It’s been a test of skill, perseverance, and endurance for the two teams who stepped up to the stage for today’s grand finals at the Paladins World Championship. Having taken on the brackets, survived the group stages, and semifinals, one final best-of-seven (Bo7) set separated these two teams from victory.
It was European team showdown between Natus Vincere and Fnatic to win it all and crown themselves true Champions of the Realm.
The Realm hasn’t seen a clash of such magnitude since the Battle of Crosswind Hold — and when the dust settled on the final map, only Natus Vincere was left standing to claim the World Championship title.
We hope you didn’t miss out on this gripping finals set — but in case you did, here’s how the Paladins World Championship at Hi-Rez Expo 2018 came to a close.
Grand Finals Match: Natus Vincere vs. Fnatic
Winner: Natus Vincere (4-0)
Many were uncertain about how this matchup would turn out, with Na’Vi pushing forward through the Paladins World Championship like a machine and Fnatic clawing their way up from behind in every set they played.
Natus Vincere got off to a strong start in Game 1 on Jaguar Falls. A solo Fernando Front Line draft fleshed out their composition with overwhelming damage that Fnatic had little answer for. Despite the team’s control over this map yesterday during the semifinals, Fnatic fell very short on map control, the formerly formidable Cybe8 Ruckus being countered out hard and Thiel’s off-meta Ash pick not providing the same degree of control that it was expected to. Mutu, spunkki, and Creativs2 all picked up triple kills during this game to hammer the payloads through, allowing Na’Vi to take a swift 4-0.
Game 2 brought the arena to the sunny shores of Frog Isle — and as with the semifinals, Fnatic pulled out the Eagle Eye Kinessa for bugzy. 2,400 damage per headshot is no small number, and bugzy pulled out a clutch defense during this game to allow Fnatic some degree of map control. Tied up, Fnatic fought back and did gain a capture of their own here and pushed dangerously close to conversion to take a strong lead, but were stumped due to an incredibly placed Impasse wall from Faenex’s Inara.
With 14 kills and zero deaths halfway through the game, Fnatic seemed to have some chance. But from this point on, Fnatic’s battle became a desperate struggle — especially on the objective fight. Inara’s natural sustain and tankiness proved superior between the two teams and Na’Vi pulled ahead. With no way to out-sustain in the face of Creativs2’s Sha Lin once again, Fnatic fell 4-2, their faces heavy with the increasingly difficult feat ahead of them.
Stone Keep would be the destination for the third map of this deciding set; Fnatic made headway to strip away the Buck that Na’Vi’s Mutu had been dominating with in the previous two games, but a third successive Ash pick in the face of Na’Vi’s Inara struck an unsatisfied chord with the crowd. Headstrong in their strategy, Fnatic capped in a bloody point-fight and found conversion with relative ease to lead 2-0, but then Creativs2 on Bomb King came to play. His Majesty made an explosive entrance to this that shook the keep to its very core.
Great coordination, fantastic niche counterplay, and a shared responsibility between the members of Na’Vi let them tie up the set and lead 3-2, forcing a heroic defence from Fnatic to hold. The closest game so far at 3-3 would be decided by a final objective capture. Na’Vi denied all control to Fnatic with incredible positioning granting map control. A perfect Void Grip from Spunkki’s Jenos to deny all opportunity of re-take, and Na’Vi struck home with their third successive win.
Three games down, one away from defeat, Fnatic took the fight to the long-time staple map of Serpent Beach in Game 4 to make their final stand. An early Fernando pick for Fnatic and a damage-heavy draft including Bugzy’s trickster Maeve came through, but Na’Vi responded in kind with picks that are devastating in the hands of their roster. Buck, Ruckus, Sha Lin, Mal’Damba, and Inara bore down on the objective for the side that was ‘born to win’.
Fnatic’s sole hope this game seemed to rest on the shoulders of Fisheko’s Fusillade Drogoz. The damage was there! Success seemed close, but Na’Vi time and timed again slipped through the clutches of The Greedy, surviving to re-engage. Up 3-1 to Na’Vi, the final capture objective seemed close between the squads — and neck-and neck the fight was posed to continue until Unbelivable stood as a rock with the Stone Warden to raise an impasse that shut the door on all Fnatic’s hope, and Na’Vi stood elated on the main stage as your first ever Paladins World Champions.
Congratulations, Natus Vincere!
It’s been a long journey through the many global qualifying paths for the Paladins World Championship. Teams from all corners of the globe faced off to test their mettle, and at the end of it all Natus Vincere are your very first Paladins World Champions! Congratulations to Unbelivable, spunkki, Mutu, Faenex and tournament MVP Creativs2 on this squad. Over the past year they’ve poured everything, heart and soul, into Paladins esports — for this trophy, for the title, and for returning HRX Invitational Champion spunkki to prove that being removed one year ago from the tournament winning roster was not the end of the line but instead just the beginning of a brand new era
It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions to watch their progress through this season, and we look forward to seeing how Na’Vi can continue to surpass themselves in the next year of competition!
That wraps it all up for the very first Paladins World Championship, but we’ve got plenty more Paladins esports coming your way over the next year. Stay tuned to @PaladinsPro on Twitter for more updates as we resume competitive play around the Globe.