The North American squad took first place at the event, defeating ENCE Esports in a hardfought grand finals. The victory helps undo some of Liquid’s recent struggles against ENCE and helps rebuild the team’s reputation as a championship squad.
Game one on Mirage was a tale of two halves. Initially, it was Liquid that looked a bit shaky. Though the team broke off an early lead and maintained it into halftime, they largely did so through strong individual efforts, with momentum swinging around big plays from Keith “NAF” Markovic and Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken. That changed in the second half. While Twistzz stayed hot throughout, Liquid’s teamwork was tightened up to great effect. The squad broke off the first six rounds of the second half and sealed up the game 16-8.
ENCE didn’t play up to its potential in game one, but that changed in game two on Overpass. Liquid once again found itself bolstered by a handful of big plays, this time from Jake “Stewie2k” Yip and Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski. ENCE answered with strong defensive play and the occasional clutch from Jere “sergej” Salo. That allowed the Finns to creep towards map point early, but Liquid once again proved itself to be a force in the second half, battling back and nearly stealing the victory.
ENCE settled down and forced overtime with a big 30th round and started things off strong by taking the first two victories thanks to some crafty plays from Aleksi “allu” Jalli. Liquid clapped back, but ENCE closed things out 19-17 to tie the series and force game three.
The deciding showdown on Inferno initially had the look of a blowout, with Liquid sprinting to a 10-1 lead. ENCE broke off seven rounds of its own to keep things competitive but never managed to get ahead of Liquid. Any time ENCE came close, Liquid was able to settle down and either make the big play or slice up their economy. That allowed Liquid to seal the game up 16-13 and take the championship with a 2-1 series win.
The win is a great one for Liquid, and helps to add a bit more distance between the squad and its reputation for stumbling in the grand finals of tournaments.
Though Liquid has long been regarded as one of CS:GO’s elites, the team has built an unfortunate reputation as the game’s bridesmaid, coming in second place at nine tournaments over the last 12 months. While many of those came during Astralis’s exceptional run, recent months have seen Liquid also stumble against FaZe Clan at BLAST Pro Series: Miami 2019 and Team Vitality at CS_Summit 4.
That will haunt them for a while yet, but Liquid has done some work exorcising those demons in 2019. The team started the year with a first-place win at iBUYPOWER Masters IV and added Intel Extreme Masters XIV Sydney to that in May. Putting DreamHack Masters Dallas on top of those two that and stepping ahead of Astralis in Intel Grand Slam Season 2 certainly doesn’t hurt.