This took the form of an overtime defeat by Liquid 15-19, who at one point were leading 13-2 but choked once more. They were dominant in the playoffs, taking down FaZe, Liquid and then of course NaVi. The final itself was not a close affair, but this is more understandable because of Astralis displaying their A-game on the day. At the end of the day, Astralis’ A-game is almost unbeatable at the moment.

Conclusion

All in all, NaVi’s failure in Major finals is not as bad as it is made out to be. In the first one, despite a poor performance from flamie, they came up against a prime kennyS. At the time, kennyS was the best AWPer in the world, so facing him on one of his good days would halt almost any team. In Columbus, a poor team performance against Luminosity showing spelt their defeat. In fairness, NaVi came up against a team due to be the best team in the world until FaZe and Astralis came knocking. At FACEIT’s first-ever Major, a final against Astralis would daunt any team. Coupling that with the fact Astralis were on form leads anyone to the conclusion that NaVi were doomed from the moment they joined the server. NaVi’s Major failure is not entirely their own doing. While players like flamie and s1mple have failed them in past Majors, their opposition in all three were quality teams.

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