Back to number one: Natus Vincere win the Major
On top once again.
A decade ago, Natus Vincere was on top of the world. Organization, which was built from scratch in the end of 2009, took Counter-Strike 1.6 by storm, becoming the first team to not only win all three big Major events throughout the year at IEM, ESWC and WCG, but winning four in a row shortly after in 2011. Success in Dota 2 followed, but not in CS:GO, as NAVI’s veterans started to either leave or retire, seeking the chance to become the best in the world.
The CIS kings kept winning imporant, but lesser events, letting everybody know how good “GuardiaN” is, how painful can the late round executes be, how much the offline performance differs from the online one. NAVI fans watched in shock, as “Zeus” left the squad, took the in-game leading reins in Gambit Esports and won PGL Major Krakow, despite “s1mple” already joining Natus Vincere after his stint with Team Liquid. Then “electronic” joined from Flipsid3 Tactics, the same team which “B1ad3” was captaining to the Major playoffs. Then “Boombl4” was acquired from Winstrike Team, knowing that he was going to become the captain of the squad once “Zeus” retired after the BLAST Premier event in Moscow in 2019. Natus Vincere never stopped seeking the improvement, and despite the talks with “qikert” and “FL1T” falling apart, they have signed “Perfecto”, who played at the Major but was relatively known at the time. And then the online era has begun.
Natus Vincere struggled mightily to post any results in the beginning of it - they had no success at the European events, while every CIS RMR was a struggle and that was before every team decided to make a jump in 2021. A pair of major blows occured closer to the end of the year, however. NAVI had a map advantage over Astralis in the ESL Pro League Season 12 finals, won the second map before inexplicably losing three in a row, including a pair of thrillers on Nuke and Train, finishing second to their Danish archrivals. Few weeks later Natus Vincere once again were in the finals of the premier event, this time at IEM Season XV Beijing-Haidian, stomping Team Vitality on both Nuke and Dust2 before getting smashed on Overpass, Inferno and losing to a pair of the legendary clutches at the hands of “ZywOo”, finishing second once again.
NAVI lost the BLAST Premier Fall to Astralis and Team Vitality as well, but managed to integrate one of their youngsters, “B1T” to sub for “flamie” on Inferno, opening 2021 with a victory at BLAST Premier Global Finals. Valve’s decision to remove the possibility of subbing players throughout the series sped up the process of putting the rookie in, but the CIS team never had any doubt in mind, once they lost to Gambit Esports in the quarterfinals at IEM Katowice 2021.
Going back and forth with Gambit Esports the entire year, NAVI still managed to win Dreamhack Masters Spring and the LAN event at IEM Cologne 2021, putting themselves back on top of the world ranking for the first time in years. They did not have many issues qualifying for the Major, survived a pair of close calls against Heroic and Team Vitality during the ESL Pro League Season 14, winning the championship and becoming the third team to win the Intel Grand Slam. “B1T” was not a rookie anymore, “Perfecto” turned into one of the most fearsome clutchers on the planet, “s1mple” was in his prime form and “electronic” suddenly looked more invested into the game - the PGL Major Stockholm 2021 was almost a “do-or-die” situation.
Surviving an opening Ancient against Heroic, NAVI steamrolled over Virtus.pro and Ninjas in Pyjamas (all three teams made it to the bracket stage), survived against Team Vitality, trounced Gambit Esports and won against G2 Esports once again, for the third straight time those two have faced in the finals of the LAN event.
Yes, it was close at times, but nobody has ever had doubt that this team is going to win. Not playing Vertigo does not hurt, when you can utilize Ancient, improve your Overpass and not lose a competitive match on Nuke in many months.
Like a decade ago, the Natus Vincere squad around their all-world unmatched AWP player, is on top of the ecosystem as the consensus number one team.
Will this iteration win four Majors in a row and become as feared as that NAVI-2010 was? It is unlikely, but for now Natus Vincere-2021 is the only team in CS:GO history to win the Major championship without dropping the map, they have multiple big events coming up and 2021 is not even over yet.
The CIS kings are officially back.