Natus Vincere Win 2021 IEM Cologne
Natus Vincere claimed the first international LAN Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament on Sunday, July 18. The Ukrainian esports organization beat G2 Esports 3-0 in the finals of Intel Extreme Masters Season XVI – Cologne.
NaVi Win Their Second Cologne Trophy
NaVi have had a very fruitful year thus far, winning four titles and one silver medal at BLAST Premier: Spring Finals 2021. The Ukrainian team started the year by winning BLAST Premier: Global Final 2020, to which they added another title at DreamHack Masters Spring 2021 and StarLadder CIS RMR 2021 earlier this month.
However, none of those titles compares to NaVi’s most recent achievement – winning the prestigious IEM Cologne trophy. NaVi won the title with a clean 3-0 sweep of G2 Esports, adding their second title in the “Cathedral of Counter-Strike” where they last hoisted the trophy in 2018.
IEM Cologne was the first CS:GO LAN esports event of the year. It also marked the first LAN event since the 2020 IEM Katowice in March, which NaVi won with a 3-0 final win against G2.
NaVi’s most recent win against G2 Esports, however, wasn’t as straightforward as the score would suggest. The CIS team breezed past G2 on Dust2 but faced tough resistance on Nuke and Mirage.
Still, NaVi came out thanks to the phenomenal performance from their star player Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev, who led his side with a 1.37 rating across the series.
“It was nice, but the emotions were not as strong as if we were playing on stage,” said s1mple after the game. “We still need to work on a lot of stuff. Our goal was to win back-to-back tournaments, and we managed to do it. We won the CIS RMR, and now we won this tournament.”
Closely Contested Finals
The IEM Cologne finals kicked off on Dust2, and it didn’t take long before s1mple made his presence known. The Ukrainian esports superstar has, with the help of Denis “electronic” Sharipov, helped NaVi secure a 5-0 lead, forcing an early timeout by G2.
The Spanish esports organization found some traction after the break and won six of the next seven to tie the score at 6-6 before losing two of the final two rounds of the first half. The teams switched sides at an 8-7 lead for NaVi.
NaVi extended their lead to 13-9 and faced little resistance en route to a commanding 16-11 victory. Following a fairly one-sided affair on Dust2, the series entered G2’s map pick, Mirage.
Mirage began in the same manner as Dust2, with NaVi winning the first four maps. They added three of the next five to go up 7-2 before G2 responded, winning five of the remaining six.
G2 carried over the momentum on CT-Side and claimed a 11-8 lead, needing only five more to tie the series. However, NaVi had other plans and romped to a 13-11 lead, eventually closing out the map at 16-14.
On Nuke, G2 allowed NaVi to run away with an early lead (5-0) once more before responding with five rounds of their own. G2 kept their wheels spinning and secured a marginal 8-7 lead before the switch.
G2 carried over the momentum from winning the final three rounds on CT-Side and added two more as Terrorists. The excitement, however, didn’t last for long as NaVi took complete control of the match and used their momentum to edge out a 16-13 victory.
Natus Vincere Only One Win Away From Intel Grand Slam
Natus Vincere already won DreamHack Masters Spring in May and IEM Katowice 2020, which puts them within reach of winning Intel Grand Slam Season 3. The IEM Cologne title pushed NaVi to the top of the IGS Season 3 rankings, ahead of Gambit Esports.
Having already won two Masters Championship events (Cologne or Katowice), NaVi now need only one more title to win the IGS. There are only three more IGS tournaments confirmed for the remainder of 2021.
NaVi could claim the prestigious title and $1,000,000 prize money in September 2021, at ESL Pro League Season 14. If they fail to deliver there, NaVi will have two more shots at IEM Fall and IEM Winter later in 2021.
IEM Fall is confirmed to take place straight after ESL Pro League Season 14, in September-October. IEM Winter will follow in December 2021 in Beijing, China.