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NAVI Claim the PGL Copenhagen Major Title, First of CS2

Zakaria Almughrabi

Counter-Strike 2’s first Major has come to an end. In what was the most stacked playoff bracket of all time, it was NAVI who triumphed over FaZe Clan in the Grand Finals to win the PGL Copenhagen Major. The Ukrainian organization now has two Counter-Strike Major titles, this time doing it with an international roster that has faced adversity since their formation last year.

NAVI PGL Copenhagen Major

Image Credit PGL

NAVI’s journey through the Major began in the Elimination Stage. They took both opening best-of-ones against The MongolZ and G2 Esports, setting them up for a clean advancement to the PGL Copenhagen Major Playoffs. However, back-to-back 2-1 losses against Team Spirit and Cloud9 threatened to eliminate NAVI before the ultimate stage.

The final match of the Elimination Stage had NAVI facing off against paiN Gaming. The plucky Brazilian squad couldn’t pull off the upset, sending NAVI through as a 3-2 team. Despite being in the lowest pool of seeds, NAVI’s strength-of-opponents tiebreaker gave them what was likely the most favorable matchup possible.

Stars Set the Stage

In their quarterfinal matchup against Eternal Fire, NAVI picked Mirage for the first map. Their T side was fantastic, as NAVI steamrolled their way to a 9-3 lead. What should have been an easy close-out turned on its head when EF won nine rounds before NAVI got two. Down 12-10, NAVI was about to throw their map away. Instead, Justinas “jL” Lekavicius pulled off a 1v3 retake on the A Site to keep NAVI alive.

NAVI squeezed out the last round, sending it to overtime. It was here that they finally found their footing and managed to close out Mirage 16-13. In addition to jL, AWPer Ihor “w0nderful” Zhdanov made huge contributions. His 27-15 K-D ratio and 1.37 HLTV rating far and away led the server. Now up a map, NAVI headed to EF’s Inferno.

While EF was extremely competitive on Mirage, it seemed as though they ran out of gas after their heartbreaking OT loss. A tied 6-6 half gave way to NAVI in the second, as EF couldn’t stop the floodgates. W0nderful and jL once again crushed it, clocking in at 1.40 and 1.35 ratings on their way to a 13-9 win and 2-0 start to playoffs.

Semifinals Prove Challenging

Next up was G2 Esports. Many didn’t expect G2 to make it here as they faced off against one of the tournament favorites in quarters, MOUZ. After sweeping the young squad, G2 was hot and dangerous. Map one was Anubis, courtesy of G2. The T-sided map went appropriately, with both teams struggling to stop the other’s attack.

While G2’s Iliya “m0NESY” Osipov was hard carrying, NAVI’s pieces were playing better on average. The map went to overtime where NAVI managed to win three CT rounds in a row for the first time. G2 couldn’t do the same, and NAVI stole away map one.

NAVI’s Nuke was up next. While the strength for NAVI through their playoffs run had been their strong T sides, Nuke didn’t deliver in the same way. G2 rallied to Stonewall NAVI in the first half, only allowing three rounds. NAVI never came online on their map, dropping Nuke to G2 13-7.

Ancient was the playground of choice for the tiebreaker. Right away, the game soured for NAVI. A dominating pistol round out of m0NESY set G2 on the path to victory. And when the first gun round went in their favor as well, NAVI was in dire straits. With no money or rounds, jL pulled off one of the most important plays of the Major.

After the jL ace, NAVI looked reinvigorated. They rallied their defense, only dropping a single round in the rest of the half. Despite NAVI finding a match point early at 12-6, G2 locked in on the CT side and played a near-flawless back half. The comeback looked inevitable. Instead, NAVI punished an aggressive play by G2 to close the game out in regulation. The 13-11 victory sent NAVI to the Grand Finals of the first CS2 Major.

Starting Finals Strong

Facing NAVI for the title was FaZe Clan. The number one ranked team in the world coming into the Major had been on a phenomenal run through the playoffs, taking down tournament favorites Team Spirit and previous Major champions Team Vitality. NAVI were firmly underdogs in this matchup. The map veto went strangely to start. FaZe chose Ancient, letting their best map Nuke slip by. NAVI responded with Mirage. Inferno was to be the tiebreaker.

FaZe had picked Ancient, likely due to seeing NAVI nearly give up the comeback to G2 in the semifinals. It’s not a bad FaZe map either, so they probably thought they could take advantage of NAVI’s shakiness. That plan backfired for FaZe early. Despite losing the pistol, NAVI shot off to a huge CT streak in the first half. If not for a final eco-round victory out of FaZe, things would have been one-sided. The result was still a 7-5 lead for NAVI.

In the second half, NAVI won the pistol and went up 10-5. While the lead was big on paper, FaZe Clan had come back from worse before. When they started to claw back rounds on defense and had NAVI’s money broken, another one of their comebacks seemed to be inevitable. However, NAVI hit them hard on their low buy round. The sole AK-47 of Valerij “b1t” Vakhovsjkyj found a double entry, causing FaZe’s defense to crumble.

With this momentum shift, NAVI was able to shut down FaZe’s comeback and steal away Ancient 13-9. Throughout the playoffs, it had been JL and wonderful who stepped up for the team while some of the other members were underperforming. Notably, in this map, b1t and IGL Aleksi “Aleksib” Virolainen had 19 kills apiece, earning 1.55 and 1.48 ratings, respectively.

Knocked Down, Getting Back Up

NAVI’s Mirage was up next. While this map was one of NAVI’s better ones, FaZe had shown amazing form earlier in playoffs, taking down Spirit on it. The map started, then ended just as quickly. NAVI won the pistol round, then got crunched by a FaZe force buy, then didn’t win another round until the very end of the half.

Suddenly, the poise that NAVI held on Ancient was all but gone. They were getting steamrolled, plain and simple. The favorites were here, and they were taking no prisoners. NAVI’s average rating on Mirage was 0.54. And after three short rounds in the second half, the sucker punch was complete. 13-2 for FaZe to tie the series up.

After falling that hard, lesser teams would crumble backstage in the break. This is the biggest stage in Counter-Strike, and you just got flattened all over it. Not only that, you have to go right back out there to play for it all. The teams took to the stage for one final map, Inferno.

NAVI Steal the Show

As NAVI put on their headsets, they prepared to play like it was 0-0. It’s best-of-one, they likely thought. And in the end, their strong mental made all the difference. In complete contrast to the second map, this time it was NAVI who was dictating the pace of the game. Their CT side played hard and aggressive, thwarting FaZe at every attempt.

Even when the odd mishap befell NAVI, they bounced right back to maintain control. The result was a commanding 9-3 lead at the half. FaZe Clan, no stranger to comebacks, lined up on the CT side to try and get back into the game. NAVI didn’t give them a chance. From pistol round to anti-eco to the first gun round, NAVI claimed it all. The 13-3 final score solidified a 2-1 victory for NAVI and the PGL Copenhagen Major title.

In that final map, b1t, and JL both played one of their best games ever. Both broke the 20-kill mark in just 16 rounds, and b1t even broke the 2.00 rating barrier at 2.16. Aleksib also completely outcalled Finn “karrigan” Andersen time and time again.

With this win at the PGL Copenhagen Major, NAVI has now won two Major titles. It’s a first for four players on their roster, with b1t now joining the prestigious multi-major champion club. Tournament MVP went to jL, who has quickly risen to stardom as one of the best riflers in the world who both talks trash and can back it up.

While this was not the expected result of the first CS2 Major, it’s one to be satisfied with nonetheless. We got the most stacked playoff bracket of all time, countless memorable matches, and a very deserving champion.