It started at the airport in Stockholm. As we stepped on board the Arlanda Express train, that would take us to the center of Stockholm, a guy looked at us and asked something about the train tickets. We could not help him, saying that this was our first time on the Express ourselves. He nodded and replied; "PGL Major?"
18 minutes later the train rolled in on the tracks of the central station in Stockholm. Here we once again stumbled into the man, who was traveling with his girlfriend. We asked him who they were supporting at the event.
- NAVI. My girlfriend is from Russia, and we have supported NAVI for a very long time. And now it finally looks like, that we can win it!
With three second-place finishes at past Majors, it does look like, that this could be the year of NAVI. Last night's win against Team Vitality once again underlined that Natus Vincere is the absolute top favorite for the title.
A team effort
If you have Oleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev on your team, there is always a chance of making a deep run at tournaments. But unlike previous years it actually seems like, that coach Andrii "B1ad3" Horodenskyi has gathered a roster, that can fire on all cylinders. The addition of Valerii "b1t" Vakhovskyi to the roster as a permanent fifth player seems to have tipped the balance in favor of NAVI. The young Ukrainian has been a huge revelation at the PGL Major putting him in contention as the MVP of the tournament in his Major debut and as a fan favorite of the NAVI Nation.
With Denis "electronic" Sharipov in top form, there are suddenly three NAVI players performing at a very high level in the tournament. And when it mattered the most, Ilya "Perfecto" Zalutskiy decided to step up big time in yesterday's match against Team Vitality, where the Russian player almost singlehandedly made the difference on Dust2 with a crazy 29-13 K-D score to help his team to the map win.
Ratings of NAVI players during PGL Stockholm:
1. B1T - 1.35
2. s1mple - 1.34
3. electronic - 1.29
4. Perfecto - 1.16
5. Boombl4 - 1.07
Gambit is the dark horse
So who can stop them? Heroic or G2 will be one of the finalists, but NAVI will have to win their Semi-Final against Gambit before thinking about a potential Grand Final. With four debutants at a Major, Gambit has been a big unknown before the start of the tournament. Their 2-0 win against Furia in the Quarter-Final was at times a bit shaky, but nonetheless, they prevailed and won without conceding a map. And once again Dmitriy "sh1ro" Sokolov showed, that he is perhaps the best CT player in the world right now producing a staggering 1.72 HLTV rating on the CT side.
In 2021, Gambit has proved to be the number 1 enemy of NAVI. The two teams have faced each other 11 times, with Gambit winning eight! Out of the last six losses, that NAVI has faced, Gambit has been behind five of them. Can they do it again tonight?