Team Liquid channeled their summer Intel Grand Slam run and defeated Fnatic 2-1 for an ECS Season 8 grand final spot.
Team Liquid’s 2-1 win against Fnatic at the ECS Season 8 Finals could have gone either way. In spite of some lopsided scores, both teams combined smart strategies with precise aggression to take each other’s map picks. But the final score doesn’t tell the story of just how great this match was.
Fnatic had an edge from the start of the veto. By removing Dust 2, Fnatic removed a 50/50 map that Liquid often takes against evenly-matched teams. They used their first pick on Overpass and forced TL’s hand.
TL used their first ban on their permaban of Train, and were then forced to ban Vertigo due to Fnatic’s strong win on the map against MIBR earlier in the week.
TL went to Inferno, a map that would have historically favored the Americans. But while Liquid is strong on the map, its was also sneakily strong map for Fnatic.
While the story of the week was return of Fnatic’s Maikil “Golden” Selim and Robin “flusha” Rönnquist, it was Ludvig “Brollan” Brolin that impressed on Overpass. The 17-year-old rifler dominated the Team Liquid lineup and finished the map 20-13 with a 100.5 ADR.
The Swedes shut down TL on defense with a clever use of a double molotov at the playground entrance combined with measured aggression across the map. Their gameplan was surgical.
It was clear that Team Liquid underestimated Fnatic’s Overpass. Fnatic capitalized on every one of TL’s small mistakes and won the map 16-6. Liquid was lucky to grab the rounds they did.
Whatever TL head coach Eric “adreN” Hoag said to his players after Overpass, it worked. Liquid played Inferno like it was a deathmatch, fearlessly pushing and peeking Fnatic over the course of the map.
The North Americans started their defense off with a dominant 9-2 lead. TL’s signature peek timings, combined with Keith “NAF” Markovic’s Banana aggression and Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken’s pit control, enabled the early lead.
Fnatic would pressure Team Liquid’s defense after a confident AWP post-plant from Jesper “JW” Wecksell. Despite forcing an eco after that round, Fnatic failed to reach their average T-side win rate and ended the half down 10-5.
Team Liquid continued their momentum in the second half with an explosive A bombsite pistol rush. From there, it was all Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski on Liquid’s T side. He participated in a stunning 90% of TL’s total kills and helped turn the pistol win into five straight rounds won and match point for TL. Fnatic would pick up the ensuing round, but Team Liquid shut down the Swedes and took the win on Inferno 16-6.
Statistically, Mirage was a toss-up. Both teams were evenly matched with win rates hovering around 80% over the past six months.
Fnatic took the pistol on their CT side, but only converted the second as Team Liquid overtook the A bombsite with superior weaponry. TL jumped out to a 5-2 lead before flusha pulled off an impressive quadruple kill with a Desert Eagle to put Fnatic back into game.
With the score tied at 6-6, Fnatic locked down both sites and went on a three-round run. TL took round 15 with two early kills from Naf and EliGE to end the half 8-7 in Liquid’s favor.
Team Liquid stacked the B site on their CT side pistol while Fnatic took A, but TL showed the retake prowess they’re known for. After an easy retake for a pistol round win, the gun rounds began. After losing the first gun round, Team Liquid took a serious gamble with a force buy in round 20. The bet paid off as Stewie2k stole three kills and posted an 11-9 lead for Liquid.
From then on, Team Liquid looked like the team that won the Intel Grand Slam in a record 63 days. In a highlight play, EliGE nailed a lightning-quick triple kill that led to a 13-9 TL lead.
Fnatic picked up one more round on their T-side off quick A-site execute, starting what could have been a six-round comeback.
Team Liquid wasn’t having any of it, ending the game on the next round with a final score of 16-10. The North Americans never looked back, giving up only two rounds on their CT side and cementing their spot in the ECS Season 8 grand finals on home soil.
Team Liquid will face off against Astralis tomorrow, December 1, at 4 PM EST in the grand finals of Season 8 of the Esports Championship Series.