Natus Vincere and G2 Esports are set to lock horns in the grand finals of Intel Extreme Masters Katowice at the renowned Spodek Arena, which hosted some of the biggest esports events to date. Unfortunately, due to the COVID–19 crisis, the entire playoffs stage, including the grand finals, will be played in front of empty seats, which will deny the event of the energetic atmosphere but will not take away from the excitement this clash will bring to the fans who will tune in to watch it from the comfort of their homes.
Team preview: Natus Vincere went above and beyond everyone’s expectations with their trashing of Astralis in the semi-finals, where the CIS juggernauts produced one of the most dominating wins in the history of CS:GO’s “Big Events”.
It’s hard to praise NaVi enough for their performance on Saturday, which can only be described as perfection. With a 16-5 win on Dust2, followed by even more shocking 16-5 win on Astralis’ home turf map – Nuke, NaVi left a huge statement for Astralis, the CS:GO world and most importantly for their next opponents – G2.
It is also worth noting that IEM Katowice is only the second tournament NaVi is fielding Ilya “Perfecto” Zalutskiy, who joined the team at the end of January as a replacement for Ladislav “GuardiaN” Kovács. Since joining NaVi, Perfecto has won 10 out of 11 rounds when he was put in a 1v1 situation, which is very impressive. While he is not one of the best players on the team, Perfecto is still a very solid player.
Player to watch
In the IEM Katowice semi-finals match against Astralis, Aleksandr “s1mple” Kostyliev put up one of the most impressive performances of his career, securing an average of 1.79 HLTV rating across both maps. While the whole team played exceptionally well, s1mple proved once more why he is regarded as one of the best players that ever touched the game. Whether he will manage to translate his form into the next fixture is anyone’s guess, but given the importance of the event, s1mple is bound have another great showing against G2.
Team preview: Shortly after G2 acquired Nemanja “nexa” Isaković and Nemanja “huNter-” Kovač from CR4ZY back in September 2019, the team hit a rough patch, as they failed to achieve any notable success by the end of the year.
Why exactly G2 failed to perform up to par in the months leading to 2020 is a mystery, however, it’s fair to speculate there was a language barrier, considering they added two Serbian-speaking players to otherwise an all-French team.
However, it seems like G2 managed to overcome their difficulties and finally found their stride. Nexa and company translated their form from BLAST Premier: Spring 2020 Regular Season to Katowice, where they bested 100 Thieves, No. 2 team in the world – mousesports, Team Liquid and edged past Fnatic in the semi-finals.
Player to watch
Nemanja “huNter-” Kovač spent most of his career as a CS:GO pro in the shadow of his cousin Nikola “NiKo” Kovač and was known only as NiKo’s cousin. However, based on huNter-‘s performance this tournament, maybe it’s NiKo, who should be known as huNter-‘s cousin.
The 24-year-old Serbian pro has been simply phenomenal throughout the whole tournament, averaging an impressive 1.24 HLTV rating across all 10 maps he has played. While he failed to stand out in G2’s semi-finals bout with Fnatic with his 0.99 rating across the series, he should not be ignored based on his rating from one series alone.
G2 will heavily rely on huNter- in the finals match against Natus Vincere as his performance could make or break their shot at claiming their first title at Katowice. HuNter- still has a lot to prove and what better way to do so than in one of the most prestigious events of the CS:GO calendar.
The last time G2 and NaVi met on the battlefield was at the StarSeries i-League Season 8, back in October 2019. It was an exciting clash, which went into overtime in the first map of the series and although the fixture looked like it could go either way, it was G2 who edged past NaVi with a 16-11 win on Nuke, sealing the series at 2-1.
Since that bout, a lot has changed, namely the departure of Guardian, who for the lack of a better word was an “anchor” in NaVi and was eventually kicked from the team due to his disastrous performance and supposedly lack of motivation. As his replacement, NaVi brought in Perfecto, who proved to be a great fit for the team.
NaVi haven’t picket Vertigo in over three months and it’s safe to assume Vertigo will be their first ban in the upcoming match. What’s more, G2 are boasting with a 72% win rate on the map over the last 11 matches played, which is one more reason why NaVi will look to remove Vertigo from the pool.
On Dust2 both sides hold onto the same win percentage (67%), which G2 reached over last 12 matches, while NaVi did the same over 15 matches. So far this tournament NaVi picked Dust2 a few times, most recently in the semi-finals against Astralis, which suggests they will enjoy an advantage over G2 should the teams play on it.
Mirage is another map, where both sides should feel comfortable playing on. G2 hold onto an 83% win rate over six games played, while NaVi won 57% out of seven matches played Mirage. It’s also worth noting that G2 are currently on a five-game winning streak on Mirage.
Overpass will most likely be the first ban for G2, as they have not played a single match on it in the past three months. Fortunately for NaVi, they were not too keen on picking Overpass either, as they played only three games on it in last three months and won twice.
Train is the bread and butter of NaVi, where the CIS juggernauts boast with a high 88% win rate from eight games played, while G2 won 64% of their 11 games on Train. The numbers suggest NaVi should enjoy a significant advantage if they get to pick Train as one of the maps.
Looking at the numbers, the map pool of G2 and NaVi is fairly similar and although there are maps where one side holds a higher win rate, there are arguments to be made both can win any map, which is a great recipe for an exciting and close match.
The finals will be played as best-of-five (Bo5) and considering both teams look to be fairly proficient on all maps, a five-maps series is very likely to happen. Bookmakers have over 4.50 maps priced at around 2.62, which considering the high odds, provides us with a great betting opportunity.
G2 versus Natus Vincere Betting prediction
Both sides had a tough road to the finals, seeing how 2020 IEM Katowice fielded one of the most stacked line-up in the history of the event. G2 had to fight through 100 Thieves, Intel Grand Slam S2 champions Team Liquid, No.2 team in the world mousesports, and three-time Katowice champions Fnatic.
NaVi, on the other side, lost their opening match at Katowice against FaZe Clan (1-2), but found their stride in the lower bracket where they demolished Ninjas in Pyjamas and avenged their defeat against FaZe to book a spot in the playoff. There NaVi swept Team Liquid and the No.1 team in the world Astralis to secure a spot in the finals.
NaVi are heading into the match as 1.53 favorites, which seems fair, but it would not be wise to count the 2.62-priced G2 out of this race just yet. On the +1.50 map handicap, G2 are priced as the favorites, and it’s hard to argue with that, as it’s very likely all five maps will be played on Sunday, due to the teams’ similar map pool.
This should be a close match between two of the best-performing teams at Katowice and although G2 are not to be underestimated, it’s NaVi who will be the team to beat. After their commanding win over Astralis, NaVi will be high on morale, which should give them the needed boost to edge past their adversaries and hoist their maiden Katowice title and their first LAN title since April 2019, when they won StarSeries & i-League CS:GO Season 7.
Prediction: Natus Vincere to win
Prediction: Over 4.5 maps