On the back of an MVP finals performance from Egor "flamie" Vasilyev, Natus Vincere dispatched rivals Luminosity in yet another thrilling finale to claim the DreamHack Leipzig championship. While Fnatic goes into 2016 as the team to beat in CS:GO, Na'Vi has made a strong case for a spot right on its heels. The two teams now share the last 6 offline titles, and Na'Vi bounced back from last weeks StarSeries XIV crushing defeat by Fnatic with a win of its own.
"Emotions are at peak right now, the finals turned out to be really hard," Daniil "Zeus" Teslenko told ESPN after the victory. "Two maps, two overtimes was tough, but I'm happy we could pull through. Luminosity played really well, but this time we were better.
"CS:GO is an amazing game, and it's a constant competitive race between teams to be the best. For the past three months we did a lot of work, visited a lot of tournaments. I agree that we are No. 2 right now, but as they say, it's easier to reach the top than to stay on it. Especially with today's competition. It's on us whether we can stay on top in the future. Our goal was never to be top 2, the ambitions are too high and we want to be No. 1. But for that to happen we need to keep our in-game form and improve to finally beat Fnatic."
Vasilyev finished the finals with just fewer than 70 total kills and a plus-26 net -- 21 ahead of the next player on his team, Ladislav 'GuardiaN' Kovács, and one of only three players to have finish with a positive net (Brazilian Captain Gabriel 'FalleN' Toledo rounds out the list). For Vasilyev, it came as a surprise.
"You always want to be an MVP, but honestly I didn't expect to perform that well," Vasilyev said with a laugh. "My whole team was playing well, not only me. We did this together."
The competition between Na'Vi and LG brewed over the last several months, culminating in an incredible finals matchup that saw both teams make clutch plays and crucial mistakes. When these two teams meet they have been known to put on a spectacular show, which we got to see again in the finals. Na'Vi now holds a 10-3 game and 5-1 match record against LG since Oct. 31.
"The finals were really intense and emotional, maybe that's why us and LG made so many mistakes -- especially my jump on train," Teslenko said smiling. "What was the main reason we won? We've played more finals, and that's why I think we deserved the title, although we were one step from losing.
"LG are a big break through. From a top 16 team last year, they climbed their way to top, which deserves a lot of respect. I know how hard it is right now to become a top team, but they did it! Luminosity should be an example for younger teams. It just happens that we meet with them in groups all the time and have a lot of intense and fun matches. DreamHack isn't the last tournament of CS:GO, so we will definitely meet with them again!"
Broadcasters Janko "YNk" Paunovic and Halvor "vENdetta" Gulestøl noted that Kovács' play continues to turn heads and make highlight reels as the best AWP in the game, it's all about a team effort that's getting Na'Vi this far.
"Consistent performance from everyone not named GuardiaN played a huge part in their win, including the strategical work put in by their coach, starix," Gulestøl said."With the competition in CS:GO being better than ever, NaVi need more than just one guy taking charge in the finals, and they did it by committee versus LG with flamie leading the troops."
"GuardiaN did play up to his standards in this tournament, but it was Zeus who contributed a lot in the semis and flamie came out huge in the finals, so I'd say it was a team effort," Paunovic said. "Seeing as GuardiaN is pretty consistent, he still needs some help from his teammates even though NaVi has a good system and don't really as much on individual plays as some of the other teams. So if flamie can be that guy then that will make NaVi a much more dangerous team."
Last week Toledo told ESPN that LG needed to earn a big title to garner comparison to the top teams. He led them in the drivers seat in Leipzig with convincing set wins over FaZe and a big showing in the semifinals match Astralis. Toledo had the big title within LG's grasps but too many of those aforementioned mistakes put the finals out of reach. LG has solidified itself as one of the top-tier teams, but have been unable to complete the finishing touches.
"In my opinion they still lack experience to close out games when it really matters since they have just played a few finals on theirs carrers," Keyd Stars' Bruno "bit" Lima said.
Lima is a former Counter-Strike 1.6 teammate of Toledo on Complexity Gaming, and previously won international tournaments with current LG starter Lincoln "fnx" Lau on then famous Brazilian team Made in Brazil.
"Taking a smart decision is just a lot harder when you're under pressure and if you go through those games more often you start to get used and learn how to play it better and better," he said. "They are doing great as a team and individually. I don't think they have to change stuffs but just keep playing exaclty how they are right now but try to decrease theirs mistakes like losing less force buys, ecos and rounds they have huge advantage like 2 vs. 5 vs fnatic on inferno and 3 vs. 5 on cbblestone vs NaVi, those were key rounds that cost them both finals."
For Gulestøl, It's all about time.
"It's incredibly tough to go all the way to the top, just keep in mind how long now-Astralis took to get their first win after they had solidified themselves as one of the best teams in the world," he said. "For some teams it's a mental hurdle, others struggle with certain matchups. I think LG will get their trophy in due time."
The biggest surprise of the event came from Dignitas, which squeaked out a double-OT deciding map win over Virtus Pro and a clean sweep of Mousesports. Markus "Kjaerbye" Kjærbye kept Dignitas in the semifinals match against Na'Vi including the Desert Eagle highlight of the weekend.
"I'm really happy with our performance this weekend, we definitely lived up to our own expectations and played as a team the whole way through," Kjærbye said. "I think the turnaround was caused by the lineup change and the hard work and effort we have put in to improving, since we added k0nfig and RUBINO. I think it's hard to say how much further we need to go before becoming a top team, but I think this weekend showed people we aren't far away and won't stop working hard before we finally get there.
Of course, I need to credit the team for helping me shine, but I believe switching roles since the old lineup helped me a lot. Usually i had roles where I would have to play all on myself, which in most cases is wrong for an inexperienced player, who still needs to learn. So the new role where I am more connected to the team makes me feel way more impactful and gave me some insight of my own strenghts and helped motivating me a lot. But I know I still have a lot to learn and I won't take this event for-granted and start slacking, but instead use it to improve my weaknesses and come back even better next event."
Na'Vi's next test will be an eventual showdown with Fnatic, though not if teams like Envy Us, Astralis and Virtus pro have anything to say about it.
"I think Na'Vi has a clear problem when it comes to playing Fnatic and EnVyUs both in game and in their heads", Paunovic said. "I feel they are pretty confident against all other teams."
Gulestøl agrees it's an added layer that Na'Vi should not overlook.
"They're still a step behind fnatic, but it feels like their issues are more mental than anything else," he said."There's no doubt their individual skill and strategies are good enough to battle it out with the likes of fnatic & nV, but they always fail to bring their peak level when everything is on the line."