Natus Vincere took down Ninjas in Pyjamas earlier this Wednesday, February 26, to secure a spot in the Group A's lower bracket finals at the Intel Extreme Masters (IEM) Katowice tournament, where the CIS juggernauts will face off against FaZe Clan for a spot in the playoffs.
Natus Vincere got off to a strong start at the IEM Katowice, by defeating FaZe Clan in round one of Group A, only to fall short against Fnatic in round two (1-2), which saw them crash down to the lower bracket. Despite their poor display against Maikil "Golden" Selimteam's squad, however, NaVi rallied and put up a commanding display earlier this Wednesday, when they crushed Ninjas in Pyjamas.
Ninjas in Pyjamas on the other side kicked off their IEM Katowice venture with a humiliating 0-2 loss against Team Vitality, but managed to bounce back with a strong performance against Cloud9 in round one of the lower brackets, where the Swedes showed no mercy against their North American counterparts. NiP defeated C9 with 16-2 on Overpass and 16-9 on Vertigo to book a spot in the second round of the lower bracket.
The bout between Ninjas in Pyjamas and Natus Vincere kicked off on Mirage, a map NiP decided to pick in a bid to get off to a flying start, but they soon found themselves regretting the decision, as it was NaVi who stormed to a commanding 7-0 lead. Thanks to Nicolas "Plopski" Gonzalez Zamora's triple kill in the eighth round, NiP managed to secure their first round of the series, but the CIS juggernauts were not having any of it and won the three more rounds out of the remaining four to enter the second half 13-2 up.
At this point, the first map was more or less decided, as NiP's chances of walking away from Mirage with a win looked extremely thin. NaVi secured the first round on T-side, dropped the second, but managed to seal the series with a commanding 16-3 win. While the whole NaVi's squad played well, it was Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev who shone the brightest with 2.07 rating and 26 kills, 14 of which were AWP kills.
The second map on the menu was NaVi's pick - Train. Entering the match brimming with confidence, the CIS juggernauts were looking to carry over the momentum from the first map and close out the series quickly, yet they met some resistance from NiP this time around.
S1mple and the crew opened the map by winning five out of the first six rounds at which point they were already in a 5-1 lead. After conceding five rounds, NiP tightened up their defence and locked down four consecutive rounds to level the score at 5-5. Unfortunately, it was the Russians who came out ahead once more, by winning four more rounds, while letting NiP with only one before the swap.
Entering the second half 9-6 up, NaVi lost the opening round after failing to win the pistol round, which gave NiP hope of a comeback. However, the new NaVi's arrival Ilya "Perfecto" Zalutskiy had other plans as he secured a quad kill in the subsequent round to instantly turn the tides of the match. NaVi went on to win four more rounds which set themselves up for a 14-7 lead. The Swedes eventually found some success and won three rounds in a row, but it was too late too little. Natus Vincere rallied and secured the last two rounds to come out ahead with a commanding 16-10 win, thus eliminating NiP from the event.
S1mple ended the series as the best performing players across both teams. He averaged 1.56 rating across both maps and had 46 Kills. Close behind was his teammate Egor "flamie" Vasilyev secured a 1.45 rating and led the series with the most damage (93.6).
All five members of Navi ended the series with impressive ratings, with Denis "electronic" Sharipov walking away with 1.22 - the lowest rating of his team.
On the other side, not a single NiP player ended the series with a positive rating. Plopski was the best-performing member of NiP with 0.92, while Simon "twist" Eliasson proved to be the worst player in the team with a dismissal 0.58 rating across both maps. Twist also ended Mirage with 0.30 rating.
Natus Vincere are now getting ready for a rematch with FaZe, which is set to take place on Thursday, February 27, at 15:30 CET. There the two sides will be chasing the last ticket leading to the IEM Katowice playoffs and a guaranteed US $15,000 in prize winnings.
Written by KrajnikT
Tit Krajnik (KrajnikT) is an esports writer for onlineesports.com, where he reports news, features and writes other content related to the players, teams, industry and the esports scene as a whole.
He has previously worked as a news and betting-related articles writer in the "traditional" sports scene but later opted to turn his attention to esports, where he managed to combine his love for video games and the growing esports industry with his work.
Krajnik has started his journey as an esports writer by covering Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends, which he also played since its launch, but later broaden his skill-set to include other major esports titles including Dota 2, Fortnite, Apex Legends, Overwatch, Rainbow 6 Siege and Call of Duty.