Astralis beat Liquid 3-0 to win IEM Chicago
IEM Chicago came to a close with a clash between two teams equally eager to win the title, albeit for distinct reasons. As the best and most successful team of 2018, Astralis were determined to prove that they had not lost their magic touch after an early exit at BLAST Pro Series, in Copenhagen of all places. Liquid, on the other hand, had yet another chance to eradicate their demons after their previous six final appearances at Big Events had ended in disappointment.
But with a 16-14 victory on Mirage, Liquid's map pick. Astralis practically killed any lingering hopes the North Americans had of picking up the title. Nick "nitr0" Cannella's men had thrashed LDLC and FaZe on this map earlier in the playoffs, and they knew that their hopes rested largely on a victory here before they had to play Nuke - Astralis' best map.
The Danish team came out the brighter of the two sides and took the lead after destroying Liquid's retake from the CT spawn, with Emil "Magisk" Reif getting four kills to his name. A third-round buy from Liquid put the North Americans on the board and marked the beginning of a phenomenal run from nitr0's men, who lost just one of the next eight rounds, and it was solely because of a 1v2 clutch by Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth.
The situation was starting to look bleak for Astralis, but the Danish team picked up the pace and ended the half trailing their opponents by just three rounds, keeping their composure even after losing a round to a defuse clutch from Keith "NAF" Markovic in a 1v2 situation.
The second half began with Liquid taking the pistol round in a fast A execute and following that up with both anti-ecos to increase their lead to 12-6. Once Astralis had money in the bank, however, the landscape of the game changed instantly, as the Danes won four rounds without response.
Liquid then brought that streak to an end and eventually hit 14 rounds on the back of a spectacular clutch by NAF, who outplayed two opponents after opening up the A site with two kills earlier in the rounds. Astralis were now against the ropes, but Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen came to the team's rescue, picking up 12 frags in the remaining six rounds to spearhead the Danes' comeback.
Nuke, where Astralis had been undefeated on LAN since the ECS Season 4 Finals, in December 2017, saw Xyp9x and Magisk overturn a 2v5 situation in the pistol round, punishing Liquid's overly-aggressive approach. That was certainly not the kind of start wanted by the home side, who struggled to contain a confident Astralis side.
It was only when they were down 1-6 that Liquid got a foothold in the game, with the North Americans tightening up their defense to bring the deficit to three rounds by the end of the half.
Liquid still tried to get back in the game, but their efforts were in vain. Astralis kept a water-tight defense and limited their opponents to just one round in the half, increasing their lead to 2-0 in the series as the teams headed to Inferno.
Starting out on the Terrorist side, Liquid took the pistol round and the subsequent anti-ecos for a clean 3-0 lead. It was the kind of start that the North Americans needed, but things soured for them once Astralis had money in the bank. Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander's men gave the North Americans very little room to operate and lost just one gun round for the entire half to secure a massive 11-4 lead.
Nicolai "device" Reedtz kicked Astralis further into the lead with three great p250 kills in the second half pistol round, with the Danish side following that up with both anti-ecos. Liquid still attempted a response with guns, but Astralis quickly wrapped things up to get their hands on yet another trophy - their seventh since the start of the year.
|Astralis||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|57 - 38||+19||85.0||1.35|
|59 - 44||+15||83.3||1.31|
|53 - 41||+12||87.5||1.28|
|55 - 41||+14||77.0||1.24|
|57 - 43||+14||78.1||1.22|
|Liquid||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|47 - 58||-11||82.8||1.00|
|45 - 50||-5||58.7||0.88|
|44 - 58||-14||67.8||0.81|
|35 - 56||-21||54.3||0.74|
|36 - 61||-25||68.3||0.72|
IEM Chicago 2018 final standings:
1. Astralis - $100,000
2. Liquid - $42,000
3-4. - FaZe - $20,000
3-4. - fnatic - $20,000
5-6. - mousesports - $10,000
5-6. - LDLC - $10,000
7-8. - NRG - $8,000
7-8. - Luminosity - $8,000
9-12. - eUnited - $5,000
9-12. - BIG - $5,000
9-12. - North - $5,000
9-12. - MIBR - $5,000
13-16. - Natus Vincere - $4,000
13-16. - MVP PK - $4,000
13-16. - Renegades - $4,000
13-16. - AVANGAR - $4,000