Liquid trounce ENCE to win IEM Chicago
It would have been difficult, if not impossible, to imagine a more one-sided series than the one that brought the tournament to an end at the United Center. Liquid, who headed into the match looking for their 20th straight series victory and fifth consecutive title, breezed through the first two maps of this best-of-five contest, where it seemed like we were watching teams from different levels instead of two sides separated by three places in the rankings. Inferno was a much tighter affair, but it always looked like, one way or another, it would go the way of Liquid, who were ahead the entire game.
The North American giants end the tournament season on a high, with yet another trophy and one point towards the Intel Grand Slam Season 3. As for ENCE, it will be tough to take any positives from this match, so one can hope that they can hold on to the improvements that they showed on Inferno, the only competitive map of the three that were played over the course of this three-hour series.
Liquid got off on the wrong foot on Overpass but quickly bounced back and took control of proceedings, forcing Aleksi "Aleksib" Virolainen to call a timeout just five rounds into the game. At that point, the Finnish team already knew that they were in for a tough ride, but things got even worse shortly afterward as Nick "nitr0" Cannella picked up an ace in a round that Liquid seemed to have no business winning.
ENCE were nowhere to be seen for the vast majority of their CT side and let numerous man advantages go to waste, resulting in a stunning 14-1 scoreline at the end of the half.
The Nordic side were by now probably already thinking about the next map, but they still managed to get another round on the board, courtesy of a quad kill by Aleksi "allu" Jalli. It would amount to nothing, however, as Liquid would hit back in the next round - on a very weak buy - before wrapping things up.
Nuke, ENCE's map pick, was almost a straight copy from Overpass as the Finnish team won the pistol round in convincing fashion but could not capitalise on it. Liquid assembled a water-tight defence and ran away with the lead, with the half ending with a 13-2 scoreline in their favor.
Liquid carried that momentum into the second half and quickly hit map point after winning the pistol round - their first of the series. ENCE then managed to break their opponents' streak, but once again they simply could not chain rounds together as the game came to another swift conclusion.
ENCE recovered from a slow start to the third map, Inferno, and were finally able to put together a string of rounds, bringing the deficit to a solitary round at 4-5. It looked like the Finnish team were starting to get a foothold in the game, but Liquid went on another dominant run to end the half up 10-5, with Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski topping the scoreboard on 17 frags.
Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken went huge in the second half pistol with a quad-kill to widen the gap between the two teams even more. ENCE knew they had a mountain to climb to overcome the massive deficit but refused to throw in the towel, even after some tough losses. They took the game all the way to the 30th round and almost forced overtime before nitr0 turned a 2v3 situation around with two key frags, and Jake "Stewie2K" Yip hammered the final nail into the Finns' coffin in a 1v1 situation.
|ENCE||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|Jani 'Aerial' JussilaAerial||44 - 56||-12||73.1||0.92|
|Aleksi 'allu' Jalliallu||43 - 54||-11||74.6||0.88|
|Jere 'sergej' Salosergej||35 - 58||-23||68.2||0.78|
|Aleksi 'Aleksib' VirolainenAleksib||32 - 55||-23||59.1||0.70|
|Sami 'xseveN' LaasanenxseveN||29 - 54||-25||55.2||0.65|
|Liquid||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|Jonathan 'EliGE' JablonowskiEliGE||73 - 38||+35||103.8||1.62|
|Nick 'nitr0' Cannellanitr0||60 - 35||+25||92.1||1.44|
|Russel 'Twistzz' Van DulkenTwistzz||57 - 34||+23||89.1||1.41|
|Keith 'NAF' MarkovicNAF||51 - 38||+13||89.7||1.41|
|Jake 'Stewie2K' YipStewie2K||36 - 39||-3||59.2||1.02|
IEM Chicago 2019 final standings: