NAVI fend off NIP to set up G2 matchup
Natus Vincere have advanced to the BLAST Premier Spring Group C upper final following a 2-1 victory over Ninjas in Pyjamas (Inferno 16-9, Mirage 17-19, Overpass 16-8). The Ukrainian team moves on to face G2 in the next round, while NIP fall to the lower bracket to clash with BIG.
It was a match of two teams debuting in the new year with new lineups. After a poor start to his stint with the team as a sixth member at the BLAST Premier World Final late last year, npl impressed in the opening match of the season after being promoted as a full-time fifth player. He was one of the keys to NAVI's win on Inferno especially, putting up 16 kills on the CT side to keep his team hot on Ninjas in Pyjamas's heels.
On the other side, another former NAVI Junior prospect and npl's ex-teammate headtr1ck had his highlight moment on Mirage, with 30 kills in an overtime win, and was overall his team's highest-rated player of the series (58-48, 1.07 rating).
Natus Vincere did not need Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev or Denis "electroNic" Sharipov to pick up the first map. While the usually ever-reliant s1mple and the in-game leader scored just three kills between them by halftime, the former academy prospects took over.
In his debut as a permanent member of the team, npl in particular kept NAVI in the game in a close first half. The 17-year-old's quad-kill in the pistol round and three more crucial multi-kills ensured Ninjas in Pyjamas wouldn't run away with the game early, while Valeriy "b1t" Vakhovskiy starred with consistent output, eight multi-kills and 27 kills in total to get the opener across the finish line.
After their slow start, s1mple and electroNic woke up with some key rounds early into Mirage, but ultimately even s1mple's 29-kill performance wasn't enough. The second map went the other way as Ninjas in Pyjamas survived a late push from a resilient NAVI, denying their opponents a big comeback in the end on the back of a great performance from headtr1ck.
A close first half ended with Aleksi "Aleksib" Virolainen and Hampus "hampus" Poser winning clutches to get away with a close lead. headtr1ck, the new addition to NIP, pushed his team to 14 rounds with a quad-kill in the second pistol round, but even after getting themselves a six-round lead Ninjas in Pyjamas could not close out the map in regulation. It wasn't until overtime that they found the recipe for success with a perfect offense, giving themselves enough space to clinch the map at 19-17.
Overpass was a clear-cut affair from start to finish. NAVI ran away with the game with a 6-0 start on the Terrorist side, consistently finding openers and exploiting the gaps created in the defense. With an 11-round half, it was just a matter of time before they found the momentum to finish off the map once on the CT side, and powered by a resurgent s1mple and electroNic they ran out victors 16-8, 2-1.
|Natus Vincere||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|67 - 49||+18||86.8||1.26|
|65 - 45||+20||72.0||1.23|
|54 - 53||+1||80.7||1.11|
|51 - 46||+5||70.9||1.08|
|53 - 51||+2||66.6||1.04|
|Ninjas in Pyjamas||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|58 - 48||+10||64.1||1.07|
|49 - 58||-9||71.8||1.01|
|50 - 63||-13||72.7||0.92|
|43 - 56||-13||68.4||0.86|
|43 - 65||-22||61.9||0.81|