The final day at MLG Columbus 2016 featured the grand final of the event, with Natus Vincere and Luminosity Gaming squaring off for the title of a major championship, as well as a first-place prize of $500,000. En route to the grand final, Na`Vi went through Cloud9 and Virtus.pro in the group stage, and defeated Ninjas in Pyjamas and Astralis in best-of-three series in the playoffs. Luminosity took down mousesports and NiP in group A, and then defeated Virtus.pro and Liquid in two nail-biting best-of-threes, booking a spot in the final and guaranteeing themselves at least $150,000 in prize money.
These two teams had quite a colorful history coming into the series, having been elite teams for the past five months and met a number of times in different tournaments. This year began with Luminosity scoring a 2-0 victory at SL i-League StarSeries XIV Finals's group stage. Two weeks later, Na`Vi secured their first title of the year at DreamHack Open Leipzig, winning two maps in overtime against the Brazilian side. Most recently, Zeus's team lost to Luminosity at IEM Katowice's group stage, and then in a grueling semifinal series, whose first map was by many dubbed the best map of Counter-Strike ever played.
In fact, across the 11 maps these two teams had played each other on (after fnx and TACO completed Luminosity's roster in late November) the teams had won an identical number of rounds -- 166 each. On top of that, each had won exactly 76 rounds as Counter-Terrorists, excluding overtime. As Terrorists, LG had a slight edge of 81 to Na`Vi's 74 rounds, but that was mitigated by the team led by GuardiaN's individual play having outscored their opponents with a margin of 16-9 in their four different overtime battles. Simply put, it could not get much better than this.
The series began on Mirage, Luminosity's pick for the series. Starting on defense, Na'Vi's flamie won a one-on-two after plant clutch situation in the B bombsite to start the half, and quickly followed it up with another clutch to keep Na`Vi up at 5-0. Rounds later, Zeus scored a triple kill in the A bombsite, and the Brazilian side found themselves trailing 6-0, before the team's resident clutch-master fnx put them on the board with a calculated one-on-two win with a picked up M4A4 in the A bombsite.
Despite Na`Vi's star AWPer GuardiaN having been rendered nearly obsolete by a nagging hand injury suffered playing football, the ex-CIS powerhouse continued to put up rounds. Counter-Strike 1.6 superstar Edward had a strong half, and his younger carbon copy flamie led the way in fragging, as Na`Vi closed out their defensive half with a 11-4 lead. But in the final round they allowed Luminosity to get one more round for their margin of safety, and it wound up being exactly what they needed to push the game into overtime in the second half.
Luminosity won the pistol round, and quickly got their double AWP setup running. This time fer refused to use the MP9, a weapon he became notorious for earlier in the tournament, switching priorities from boosting the team's economy to his individual abilities. The Brazilian side clawed its way back to 11-10, when Zeus's triple kill got Na`Vi's first Terrorist round. But TACO's triple kill broke Na`Vi's money, only for them to bring the game back to 15-14, when fnx and his teammates were able to secure overtime, and keep themselves alive on the opening map.
In the first half of overtime a seemingly unlucky missed jump by seized saved his life, and they were able to win the opening round. The stellar play by fnx in the A bombsite got LG round two, but Edward won a perfectly timed one-on-three in A from the Terrorist ramp to give his team the lead at the half. However, they were about to be outdone by Luminosity. coldzera wound up calling the surprise tactics that saw the Brazilian side first ambush the B bombsite, and then quickly walk into A, surprising Na`Vi. They caught them completely off guard, and with money low on the final round, closed out the opening map 19-17.
At halftime Na`Vi's youngster flamie seemed visibly upset, unable to get up from his seat and join the rest of his team in the backstage, where they presumably were talking about their map choice, Overpass. Earlier on Twitter, Ryu, the manager of North American team Selfless had confirmed that Zeus's team had gone through the admins to confirm some new boosts they had found would be allowed. Previously, they had showcased two new boosts on overpass at IEM Katowice that were never seen before, and that allowed them to score three free kills, giving them two rounds for free.
But this time on Overpass they never got a chance to run them. Luminosity racked up a 7-0 lead with FalleN's aggressive AWPing leading the way. Trailing 3-0 Na`Vi stood a chance at winning with a close three-on-three after the bomb was planted, but a perfectly coordinated retake saved LG in the B bombsite. Na`Vi somehow won two force buys after, yet seized's failed one-on-three attempt on round 10 was not enough, and the team could never recover. FalleN won a key one-on-two round in B, and his aggressive play toward the bathroom area on the map simply did not allow for Na`Vi to even set up for their attacks. Up 13-2 at half, FalleN led his team with 19 kills, 3 assists and mere 3 deaths.
We are champions. We couldn't have done it without you! Nós somos campeões. Não conseguiríamos fazer isso sem vocês! pic.twitter.com/01RAmKMp09
- Luminosity Gaming (@Luminosity) April 3, 2016
The second half was nearly an afterthought. Na`Vi had close rounds and only TACO's miraculous Glock headshots saved them in the pistol round. But with Na`Vi having, seemingly, finally broken down mentally, it was only a matter of time. TACO finished the tournament by winning a one-on-two clutch situation in the B bombsite. This lead to massive celebrations overtaking the Nationwide Arena, where many of Luminosity players' close family members had showed up. Amid the celebrations, Luminosity's entry fragger fer broke into tears, and coldzera's father joined him on the big stage.
Coldzera was named the MVP for his performance with a 1.36 rating, +84 kill-death difference, and 0.90 kills per round. The 21-year-old Brazilian came from virtually nowhere last summer, having never played internationally prior to being picked up by Luminosity. Since then, he has become a fan favorite, and should be considered a top five player in the world at this point. Meanwhile, multiple top players were vocally supporting the team's in-game leader FalleN on Twitter, as he had built this team from scratch in just under a year, and were now world champions. The Na`Vi 2010 comparison is one step closer.
For more CS:GO commentary, follow Tomi on Twitter: @lurppis_