This was Season XIV of IEM and a highly anticipated match between two of the world’s top Counter-Strike: Global Offensive teams. On Saturday, ENCE beat MIBR and Liquid won against Team Vitality. Then in the grand finals Team Liquid won again to take home the $125,000 first-place prize.
The match opened with Overpass, which was Liquid’s first map choice. It quickly became apparent why. The map was over at a 16-2 in favor of Liquid, and Nick “nitr0” Cannella was definitely the standout player. He single handedly denied ENCE in round 7 with an ace, showed superb defense at the A bombsite, and finished the match with a 19-6 K/D ratio.
The next map was ENCE’s choice, Nuke. Here things didn’t look very different from the first game, leading to a 16-3 final score. Although ENCE seemed more focused this time around with the team playing more tightly together and enabling Alexi “Alexib” Virolainen to show some standout moments on the attacking side, their efforts were not enough.
The match then moved back to another Liquid pick on Inferno. Here is where the ENCE players seemed to have warmed up and were ready to take on Liquid, even outplaying them for stretches of time. Unfortunately it was too little too late. Jake “Stewie2K” Yip landed the final kill onto Sami “xseveN” Laasanen and secured Liquid’s victory.
The further maps played would have been Dust 2 from ENCE and Mirage for the tiebreaker, but there was no need for either.
It looks like 2019 belongs to Team Liquid. They’ve won several tournaments this year already, including the previous IEM event in Sydney, DreamHack, and the ESL Pro League finals. With dedicated coach Eric “adreN” Hoag leading the way, it will assuredly be hard for the next teams that face off against them.