CS Summit 2
The CS:GO community is still recovering from the epic Major just a few weeks ago, but some teams already hit the road this past weekend and gathered at the BTS house in Los Angeles for the second edition of cs_summit. There, a shortlist of eight teams competed in a double elimination bracket in Summit’s trademark laid back atmosphere. Several welcome guests sat on the casting couch to commentate and crack jokes, which always adds to the fun of BTS events.
After a few unsteady months for the Team Liquid roster, the team finally had the opportunity to play at a LAN with its starting five, including Keith “NAF” Markovic, added just days before the tournament. Matched against Ninjas in Pyjamas in their first match, Liquid showed some unfamiliarity on their first map together. They looked powerless on Inferno as the Ninjas flew to a quick 16-3 map win. Fortunately, the squad bounced back right away by setting the tone for the second map in the pistol round, with Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken landing a 4K on the USP. The team grinded a 12-3 CT half before concluding on the offense. Overpass was more contested, with a full length regulation played, but Liquid prevailed in the last round and advanced to the winner’s semifinals.
Next in line was their American rivals, Cloud 9. This promised to be a difficult one, as Cloud 9 was fresh off a victory at the Major and was the most in-form team in the world at the moment. In a fairly one-sided series, Cloud 9 dispatched of Team Liquid with two quick wins on Cobblestone and Mirage.
With their first life spent, it was all or nothing for the horsemen, who were not pitted against one of their former Overwatch players, azk, and his new team Torqued. Liquid leapt to a big lead on Mirage, but found it difficult to close out the game after a dominant first half. Torqued mounted a comeback up to 14 rounds before Liquid finally wrapped it up 16-14. Train was a much different story; a collective effort from the team netted them a comfortably victory. With the win in the bag, their run in the lower bracket continued.
Little by little, Liquid were waking up as the tournament unfolded. While their earlier series looked dicey, the team showed its true potential when firing on all cylinders against SK Gaming in the losers’ final. It started well for Liquid as they shut down SK in the first half on Cobblestone, arguably the Brazilians’ best map. After halftime, however, FalleN and his men mounted a desperate comeback to bring both sides to 15 rounds and overtime. Liquid fans were understandably jittery with the team’s history of letting wins slip from their grasp, but Liquid had other plans and claimed the win in OT. If heads turned as they won Cobble, jaws dropped as Nick “nitr0” Canella and NAF led the charge on Train to give Liquid a solid 2-0 win and a trip to the grand finals.
The tournament’s finale was a rematch between North America’s two teams: Team Liquid vs Cloud 9. It was an opportunity for Liquid to settle the score, but Cloud 9 held a one map advantage in the best of five due to their upper bracket seed. By now, it had become clear that a different Liquid was playing in the tournament compared to the team that we saw a few days earlier. Despite once again being labeled as the underdogs, this rematched promised to be more competitive.
The first map went the full distance with neither team grabbing the coveted 16th round in regulation. In overtime, Liquid made the difference, and compensated for their losers’ bracket deficit right away. Cloud 9’s advantage was then reversed on Mirage, where the iconic duo of Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski and nitr0 outclassed the Major champions to earn the team a 2-1 lead. However, Cloud 9 clawed back into the series as they took Cache by storm in reply. Liquid could not find a single crack in the AWP-centric defense, with the sniper rifle in the hands of Tyler “Skadoodle” Latham, Jacky “Stewie2k” Yip and Timothy “autimatic” Ta.
The series thus went all four games, and Overpass would decide the match. A couple of flashy individual performances, notably from Will “RUSH” Wierzba, granted Cloud9 a few rounds here and there in the fourth game, but there was no doubt that the trophy was slowly escaping their grasp. Liquid pressed on and stacked rounds with an impressive showing by NAF on his home map. The new addition’s 1.68 rating and 29 kills proved to be the difference as Liquid eventually claimed Overpass, and the cs_summit2 title in the process.
With this trophy, Liquid has finally earned its first significant trophy in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive after more than three years of competition. By taking down the reigning Major champions just a few days after reuniting with NAF, Liquid showed that this quintet might just be the right mix for continued success. Next stop: Intel Extreme Master Season XII, in Katowice in early March.
StarLadder i-League Invitational #4
During the first week of February, history was made by Kuro “Kuroky” Takhasomi as he became the first player to reach 1,000 career wins in Dota 2. On top of his individual feat the captain of Team Liquid also lead his team to their 4th championship of the season at StarLadder i-League Invitational #4, which also marks their 4th StarLadder win in a row. Team Liquid only lost a single game during the tournament as they breezed through the group stage against Infamous and LGD. The bracket stages offered slightly more resistance as they 2-0’d Mineski in the semi-finals and once again took down LGD 3-1 in the finals.
Despite a roster full of stars, the individual performance from Mind_ControL really stood out for Team Liquid during StarLadder. Against Mineski, his Omniknight was all that stood between Mineski and Liquid’s annihilation. With the weight of the game upon him he remained calm and composed, always being in the right place at the right time to save his team from the jaws of death with one well timed Guardian Angel after another. In the finals, he once again stood strong, this time as Beastmaster, as he turned the early game into his personal one man show which resulted in a triple kill just 6 minutes into the game underneath the enemy tower. It even included one of the most brilliant escapes we’ve ever seen.
As the season progresses we continue to see Team Liquid adapt to patch changes while maintaining some of their strongest and most feared heroes in new strategies. We saw the return of GH’s Io and Keeper of the Light paired with Mind_ControL’s Beastmaster which worked to great effect. Even with the first ban phase being increased to three bans each, teams seem to be having an increasingly hard time stopping Liquid from getting the heroes they want. With two Majors on the horizon, Team Liquid could very well secure their invite to TI8 in the coming weeks if they continue to perform at every single stop of the DPC Circuit.
DAC 2018 Qualifiers
DAC is the most prestigious tournament in China and known as the first Major due to the quality of production, format, prize pool, and having every top team in attendance. This year promises to be no different and the qualifiers were stacked with teams hoping to earn their spot among the 16 squads that would be competing. We had three of our teams make it through the qualifiers to join the already invited Team Liquid and Vici Gaming at the main event.
paiN Gaming surprised many when they took down Infamous and SG-esports in the South American qualifier. hFn, Tavo, and Kingrd are all veterans of South American Dota, with Kingrd starting back in 2011 with paiN Gaming. Where Infamous failed at international events, paiN Gaming has stepped in and picked up the torch to bring South America their first series win at an international event in a very long time.
In the North American qualifier, EG breezed through the competition, 2-0ing compLexity in the finals with two very different and very unique drafts. We saw the return of Fear’s Visage, only this time instead of a support he was playing it Mid — and it was played to great effect with a 7-2-5 k/d/a. We also saw some trickery from EG as Sumail played Pugna in the offlane in game 1 but gave Pugna to Fear to play middle during game 2. EG looked a step above the rest of NA as they went through the qualifier without losing a single game.
Lastly, VGJ.Thunder made it out of an incredibly competitive field in the Chinese qualifier. Finishing 3-2 during the round-robin group stage, they started in the upper portion of the playoff bracket. From there VGJ.Thunder went undefeated, taking down Eclipse and Big God 2-0 before defeating LGD Forever Young in a 3-0 victory in the grand finals. Even more incredible was how one sided the finals were. VGJ.Thunder took less than an hour and a half to dispatch LFY, winning their games in 24, 26, and 30 minutes to seal their qualification.