They nearly fell at the first hurdle in their trophy bid.
On a day one of HCS Valencia that was otherwise marked by tournament favorites such as Acend and Quadrant sweeping the opposing Halo Infinite teams in their pools, NAVI will be breathing a sigh of relief after only narrowly stealing away their first series victory of the weekend.
Pool C contender BLVKHVND took the struggling partnered team to a game five, but a chaotic conclusion ended with NAVI winning 3-2 and seeing off their main competition in pool play.
Out of the notable teams attending the European regional finals, NAVI have the most to prove due to the recent addition of rookie talent Mighty and an inconsistent set of online performances that ranged from top-six finishes to grand finals appearances during split two of the HCS Pro Series. Their scrappy victory over BLVKHVND most likely won’t put those doubts to rest, but it will be a much needed confidence boost for the rest of the weekend.
Objective game modes were the Achilles’ heel of the NAVI roster throughout the series. Aquarius Capture The Flag for game one quickly put them on the back foot, with BLVKHVND showing stronger map rotations that allowed them to make the most of what few opportunities presented themselves. It was a microcosm for the series as a whole, where both teams rarely enjoyed a dominant lead or setup and instead secured their wins through chaotic teamfights and scrappy seconds of objective time where they could.
BLVKHVND’s other map win in the series, in Oddball on Recharge for game four, followed a similar precedent. While NAVI showed signs of life during the map, taking one round away from BLVKHVND, a series of clutch plays from Glory GGz was what ultimately allowed BLVKHVND to take the set to a game five. With 46 kills to his name by the time the match ended, Glory found a number of double and triple kills while defending the team’s setup with the Oddball that blocked any opportunities for NAVI to come back into the game. In one notable moment, he singlehandedly saw off three of NAVI’s players while the rest of his team was trapped on the other side of the map.
Despite an impressive performance from BLVKHVND, though, the Slayer maps were NAVI’s key to their much-needed victory. While they weren’t dominant by any means, finishing with a 50-48 and 50-47 scoreline in NAVI’s favor, it was a moment for NAVI’s older players to display their veteran experience in closing out a narrow game. A lot was on the line for the roster’s future if they were unable to take a win against a team like BLVKHVND, but tuf0xy stepped up to make sure those conversations were left for another day. NAVI’s win in game two’s Catalyst Slayer match was largely thanks to him. He finished the game 16-9 with a 1.78 K/D while the rest of his team struggled to stay afloat above a 1.0 K/D.
But Slayer wins alone aren’t enough to take a series, and it was the new introduction of a King of the Hill map to the best-of-five format that was NAVI’s saving grace in a set where they struggled at objective play. King of the Hill is a new game mode released with season two of Halo Infinite, and NAVI showed they had put in the practice to eek out a small advantage over BLVKHVND. They were handily outslayed by the BLVKHVND roster, yet still secured a 3-2 victory that proved to be an essential lifeline as the series went on. Even a performance from Glory that saw him take home a 1.52 K/D with 32 kills total wasn’t enough for his team to stop NAVI from clutching up the win.
Here are the full results for NAVI vs. BLVKHVND in Pool C:
NAVI’s final match of the day will be against Diamond Dogs, a team that BLVKHVND already 3-0 swept prior to facing off against NAVI. With the confidence that the matchup should be similarly sitting in their favor, NAVI have more than likely already secured the top spot in Pool C and given themselves the best opportunity for a run in tomorrow’s championship bracket.