Liquid secure first grand final spot at iBUYPOWER Masters
The series started off on Cache, where brisk Mid aggression from fnatic ripped through Liquid's defence, yielding them the first pistol round. The Swedes proceeded to cop the following round, immediately followed by retaliation from Liquid. The first rifle buy for the CTs was fruitful, as well as the fourth round, in which Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski secured a 4k in a post-plant situation, equalising the score at 2-2 and resetting the Swedish offense's economy. Off the back of early success, the CTs kept the ball rolling, meeting fnatic's interchanging round approach with consistent reads and solid site holds. This dynamic produced a dominant 12-3 lead for Liquid going into the second half.
The home crowd favourites used fnatic's own strategy against them, drilling through middle and splitting the A site with great success to land the second pistol. After the following round went the North Americans' way, Richard "Xizt" Landström's men were able to find success, as a B hit was repelled, securing the defence their fourth round of the game. Ludvig "Brollan" Brolin doubled his kills from four to eight in the following two rounds, the first of which saw the youngster convert a 1v2 situation into a victory for his team. Liquid kept their opponents' success short-lived, as the two finals rounds required were secured, concluding Cache 16-6 in their favour.
The second map of the best-of-3 was Mirage, which kicked off to a solid B hit via apartments by fnatic. Liquid allowed the bomb plant to go through, opting to play a 5v4 retake, successfully securing the first pistol of the map. The offense was able to upset Liquid's momentum, as a second round buy allowed the Swedes to assume the driver's seat, zooming all the way to a 6-2 lead on the T side. The seven remaining rounds were skewed in Liquid's favour, as they were able to lessen the blow by clawing in a few rounds at a 6-9 deficit.
Liquid took the second half pistol and the subsequent anti-ecos, but then fnatic claimed the first gun round as Xizt closed out a 3v2 post-plant. The teams went blow for blow for the remainder of the half, with the scored tied at 15-15 at the end of regulation.
The first round of overtime saw the duo of Keith "NAF" Markovic and Nick "nitr0" Cannella convert a 2v4 post-plant into an early lead, with the in-game leader of Liquid dispatching all remaining CTs. The Swedes refused to allow their opponents to snowball, copping the remaining two rounds to make it 17-16. The Swedish team were able to recreate the result from the initial half of overtime on the T side, leading to a close 19-17 victory.
The final map, Dust2, witnessed two 3ks at the beginning as Freddy "KRIMZ" Johansson and Jake "Stewie2K" Yip simultaneously popped off, trying their best to advance their respective teams further. The Swede proved to be the undoing of Liquid, however, as he scored the first pistol for fnatic's CT side. Despite an initial outstanding performance, the Swedes dropped the ball in the coming rounds, as the offense was able to run away with seven consecutive rounds, shifting the momentum in their favour. With very little room for error, fnatic still managed to grab a few more rounds, but they knew they had a mountain to climb to overturn a 4-11 deficit.
Liquid proceeded in dominant fashion, landing the second pistol of the map. The home crowd favourites went on to extend the lead to a 13-4 scoreline, after which fnatic scored their first round of the half upon affording a full buy. Occasional victories on the Swedes' part mean that the team was gradually able to improve their round count, with a spectacular contribution from Jesper "JW" Wecksell, who took down three members of Liquid in a post-plant, resetting the NA mix's economy and scoring his team their seventh round.
A crucial eco round victory from the home team consolidated their economy and put them on series point at 15-8, giving the struggling defence some breathing room. Liquid subsequently closed out the series as EliGE landed a 3k, booking a spot in the grand final, in which they will meet the winner of the match between Astralis and Ghost.
|Liquid||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|Jonathan 'EliGE' JablonowskiEliGE||79 - 51||+28||100.3||1.48|
|Keith 'NAF' MarkovicNAF||69 - 47||+22||92.3||1.36|
|Russel 'Twistzz' Van DulkenTwistzz||55 - 47||+8||75.9||1.15|
|Nick 'nitr0' Cannellanitr0||57 - 50||+7||71.3||1.12|
|Jake 'Stewie2K' YipStewie2K||46 - 53||-7||62.4||0.89|