Natus Vincere delivered a stunning performance to secure a clean sweep victory over Astralis in the $1 million BLAST Premier Global Finals this week. A record-breaking audience gathered around screens to watch an epic battle between two heavyweights of the CS: GO scene, but it was ultimately a one-sided Grand Final.
Five things we learned during an action-packed few days
The Brilliance of s1mple Shines Through
Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev thoroughly upstaged Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut when the world’s best two CS: GO players went head-to-head in the Consolidation Final. ZywOo led the charge for Team Vitality, finishing the showdown with a rating of 1.24, 74 frags, and a +18 K/D.
However, it was the brilliance of s1mple that ultimately settled an eagerly-anticipated showdown in Na’Vi’s favor. He ended the Consolidation Final with a rating of 1.47, 79 kills, and an impressive +29 K-D. s1mple also led ZywOo in ADR and KAST, delivering a thoroughly clinical performance to defy the CSGO odds and send his team through to the Grand Final.
s1mple was widely considered the world’s greatest CS: GO, player, until ZywOo came along, and many fans are now split when debating it. ZywOo remains narrowly ahead in the HLTV player rankings, but s1mple was dominant in that clash of the titans.
Boombl4 Shows Strong Leadership Skills
The irrepressible s1mple was once again the star of the show in the Grand Final, as he led the way with a 1.57 rating, 50 kills, and a +21 K-D. It was an emphatic vindication of his decision to stick with Na’Vi rather than seek a move to greener pastures.
His magnificent individual talent has rarely translated into silverware, as his teammates have largely been unable to match his high standards. Many fans have urged him to agitate for a move away from Na’Vi, and he has long been linked with FaZe Clan, but he remains a member of Na’Vi and has finally led them to glory in the biggest tournament of the year.
Much of the focus was understandably on s1mple after the victory, but credit must also go to Kirill “Boombl4” Mikhailov, whose superb leadership was a key feature in Na’Vi’s success. He kept his cool during tense moments and marshaled his troops with aplomb. His communication and organizational skills were impeccable, and he also joined s1mple in landing 20 kills in the final match to steer Na’Vi over the line.
Na’Vi Creates Blueprint for Beating Astralis
Astralis went into the BLAST Premier Global Finals as the clear favorite to triumph. The all-conquering Danes had been in tremendous form towards the end of 2020, winning the IEM XV Global Challenge with consummate ease and finishing first in the BLAST Premier Circuit.
They went into the tournament as the world’s number one team, and it was hard to see anyone stopping the collective might of gla1ve, dupreeh, dev1ce, Magisk, and Zyp9x. Astralis swept Aside Evil Geniuses, G2 Esports, and Team Vitality to surge into the final, and sought to overwhelm Na’Vi with their clinical teamwork, but they were no match for s1mple, Perfecto, and flamie on Nuke.
Astralis seemed poised to level the Grand Final on Inferno, as Na’Vi’s win record is somewhat underwhelming on that map. However, Boombl4 had Na’Vi firing on all cylinders, and they did a great job of closing down Astralis’ T-side.
There were a number of close rounds, but Na’Vi remained disciplined throughout and secured a 16-5 victory to make it 2-0. Astralis will certainly be back, but Na’Vi exposed their vulnerabilities in that Grand Final, and the likes of Team Vitality and G2 could follow that blueprint in the future.
Green Shoots of Recovery for Team Liquid
TL climbed three places in the HLTV world rankings after finishing fourth at the BLAST Premier Global Finals. They suffered painful defeats to Vitality and Na’Vi in the tournament’s latter stages. Still, they generally acquitted themselves well and suggested that they could soon be challenging for glory again.
It was not so long ago that Stewie2K and co knocked Astralis off the top of the world rankings following a fantastic run of results. They were unable to sustain that form, but they still have a strong and consistent roster, and it would do wonders for the health of the CS: GO scene to see TL challenging Astralis, Vitality, and Na’Vi for supremacy once again.
Record Viewing Figures Spark Optimism
The tournament broke the record for an online CS: GO event’s concurrent viewership several times on the final day of action. The record was previously set during ESL Pro League Season 12 Europe when the Na’Vi and Astralis faced off in the grand finals in front of 568,406 live viewers.
That record was shattered when 687,691 viewers tuned in to watch Na’Vi beat Team Vitality in the lower bracket finals at this week’s BLAST Global Finals. The Grand Final clash between Na’Vi and Astralis hit 645,853 viewers, making the tournament a roaring success.
These records are for online-only events and do not come close to topping the ELEAGUE Boston Major 2018 Finals, which peaked at 1,329,096 viewers when Cloud9 and FaZe Clan faced off in the finals. Still, it is certainly encouraging at a time when the pandemic has forced live events to move online.