NAVI clinch ESL Pro League Season 14 title after 3-2 win over Vitality
22:19 - s1mple: "That was so hard, the whole best-of-five, insane emotions. The sweetest win is the closest win, you know?"
None other than the Ukrainian superstar clinched the MVP medal, the 16th in his career!
22:04 - It's over! NAVI become the third team to clinch the Intel Grand Slam and secure the first ESL Pro League trophy in the organization's history
What an end to the series! A back-and-forth from 11-10 on until Natus Vincere came out on top in the 30th round, opting for one last late A play and defending the bomb in a tight retake scenario. A series to remember after the final map delivered an exciting finish to the grand final.
22:02 - It's scrappy and it's exciting. This is going all the way. (NAVI 15-14 Vitality)
21:58 - Tournament point for NAVI
An aggressive play in pit didn't work out for Vitality and NAVI are one round away.
21:56 - Back-and-forth continues as Vitality make a stand in a close mid-round situation (NAVI 14-13 Vitality)
21:53 - B push with pistols puts NAVI within two (NAVI 14-12 Vitality)
21:48 - One round separates the two teams as pressure mounts (NAVI 12-11 Vitality)
21:42 - Vitality begin their climb back with a forcebuy win (NAVI 11-8 Vitality)
21:31 - NAVI lead 10-5 going into the final half of the series
It has been a massive resurgence from Denis "electronic" Sharipov after a terrible map four as the 23-year-old put up 20 kills in the first half of Mirage. Meanwhile, no one standing out from Vitality — a tough look on the deciding map so far.
21:25 - Crucial play from B1T tips the scales (NAVI 8-4 Vitality)
Alone on B against three, Valeriy "B1T" Vakhovskiy played the time and utility to perfection to shift the momentum back in his team's favor.
21:18 - A couple of quick A executes give Vitality a way back (NAVI 5-3 Vitality)
21:13 - A lot of talking on the apEX cam (NAVI 4-1 Vitality)
The emotional leader is either angry or trying to get everyone fired up. Hard to tell.
21:10 - NAVI grab an early lead (NAVI 3-1 Vitality)
20:49 - Vitality force map five! (NAVI 7-16 Vitality)
Not a whole lot to report from the second half. Once Vitality got a hold of weapons they quickly dispatched their opponents, losing just one more round in a 1v1 situation. A forcebuy win with picks around the B bombsite put them at match point and sent NAVI to desperation station with few resources in the final round.
Mirage to decide the best-of-five — let's hope for a close one for a change!
20:37 - NAVI hit the first prerequisite for a comeback (NAVI 6-12 Vitality)
20:30 - Map five is on the cards (NAVI 3-12 Vitality)
Well, that's a 12-3 half for Vitality. It looked like no one in NAVI could win a 1v1 for their lives while shox was running around winning every duel towards the end. Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev — like everyone else from NAVI other than B1T — is having a rough map.
20:22 - shox tops the board while Kyojin contributes with several key kills (NAVI 2-9 Vitality)
Natus Vincere need someone to step up if they want to stop Vitality's massive run. All the key fights are going the way of the Frenchmen, who seem to be a step ahead of the CIS squad every step of the way.
20:08 - An airstrike lands on Boombl4 (NAVI 1-5 Vitality)
20:02 - A Deagle triple from shox turns it around (NAVI 1-2 Vitality)
That didn't last long. A forcebuy win goes the way of Vitality after shox found three with a Deagle, and the momentum shifts in favor of the Frenchmen. Also, some fuss is being made by the commentators about Ilya "Perfecto" Zalutskiy putting on his glasses for the first time this series.
19:57 - NAVI off to a successful start (NAVI 1-0 Vitality)
We're back in action after a small break, and it's NAVI who kick it off with a pistol round win with a convincing defense of the A bombsite.
19:38 - An extended break before the next map begins. Back in a bit!
19:27 - And a second broken buy ends it (NAVI 16-11 Vitality)
19:20 - A solo AWP buy gives NAVI map point (NAVI 15-9 Vitality)
s1mple picks up an AWP while his teammates take an eco and defends A with a triple. Map point!
19:15 - Maybe there is still a chance (NAVI 14-9 Vitality)
That's five in a row from the Frenchmen with NAVI hardly getting a say.
19:03 - Can we call it over now? (NAVI 13-4 Vitality)
18:57 - A glimmer of hope for Vitality (NAVI 11-4 Vitality)
It's not over, but it's kind of over. Vitality give themselves a glimmer of hope at the end of the half, but four rounds on the CT side are hardly enough to contest NAVI's defense going into the second half.
18:41 - B1T denies ZywOo a 1v3 and it's spiraling out of control (NAVI 8-1 Vitality)
Outside of a few bright moments from Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut, it has been all about Natus Vincere so far this half. Vitality look out of their depth and are no threat to NAVI's dominant streak on the map.
18:30 - The s1mple show starts off Nuke (NAVI 3-0 Vitality)
We have yet to see god-level s1mple in the grand final. Maybe this is what he needed to really get going?
18:10 - A quick affair and it's 1-1! Nuke up next (Vitality 16-6 NAVI)
18:05 - "WHAT!" — My reaction to that ZywOo shot (Vitality 14-6 NAVI)
18:00 - Vitality back in control (Vitality 12-6 NAVI)
17:50 - electronic saves a potentially back-breaking antieco (Vitality 9-6 NAVI)
17:45 - NAVI retake B for two in a row (Vitality 8-4 NAVI)
It was high time for NAVI to get consecutive rounds after finding an answer to Vitality's heavy B focus. A close retake and the CIS side are back in the running with s1mple looking crisp — Vitality will have to fight for this with nothing in the bank anymore.
17:31 - Another shox 1v2 (Vitality 6-1 NAVI)
17:28 - Kyojin and misutaaa with a double entry each (Vitality 5-1 NAVI)
17:20 - Three kills in two rounds? (Vitality 2-0 NAVI)
Natus Vincere refuse to give up their pistols as they let Vitality pick up the first two rounds with little resistance. It is Inferno, after all — you get a bomb plant down and a lot of the time the CTs won't even bother retaking if they're too far away or have too few resources to try.
17:12 - Time for Inferno
"Do we consider Inferno a must-win for Vitality?" Alex "Machine" Richardson asks and gets a firm yes from Chad "SPUNJ" Burchill. "It definitely feels that way, you take a look at what's up next, Nuke, NAVI are on an 11-map win streak on Nuke."
16:58 - s1mple has arrived (NAVI 16-10 Vitality)
After a quiet start, s1mple got his first multi-kill in the 23rd round and it spelled disaster for his opponents. Vitality's economy was in the dust from then on, and electronic closed the map with six kills in the last two rounds.
16:51 - It's messy, but Vitality stay in it (NAVI 12-10 Vitality)
16:43 - misutaaa's quad-kill denies NAVI a pistol conversion (NAVI 11-8 Vitality)
The Frenchmen needed that forcebuy win to stay in contention after losing the second pistol. They got it on the back of Kévin "misutaaa" Rabier's quad-kill and 1v1 clutch, and now the climb back begins.
16:33 - shox closes the half with a 1v2 clutch and a noscope! (NAVI 10-5 Vitality)
16:28 - "I'm pretty sure it's Kyojin's first grand final," says SPUNJ (NAVI 8-4 Vitality)
Yes, it is, Chad. And his triple in a 2v3 in an A retake gave Vitality their second in a row, and it might just become a decent half.
16:20 - The favorites are starting to run away with it (NAVI 6-2 Vitality)
16:10 - NAVI halt Vitality's early lead (2-2)
16:02 - The veto is in — no Vertigo or Ancient, surprise surprise. We begin on Dust2!
1. Natus Vincere removed Vertigo
2. Vitality removed Ancient
3. Natus Vincere picked Dust2
4. Vitality picked Inferno
5. Natus Vincere picked Nuke
6. Vitality picked Overpass
7. Mirage was left over
15:45 - In-game leaders comment on Intel Grand Slam pressure before the match
Kirill "Boombl4" Mikhailov: "It's only two teams who did it and of course we want to write our name in history. I will be really proud of my team if we do it."
Dan "apEX" Madesclaire: "Obviously, it would be amazing for us to stop NAVI's Grand Slam. It never happened before, I think when Astralis and Liquid won the Grand Slam it was on the first try."
ESL Pro League Season 14 will know its champions later today. After close to a month of play, Natus Vincere and Vitality are set to kick off the best-of-five grand final of the tournament at 16:00 in a match that will see the two heavyweights play their first title decider against one another in nearly a year.
Intel Grand Slam on the line
The match not only has the coveted Pro League trophy on the line but also the added excitement of the possibility of Natus Vincere clinching the third season of Intel Grand Slam, worth $1,000,000, or Vitality grabbing the $100,000 spoiler bonus if they stop the CIS side from securing the all-important fourth title.
Everything seems to point to Natus Vincere being heavy favorites in the best-of-five series as the current No. 1 team facing a Vitality that enter their first grand final of the year, but it would be foolish to count the Frenchmen out after they have gotten this far and beat teams like Gambit and OG on the way.
An encounter of two gods
Beyond all the Intel Grand Slam jazz, we're getting the two megastars of the past three years facing off against one another again.
With s1mple and ZywOo the only realistic candidates in the MVP race, tonight's grand final will be an encounter of two CS:GO gods in which both players have something to prove, as the Ukrainian looks to continue his dominance this year and the Frenchman sets his sights on his first MVP award in 2021.
Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev
Impact rating: 1.53
Mathieu "ZywOo" Herbaut
Impact rating: 1.41
No matter whichever camp you're in and whoever you've got winning the series and the title, we should be in for a hell of a matchup, one that has almost always delivered moments to remember. So don't forget to tune in.