Steven R. May 5, 2019
Team Liquid is has finally broken its finals curse at one of the biggest Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournaments of the year.
North America’s finest took first place at Intel Extreme Masters XIV Sydney. The team captured gold by last defeating Fnatic, capping an almost perfect run through the event.
The grand finals kicked off on Cache with a huge win for Fnatic. Spurred on by strong efforts from Ludvig "Brollan" Brolin and Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson, the Swedish squad broke off a 9-0 lead to start the game. Liquid returned fire, but the early Fnatic lead proved to be insurmountable and led to a 16-10 win.
The tables turned on second map Overpass. Liquid took control in the first half in game two, but Fnatic never gave them the chance to build up much of a buffer. Fnatic rallied and took the lead late, but a huge multi-frag round from Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski shut down Fnatic’s momentum and allowed Liquid to close things out 16-14.
Liquid advanced to match point with a strong 16-8 win on Mirage, but Fnatic returned the favor and forced game five with a dominant 16-6 victory on Dust 2.
That set up a deciding showdown on Infern. While that is historically Fnatic’s best map, it didn’t look that way here. With the exception of KRIMZ, each member of Fnatic struggled to put kills on the board. That wasn’t a problem for Liquid, as Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken scored back-to-back quad kills to push Liquid to a 12-4 lead. Fnatic managed to string together a few rounds and keep things respectable but Liquid never came close to dropping the game and sealed up the series 16-9.
The win over Fnatic sealed up an exceptional performance by Liquid throughout the event. Liquid earned its way into the playoffs semifinals with a clean run through the group stage, beating BOOT.ds, BIG, and Ninjas in Pyjamas without dropping a map. From there, Liquid reached the grand finals with a 2-0 sweep over MiBR.
With the IEM Sydney trophy now on its mantel, Liquid continues what has been a strong opening to 2019. The team has won a pair of live tournaments this year and reached the grand finals of both of 2019’s BLAST Pro Series events. While Liquid still has plenty of work to do in terms of asserting itself over Astralis, that rivalry has been much more competitive in 2019 than it was prior.
This win is a good boost for Liquid as the team enters what is looking to be a brutal spring. The team will spend the next few weeks competing in the ECS Season 7 North America division. From there, Liquid heads into a trio of live tournaments in CS_Summit 4, Dreamhack Masters Dallas, and the ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals.