Heroic scrape by Liquid on the back of game-changing refrezh 1v5
The Danes have Ismail "refrezh" Ali to thank for pulling them through to overtime on the decider against all odds.
"It's the beginning of the end," Harry Russell exclaimed just before refrezh found himself all on his own against five Liquid players as Heroic were staring down the barrel at 14-15 on the deciding Inferno.
There was no way Harry, or anyone watching for that matter, could have anticipated at that point that the match would go to overtime on the deciding map, but that is what happened. refrezh pulled off a clutch for the ages holding only a Galil, forcing the map to continue and allow for Heroic to close the series against a dejected Liquid squad, denying them a massive comeback of their own to secure the semi-final spot.
And it had already been a crazy series up to that point. It began with Liquid coming back from a 0-7 deficit on Overpass, and a messy affair full of turns and forcebuys followed on Nuke as Heroic equalized the best-of-three, before it came down to Inferno. Heroic seemed to have the map in the bag as they led 12-3 after putting together a spotless defense, but the North American side persevered and pulled it back once more, only to get heartbroken by the refrezh clutch.
The stunning victory puts Heroic through to the semi-finals at ESL Pro League Season 14, in which they will lock horns with the tournament favorites Natus Vincere in only their second match against the CIS side this year. The two teams previously met in May's DreamHack Masters Spring semi-final, where Aleksandr "s1mple" Kostyliev and company came out on top after a nail-biting series to then win the whole thing, setting us up for a mouth-watering rematch on Saturday.
The start to the last quarter-final series on Overpass looked dire for Liquid after the North American side were staring down the barrel at 0-7 on the T side, with Heroic putting up a few key individual plays to shut down every chance their opponents had in the first seven rounds. Things soon began to look up for Jake "Stewie2K" Yip and company, however, as they found a lifeline with a pistol win on A and went on to trail only by five at halftime.
The Danes hoped to regain control when they kicked off the second half with a pistol round victory, but the following anti-forcebuy went Liquid's way, courtesy of Stewie2K and Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski combining for five kills on the A bombsite, and the North American team began their climb back into contention once again.
Heroic found life difficult on the Terrorist side, with multiple attempts towards B yielding no fruit, and soon only one round separated the two teams. Casper "cadiaN" Møller's team finally broke through the defense with picks all around the map for their 12th round, but once Michael "Grim" Wince stopped their monster explosion with a quad-kill Liquid never let go, completing the comeback at 16-12.
A crazy affair on Nuke followed. The two teams kept trading blows back and forth with low buys until the first half reached the late stages, when Liquid first pulled away with three in a row on the back of a halfbuy win and Heroic returned the favor with successful skirmishes in yard.
Forcebuy wars continued when sides switched, with Heroic now on the CT side losing the initial pistol before the craziness ensued. The Danes were the ones to come out on top of the back-and-forth with just one saved weapon and mostly an eco otherwise, featuring an unlikely refrezh 1v2 clutch (his second on the map), which eventually gave Heroic the edge as they went on a six-round streak and forced the series to go to its deciding map.
There wasn't much to write home about from Liquid in the first half of Inferno, as they were trailing 3-12 coming into their own defense after only finding a few sporadic rounds on the offense. But Heroic then ran into a wall when the North American side got the chance to defend, and Liquid looked to pull off their second huge comeback in the series.
And it would have happened, had it not been for the refrezh 1v5 clutch at 14-15. The shocking play was a heart-stopper for Liquid, who looked understandably frustrated in overtime as Heroic claimed a perfect half, closing it just a couple of rounds later at 19-16.
|Heroic||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|86 - 60||+26||95.0||1.37|
|69 - 67||+2||77.0||1.08|
|60 - 57||+3||69.4||1.04|
|54 - 63||-9||70.1||0.93|
|44 - 61||-17||64.8||0.88|