Team Liquid resisted G2’s efforts today to lift the trophy of ESL Pro League season nine, winning their third major title since May.
The best-of-five grand finals started on one of G2’s map picks, Dust II. G2 were leading in the opening rounds with a solid defense. Kenny “kennyS” Schrub looked on point with the AWP, but Liquid managed to recover after Jake “Stewie2K” Yip denied G2’s retake on the A bombsite with a one-vs-three clutch.
Although the first half finished 8-7 in favor of G2, Liquid had all the momentum. The North Americans pilled consecutive rounds on their CT-side, but couldn’t close out the game after they reached the 14th point because G2 started to fight for the comeback. It went to overtime and Liquid fixed their mistakes to win it 19-16. Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski has been Liquid’s best player at ESL Pro League and that didn’t change in this game, which he ended with 32 kills.
The final moved to Overpass and Liquid felt even more comfortable, despite G2 winning the first two rounds. The North Americans turned the game with a force buy and didn’t slow down for a second, hitting good executions on both bombsites.
Liquid switched to the CT-side with a 12-3 advantage and all they had to do was close out the map. G2 didn’t win a single round and the game finished 16-3. In-game leader Nicholas “nitr0” Cannella and Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken combined for 38 kills, and Liquid moved one map away from winning the championship.
Unlike the previous maps, Nuke started with back-and-forth rounds as neither team could start a winning streak. G2 finally broke Liquid’s economy and finished the first half on top 8-7 playing as the Terrorists.
Liquid couldn’t build up momentum after they gained the second pistol and the following rounds. G2 dismantled their attacks with kennyS on the AWP and Audric “JaCkz” Jug getting some crucial kills with the auto-shotgun. They kept their comeback dream alive at least for one more map with a 16-12 win.
But it all ended on Inferno, the fourth map of the series and Liquid’s pick. The North Americans were winning the gun rounds, but lost to G2’s force buys in three opportunities when veteran Richard “shox” Papillon had some vintage kills with the Desert Eagle. Liquid finished the first half on top with an 8-7 advantage.
Shox carried his form into the second pistol, tapping the heads of three Liquid’s players. But nitr0 and crew remained the best team in the buy rounds. G2 resurged in the last few rounds and would have won the map if it wasn’t for an unbelievable one-vs-three from Twistzz, the Canadian magician.
Both Liquid and G2 had the chance to close out the game in first and second overtime, respectively. But Liquid held their nerves following three match points and claimed the series after an impressive duel in Banana. It’s hard not to pick Twistzz as the best player on Inferno. He saved Liquid from playing the fifth map and contributed a lot in overtime, finishing with 41 kills.
Despite losing in the finals, G2 finally showed promise after the terrible year they had in 2018. G2 beat good teams like FaZe and NRG throughout the ESL Pro League. It looks like the French scene has woken up after G2 made a deep run at this tournament and Vitality won ECS season seven finals two weeks ago.
And for Liquid, this title definitely cements them as the No. 1 lineup in the world. It’s their third big championship in a row. They already won IEM Sydney in May and DreamHack Masters Dallas earlier in June. They even got the taste of defeating Astralis in a best-of-three for the first time at a big event during the quarterfinals of ESL Pro League season nine.
Liquid earned $250,000 for this title and they’re one step away from winning the Intel Grand Slam, which gives $1 million to the team who wins four out of 10 ESL, DreamHack, or IEM tournaments. Liquid have already won three of these events and Astralis have one title. The Danes were the first squad to win the Intel Grand Slam last year.
Liquid will have a chance to claim the Intel Grand Slam in the next tournament, ESL One Cologne. It’s set to happen on July 2 and Liquid will battle against the best teams in the world, such as Astralis, ENCE, Natus Vincere, and Vitality.