The battle for the first spot in the playoffs featured two European teams, NiP and Natus Vincere, fresh off 2-0 victories over VG.Flash and Envy, respectively. Riding the wave after winning StarSeries, Na`Vi entered the match as favourites, but they would soon realise that they were in for a very tough match.
It all began on Overpass, NiP's map choice. After losing the pistol round and the subsequent ecos, Na`Vi were able to hit back immediately and bring the deficit to a minimum with an ace from Denis "electronic" Sharipov, but the Swedes would not let their lead slip. Once they had their economy back in order, the Ninjas ran all over the Na`Vi defence, closing out the half with a shocking 12-3 lead.
The second half followed the same pattern as the first, with Natus Vincere hitting back with guns after losing the pistol round. The Ukrainian team put together a small run of rounds, but NiP then hit map point with a 2v2 retake before denying Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev a heroic 1v4 clutch.
Natus Vincere came into Mirage, the second map of the series, a much more determined side and took control of proceedings right from the get-go. The Ukrainian side shut down any chances of NiP stringing rounds together or building up an economy, and went into the break up by nine rounds.
NiP kept themselves in the game after taking the pistol round, but they were caught off-guard by a weak buy from Na`Vi in the third round. Things were starting to look grim for the Ninjas, but Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg rescued the team with a 1v2 clutch.
That marked the beginning of a great run from the Swedes. Every time that it looked the Ninjas were about to lose their grip on the game, their ability to clutch 1v2 situations kept themselves in it. NiP would be able to cut the gap to just two rounds, but one final push from Na`Vi earned them the map.
It all came down to Train, where NiP came out the brighter of the two sides, winning three of the first four rounds of the map. Natus Vincere did not let that get to them, however, and went on a seven-round streak to put the Ninjas at risk of getting blown out.
A 1v2 clutch from Christopher "GeT_RiGhT" Alesund put a stop to Na`Vi's winning streak, but the Ukrainians hit back immediately to regain control of the economy, with a 1v3 clutch from s1mple in the final round of the half earning his team their 11th round.
NiP came from the break determined to turn things around and won the pistol round with a fast A execution. However, they were caught off-guard in the following round as s1mple pulled off a quad-kill with a Scout. A quad-kill from Jonas "Lekr0" Olofsson shortly afterwards still breathed some life into NiP, but it was only a matter of time before Na`Vi put the game to bed.
|Natus Vincere||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|Aleksandr 's1mple' Kostylievs1mple||71 - 43||+28||83.0||1.37|
|Denis 'electronic' Sharipovelectronic||64 - 47||+17||92.8||1.34|
|Ioann 'Edward' SukharievEdward||51 - 56||-5||75.2||1.03|
|Danylo 'Zeus' TeslenkoZeus||43 - 53||-10||73.8||0.92|
|Egor 'flamie' Vasilyevflamie||39 - 55||-16||64.7||0.88|