Liquid beat fnatic to win IEM Sydney and break Big Event curse
As the teams took the stage at the Qudos Bank Arena for one final match, fans all over the world asked the same question: 'Will Liquid finally do it?' That has been a question haunting the team for over a year now. After losing ten finals, some of which in the most gut-wrenching fashion, would the North Americans finally eradicate their demons and begin to live up to their potential?
At one point, it looked like destiny would once again be cruel for Liquid as they wasted a 2-1 advantage after being humbled on Dust2. Yet unlike in some of their previous finals, they kept their composure and pulled through in the end, even if that second half on Inferno got a little bit too close for comfort.
A lively start from fnatic as CT on their map pick of Cache forced Liquid to call their first timeout just five rounds into the series. The North Americans continued to be outclassed by fnatic's high-pressing defence, with the scoreline blooming to a 9-0 advantage in the Swedes' favour.
Liquid required a moment of inspiration to finally get something in the game, and it came in the form of a 1v2 clutch by Jake "Stewie2K" Yip inside B. That was a wake-up call for Liquid and the start of a near-flawless run from the North American team, one that was just briefly interrupted by a spectacular quad kill by Jesper "JW" Wecksell with the AWP.
Down 5-10, Liquid kept themselves in the game by taking the pistol round and the subsequent anti-eco. But once fnatic had money to work with, the entire dynamic of the game changed, with the Swedes winning five rounds in a row to reach map point. Liquid still attempted a response, but their comeback was short-lived as Ludvig "Brollan" Brolin put the game to bed in the 26th round with a quad kill.
The 16-year-old Swede picked up where he left off and secured a trio of kills in the pistol round to help fnatic to take the lead on Overpass, a map on which Liquid were on a six-game winning streak on LAN. The North American team responded immediately and went on a dominant run, but fnatic came fighting back towards the end of the half and brought the deficit to just three rounds.
Nick "nitr0" Cannella came up huge in the second half pistol with a 1v3 clutch, kicking Liquid further into the lead. But once the game hit the gun stages, the North Americans' defense was not up to the task, with fnatic eventually taking the lead at 13-12 after a dominant period.
A massive comeback seemed to be in the making, but just when Liquid doubters were starting to poke fun at the team with the universal choking sign, Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski rescued his squad with a triple kill, halting the Swedes' momentum. The rest of the game went down to the wire, with Liquid claiming the victory in the 30th round off the back of a triple kill by nitr0 - a fitting ending to a game in which the North American in-game leader had played centre stage.
Liquid got off to a slow start on Mirage, losing four of the initial five rounds of the game, but set up a really tight defence afterwards. The North Americans kept the Terrorists at bay for the rest of the half, taking a 9-6 lead after keeping their opponents from stringing rounds together.
Now playing on the Terrorist side, Liquid continued their dominance over fnatic with a successful pistol round in which Keith "NAF" Markovic got three kills to his name. The Swedish team still tried to respond, but any round that they won was immediately countered by Liquid, who quickly wrapped up this one-sided game to get within touching distance of the trophy.
Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken opened up the action on Dust2 with a stunning pistol ace, but Liquid had little time to celebrate as fnatic rallied back once they had money in the bank. The Swedish team repeatedly penetrated through the Liquid defense, bringing the scoreline to 5-2, and held off a late comeback from their opponents to take a three-round lead into the break.
The second half turned out to be a complete blowout. Liquid were simply inconsequential as the fnatic defense was clicking on all levels, with the Swedish team winning seven rounds straight en route to a dominant 16-6 finish.
It all came down to Inferno, a fitting decider for this nail-biting series. Liquid came out firing on all cylinders and raced to a 10-2 lead on the CT side of the map, putting a considerable amount of pressure on fnatic's players. The Swedish team then finally managed to string rounds together, but they were still left frustrated in the final round as a quad kill by Twistzz with a UMP put his team on 11 rounds.
The Canadian player followed that up with another quad kill in the next pistol, setting Liquid up for a 14-4 lead. fnatic refused to go down without a fight, though, and put together a string of rounds, giving Liquid's fans painful flashbacks of the ESL One New York defeat to mousesports.
In the end, the North Americans managed to hit championship point on a shoddy buy, of all rounds, and followed it up with a successful B hit, ending a hard-fought series and a long wait for a Big Event trophy.
|Liquid||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|Jonathan 'EliGE' JablonowskiEliGE||98 - 89||+9||87.0||1.12|
|Keith 'NAF' MarkovicNAF||87 - 79||+8||76.5||1.11|
|Nick 'nitr0' Cannellanitr0||90 - 87||+3||79.5||1.11|
|Russel 'Twistzz' Van DulkenTwistzz||92 - 75||+17||68.6||1.09|
|Jake 'Stewie2K' YipStewie2K||63 - 84||-21||58.4||0.85|
|fnatic||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|Jesper 'JW' WecksellJW||95 - 89||+6||87.1||1.21|
|Freddy 'KRIMZ' JohanssonKRIMZ||96 - 74||+22||70.8||1.17|
|Richard 'Xizt' LandströmXizt||80 - 85||-5||73.9||0.95|
|Ludvig 'Brollan' BrolinBrollan||76 - 94||-18||67.5||0.93|
|Simon 'twist' Eliassontwist||66 - 88||-22||58.5||0.80|
IEM Sydney final standings:
1. Liquid - $100,000
2. fnatic - $40,000
3-4. NRG - $20,000
3-4. MIBR - $20,000
5-6. NiP - $10,000
5-6. mousesports - $10,000
7-8. BIG - $8,000
7-8. Grayhound - $8,000
9-12. MVP PK - $5,000
9-12. Chiefs - $5,000
9-12. FaZe - $5,000
9-12. Renegades - $5,000
13-16. eUnited - $4,000
13-16. Heroic - $4,000
13-16. BOOT-d[S] - $4,000
13-16. ViCi - $4,000