Liquid take down Cloud9 2-1; advance to first LAN grand final since 2019
Liquid became the first grand finalists at ESL Pro League Season 16 after they defeated Cloud9, 2-1. Nick "nitr0" Cannella's men drew first blood with a 16-11 win on Inferno, fell to their opponents' comeback on Ancient 13-16, and edged out the Russians 16-13 on Dust2.
Cloud9 exit EPL in 3-4th place as their campaign ends in the semi-finals. The Russians topped Group D with a 4-1 record and spoiled FaZe's Intel Grand Slam hopes after they eliminated the international powerhouse in the quarter-finals.
Liquid kicked off Inferno with a swift 3-0 lead before Cloud9 finally got themselves on the board in the fourth. The Russians scored again in the sixth thanks to a stellar ace from Vladislav "nafany" Gorshkov, which set the tone for a back-and-forth first period. Liquid won the half at 8-5 before Cloud9 recovered in the last two rounds before the switch, highlighted by a Sergey "Ax1Le" Rykhtorov quad-kill in the 15th, to secure the one-round deficit.
Triple-kill rounds from Keith "NAF" Markovic and Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski allowed Liquid to hit double-digits first, but the North Americans were quickly answered by Cloud9 who tied the game up at 10-10. Both sides remained deadlocked two rounds later, but from then on Liquid pulled ahead and never looked back as they took home the 16-11 win on Inferno. Crucial performances from Josh "oSee" Ohm and YEKINDAR late in the game sealed the Russians' fate in the first map, giving Liquid a 1-0 series lead.
Liquid dominated as the CTs on Ancient which resulted in a sensational 12-3 lead by halftime. Cloud9 struggled for kills throughout the entire half as their opponents often won rounds having suffered just one casualty. The tables completely turned after the side swap, though, as nafany's squad mounted a remarkable nine-round comeback just as the match looked out of reach for the Russians. Cloud9 eventually took over the lead at 13-12 and sealed the comeback on their map pick in the 29th round to force a decider on Inferno.
Liquid opened the deciding map, Inferno, with a 4-1 advantage on the back of EliGE and nitr0's six and nine kills, respectively. The North Americans held onto their lead and secured the half at 8-4, but Cloud9 were able to replicate their first map performance and went into the break down 7-8 after clinching three straight rounds. The Russians may have lagged behind in firepower, however their ability to get the bomb down gave them opportunities to score round after round.
Neither side was able to maintain a significant advantage coming out of the break, as Liquid and Cloud9 kept trading the lead in short two or three-round bursts. Time was running out in the series as both teams were inseparable at 13-13, and three rounds away from glory, the nitr0-led side powered their way to a 16-13 victory.
Liquid have secured their best-ever finish with the new lineup, and are on the verge of hoisting their first Big Event trophy since IEM Chicago 2019 when their lineup still included Jake "Stewie2K" Yip and Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken. The winner of the second semi-final matchup between G2 and Vitality will determine the North Americans' best-of-five grand final opponent.
|Liquid||K - D||+/-||ADR||Rating 2.0|
|63 - 51||+12||84.8||1.18|
|62 - 62||0||88.7||1.17|
|52 - 51||+1||69.5||1.05|
|51 - 59||-8||66.4||0.94|
|44 - 50||-6||49.5||0.83|