Steven R. July 7, 2019
The ESL One Cologne grand finals are now set.
In the final series of the event, Team Liquid will take on Team Vitality in a matchup of two of the hottest teams in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. The game will carry huge bragging rights, as well as a potentially massive paycheck for Liquid.
Vitality kicked off the semifinals with a series against Astralis. Though the French team got off to an early lead, Astralis managed to keep their economy shaky by preventing them from ever racking up an extended winning streak. Despite that, Vitality retained their momentum and kept Astralis from stringing together rounds at any point in the first half.
Though Astralis eventually managed to find some footing in the second half, Vitality walked away with a strong 16-8 win.
That wasn’t the case on Inferno as both teams took turns breaking off winning streaks. That was fine for a time, but Vitality eventually found itself in an awkward position when Astralis managed to advance to a 15-10 lead. It was a clutch situation for the entire team, but Alex "ALEX" McMeekin took it upon himself to remedy that by exploding late to force overtime.
Vitality was impressive, but Nicolai "dev1ce" Reedtz stepped up in similar fashion for Astralis. After posting a dazzling ace with an AWP, he closed out the map in double overtime with a massive quad kill.
It was a dramatic finish on Inferno from Astralis, but the team couldn’t close things out from there. Despite starting the deciding set on Overpass strong, Vitality took over the first half and never gave up control. Any time it seemed like Astralis was positioned to take over, Nathan "NBK-" Schmitt or Dan "apEX" Madesclaire was there with a clutch moment or crafty play to keep the ball rolling. This led to a 16-9 finish to the map and a 2-1 end to the series.
From there, Team Liquid punched their ticket to the grand finals with a win over Natus Vincere.
Game one of the series started in impressive fashion for Liquid, who flustered CIS’s best to take an early lead on Dust 2. Na’Vi regained their footing thanks to a killing spree from Egor "flamie" Vasilev and managed to tie things up, but never actually retook the lead. When Natus Vincere looked to be in position to force overtime or possibly steal the game, a Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken triple kill with a Desert Eagle allowed Liquid to slam the door on a rally and lock up the game 16-12.
Game two on Overpass looked quite different, but ultimately ended the same way. Spurred on by a huge game from Kirill "Boombl4" Mikhailov, Natus Vincere got off to a strong early lead and seemed ready to close things out early. Instead, Liquid settled down and once again got Natus Vincere off balance. Though Boombl4 finished with a strong 28-16 line, Liquid took 10 straight rounds to secure another 16-12 win to seal the series.
With that, a Team Liquid vs. Team Vitality grand finals is booked.
The two teams have little history together, but faced off twice at CS_Summit 4. Vitality swept Liquid 2-0 in the group stage and did so again in the grand finals.
Liquid will be looking for revenge, but more importantly will have their sights set on the Intel Grand Slam Season 2 prize of $1 million.