Astralis has solidified their status as best Counter-Strike team in the world. The Danish superteam would take down Team Liquid in three maps at the Grand Finals of IEM Chicago.
🏆 CHAMPIONS 🏆 #IEM @astralisgg pic.twitter.com/GxJW2DslWo
— ESL Counter-Strike (@ESLCS) November 11, 2018
Team Liquid was coming off of a dominant showing against FaZe Clan in the semifinals. They would absolutely run over the Europeans, showing no mercy after dropping their first map. The North Americans would find firepower across their roster, with even their in-game leader, Nicholas “nitr0” Cannella finding frags. As a result, it would be an incredible showing that gave many Liquid fans hope heading into their Finals match.
However, Astralis has been dominant in their matches against Team Liquid. In fact, the Danes would win every single championship-deciding match against the North Americans. Still, the Kings of Counter-Strike weren’t invincible. They lost to FaZe Clan earlier in IEM Chicago, and Fnatic would push them to the brink of defeat in the semifinals. If there was any time to defeat this superteam, it was now.
Before the match, Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth would state in an interview, “We always play with our cards close to our chest and we don’t underestimate anyone. Even though we have won against Liquid a lot of times, we’ve also lost against them. They are a great team, and they are in the semifinals, so they are not to be underestimated.”
A Good Start for Team Liquid…
Team Liquid’s map choice, Mirage, would be first up for the Grand Finals of IEM Chicago. It would also be the closest match of the series. Nitro and company would start off pretty well after their third-round buy. Team Liquid would go on a seven-round win streak, taking complete control of the match. Of course, Astralis would manage to claw back into the game, hitting the half only down by three rounds. The Danish team would keep calm throughout the map, even after an incredible performance from Keith “NAF” Markovic.
Despite falling on Mirage, @NAFFLY was still the best player on the server, giving the clutch minister a run for his money #IEM https://t.co/fTBRGvbUbv pic.twitter.com/W2t0QNzBvU
— Intel®ExtremeMasters (@IEM) November 11, 2018
In the second half, Astralis would turn up the pressure. After losing the first three rounds, the Danes would do work with their first buy round. They would follow that up with four unanswered wins, looking almost unstoppable. Again, Team Liquid would turn to NAF to bail them out with a clutch 1v2 win. Team Liquid would use that momentum to reach fourteen rounds, but suddenly, Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen would come to the rescue. With twelve frags in the final six rounds, he would help Astralis stun Team Liquid and pick up their victory.
… but a dominating finish from Astralis.
Unfortunately, Mirage would represent the last gasps of hope for Team Liquid. Nuke was Astralis’ best map, and they would show it in commanding fashion. The Danish superteam would take an early 6-1 lead before Team Liquid would find any success. Unfortunately, Astralis’ defense would be too strong, as Team Liquid would look like a completely different team from the start of the day. They would only manage to win one more round before Astralis would close it out, 16-7.
.@dev1ce picks up 3 in the pistol! #IEM https://t.co/JCaCtOvQYi pic.twitter.com/UrIhum2PYY
— ESL Counter-Strike (@ESLCS) November 11, 2018
We would see more of the same on the third map, Inferno. Team Liquid would start out well, winning the first three rounds, but everything would change on Astralis’ first buy round. The Danes would crush their opponents with ease, showing no mercy as they would hit the half with an 11-4 lead. They wouldn’t let up on the North American hopefuls, as they would go perfect in the second half to take IEM Chicago with a 16-4 win.
Final Thoughts on IEM Chicago
For Team Liquid, it is another disappointing finish for 2018. They’ve taken second place at ESL One New York 2018, ELEAGUE 2018, ECS Season Five and Seven, and now IEM Chicago. It must be tiring for Nitro’s men to come short again. They simply were outclassed by Astralis again, as Team Liquid could not find a single inch of light in the series. Their chances would fade away with their loss on Mirage, and as Epitácio “TACO” de Melo said, “We have to go back to work.”
Astralis’ reign of power over the Counter-Strike world continues, as they place another title under their belt. In the Grand Finals at IEM Chicago, every player on the team would finish with 50 or more kills over the three maps. It was a testament to their skill and strength, both individually, and as a team.
Xyp9x would say, “We’ve been the top team for so long now, and people start to copy us, people start to prepare a lot for us because they really want to beat us. It’s the same in any other sport, like, it’s really hard to be on the top. It’s easy to get there, but being there and staying there is really hard.” It seems that the only thing Astralis needs to worry about now is maintaining their dominance.
What are your thoughts on IEM Chicago and Astralis’ victory? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! If you want more Counter-Strike coverage, check us out here!