Natus Vincere repeat their victory over G2 to win back-to-back LANs and lift the Chalice of IEM Cologne. S1mple won the MVP award with an outstanding performance, as he set a new record of Aces in an event.
ESL One Cologne 2018 Champions NaVi have achieved history. They become the 2nd team ever to lift two trophies at the Cathedral of Counter-Strike with their win over G2. This win is also a repeat of their victory at IEM Katowice. The CIS giants defeated G2 on the same maps in a 3:0 series to become IEM Cologne 2021 Champions. However, the Franco-Serbian squad played a much closer series with the added fragging coming from superstar Nikola 'NiKo' Kovač.
"It was nice, but the emotions were not as strong as if we were playing on stage," said Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev, who broke the record for most aces at a LAN event with his 4th coming on today's Dust2 game. The Ukrainian was unanimously named the MVP for the event. With an insane 1.51 overall rating and 348 kills in 14 maps of play, it's pretty clear why.
Map 1 Dust2 - S1mple Domination
The first map was NaVi's pick of Dust2. Right of the bat, the CIS squad started with dominance on the T side winning 5 rounds in a row. G2 answered back with 2 rounds of their own, giving them some momentum in the half. Despite this, they were quickly shut down by an insane S1mple 1v3 clutch on the B bombsite. G2, however, were unwilling to relinquish control of the half so quickly. They immediately won a force buy round and won the following 4 rounds in a row. The half still ended in NaVi's favor with a heroic 1v3 clutch from Ilya 'Perfecto' Zalutskiy and a final-round force buy victory.
The second half started as a back and forth affai, starting with electronic's 4 kills in the pistol round. This was immediately answered by G2, as they fired back with a force buy win. The force buy wars continued till NaVi's retake win in the 20th round was followed by the record-breaking s1mple Ace. It was the momentum from that round that led to NaVi's back-to-back round wins immediately after. With NiKo not getting a single multi-kill round for the G2 side, NaVi closed out the map with a 16-11 victory
Map 2 Mirage - NiKo Steps Up but Falls Short
Mirage was a much closer game with G2 showing why they deserved to be in the finals. The game began in the same manner as Dust2, with NAVI taking a lead early on before G2 fired back. Nemanja 'nexa' Isaković helped a red-hot NiKo in bringing the game close before the half ended at a 7-8 scoreline.
In the second half, G2 won the pistol round, and subsequent conversions to put themselves in the lead 11-8. It wasbut NaVi won 5 rounds in a row to reach 13. From there the teams traded rounds, with NaVi securing match point. Not to be outdone, NiKo's Deagle 3K put G2 onto 14 rounds and broke NaVi's economy. Sadly for G2, their Mid Push in the final round allowed NaVi's cobbled together buy to take the win.
Map 3 Nuke - Heartbreak for G2
Nuke started with absolute dominance from NaVi, unlike the first two maps. They won the first 3 rounds with not a single player dying and took a 5-0 lead quickly. Nexa and NiKo however caught fire quickly and replicated NaVi's streak, taking G2 to an 8-7 lead at half-time. The Bosnian Superstar started the second round off strong with an amazing 1v3 clutch in the pistol round.
NaVi's force buy quickly fell flat but saved guns gave them a second shot that they grabbed onto with both hands. That 3rd round win gave them the momentum and the economy to tie the game up 10-10. Navi continued their run till 13-11 where G2 managed to win a force buy of their own tieing the game up again.
NaVi's money was on the ropes and G2 were in position to win the map as they were facing 4 pistols and an AWP. But NaVi made the round chaotic and a failure to plant the bomb in time broke them mentally. NaVi took the momentum back and closed the game out 16-13 winning the match and becoming IEM Cologne 2021 Champions.
NaVi the IEM Cologne 2021 Champions - S1mple the MVP
S1mple at this event has been on another level. Coming into the Grand Finals he was at a 1.56 rating. This was already a career-best for a player that is already known as the best to ever touch the game. Even after a lower performance in the finals, he managed to end the event with a 1.51 rating for the whole event. On top of that, he set a new record of aces at a LAN event.
This performance was so far ahead of anyone attending the event that even if he had an absolute nightmare in the finals, he would still have been the MVP of the event. As streamer King_T pointed out in a tweet, the difference between S1mple and NiKo was the same as the difference between NiKo and Sanjar 'SANJI' Kuliev who is notorious for having bad ratings as a support player. Such performances come once in a blue moon, so if you missed any of NaVi's games I strongly recommend watching the VODs.
NaVi in the lead for Intel Grand Slam
The Intel Grand Slam is the most prestigious achievement in CS:GO. Only two teams have won the 1 million dollar reward by winning 4 out of 10 ESL Pro Tour events. Astralis took the first Season accruing their event wins over a 200+ day time period. Team Liquid's domination in 2019 led them to a speedrun of the Grand Slam winning 4 out of 4 events in just 63 days.
Now the CIS squad with S1mple at its helm has taken their 3rd trophy in their road to the Grand Slam. Their first win was last year's IEM Katowice which was the last LAN event before the world went into lockdown. The grand slam and NaVi's dominance were put on hold as the CS:GO scene was separated into regions. With IEM Global Challenge the Grand Slam events were restarted and NaVi's win at DreamHack Masters Spring 2021 secured their second point. Now they are at the verge of winning the third season needing only one win out of the next two events.
If they can succeed at this accomplishment they will go down in history as one of the greats, a fitting position for a lineup with the GOAT of the game.
This storyline will continue at ESL Pro League Season 14 in August as CS goes into the Tournament Break ending the season on a massive high. Check out our coverage of IEM Cologne 2021 to get a recap of the event.
Feature Image: @ESLCS and Steffie Wunderl