s1mple comes alive on decider as NAVI send Astralis to last chance stage in Malta
Astralis are up against the ropes and need three consecutive wins to make it to playoffs.
Natus Vincere have advanced to the lower bracket semi-finals of Group D at ESL Pro League Season 17 after a 2-1 win over Astralis (Ancient 16-11, Overpass 3-16, Inferno 16-12). The Ukrainian-majority squad have started their recovery from their opening loss to FORZE and are set to face Rare Atom next on Friday.
Astralis are set on a collision course with ATK in the last chance bracket, where they will need to win three series in a row to recover from their poor start to the group, where they previously got demolished by Spirit in the opening round.
Astralis didn't let their landslide loss to Spirit deter them from starting things off on Ancient again, but once more could not convert their map pick. It was not their offense that fell flat this time, though, as the Danes picked up nine rounds as Terrorists in the first half after surviving a chaotic start, only to disappear again once sides switched.
Natus Vincere's early focus on late A bombsite executes and Ilya "Perfecto" Zalutskiy's 1v2 clutch gave them great start on the second half, and the best anchor of 2022 continued to put up the numbers as NAVI powered through the defense. Up against the ropes after losing eight in a row, Astralis took a timeout and had Nicolai "device" Reedtz go on the aggressive on B ramp to get the Danes on the board, but it was too little, too late.
NAVI have a newfound belief in their Overpass, picking it for the second time in a row after Inferno had been their go-to choice in the previous seven series. They had won the previous five encounters on the map, but this time could not compete against a stalwart Astralis defense and suffered their first loss on Overpass in 2023.
Natus Vincere had no one turn up on the offense, while on the other side it was Christian "Buzz" Andersen who stepped up with his best map since joining Astralis. His 2.05-rated performance in the first half led the way for the Danes as they demolished their opponents 13-2, leaving NAVI with blank expressions on their faces in the halftime break as they faced a near-impossible comeback.
Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev had had a very quiet series up to this point but finally came alive on the deciding Inferno to pull Natus Vincere over the finish line. His quad-kill and triple kill in consecutive rounds got NAVI on the board, while a forcebuy win and another triple from the Ukrainian superstar later in the half was key to their recovery from a slow start to the map.
s1mple continued his rampage early in the second half to give NAVI the pistol, denying Astralis an aggressive push down middle, and a quick route to a 13-9 lead. From there, NAVI did not let go despite the Danes' late resurgence, picking up the map 16-12 and the series 2-1, with s1mple ending on a 33-17 score.
|Astralis||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|50 - 47||+3||75.1||1.12|
|50 - 44||+6||74.3||1.10|
|53 - 51||+2||71.5||1.10|
|45 - 46||-1||65.5||1.06|
|40 - 46||-6||66.3||0.94|
|Natus Vincere||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|57 - 47||+10||76.3||1.18|
|50 - 50||0||89.0||1.10|
|47 - 47||0||65.8||0.96|
|41 - 49||-8||61.9||0.88|
|38 - 48||-10||59.6||0.85|