NiKo's heroics not enough as NAVI take down FaZe in Pro League Stage 2
The international team went into their fourth match in a must-win situation after being previously defeated by fnatic, mousesports and Astralis, and they almost came away with a victory against the world No.1. Nikola "NiKo" Kovač put on a masterclass performance in a series that began with FaZe winning their map pick, Mirage, and then cruising to a 12-3 lead on Train. The same old problems then resurfaced for the European mixture, who lost their footing in the game after switching over to the Terrorist side.
Nuke was a keenly-contested affair, and once again NiKo did more than anyone else to win the game for FaZe. In the end, it was not meant to be as NAVI pulled through to join fnatic and mousesports at the top of the table ahead of Thursday's decisive clash against the Swedes.
NAVI kicked off the action with a successful pistol round, but, just like in yesterday's match against mousesports, they were unable to capitalise on an early lead. FaZe rallied back immediately and took control of proceedings for the remainder of the half as NAVI struggled to contain NiKo, who amassed 22 frags on the T side.
FaZe were in no mood to take pity on their opponents and hit map point shortly after switching to the CT side. It looked like the game was done and dusted, but NAVI refused to go down without a fight: the CIS giants began to chip away at the deficit with some great reads on FaZe's setups. After being outplayed seven rounds in a row, NiKo called a tactical pause to settle his team down, and it worked: they laid the game to rest in the following round without losing a single man.
More misery was to come for Natus Vincere, who once again failed to convert the second round after winning the pistol on Train. It was the first of a series of blows that the CIS side had to endure on their T side: the rounds that they edged out were few and far between as FaZe kept their defense very tight and compact, taking a whopping 12 rounds into the second half.
After NAVI switched to the CT side, the entire dynamic of the game changed. FaZe, who had the second-worst T record on the map among top 10 teams in the last six months (just 42.5% of rounds won), suddenly looked static and completely devoid of ideas. They brought NAVI's winning run to an end when they were already down 12-14, and that round did not alter the course of the game as the CIS side quickly wrapped things up.
It all came down to Nuke, where a lively start from NAVI on the T side saw them race to a 5-0 lead. Things were starting to look desperate for FaZe, but then NiKo and Håvard "rain" Nygaard stepped up to the plate, combining for 31 frags as the international team dominated the rest of the half to head into the break up by one round.
A chaotic start to the second half saw force-buys traded after the pistol round had gone NAVI's way as NiKo and Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev both went huge with the Desert Eagle. NAVI tightened up after that scrappy start and shut out the FaZe offense, with the scoreline blooming to a 14-10 advantage. NiKo came to his team's rescue with a series of key frags to keep the game alive until the very end, but a comeback was not on the cards: with only one round separating the two teams, NAVI finally managed to hit series point and then Denis "electronic" Sharipov struck the final blow with a trio of frags in the lower site.
|FaZe||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|Nikola 'NiKo' KovačNiKo||86 - 55||+31||106.6||1.52|
|Håvard 'rain' Nygaardrain||55 - 59||-4||78.1||1.05|
|Helvijs 'broky' Saukantsbroky||47 - 49||-2||61.4||0.98|
|Marcelo 'coldzera' Davidcoldzera||48 - 55||-7||60.1||0.90|
|Olof 'olofmeister' Kajbjerolofmeister||40 - 49||-9||51.1||0.83|
|Natus Vincere||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|Aleksandr 's1mple' Kostylievs1mple||75 - 52||+23||81.6||1.24|
|Denis 'electronic' Sharipovelectronic||64 - 59||+5||81.4||1.10|
|Ilya 'Perfecto' ZalutskiyPerfecto||48 - 54||-6||68.9||0.96|
|Kirill 'Boombl4' MikhailovBoombl4||46 - 58||-12||63.1||0.88|
|Egor 'flamie' Vasilyevflamie||33 - 56||-23||51.3||0.72|