Luminosity vs. Na`Vi preview
One of the biggest current rivalries in CS:GO will take place tomorrow between Natus Vincere and Luminosity in the grand final of the MLG Columbus Major; we have prepared a preview to get you up to speed.
We have been in turn shocked and bemused by the MLG Major storylines; titans such as fnatic and Envy have fallen by the wayside while other teams such as Liquid and CLG have dazzled with their ascendancy to 'Legends' status.
In a further indication of the changing nature of the top level of the scene, the grand final will feature two of the best teams in the world duking it out to perhaps determine a new king of the hill, although fnatic may still retain an edge as the world's best due to past form.
As Egor "flamie" Vasilyev said in his interview, Natus Vincere and Luminosity are truly two teams who are currently competing for that prestigious spot of second best in the world, especially since Astralis (the other team flamie mentioned) have yet again failed to move beyond the semifinals of a Major.
A showdown between worlds, talents, and styles
Tomorrow's best-of-three grand final will therefore not only be noteworthy because of its gargantuan $500,000 first place payout but because it will truly determine the new hegemon of the current CS:GO world.
Therefore, we will briefly delve into various parts of both of these teams to help prep you for the grand final tomorrow, which kicks off at 19:30.
As far as 2016 and late 2015 goes, these two teams have met a total of four times before MLG Columbus: IEM Katowice, DreamHack ZOWIE Open Leipzig, StarSeries XIV Finals, and ESL ESEA Pro League Season 2 Finals.
Before that, the seeds of this rivalry were actually sown a little earlier during the days when Luminosity made use of Lucas "steel" Lopes and Ricardo "boltz" Prass, as the two teams were introduced to each other in the quarter-finals at DreamHack Open Cluj-Napoca (where Na`Vi won in a close 2-0 series) and then later on at IEM San Jose (where Na`Vi yet again won a close 2-0 series, with one map going to overtime).
Following Luminosity's roster overhaul, the first showdown between these two teams was served up on a platter only a few weeks later, and we were in fact gifted two best-of-threes at the ESL ESEA Pro League Season 2 Finals, with Na`Vi winning the opening battle 2-0 (Dust2 was a blowout at 16-5 whereas Inferno went to overtime at 19-15) and then with a closer 2-1 victory for Na`Vi in the group decider match.
Na`Vi retained a distinct advantage over Luminosity a few months back
Since we can discount the double best-of-three victories for Na`Vi against the older Luminosity lineup, let's be kind and start from the EEPL Season 2 finals and give the Ukrainian-Russian-Slovak team a 4-1 score in the way of maps.
At the StarSeries XIV finals, with 2016 rolling around, the two teams met in groups (beginning a longstanding trend and joke), with the Brazilians finally securing a 2-0 victory (16-14 on Train and 16-9 on Mirage) and therefore bringing the map count to 4-3. However, Na`Vi's loss here in Minsk did ultimately allow them to make a deeper playoff run in the end and reach the finals of StarSeries XIV.
In DreamHack Open Leipzig, the two teams were in groups but somehow avoided each other due to the Brazilians losing to FaZe, but they both ultimately met in the grand final of the event, with Na`Vi winning 2-0 off of two 19-16 overtime map scorelines. Although the map count stood at 6-3, the skill level between the two teams was clearly drawing closer.
But Luminosity caught up by the time IEM Katowice rolled around
Finally, we arrived at IEM Katowice where the two teams first met in a best-of-one match in the group stage, with the Brazilian team winning 16-11 on Mirage. Later on in the semifinal, Luminosity won a 2-0 series (22-19 on Overpass and 16-12 on Inferno) and this included an Overpass map that is considered one of the best maps ever played in CS:GO.
We thus stand at a 6-6 head-to-head record between the two teams going into this grand final, with the winner of the showdown guaranteed to come out ahead in the rivalry.
Path through the Major
Both teams generally waltzed their way through the group stages of the MLG Columbus Major, with Natus Vincere in particular appearing dangerous and poised. The Eastern European team swept aside Cloud9 16-9 on Train and flattened Virtus.pro 16-4 on Cbble.
Meanwhile, Luminosity had to deal with a stubborn and resilient mousesports team in their opener and eventually won 16-13 on Mirage while the subsequent match against NiP was a 16-5 cakewalk on the same map.
As far as playoffs go, it could be said that Na`Vi's path was more symbolic as the team packed with legends such as Danylo "Zeus" Teslenko and Ioann "Edward" Sukhariev took down teams such as NiP and Astralis who sit higher in our rankings than Luminosity's playoff opponents and who also have their own legendary histories.
Luminosity had a slightly more scrappy climb to the grand final as they had to deal with a surprisingly resilient Polish Virtus.pro team, which included the Brazilians conceding the first map in an overtime fashion. American team Liquid also almost gave Luminosity a run for their money as Liquid racked up fifteen total match points over two maps and yet still managed to concede both maps of the semifinal to Luminosity.
In this sense, we could say that Na`Vi have definitely appeared more stable during this Major, in terms of overall composure in game, the readiness of the team's players to step up and deliver a strong performance, and in not allowing their opponents to bring them into close matches.
The big day dawns
Thus we have arrived at a state of competitive suspense that is frankly higher than that previously seen before certain Major grand finals.
There are multiple reasons for this that can be summarised as such:
- The current world's best team of fnatic, despite multiple event wins in 2016, are in a weak place after this Major and are now dethronable.
- The winner of MLG Columbus would be the most likely to dethrone the world's best team if they also placed well in Malmo and beyond.
- Both teams competing to win have also been locked in a deadly and concurrent battle for second place between themselves and this battle currently stands at an even 6-6 map record.
- While both teams have similarities such as explosive AWPers, well-coordinated pushes, and well-drilled discipline, each team also has idiosyncratic specialties on maps and in execution styles that are particular to their region and to their brand of Counter-Strike.
The winner will therefore come to define a new era of the game and set a new standard of high level play that the other elite teams will be forced to emulate or counter and which teams even further below will look up to and study. May the best team win come tomorrow.
stich writes for HLTV.org and can be found on Twitter