Eight days of amazing 'Counter-Strike' is now over. Mousesports have emerged victorious of their second ever trophy with this lineup (and the first major one). Given the quality of teams that attend the tournament, the victory is very impressive.

Nine of the top ten teams in the world attended this event, and unlike the Major where excuses were aplenty (incomplete rosters, coaches standing in, etc.), there was minimal at this event. Hellraisers had to play with a stand-in (Issa had visa issues and HS, formerly of Optic Gaming, stepped in) and G2’s Shox played with his wrist less than 100% - he’s expected to undergo surgery in the coming weeks.


Mousesports barely made the playoffs. Cloud 9, Major champions, and Mouz found themselves in each other’s path in the final group stage game. The winner would advance, and the loser would go home. Given that they were going against a C9 side that recently beat the best team in the world to win the Major and so were full of confidence, not many people gave the European side a lot of hope. But they beat the #3 team in the world in two straight maps to book a semifinals spot for themselves.

Here, they were expected to meet the other “Best team in the world” SK gaming, but the Brazilian side had not looked like itself in the group stages, and no one was actually very surprised when they were beaten by Team Liquid.

Liquid has been in great form themselves, recently beating C9 in the CS_Summit event final. And given their coach Zews’ experience with Brazilian CS, they are the team most likely to beat the otherwise seemingly unbeatable SK side.

In the semi-final showdown, which was a repeat of the ESG Mykonos Tour finals of 2017 (Mouz’s only other trophy with this roster), Mouz beat Liquid 2-1.


On the other side of the bracket, Natus Vincere, the Ukrainian organization, found themselves in a really good position at the start of group play. The team went 2-0 comfortably - with three more chances to qualify for the playoffs. Everyone expected them to need at least two of those chances, as their third game was against Faze Clan, the #1 team in the world.

After their loss to Faze, they were ill-fated to meet the #2 team in the world, SK. So, indeed, Na’Vi would require all three chances they got, finally beating Heroic to make the playoffs. In their quarterfinals game, they faced off against Astralis, top 5 in the world, weakened by the unexpected departure of key player Kjaerbye to their Danish rival, North. Na’Vi pleased the home crowd with good counter strike beating their opponents 2-1 in a match that Astralis really should have won.

In the semi-finals, they were given a chance to avenge Faze in the presence of a really pumped up Ukrainian crowd. They did not falter at this opportunity, with some good individual performances, although their 2-1 result was most likely helped to a large extent by some dreadful showing from the Faze players.

The Finals

Na’Vi started off really strong picking up their map, Overpass 16-7 convincingly (getting 11 rounds on otherwise CT-sided map).

On the second map, Mouz finished the first half 11-4, the same halftime score as the first map but in reverse. Now, for a bit of context for those who don’t follow professional CSGO that seriously, Mousesports are sometimes called Chokesports because of their incredulous propensity to put up massive leads before crumbling and losing games.

So, when Na’Vi were made an incredibly unlikely comeback to get the scoreline to 15-14 in their favor, even the most ardent Mouz fans online gave up and spammed CHOKESPORTS in the Twitch Chat (ah how I love you). But somehow, ChrisJ and team pulled themselves by their bootstraps and won the 30th round, making it to overtime, of which two were required before Mouz finally closed the game 22-18.

The final map was train - both teams had favorable records on it - both came into this matchup with ~75% chance win rate on Train in the last three months. Train tends to be CT-sided, the long-range angles and tight choke points to the bomb sites give the CTs an edge in their defense.

Imagine the quality of the Mouz T-side that took 11 T-side rounds this game. S1mple and Na’Vi looked to be dead in the waters at halftime. The home crowd did their best to rile up their team, and to some extent, it worked. Na’Vi got 5 T-side rounds themselves before the whistle blew and Mousesports were crowned Champions of the Starladder Series.


Conventionally, the HLTV MVP award is given to the highest rated player on the winning side, and in its formal history, HLTV has always given to a member of the winning team.

So, to lose the final and win the MVP award like S1mple did is a historic moment in itself. The guy single-handedly carried his team through many matchups, and he did not faze of falter in the finals either - on all three maps, he topped the server.

In the run of three maps, S1mple posted 90 frags (that’s an average of one 30-bomb every map). The player closest to him on the server was Mouz’s captain, ChrisJ with 71 kills. In an interview after the event, s1mple said he'd rather win the tournament than the MVP award the next time around. To everyone who watched, it is clear that when he plays the way he did this tournament, he’s right up there with SK’s c0ldzera and Faze’s Niko in contention for the World's Best Player title.

'IEM Katowice'

Neither of the finalists will appear in the IEM Katowice World Championship that starts on Tuesday, Feb 27. But Katowice promises a bigger prize pool, and consistently makes the list of favorite events of players and on-air talent. This year’s event sees all the top 5 teams in the world and more - including some underdogs Tyloo and the yet-unknown Order. Check back here for a preview of that game.