Misfits pulled off one of this year’s biggest upsets against Team Liquid this past weekend, and they performed it with style and grace.
When Sean “sgares” Gares and co. faced off against Liquid in the semifinals of the Americas Minor on Saturday Nov. 4, the very last map came down to a 15-13 scoreboard with Misfits as Terrorists. Although it seemed like they were executing a standard A bomb site execute in the 29th round, Misfits performed a clever strategy involving a decoy fake that went seemingly unnoticed by many Counter-Strike viewers.
At first, the start of the round looked like a fairly normal default from the Misfits side. Four players were setting up for an A hit while François “AmaNEk” Delaunay lurked underpass for picks on rotators. Three players set up their crosshairs for smoke grenade throws while David “devoduvek” Dobrosavljevic listened for site info in palace, but instead of throwing smokes, they threw decoys at 1:33. Once the counter-grenades dissipated at around 1:13, Misfits threw their actual smoke grenades and began their trek into a wide open side, which was facilitated by the decoy fake.
Misfits then won the retake phase easily, losing only sgares and Hunter “SicK” Mims in the process. They closed out the game 16-13 and completed the series upset 2-1.
So what makes their strategy so smart?
Liquid’s Josh “jdm” Marzano and Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken, who were playing deep site passively, immediately reacted with counter-grenades to slow the execute in response to the grenade bounce cues. Jdm and Twistzz expended $1,800 worth of utility—two incendiaries, one smoke, and one hand grenade—and then gave up site control to play full (five-on-five) retake because of their two-one-two double-AWP setup. The team’s overall retake became weaker because of two factors: the A site anchors’ lack of retake utility and AmaNEk’s quick pick on a rotating Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski, who was setting up for a site pincer with Peter “stanislaw” Jarguz from connector and jungle.
With the Counter-Terrorist utility dwindling alongside the scarce amount of time, Liquid had to rush the retake and chaotically dry peek angles that Misfits had accounted for. A safe crossfire setup towards ramp gave Misfits the map (16-13) and series (2-1) win after trade frags went down.
If Liquid’s anchors hadn’t used their utility during the fake execute phase, their retake would’ve been significantly stronger and easier because they could either flush out or block off Misfits’ players in safe post-plant positions at ramp, tetris, and palace. By doing so, Misfits would be forced to aggress from their spots in order to prevent a bomb defuse. This is a key example in why giving up site and “playing retake” with full nades is important in certain situations. But instead, Jdm and Twistzz inadvertently gave into the decoy fake, and they were duly punished as a result.
Misfits’ risky, high-pressure strategy was commended by former iBuyPower player Josh “steel“ Nissan and even EliGE himself. The Liquid star also hinted at a meta shift thanks to Misfits’ simple yet intricate play.
“Those decoys to bait out nades [are] gonna be copied a ton soon,” EliGE said on Twitter.