Astralis beat Liquid to win ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals
The North American team still made a fight of the series, shocking Astralis on their own map pick, but after that, the Danes looked a class above. Liquid leave Odense with yet another painful grand final defeat, their sixth at a Big Event in 2018 and the fourth against Astralis, who won the $1 million Intel Grand Slam prize on top of the $250,000 cheque from the Pro League event.
The series kicked off on Train, Astralis' map pick after watching Nuke get straight out banned by Liquid. It was meant to be a curve ball thrown at the North Americans, who had not played on this map in the last three months, but the Danes quickly came to regret that choice.
Liquid got off to a blazing fast start on the Terrorist side, giving up just one of the initial eight rounds of the game. It was only then that Astralis put their foot down and held back the North Americans, but their recovery was halted by a 1v3 clutch by Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski, with the half ending with an 11-4 scoreline.
Astralis looked somewhat livelier in the second half, a 1v2 clutch by Andreas "Xyp9x" Højsleth in the 18th round frustrating Liquid after they had bought up. The North American side would not let a comeback happen, however, and took control of the game once they had money in the bank, stringing five rounds together en route to a surprising 16-8 finish.
EliGE carried his form into Mirage and opened up the action with a quad-kill in the pistol round to put Liquid in the lead. Astralis responded only in the fifth round, with Emil "Magisk" Reif then turning the hero as he picked up four kills on the B site before Xyp9x won the decisive 1v1.
The 23-year-old played a decisive role in Astralis' recovery with two more clutches, one of them in a 1v4 situation to give his team the lead for the first time in the series. It would not last, though, as Liquid came fighting back to win the final five rounds of the half and take a 9-6 lead.
With Nicolai "device" Reedtz having had very little impact throughout the first half, Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander took matters into his own hands with a quad kill in the pistol round, sending the crowd into wild celebration.
Liquid hit back in the third round, but their economy would soon be reset as Astralis won back-to-back rounds with defuses in the nick of time. gla1ve went huge in the next round with an anti-eco ace, taking his personal tally to 27 frags, with Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen then taking centre stage with the AWP to push the team to a 16-11 win.
Inferno began with another great round by Xyp9x, who outplayed two opponents in the pistol round. That win was immediately traded back by Liquid, though, as the North Americans responded on a force buy following three kills by EliGE.
Liquid rode that momentum to carve out a 4-1 lead, but an eco round put shifted the momentum in favour of the Danes, who were on the front foot for the rest of the half as they brought the scoreline to 10-5.
The North American team came out of the break with all guns blazing, winning the first three rounds and then instantly countering Astralis' win on the back of a 1v2 clutch by Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken. Liquid looked to be in control as they restored parity at 11-11, but they surprisingly fell off the pace in the late stages, with the home side setting up a tight defense to lock down the map at 16-11 and take the lead in the series.
Astralis carried their momentum into Dust2 as they hopped out to a 4-0 lead on the CT side. Liquid then finally put their foot down to take the lead, and they held back the home side's late double-AWP setup to close out the half with a narrow 8-7 advantage.
The Danish team got off to a dream start to the second half, winning seven rounds in a row to keep the crowd on the edge of their seats. Liquid were unwilling to go down without a fight, though, and made a slight comeback, only to be dealt a heavy blow as Astralis won a round with four pistols to hit championship point - an opportunity they would not let go to waste.
|Astralis||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|Andreas 'Xyp9x' HøjslethXyp9x||76 - 61||+15||81.1||1.20|
|Peter 'dupreeh' Rasmussendupreeh||70 - 71||-1||77.5||1.11|
|Lukas 'gla1ve' Rossandergla1ve||80 - 73||+7||81.4||1.11|
|Emil 'Magisk' ReifMagisk||72 - 71||+1||74.5||1.08|
|Nicolai 'device' Reedtzdevice||66 - 68||-2||72.8||1.05|
|Liquid||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|Jonathan 'EliGE' JablonowskiEliGE||95 - 77||+18||92.3||1.24|
|Keith 'NAF' MarkovicNAF||70 - 73||-3||85.0||1.09|
|Russel 'Twistzz' Van DulkenTwistzz||69 - 68||+1||75.5||1.05|
|Epitacio 'TACO' de MeloTACO||58 - 76||-18||61.5||0.85|
|Nick 'nitr0' Cannellanitr0||52 - 70||-18||54.4||0.80|
ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals standings:
1. Astralis - $250,000
2. Liquid - $110,000
3-4. mousesports - $55,000
3-4. MIBR - $55,000
5-6. Natus Vincere - $32,000
5-6. Renegades - $32,000
7-8. Ghost - $24,000
7-8. G2 - $24,000
9-12. NRG - $22,000
9-12. BIG - $22,000
9-12. HellRaisers - $22,000
9-12. Sharks - $22,000
13-16. North - $20,000
13-16. ViCi - $20,000
13-16. INTZ - $20,000
13-16. ORDER - $20,000