Team Liquid set a record for the fastest Intel Grandslam title but went into a rather disappointing slump shortly after. After their win against ENCE in IEM Chicago, the North American team saw themselves plunging to mediocre results. Astralis ousted them in Berlin in the quarterfinals of Starladder and then in the semis of ESL One at New York. They also dropped out of the lower bracket in Malmo in a stunning 0-2 loss against Grayhound Gaming. Fans are constantly checking their feeds for rumors about the team blowing up amidst internal issues.
Fortunately for the North American team, Team Liquid‘s lineup stuck together and fixed their issues. Their improved play quickly showed itself on the server. However, that’s not to say they’re back to their unbeatable form. They’re still heavily reliant on individual play, especially from aggressive stars like Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken and Jacky “Stewie2K” Yip. When these players bite off more than they can chew, top teams will always find a way to punish them.
JW at the helm
Fnatic’s veteran Jesper “JW” Wecksell led his team to a rock-solid start, stringing multiple rounds together cleanly on Overpass. Team Liquid rushed head-first against Fnatic, but it was like running into a concrete wall. Fnatic kept setting the pace of the game, even on CT side and found themselves ahead by several rounds. Luckily for Liquid, Keith “NAF” Markovic managed to win a 1v3 clutch to prevent Fnatic from pulling too far ahead.
Despite their best efforts, however, Team Liquid failed to gain traction in the second half. They did manage to win a messy round after Fnatic took map point. However, a perfectly placed Molotov prevented Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski from defusing the bomb.
In the next map (Inferno), Team Liquid rushed off to their own hot start, pulling ahead to a 9-2 lead on their CT side. JW continued to play fantastic, winning round 12 for Fnatic via a brilliant play off the boxes of A site. Fnatic would go on to win a few more but lose the last round of the half, 5-10.
Team Liquid then won the first five rounds on their T side. EliGE magnificently fended off a post-plant retake to bring TL to map point. Fnatic’s IGL Maikil “Golden” Selim won Fnatic’s only round on their CT side off of a clutch, but couldn’t follow it up as they moved into the third map.
The third map (Mirage) fittingly became the only close fight of the three game series. Fnatic took the early pistol rounds but Liquid recovered via a string of great post-plant defenses. Then, in round #8, JW pulls off a 1v3 deagle clutch against the home team. This gives them enough momentum to take 6 out of the last 8 rounds.
After the swap, Team Liquid reversed the cards, winning the first three rounds of the half to take the lead. The Swedes managed to stop the bleeding for a single round, but failed to prevent another streak from the home town team. In round #23, Robin “flusha” Rönnquist found himself stuck in palace alone against four Liquid players. With the bomb dropped in the middle of the A site, he pulls off multiple no-scopes to escape the round and save the AWP. However, Liquid still won the round and would go on to finish off Fnatic in round #27. GG.