Liquid pull off comeback vs. LDLC; to IEM Chicago semi-finals
IEM Chicago's Cinderella story is over as LDLC could not take down the third-seeded Liquid. The French team came out strongly with a convincing victory on Overpass and were close to winning Cache, but once the North Americans shifted into a higher gear there was little that Alex "ALEX" McMeekin's men could do. The 16-4 hammering on Mirage was not the farewell that LDLC would have hoped for, but the result does not take away the fact that the Frenchmen put themselves in a position to win the series and that they defied the odds in Chicago, finishing top six after being seeded 13th.
The first half of Overpass, LDLC's map choice, was keenly contested as just one round separated the two sides at half-time, but things could have taken a completely different turn had it not been for Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski. The 21-year-old rescued Liquid in two key moments when LDLC seemed to have the game under control, first with two kills in a 2v2 situation and then with a stunning ace in a 2v5 situation as the Frenchmen were about to increase their lead to 9-5.
The North American team carried their momentum into the second half and won four of the initial five rounds to get a two-round lead for the first time in the game. But all of a sudden they ran out of the steam, with LDLC setting up a water-tight defense to win seven rounds in a row and lock down the map at 16-11.
Cache had been LDLC's second-least played map over the last three months and the one with their second-worst winrate, just 43%, but the early stages of the game would have suggested otherwise. The French side came out with all guns blazing and stormed to a 6-0 lead as the Liquid defence could not hold the opposition back.
The game then entered a hectic period as rounds went back and forth, but any round won by Liquid was immediately traded back by LDLC, who had the economy control and kept winning all aim duels as they approached a site. The French side continued to pour forward and quickly hit double digits before Nick "nitr0" Cannella's men secured the final two rounds of the half to keep themselves in the game.
Down 4-11, Liquid began to make a climb back into the game by winning the pistol round. That was the start of a phenomenal run from the North American team, who denied LDLC the chance to string rounds together or build up an economy, completing the comeback in the 30th round thanks to an inspired performance from Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken, who dropped a 30-bomb on the map.
Liquid hopped out to an early on Mirage, the decider map, after winning the pistol round and an anti-eco. LDLC responded after buying up in the third round and eventually found the equaliser, but then two great kills by nitr0 with the Desert Eagle put the North Americans back in the lead. The game became a one-way street after that as Liquid ran all over the LDLC defense to cruise to a 12-3 lead.
There was more misery to come for LDLC as the French side were placed against the ropes after losing a scrappy pistol round. Steeve "Ozstrik3r" Flavigni's troops still managed to get a round on the board, but Liquid immediately rallied back with a flawless round before EliGE hammered the final nail into LDLC's coffin with a trio of kills.
|LDLC||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|François 'AmaNEk' DelaunayAmaNEk||49 - 53||-4||78.8||1.04|
|Alex 'ALEX' McMeekinALEX||55 - 59||-4||75.0||0.95|
|David 'devoduvek' Dobrosavljevicdevoduvek||45 - 57||-12||73.0||0.90|
|Antoine 'to1nou' Pirardto1nou||49 - 50||-1||60.7||0.90|
|Logan 'LOGAN' CortiLOGAN||32 - 54||-22||46.5||0.64|