Hi-Rez Expo 2018: Paladins World Championship Finals Results & Highlights

After a long road, two EU teams went head to head in the Paladins PC finals at HRX 2018 -- but only one could come out victorious.

Paladins Group B teams Natus Vincere and Fnatic are no strangers. In October, the two teams faced off in the Go4Paladins Europe Cup, with NAVI getting the best of Fnatic. And in the PWC qualifiers, the result was the same. Facing off for the third time in four months, these two European teams pulled no punches in this Best of Seven match for all the marbles. 

Having beat some of the best Paladins teams in the world to get to the PWC finals, the penultimate match between these two powerhouses was fast and furious, with one team absolutely dominating the other.

Game 1

Winner: Navi
Map: Jaguar Falls

The PWC finals got off to a one-sided start with Fnatic flanking left, drawing Navi to the payload in the center of the map. Fnatic drew first blood as each team played defensively, testing each other out and giving champions room to get into better position. Navi's Sha Lin pulled off some crippling kill shots in this early part of the first match, helping the rest of the team secure the payload and go up 1-0. 

As Navi pushed the payload to the drop point, Grohk pulled off an ult that just missed Fnatic's Ruckus, leaving him open and sending him back to spawn. But Mutu and Spunki for Navi filled in the gaps, helping their team secure the drop point, putting them up 2-0 early on. 

As match two of the first round began, things were fast a furious on both sides. Navi kept pressure on Fnatic giving increasing Mutu's and Creativs2 to 5-kill and 10-kill streaks respectively. Naturally, with such early match match domination, Navi took the payload to move up on Fnatic 3-0. 

As fierce fighting on the flanks intensified, Navi pushed the payload to about 90%, but Fnatic didn't go down without a fight, contesting the point to overtime. However, despite their tenacity, Fnatic couldn't defend Navi , and specifically Creativs2, and Navi took the first game of the PWC 4-0 ion spectacular fashion. 

To get a sense of how much Mutu, Spunki, and Creativs2 dominated Fnatic in the PWC's first game, Navi had twice as many kills (34 to 17) and more than twice the amount of assists (66 to 24). It was an utterly flawless performance that gave Navi a huge boost of confidence going in to Game 2. 

Game 2

Winner: Navi
Map: Frog Isle

Navi picked two front lines in Ruckus and Ash, opting for sustain in Game 2. And Fnatic was well aware of the strategy they were up against as they came out guns blazing to start things off. However, it didn't matter that Fnatic knew what Navi was going to do because they couldn't keep their rivals from taking the payload, as Navi's Inara simply couldn't be stopped. 

As Navi pushed the payload to the drop point, Creativs2 scored a double kill and for a moment, it looked as if Navi was going to have another easy win. But Fnatic showed backbone and took Creativs2 down, as well as a few other members of Navi , to regain ground and gain a defensive foothold. 

Fnatic's Bugzy lay down immense fire with Kinessa, getting a rampage and triple-kill to put most of Navi back at spawn once again. Fnatic held the defense, owning the late round to bring things even at 1-1.

As Round 2 began, each team found themselves trading blows until Fnatic broke free and held the objective thanks to Bugzy taking his seven-kill streak to a 10-kill streak. 

As the payload moved toward the Navi drop point, Fisheko pushed forward, causing chaos at the Navi spawn. As the fight played out, Navi held firm and contested, but felt the pressure as again Bugzy got headhunter, popping two Navi players, sending them back to spawn.

Just as it looked like Bugzy's one-man-wrecking-crew would help Fnatic push through to the drop point, Navi regrouped and withstood the veritable Fnatic onslaught, stopping their rival in their tracks -- and tying the game at 2-2. 

Moving onto Round 3, Navi pushed hard out of the gate with Creativs2 and the team's front line champions holding strong against Fnatic, who was once again on the defensive. Playing relatively safe, Fnatic was able to methodically pick off three of five Navi players and send them back to spawn, securing a respite and a chance to get into better defensive positions. 

As Navi regrouped and pushed toward the drop point, they were well preapred to meet Fnatic the second time, ultimately gaining the objective and going up 2-0 in this best of seven games. 

Game 3

Winner: Navi
Map: Stone Keep

Fnatic started Game 3 off by trying to flank Navi along the right side of Stone Keep. but lost first blood, allowing Navi to gain 50% on the payload almost immediately. As Fnatic did everything they could to push back, Navi doubles down and pushes to 99% on the paylod. But in a striking turn of events, Fnatic contests hard and forces overtime four times in a row, helping them secure their first objective.  

Not to be pushed around Navi makes Fnatics push a difficult one as fierce fighting erupted around the payload. Bugzy kept his team in the game here with fantastic strategic moves, picking at Navi players like a pesky insect. Thiel helped his comrade by going on a five-kill streak with Ash, while Fisheko bagged fantastic kills around walls and obstacles as Sha Lin. 

With 15 seconds left in Round 1, Creativs2 and Mutu said enough was enough and increased their killstreaks to 10 and five, respectively. But their bravado put Navi in danger and as Fnatic continued their push to the drop zone, four Navi were sent to spawn, helping Fnatic secure the objective to go up 2-0 in the early game. 

But Navi don't like being pushed around and made that clear by eliminating two Fnatic players right at the start of Round 2. Fisheko hounds Navi players, eliminating two and evening the numbers, but no matter the effort, the disjointed play by Fnatic meant that Navi easily captured the payload. 

Moving toward the drop point, Mutu extended his kill streak to 10, quickly mercing two Fnatic players and within just a few moments, Navi had secured the point, tying things up at 2-2. 

As Round 3 began, the teams are even and it was anyone's game. But again, the disorganized play of Fnatic meant that three team members almost immediately fell victim to Navi. On the point, Navi secures a firm grip on the contested payload and three more Fnatic get sent back to spawn. 

Things looked to be almost over for Fnatic as Navi held 99% on the payload to Fnatic's paltry 12%, but a huge heal keeps Fnatic in the game and they even the score at 99. Looking as if Fnatic might steal one right from under Navi's noses, Navi scores an amazing killshot and gets the payload. Less than one minute later, Navi had already pushed the payload 50% of the way to its destination. 

Things get even worse for Fnatic as Fisheko gets out of position and gets absolutely wrecked on the flank. It looked like Navi would easily push the drop point, even under intense pressure. However, just as it was getting darkest for Fnatic, Bugzy layed waste to the opposing team, sending Navi back to spawn with no chance of completing the push. 

Tied 3-3, the next Round started with Fnatic making a huge push to the payload, getting 75% in a matter of moments. Just as it looks like Fnatic will secure the payload and win Game 3, Navi lays waste to push Fnatic off the payload and secure it for themselves, winning Game 3. 

Bugzy and Fisheko had fantastic rounds in Game 3, but Navi's cauterize coupled with their damage dealers in Sha Lin and Buck made things difficult for Fnatic, ppforcing them into bad positions where they were easily picked off or couldn't make certain plays. It also didn't help that Navi was coordinating ults almost flawlessly, with front lines going above and beyond the call of duty. Getting outclassed in 1v1 matchups, things were nearly impossible for Fnatic from the outset of Game 3. 

Game 4

Winner: Navi
Map: Serpent Beach

It was do or die for Fnatic at this point. As the teams met in the center of the map and fought for the payload, Navi immediately went up 42% on the point as the dealt with flanking attacks from Fnatic. In a strange turn of events, Fnatic had the opportunity to contest the payload even further after pushing off several Navi players, but didn't put a single player on the payload. 

With Navi up 1-0 and pushing the payload forward, Creativs2's Sha Lin kept Fnatic on the defensive. Navi's Ruckus laid down suppressing fire as Fisheko's fusillade of Drogoz missiles flew off-target. Getting close to the point, Navi's Buck pushes hard buck gets eliminated by a Drogoz ult. The start of the end for Navi on this push, they conceded the point to Fnatic, tying things up 1-1 going into Round 2. 

Things started off similarly here, with Navi keeping Fnatic off the payload. Creativs2 used Sha Lin to keep Fnatic back, putting them on the ropes with another secure. Retreating, Fnatic stalled Navi at about 50%. Fisheko's Drogoz lay down suppression on Navi, netting crazy damage, but not denting the juggernaut that was Navi -- which pushed successfully and went up 3-1. 

With everything on the line, it was Fnatic's time to flip the script and get back on track. In dire straits, Fnatic does everything they can to secure the payload. Contesting hard, Fnatic put Navi under heavy pressure, working to secure the point. But it just wasn't enough. Navi stormed back with Ruckus getting two kills to secure the payload and win the PWC 4-0. 

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We'll have to wait until next year to see if Navi can hold on to their PWC title, but if they retain the dominating chemistry they showcased at HRX 2018, they will be a force to be reckoned with throughout 2018 and into next year's PWC. 

Published Jan. 7th 2018

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