Natus Vincere (NAVI) made history as the winners of the third season of the Intel Grand Slam thanks to their thrilling grand final triumph over Team Vitality at ESL Pro League Season 14. The five map series swung from side to side throughout its duration, showcasing all the thrills and spills that can come from the format, but here’s the full rundown on how Oleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev and co. established themselves amongst the greats of the game.
Vitality and NAVI last met in a grand final back at IEM Beijing Online: EU, with the Frenchmen, battling back from two maps to reverse sweep the five map series on that occasion.
NAVI arrived at Pro League firmly nestled as the pre-tournament favorites thanks to their number one placement in the world rankings, and recent win on LAN at IEM Cologne before the player break. Vitality, on the other hand, had been hovering around the top ten in the rankings following the benching of Cédric “RpK” Guipouy in favor of Jayson “Kyojin” Nguyen Van, with the team bowing out of Cologne in 9th-12th.
However, only Heroic, Team Spirit, and Complexity were able to take maps off of Vitality on their way to the grand final, with the side’s 2-0 wins over Gambit and OG being particularly impressive. NAVI looked imperious as ever during their tournament run, topping the most stacked group with a 4-1 record before downing ENCE and scraping past Heroic in the semis.
Grand final series
Just like with the grand final series at IEM Beijing, there was very little secret over which maps were most likely to be played for the culmination to EPL Season 14, with neither side being big advocates of CS:GO’s latest map additions, and opting to go with the five traditional picks of Dust II, Inferno, Nuke, Overpass, and Mirage as the decider.
Both sides were able to secure both their map picks, with NAVI winning Dust II (16-10) and Nuke (16-11), and Vitality bagging Inferno (16-6) and Overpass (16-7). Vitality were arguably the better side out of the two heading into the decider, making a noticeably better showing in NAVI than their opponents did on their own.
In the end, however, a strong showing on the CT defense ensured that Vitality were always playing catch up when it came to the decider. A converted pistol round took NAVI to within a handful of rounds of victory, and even though Vitality ended up winning the second half 9-6, it wasn’t enough to deny the CIS org the win.
With their victory at Pro League, NAVI became the third team to win the Intel Grand Slam (bagging themselves a cool bonus of $1 million on top of their $195,000 tournament winnings), firmly cementing this as their era in the ever-growing history of CS:GO.
The superstars step up
S1mple and Mathieu “ZywOo” Herbaut have been battling for the crown of the world’s best CS: GO player since 2019, with the pair scooping up the last three player of the year awards. No NAVI-Vitality matchup is complete without the spotlight being shone on the two superstars and their performances against each other, and the grand final of EPL Season 14 saw the two of them step up hugely.
ZywOo bagged more kills than any other player in the server with a 102-78 record and 1.23 rating just edging out S1mple’s 91-80 and 1.22 rating. With that being said, no player in the server had a higher KAST round contribution rate than S1mple’s 76.6% throughout the series, with ZywOo down in third with 71.9%.
2021 has been shaping up as S1mple’s year throughout, however, with another MVP award under his belt, it looks certain that he will end the season once again with the number one next to his name.