Steven R. June 24, 2019
It’s getting much, much harder to remember the days when Team Liquid had a reputation for flopping in tournament finals.
The North American squad captured one of the top prizes in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, winning the ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals. Along the way, Liquid further solidified themselves as the greatest team in the game today by knocking off a number of established elites. They won the tournament by last eliminating G2 Esports.
The grand finals opened with a nailbiter on Dust 2. G2 got off to a strong 8-2 lead thanks to a string of clutch plays from almost every member of the team. That stretch couldn’t last forever, as Liquid put together a streak of their own to take the lead deep into the game. G2 rallied to force overtime but sputtered hard after regulation, which allowed Liquid to lock things up 19-15.
That loss seemed to suck some of the life out of G2. Though the French side got off to a solid start on Overpass thanks to another dazzling play from Audric "JaCkz" Jug in the pistol round, things quickly went off the rails from there. Liquid broke off eight straight wins and advanced to match point shortly thereafter with a 16-3 win.
G2 wasn’t going to be shut out, however. Game three on Nuke was a back and forth affair as both sides struggled to mount an extended winning streak. While G2 has had a lengthy run through the ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals on the individual playmaking skills of their stars, the squad went shot for shot with Liquid by playing tight CSGO as a team. That paid off for G2 as they got on the board with a 16-12 win.
The fourth game on Inferno was another close one with neither team able to gain sustained momentum. But instead of relying on teamwork, both sides were propped up by massive individual games en route to a triple overtime marathon.
Richard "shox" Papillon posted a whopping 44 kills for G2 while Jacky "Stewie2K" Yip countered with 42 of his own. The trouble was that Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken was right in the frag race as well for Liquid, while G2 had no one else come close to matching Shox’s output. That resulted in G2 falling 25-22 in multiple overtimes and dropping the series 3-1
The win over G2 capped an exceptional run through the tournament for Liquid. Though the event started inauspiciously with a loss to North in the group stage, Liquid rebounded by eliminating TYLOO, HellRaisers, and MiBR.
That set them up with a long-awaited showdown with Astralis, which Liquid won in impressive fashion to exorcise some of the demons of the previously lopsided rivalry. The team then took out Mousesports in the semifinals.
Now owning the top prizes from the ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals, Intel Extreme Masters Season XIV Sydney, and DreamHack Masters Dallas, Liquid has won three events in the Intel Grand Slam Season 2. Should the team win just one more event in the series they will be awarded a $1 million prize.
Liquid is positioned to do exactly that in the near future. The team has locked up spots in the next three events in the series, including ESL One Cologne, Intel Extreme Masters XIV Chicago, and ESL One New York.