NAVI edge past Heroic on their way to EPL grand final
NAVI will face Vitality in the final and fight for the crown and the one million dollar Intel Grand Slam.
Casper "cadiaN" Møller's men were unable to reach back-to-back ESL Pro League finals after an incredibly close match. Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev, as he often does, proved to be the X factor that gave Natus Vincere the edge in the series that went the distance on all three maps.
"We didn't play our game today, if we want to win tomorrow we need to play much better," said Natus Vincere's superstar when talking about the close game. "[Heroic] played good... overall they were prepared."
Natus Vincere will face Vitality in the grand final tomorrow and will play a best-of-five match to decide who will be crowned EPL champions. The series will also have the Intel Grand Slam on the line for the world's number one team and a potential $100,000 spoiler bonus for Vitality should the Frenchmen stop the favorites in the final.
The semi-final got started on Natus Vincere's map pick of Mirage. The CIS squad got off to a great start on the offensive side following their conversion of the pistol round, but once Heroic's rifles came out, the balance tipped in favor of the Danes. cadiaN's dynamic CT side created serious problems for the CIS squad, briefly granting his team a 6-4 lead. Natus Vincere managed to win some key rounds, allowing them to keep the half competitive and close it 8-7.
Natus Vincere began the second half by comfortably winning the pistol round and the following two rounds before Heroic managed to mount a response. Heroic's T side was characterized by rapid aggression on the bombsites, catching Kirill "Boombl4" Mikhailov's men off guard, quickly catching up to Natus Vincere and taking the lead at 12-11. s1mple came up clutch, though, force buying the AWP and single-handedly swinging the momentum in favor of his team, and Natus Vincere closed the map 16-14.
The Danes began Overpass by dominating their T side, swiftly gaining a 5-0 advantage on their map pick. Once Natus Vincere settled on their CT side they begun playing more aggressively, producing their first round. The CIS squad maintained the pressure, taking the lead at 6-5 before Heroic's Deagles provided the opportunity for cadiaN's team to begin the second half with an 8-7 advantage.
The offensive looked promising for Natus Vincere, a hero rifle on s1mple allowed his team to break the Heroic bank and press the issue to create a 12-9 lead. However, Natus Vincere's slow T rounds were unable to produce results, with the defense consistently being able to shut them down. Heroic only dropped one more round on their way to a 16-13 win.
Nuke did not disappoint. It was another 8-7 half, this time in favor of Natus Vincere with the CTs barely managing to hold off the Danish offense thanks to a stellar performance by s1mple. Despite a 4-0 start for Boombl4's men, they were unable to snowball their advantage, allowing the opposition to close the gap.
A thrilling second half ensued, with both teams taking turns leading the series. Natus Vincere initially seemed to have the upper hand on their offense, extending their lead 12-7 before a Heroic defense put a temporary halt to their ambitions. The Danes strung together six rounds in a row, taking the lead and seemingly complete control of the game but a great push down vents by Valeriy "B1T" Vakhovskiy gave back the initiative to his team. Natus Vincere kept the pressure, edging out Nuke 16-14, taking the series 2-1.
|Natus Vincere||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|92 - 54||+38||102.8||1.59|
|54 - 59||-5||79.5||1.01|
|47 - 50||-3||61.6||0.94|
|46 - 60||-14||59.9||0.89|
|54 - 61||-7||59.9||0.86|