Astralis have won the seventh edition of the ESL Pro League after taking down Liquid in a four-map series.
Heading into the final match in Dallas, many believed - including FaZe's Håvard "rain" Nygaard - that Astralis' victory was a given and that the only question was whether the Danes would be able to wrap up the series on just three maps. A comprehensive 16-1 victory on Dust2 appeared to indicate that this would be a blowout, but Liquid fought back valiantly and made the Danes sweat to claim the trophy.
The series began on Dust2, Liquid's map pick, but the final score would have suggested otherwise. A triple kill from Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen in the pistol round set Astralis up for a great run. Not only were Liquid losing all aim duels, they also had no response to the Danes' utility usage.
In the seventh round, Keith "NAF" Markovic and Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken came close to overturning a 2v5 situation, but Emil "Magisk" Reif pulled off a 1v2 clutch to keep his team unscathed. Liquid then finally got a round on the board after punishing Astralis' double AWP setup, but the Danes showed no sign of slowing down and won all the rounds until the end of the half to secure a 14-1 lead.
There was more misery to come for Liquid, who could not stop Astralis' A execution in the next pistol round, with Nicolai "device" Reedtz getting three kills to his name. With no money in the bank, the North Americans were helpless to prevent their opponents from taking the map.
Next up was Nuke, where Liquid won a much-needed pistol round and followed that up with an anti-eco. A third-round buy from Astralis paid dividends, but the North Americans responded immediately on a very weak buy thanks to three quick kills from NAF with a galil.
Liquid used that momentum to secure a 5-1 lead but then surprisingly lost a 2v1 to Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander. That ended up being a turning point for Astralis, who took control of proceedings and ran away with the lead, never letting their opponents find a way back into the game.
Now on the CT side, Liquid came into the second half a more determined side and eventually took the lead with a stunning 1v3 clutch from Nick "nitr0" Cannella. Astralis refused to throw in the towel, however, and strung four rounds together to re-take the lead and put pressure on the North American players.
Liquid went on a three-round streak, bringing the scoreline to 14-13 in their favour, but they could not close the map out as Astralis claimed the final three rounds of the half to seal a hard-fought 16-14 win.
The game moved onto Mirage, Liquid second pick. This time around, however, the North Americans came out looking sharp, taking the lead with a 1v2 clutch from NAF in the pistol round and responding well to a lost anti-eco round.
Liquid kept pressing on and looked to be in position to take a significant lead, but Astralis would let the game get out of hand and won six of the last seven rounds of the half to take a narrow 8-7 lead into the second half.
A 1v3 clutch from Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth in the following pistol kicked Astralis further into the lead, with the Danes following that up with four more rounds to put the North Americans' hopes hanging by a thread. Down 7-13, Liquid tightened up their defence and started racking up rounds, taking the game all the way to the 30th round, in which NAF's bold triple-kill prevented the bomb plant and earned his team a 16-14 success.
Carrying their momentum into the next map, Inferno, Liquid got off to a flying start on the defensive side by taking five of the first six rounds of the game. The North Americans then made a massive blunder as they allowed Astralis to win an eco round thanks to a quad kill from Xyp9x.
The Danish team put together a small run of rounds and brought the deficit to a minimum, but Liquid would not let their lead slip and dominated the game during the final stages to limit their opponents to just five rounds in the first half.
The second half began with Liquid taking the pistol round following a quad-kill from Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski in a B execution. Astralis fought back immediately, however, and shut down the home team for the remainder of the half, only dropping one more round before locking down the map, 16-12, to pick up their second international trophy in the space of a month.
|Liquid||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|Keith 'NAF' MarkovicNAF||71 - 80||-9||79.0||0.98|
|Epitacio 'TACO' de MeloTACO||71 - 80||-9||73.2||0.96|
|Jonathan 'EliGE' JablonowskiEliGE||68 - 82||-14||72.4||0.93|
|Nick 'nitr0' Cannellanitr0||57 - 72||-15||65.5||0.90|
|Russel 'Twistzz' Van DulkenTwistzz||61 - 79||-18||65.2||0.88|
|Astralis||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|Nicolai 'device' Reedtzdevice||92 - 62||+30||92.2||1.38|
|Lukas 'gla1ve' Rossandergla1ve||83 - 64||+19||86.8||1.21|
|Peter 'dupreeh' Rasmussendupreeh||75 - 76||-1||82.0||1.12|
|Andreas 'Xyp9x' HøjslethXyp9x||71 - 62||+9||74.9||1.09|
|Emil 'Magisk' ReifMagisk||71 - 65||+6||71.2||1.06|
ESL Pro League Season 7 Finals standings:
1. Astralis - $250,000
2. Liquid - $110,000
3-4. FaZe - $55,000
3-4. Natus Vincere - $55,000
5-6. mousesports - $32,000
5-6. SK - $32,000
7-8. OpTic - $24,000
7-8. Heroic - $24,000
9-12. Cloud9 - $22,000
9-12. NRG - $22,000
9-12. Space Soldiers - $22,000
9-12. Renegades - $22,000
13-16. NiP - $20,000
13-16. MVP PK - $20,000
13-16. Grayhound - $20,000
13-16. Sharks - $20,000