Team Liquid locked up a spot in the StarLadder Berlin Major playoffs, but it did not come easy.
The favorites to win the tournament scored a hardfought win over Mousesports in the final round of the Legends Stage. That sets them up with a top-eight place in the tournament, but it remains unclear if they can live up to the high expectations pinned on them.
The opening game on Mirage started ugly for Liquid. Though Mousesports’ economy was hamstrung, the team still managed to rob Liquid of any momentum by winning two rounds with just upgraded pistols, including an absurd Desert Eagle ace from Robin “ropz” Kool. Liquid eventually woke up and once they did, they had complete control of the game.
Despite that success, a few big rounds from Finn “karrigan” Andersen seemed to fluster Liquid and set Mouz up with a streak that positioned them to challenge for the victory. Liquid called a timeout, settled down, and advanced to map point, but Mouz managed to close the gap and force overtime.
While Mousesports had put on an admirable show in regulation, Liquid had little trouble locking things up in overtime. They took the first two rounds and had Jacky “Stewie2K” Yip and Keith “NAF” Markovic come through late to knot things up 19-17.
Game two on Dust 2 started off much like game one, only in reverse. Mousesports was in control early but Liquid kept things close thanks to some eco heroics from Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken. Mouz advanced to map point with an amazing performance from David “frozen” Čerňanský, but Liquid forced overtime.
While regulation was quite similar, things were very different in overtime. Mirage saw Liquid sprint to a win, and here things were decided on a knife’s edge almost every round. Frozen and Karrigan got Mouz off to a solid start in the first overtime, but stunning plays from Stewie2K and Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski forced a second overtime.
Liquid advanced to match point but the game was such a bloodbath that they had to take a shotgun and SMG into the final round. Some sharpshooting from Twistzz and a perfectly timed flank from Stewie2K blew the round open for Liquid and set up a 22-20 win.
Liquid have been looking white hot in 2019 to this point, entering Berlin off five consecutive live event finals. That made them the clear favorites to win this event, but they haven’t looked nearly as clean in the major.
They were quickly pushed to the brink of elimination after going 1-2 in best-of-ones, taking shock losses to Avangar and NRG Esports. They stayed alive with a clean win over North in round four, but this hardfought series against Mousesports once again calls into question whether they are in peak form at this event.
Regardless, advancing out of the Legends Stages comes with a variety of perks.
They move on to the Champions Stage playoffs, which is contested in a single elimination tournament format comprised of best-of-three series. The top-eight placement also guarantees Liquid a spot in the first major of 2020.
Liquid will start their playoffs run with a series against Astralis. Though Astralis has looked formidable in the Berlin Major thus far, Liquid has started to get the better of the Danish team over recent months and will likely enter their series as the favorite.