Liquid beat ENCE to clinch DreamHack Masters Dallas title
The North American giants continued their hot streak and won their second Big Event trophy in a row in a hard-fought series that began with a one-sided Mirage game. But in true ENCE fashion, the Nordic side came fighting back on Overpass - one of their weakest maps - and took Inferno almost the full distance after a false start to remind Liquid that they, too, have won a Big Event this year and are in contention for a place among the very elite.
The Finns could be faulted for overlooking Nuke, where they had come out victorious the last time these two teams had faced off, in the veto, but they can't be too disappointed with the outcome of a series in which they showed incredible mental fortitude and also significant improvements on Overpass.
Besides, the general feeling was that the biggest loser was a team that did not even set foot in Dallas. Watching the match from home, Astralis are likely to lose their spot at the top of the rankings come Monday's update after more than a year in which they proudly stood at the summit, defining one of the most dominant eras in modern Counter-Strike.
The opening map, Mirage, began in a chaotic fashion as ENCE drew first blood with a great 5v5 retake before Liquid responded in a force-buy following two stunning Desert Eagle headshots by Keith "NAF" Markovic early on. The North Americans rode that momentum to carve out a 7-2 lead, but the Finns set up a very compact defence for the remainder of the half to go into the break down by a solitary round.
The tight scoreline suggested that the second half would be hotly contested, but that would not be the case. Liquid produced a masterclass of a defensive performance and lost just one round before locking down the map at 16-8.
A 33% win percentage on Overpass on LAN over the last three months seemed to indicate that disaster was on the way for ENCE, but the Finnish team refused to throw in the towel. The game began almost the same way as Mirage, with Liquid dominating proceedings during the early stages. But then ENCE rose to the challenge and went on a dominant run - only briefly interrupted by a great individual round from Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski - to grab an 8-7 lead.
ENCE came out strongly from the break and won five rounds right off the bat before Liquid responded with a chain of rounds of their own to hype the crowd up. The spectators soon went silent, as Jere "sergej" Salo outplayed two opponents to clutch ENCE's 14th round, but there would be no follow-up. The home side regained control of proceedings and went on another run to reach championship point before the Finns grabbed the final round to force overtime.
The Finnish team looked dominant after regulation and almost went 3-0 on the Terrorist side. After switching sides, Liquid restored parity at 17-17, but then Aleksi "allu" Jalli pulled off a critical clutch for his team in a 1v3 situation, with ENCE following that up with another round to take the series to Inferno.
Liquid came out with all guns blazing on the decider map and ran all over the ENCE defence to race to a commanding 10-1 lead. The Finnish team then put their foot down and held Liquid back for the remainder of the half, but they still knew they had a mountain to climb to overcome the massive five-round deficit.
Sami "xseveN" Laasanen brought back a bit of hope with a massive 1v4 clutch in the pistol round, punishing the overconfident North Americans. ENCE followed that up with two more rounds and then interrupted Liquid's streak with a mac-10 push.
The pressure was slowly building on Liquid, but the North Americans kept their composure and won three consecutive rounds to once again hit series point. ENCE proved once more that they would not go down without a fight and mounted a comeback, but then Jake "Stewie2K" Yip - who moments earlier had won a crucial round by defusing a bomb in a 1v1 situation with allu - secured three frags in the banana, paving the way for Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken to put the match to bed with two frags in the A site.
|Liquid||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|Russel 'Twistzz' Van DulkenTwistzz||74 - 54||+20||82.3||1.24|
|Jonathan 'EliGE' JablonowskiEliGE||73 - 52||+21||80.2||1.22|
|Jake 'Stewie2K' YipStewie2K||61 - 56||+5||80.8||1.12|
|Keith 'NAF' MarkovicNAF||45 - 55||-10||69.0||0.99|
|Nick 'nitr0' Cannellanitr0||49 - 61||-12||59.7||0.82|
|ENCE||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|Jere 'sergej' Salosergej||65 - 59||+6||82.1||1.14|
|Aleksi 'allu' Jalliallu||67 - 58||+9||72.6||1.13|
|Aleksi 'Aleksib' VirolainenAleksib||51 - 61||-10||72.1||0.94|
|Sami 'xseveN' LaasanenxseveN||48 - 61||-13||73.9||0.92|
|Jani 'Aerial' JussilaAerial||46 - 63||-17||54.2||0.82|
DreamHack Masters Dallas final standings:
1. Liquid - $100,000
2. ENCE - $50,000
3-4. FaZe - $22,000
3-4. FURIA - $22,000
5-6. G2 - $10,000
5-6. Vitality - $10,000
7-8. North - $6,000
7-8. Renegades - $6,000
9-12. NiP - $4,000
9-12. NRG - $4,000
9-12. fnatic - $4,000
9-12. Windigo - $4,000
13-16. TYLOO - $3,000
13-16. Isurus - $3,000
13-16. Cloud9 - $3,000
13-16. Lucid Dream - $3,000