After two thrilling semi-finals, NaVi and Vitality have come out on top, reaching the finals of EPL S14. The titans of Counter-Strike, S1mple and Zyw0o are set to face off in a thrilling best of 5 series.
After an exciting pair of semi-finals, the teams for ESL Pro League Grand Finals are locked in. After smashing OG in a 2-0 series, Vitality makes its first final of the year. They will be the final boss for NaVi, who managed to squeak past Heroic in a 3 map affair. Will Mathieu ‘ZywOo’ Herbaut and co. manage to slay the NaVi giants, or will Aleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev cement his name in history?
Vitality Breeze Past OG
OG had shown great improvement in even reaching the playoffs and nobody would have expected them to take down NIP in the quarter-finals. But their run was bound to end eventually. The game kicked off on Mirage, where both teams kept it close. OG started the proceedings off with a pistol-round win, which was then converted into a quick 4-0 lead. The second gun round brought Vitality their first rounds and they went on a 5 round streak of their own. From there, the two teams kept fighting back and forth for control of the half, with Vitality ending the half with a close 9-6 lead.
The second half saw the Frenchmen getting a much better start, quickly putting 14 on the board. OG wasn’t about to go down easily, as they picked up a couple of rounds before Vitality reached map point. But the game was too far gone for OG to make a comeback, Vitality closed it out 16-12 despite a stellar performance from Shahar ‘flameZ’ Shushan.
The second map was a different affair, with Zyw0o taking over the game. His strong performance led Vitality to an 11-4 half and a couple of 1v2 clutches from Richard ‘shox’ Papillon and Jayson ‘Kyojin’ Nguyen Van secured the win. FlameZ still managed to show up with big numbers and was neck and neck with Zyw0o for the series, a big score for the youngster. Vitality secured its spot in the ESL Pro League Grand Finals.
NaVi barely edges past Heroic; s1mple gets 92 kills in 3 maps
In contrast to Vitality’s game, this series was as close as could be. All three maps went the distance and NaVi barely managed to keep their heads above the water. At the head of the NaVi ship was s1mple as usual, this time getting 92 kills in just 3 maps. Despite such a monstrous performance, a single bullet here or there could have led to NaVi being eliminated today.
The match began with NaVi’s pick of Mirage. Both teams have been historically strong on the map and it clearly showed. Despite NaVi’s early start, both teams were neck and neck throughout the half-closing it out 8-7 in the favor of the CIS squad. An early start for NaVi was once again nullified by Heroic as they went on a streak of rounds, reaching 13. A surprise hero AWP for s1mple led to back-to-back NaVi rounds and despite Heroic’s attempt to stop them, NaVi managed to close the game out 16-14.
Continuing right where they left off, Overpass saw Heroic taking 5 rounds in a row. But once the AWP for s1mple came out, they were able to answer back picking up 6 of their own. The teams remained inseparable as half time was once again called at 8-7. An anti-eco win from Kirill ‘Boombl4’ Mikhailov’s troops took them to 12 but Heroic bounced back with a double AWP setup, closing the game out 16-13 as NaVi’s T side woes reared their head.
The final frontier was Nuke and continuing the trend from the series, the teams settled onto their usual 8-7 half as S1mple and Denis ‘electronic’ Sharipov’s outside holds faced off against Martin ‘stavn’ Lund and Ismail ‘refrezh’ Ali‘s relentless attack. NaVi once again picked up the pistol round and conversions but this time Heroic was the first to extend a strong lead. With the scoreline sitting at 14-13 the Danes seemed destined to deny NaVi their Grand Slam hopes, but the CIS squad refused to give up and managed to take the next 3 in a row off the back of an anti-eco to clinch their Grand-Finals spot.
Vitality have another shot at denying a Grand Slam
At ESL One Cologne 2019, Vitality had stepped up and rolled through the playoffs to reach Grand Finals against the then number one team, Liquid. Liquid was on the verge of their own Grand Slam and only needed one more to claim the title. Vitality however was the one team that had managed to defeat Liquid in a series during their incredible summer run, with the win for the French coming at CS_Summit 4. If Vitality managed to win that event, they would have stopped Liquid from getting the Grand Slam for at least another event and would’ve received $100k as the “Giant Killer Bonus”. But they faced defeat and saw Liquid lift the trophy and secure the Grand Slam.
Now 2 years later, they have got another chance to stop a Grand Slam. This time they are up against NaVi in the Pro League Grand Finals, a team that seems much less dominant. Unlike the rest of the world, Vitality is the only team with a player who can challenge s1mple. Everyone’s hope of stopping the NaVi Grand Slam rests on the young prodigy’s shoulders. Just like last time, Vitality has a record of beating NaVi in the finals, but will they fall short again?
Or will they force Natus Vincere to swallow a loss and hope to take the Slam at IEM Winter instead? Watch the Grand Finals tomorrow on ESL’s Twitch to find out. Stay tuned to esports.gg for our coverage of the Grand Finals.