The third Intel Extreme Masters event in 2019 has ended with Team Liquid clinching the fifth big title in a row. IEM XIV Chicago champions dropped a single map on their way to Grand Final, where they just dismantled ENCE in three map series.
Group A – Liquid topped the group
In the first round, Team Liquid destroyed Team Envy on Vertigo (16-1) and Mirage (16-6). Envy couldn’t stand a chance against Liquid who demonstrated the huge difference in quality between these two teams. Envy almost lost Vertigo with embarrassing scoreline 16-0, but FugLy won 1v3 clutch to avoid humiliation.
We could watch a rematch from ESL Pro League Season 9 Final, but the outcome was the same. Teams kicked off on Dust 2 where G2 pulled off a comeback after being in the back seat during the entire game excluding the very end. Liquid had a decent lead few times (6-1, 9-5, 11-6), but G2 prevailed in the end on their map pick.
The action then moved to Liquid’s best map, Overpass. After the first half, it was clear that G2 was going to have a hard time on Overpass as they lost CT half with score 9-6. Even though they started off the second half winning 5 out of 6 rounds, they couldn’t take control of the game. Therefore, Liquid put this tight game to bed (16-13). The map of decision (Inferno) was an easy ride for IEM XIV Chicago champions. Liquid clinched 13 rounds in the first half on Inferno. Even though G2 put a decent effort into catching up, as they won eight rounds in a row, it wasn’t enough to stop nitr0 and friends. The final result was 16-9 in Liquid’s favor who secured a place in Play-offs.
MiBR surprisingly advanced
Although Team Liquid was the team who topped Group A, the highlight of this group was MiBR securing the second place despite the fact they played with their coach and LUCAS1 who joined them recently. After their loss in the first round, things got even harder for the Brazilians. They had to overcome Team Envy who is not even part of Top 30, but it was an extremely difficult job even though Envy’s coach had to stand-in for Nifty who couldn’t play because of illness. So, both teams played this game with their coaches within the team.
The match kicked off on Inferno. Envy won 11 out of opening 13 rounds. But, MiBR bounced back with 7 rounds in a row and almost caught up. Nevertheless, Envy stayed compose to conclude the first map in their favor (16-11). On the second map (Mirage), Sonic from Envy played very well (23/4/17, 96 ADR), but it wasn’t sufficient for the NA team to challenge MiBR. So the final scoreline was 16-9 in favor of the Brazilians.
The final leg took place on Train. At one point, it looked like the tournament was over for MiBR as Envy was leading 13-5. It looked like a huge advantage, but Envy had this big lead thanks to the fact they kicked off on CT side. So, MiBR also exploited the fact Train favors CTs as they forced Overtime although they had to save one match point. In Overtime, FalleN and his teammates didn’t concede a single round. They outlasted Envy and booked another encounter with G2.
.@mibr secure the first map of the series!
— Intel®ExtremeMasters (@IEM) July 20, 2019
Group B – Easy job for ENCE; Vitality advanced further
Group B was a weaker group on paper, but it featured teams who have been doing great so far in this year. The runner-ups of the first Major, ENCE, managed to finish on top of the group. In the opening match, they easily bested Renegades on Inferno (16-7). The second map, however, was a wild ride. Renegades secured the first half (9-6) on Train, but it wasn’t enough for them to take the game to the map of decision. ENCE came out victorious after 30 rounds.
In the following round, ENCE encountered Heroic who upset Vitality in the first round (16-14, 16-9). We saw a seemingly bigger battle, but ENCE was in the driver’s seat all the time. Eventually, they concluded both maps in their favor (16-12, 16-14).
On the other side, Vitality had to beat Renegades just to survive at IEM Chicago. That’s exactly what they did as they edged out Aussies in dominant fashion on Mirage (16-12) and Dust 2 (16-7). So, they were ready to face Heroic one more time. Even though Heroic succeeded in stealing the second map (Dust 2, 16-12) from Vitality, the other two maps ended in the favor of Frenchmen. NBK and his team had Heroic’s number on Mirage (16-7) and Overpass (16-9). So, Team Vitality avoided an early elimination in Group Stage as they secured a place in Semis.
Team Liquid defeated Vitality for 10th Grand Final in a row
Semi-finals of IEM XIV Chicago kicked off with a matchup between Liquid and Vitality. IEM XIV Chicago champions had a relatively easy job against the best French team. On the first map (Dust 2), nitr0 and co. played an incredible T-half. They allowed Vitality to win only three rounds. On top of the great first half, Team Liquid also clinched the second pistol round but failed to realize it. Vitality won the force-buy round and then clinched seven consecutive rounds.
However, the comeback was just a long shot for Frenchmen as IEM XIV Chicago champions ended the first map in their favor.
Things then moved to Overpass. After a decent beginning (6-2), NBK and friends got destroyed by the best team in the world. On one side, ZywOo was underperforming, and on the other side, nitr0 was leading his team by example. IGL of Team Liquid finished the match with score 24/5/13, 80% KAST and 91 ADR. The final scoreline of ESL One Cologne final rematch was 16-9 in favor of Team Liquid, who secured 10th consecutive Grand Final.
ENCE outlasted MiBR
In the other Semi-final, we saw three one-sided maps. MiBR stepped in Semi-final in great fashion considering they won Mirage (16-9) as underdogs. Nevertheless, ENCE just dismantled the Brazilians on the following two maps. AleksiB and his teammates showed a great T-half on Train one more time. They won the first half on the less favorable side on Train in a dominant fashion (11-4). MiBR won the second pistol round but failed to capitalize on it. ENCE clinched the last five rounds, led by allu and AleksiB, to take the game to Dust 2.
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On Dust 2, the situation wasn’t much better for two time Major champions. ENCE again won the first half with the identical result (11-4). MiBR secured a few rounds more, but it just wasn’t enough to beat ENCE who was playing so well. Therefore, ENCE made their fifth Grand Final this year, the second one against Team Liquid.
Grand Final – Team Liquid wiped out ENCE
Last time when these two teams faced each other, we saw a big battle and intense game. On Sunday in Chicago, it wasn’t the case. There was only one team dominating the field, especially on the first two maps. In Best-of-5 Grand Final, Vertigo and Train were out of the game after map selection. Liquid picked Overpass, and ENCE picked Nuke. The third map was Inferno, and potential fourth and fifth maps were Dust 2 and Mirage. But we didn’t get a chance to watch teams on these two.
IEM XIV Chicago champions have been playing so well throughout the whole year, but the first two maps of the Grand Final might be the best two consecutive maps that Liquid has ever played. On the first map (Overpass), ENCE won both pistol rounds. However, the problem was that those were the only rounds that ENCE won in the Grand Final. The final score was humiliating 16-2.
More history for Team Liquid
We finally saw some decent drama on the third map where ENCE had multiple chances to take lead. However, in the most important moments, Liquid’s star players stepped up to conclude Inferno in their favor after 30 rounds being played out. They became IEM XIV Chicago champions, which is their fifth big title in a row. This way, they equalized Astralis’ record of 5 big titles in a row, and 5 LAN events in a row at the same time. Truly, they haven’t won a Major, but this is just an incredible run by Team Liquid. The Most Valuable Player of the event was EliGE from Team Liquid who claimed his third MVP award.
— Intel®ExtremeMasters (@IEM) July 21, 2019