YEKINDAR claims NAVI's "stars are aligning" in time for PGL Stockholm Major success - Dexerto
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YEKINDAR claims NAVI’s “stars are aligning” in time for PGL Stockholm Major success

Published: 5/Nov/2021 3:19 Updated: 5/Nov/2021 11:28

by Andrew Amos

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Heroic was one comeback too far for Virtus.pro at the PGL Stockholm CS:GO Major, falling to the Danes 2-1 in the quarter-finals. It’s not the result Mareks ‘YEKINDAR’ Gaļinskis wanted, but he says it was never quite ‘theirs’ ⁠— the “stars are aligning” for CIS rivals Natus Vincere instead.

Virtus.pro could not mount a Major miracle akin to their 2019 successes as Avangar in Berlin.

The CIS roster have officially bowed out of the PGL Stockholm CS:GO Major in the quarter-finals, losing to Denmark’s last hope Heroic 2-1.

It was a tight series between the two squads. While Virtus.pro started out slow on their map pick of Heroic, with almost every play being answered with a resounding swarm, they managed to pick up the pace on Ancient with star AWper and IGL Dzhami ‘Jame’ Ali stepping up big.

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However, on the deciding map of Inferno, the pressure got to Virtus.pro. Big plays from YEKINDAR kept the CIS squad in it ⁠— and the faithful had hopes of a comeback like they put on in earlier matches in the Major.

Virtus.pro were never really on a level playing field with the Danes, who ran away with the series 16-10, 13-16, 12-16 after the slight resistance.

João Ferreira / Dexerto
Heroic triumphed over YEKINDAR’s Virtus.pro 2-1 to move on to the Stockhol Major semi-finals against G2 Esports.

“Overall our mood was great, our mental stability was also really great. We believed in the comeback until the very end but we lost some crucial rounds on both Mirage and Inferno,” YEKINDAR told Dexerto.

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“On Mirage we couldn’t hang onto the CT rounds. We were winning one, then losing again. We didn’t have the economy and we couldn’t get our stacks right.

“For Heroic, we always [pushed] into their stacks and we were losing rounds because of it. Overall it was bad macro by us in the game.”

Virtus.pro starts building for the future with FL1T

A quarter-finals exit isn’t the glamorous result to hope for, but for a Virtus.pro who was integrating Evgeny ‘FL1T’ Lebedev at the last minute, they couldn’t ask for much more.

The Russian, formerly with forZe, jumped into the squad as a “temporary change” for the benched Sanjar ‘SANJI’ Kuliev.

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The future of the roster remains somewhat uncertain ⁠— the team wanted to leave big decisions until after the Major. FL1T’s 0.99 rating at his Major debut isn’t the biggest breakout performance, but according to YEKINDAR, he did his job well.

“You couldn’t call him a stand-in, but I think he did great,” he said.

“This experience ⁠— first tournament for a team is really important with a new player, and I wish I had the same opportunity when I joined VP to play at a Major. I believed he gained a lot of knowledge about us and our playstyle and mentality and I believe we have a great future ahead of us.”

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YEKINDAR ⁠— who topped the ratings across the event for Virtus.pro with 1.09 ⁠— called his form “quite normal”, neither satisfied nor annoyed.

There were some concerns about Jame though, who was off his usually sharp shot at the Major. YEKINDAR brushed off though, claiming the late roster change forced the AWPer to focus more on calling rounds than hitting the insane shots we’ve grown accustomed too.

“Jame was fully focusing on calling throughout this best of three. On these types of games when you have a new player that maybe doesn’t fully know what is the plan, Jame ⁠— the in-game leader ⁠— needs to focus more on the calling and helping his teammates to be on the same page,” he said.

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“It’s just for this tournament, I believe in the future it’ll be a lot better.”

Can anyone stop NAVI?

With Virtus.pro out, YEKINDAR’s eyes have now drifted towards who’s primed to win it all at the PGL Stockholm CS:GO Major ⁠— and it’s hard to look past Natus Vincere.

NAVI has won almost everything there is to win in the last two years. Since their disappointing quarter-finals exit in Berlin in 2019, they’ve taken home IEM Katowice 2020, the BLAST Premier Global Final 2020, IEM Cologne 2021, and ESL Pro League Season 14.

They have only finished outside the top 10 of an event once in two years, and more often than not found themselves nearing the podium.

NAVI lifting the IEM Cologne trophy
Simon Howar/ESL
s1mple’s NAVI is just missing a Major title to cap off their CS:GO dominance.

Everything is going to plan for the kings of CIS ⁠— just in time to get, what many believe, to be a well-deserved Major title for Oleksandr ‘s1mple’ Kostyliev.

YEKINDAR believes NAVI are the favorites for a reason, but there’s one force that can stop them, and it’s the young guns at Gambit who have contested their CIS dynasty across the online era.

“I believe in NAVI, the stars are aligning for them at this Major, but I would say that Gambit has a chance. If they go through [the quarter-finals], the only team that can beat NAVI is Gambit,” he said.

“It’s good that they’re [meeting] in the semi-finals. I believe in finals it’ll be harder for them, but in semi-finals, Gambit could have a lot of chances.”