Boys and girls, it's official — the lads over at Team Liquid are finally champions. After what seemed like a thousand finals appearances with no victory, TL has won it all at SuperNova Malta. With $150,000 on the line, the North Americans of TL weren’t letting this opportunity pass them by. And although strong show-ups like HellRaisers and BIG were knocked out early in the playoffs, the event still provided a metric ton of entertainment.
In the early phase of the tournament, NRG seemed to have a strong showing against their foreign adversaries. They even showed promise for the future during the first round of playoffs, against the top challengers in Group B, HellRaisers. But when push comes to shove, no team is harder to punish than that of your own blood-thirsty countrymen. Team Liquid had already dominated their way through Group A, and during the first round playoff series, defeated BIG with ease, fulfilling the possibility for an all-American grand final.
After all, Liquid had MONTHS of matchups against the world’s best roster of Astralis, so to them, what was a best of three series with NRG? Map one on Overpass was an utter disaster for NRG. Brehze, daps, and nahtE were all limited to under 20 kills combined. TL played with their typical “no respect” gameplay, and an aggressive outlook on their tactics allowed for a momentum boost into map two as well.
Inferno was next, and although historically it's been a decent map selection for NRG, Liquid’s robust setup was too much for NRG to secure the near victory despite Liquid being down 3-14. A 16-14 scoreline allowed TL to take it all home. NAF and EliGE played absolutely stellar games, with 56 combined frags, and ultimately would have a new addition to their Counter-Strike resume… SuperNova Malta 2018 Champions.
ESL Pro League Finals Season 8
The world had its eyes set on Odense, Denmark this weekend, as the finals of the ESL Pro League Season 8 were unfolding in the country whose name rhymes with Counter-Strike, and appropriately so these days. As usual, these offline finals gave closure to the grueling weeks-long online brawl that is the ESL Pro League, this time gathering teams from Europe, North America, South America, Asia and Oceania.
This edition will be regarded down the road as an important milestone and its conclusion featured two teams that have been one of if not the most recurrent grand finals matchup this year, Team Liquid versus Astralis. Right off a medium-sized tournament victory in Malta, Team Liquid lived up to their status and easily progressed their way through their group’s upper bracket, defeating G2 Esports in their opening best-of-one, then BIG with a comfortable 2-0 win, 16-6 on both Inferno and Dust 2. With a place in the playoffs secured, Team Liquid suffered their first loss of the tournament at the hands of their rivals, Astralis.
Team Liquid would thus start the playoffs from the quarterfinals. Here, their road collided with Natus Vincere. The CIS squad landed there after a complicated route, during which they successively overcame Oceania’s representatives ORDER—breaking their curse of losing opening matches to underdogs in the process—then suffered a loss to mousesports, before beating Sharks Esports and Ghost to win through the lower bracket.
The quarterfinals between Na’Vi and TL began on Dust 2, and as the rounds piled up on the Liquid side, it was soon clear that it would be a one sided affair, featuring Epitacio “TACO” De Melo surgically opening the B site repeatedly on the T side. This and a crisp Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski on the Krieg powered the team to a dominating 14-1 half, quickly converted in a 16-4 victory. Inferno would provide no solace to Na’Vi, as Liquid took off with a comfortable T side 9-6, completed by a pristine CT side to win it all, sending Na’Vi home, and moving on to the semifinals where MIBR were awaiting.
In a repeat performance, Liquid crushed FalleN’s squad with ease, as the Brazilian-led team was unable to put up any resistance, and had to bow out after a sound defeat on Cache 16-2 and on Overpass 16-8. As a result, we were given a fifth grand finals between Team Liquid and Astralis to close out 2018.
It was a highly anticipated finals that started off right away with a twist, as Liquid banned Nuke for the first time in their multiple finals confrontations, leaving Train in the pool. Astralis seized the opportunity and picked it right away, expecting a weak Liquid on a map TL barely played. That didn’t pan out the way Astralis predicted at all, as Liquid came out all guns blazing, fighting hard on the offense to mount a huge advantage at the half, 11-4. Liquid managed to conclude on the CT side and take the lead in the series on the first map. Moving on to Mirage, Astralis replied straight away with a powerful blow, and the series was tied at 1 a piece.
From then on, and on the back of countless clutches from Andreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth, Astralis slowly but surely progressed towards the victory. Team Liquid put up a decent fight, never losing with less than ten rounds on Mirage, Dust 2, and Inferno, but the Danish group was simply too strong, and shortly after it was the men in red that were celebrating on the stage, both their ESL Pro League champions title as well as their success in completing the Intel Grand Slam challenge. Team Liquid had came closer than in their previous finals encounter with their nemesis, but unfortunately were ultimately unable to prevent what many had come to consider inevitable this year — another title for Astralis as they continue their quest to become what many consider the best CSGO team of all time.
PUBG GLL Season 3 Finals
Season three of PUBG's Global Loot League is officially a wrap, and boy has it been a joy to watch. If you're a newcomer to one of Battleground's most exciting tournament series, here's the catch. Teams from all over the globe have the chance to qualify for an offline finals tournament, with the grand victor taking home the majority of $100,000.
After a 15 game marathon, Team Unique endured the opposition, finishing the event on top with a 'mere’ 774 point advantage over 2nd place OpTic Gaming. The grand finals took three whole days to complete, and throughout the entire session, left PUBG fans stunned and sitting on the edge of their seats, waiting for the results.
And the best part of the entire tourney? It took until the second to last game to even have a clear picture of which team on the leaderboard could come out on top. Unfortunately, Env had a slow start, struggling to have anything go their way in their early games but by the 6th game they began to claw their way back into the top of the leaderboards with consecutive 5th place finishes, following by coming 2nd twice in the later rounds. They finished overall in 5th place but the determination they showed in climbing the rankings after having a rough start was incredible.
Team Liquid faced similar struggles and finished 200 points behind Envy. The difference was that while Liquid had multiple high placing finishes, coming 4th or better six different times, they didn’t run into many teams and thus their kill count was low. Overall both Team Liquid and Envy had multiple promising rounds during GLL and we can’t wait to see what the squads do next.
Rainbow6 DreamHack Winter
This year's rendition of DreamHack Winter in Jonkoping, Sweden gave a group of 15 Rainbow Six challengers a run for $50,000 to take home, and the lads from Team Liquid weren't there to horseplay. They went into their group against Chaos EC, Trust Gaming, and ENCE and it was clear that it would be a difficult battle no matter who they faced. After a disappointing first series against Trust Gaming Liquid found themselves facing elimination and up against ENCE to stay alive.
Many predicted ENCE would be able to beat Team Liquid before the tournament began but quickly Liquid showed that with their new roster they were not to be taken lightly. After beating ENCE 2-1, Team Liquid got their rematch against Trust Gaming and this time the deciding map went to overtime where TL ended up taking the win off an impressive performance from gohaN and Nesk.
This win pushed Team Liquid into the playoff stage but for all that hard work they were rewarded by getting G2 as a first round opponent, arguably the strongest team in the world. Team Liquid was once again off to a good start, winning the first map in overtime, but eventually G2 put on too much pressure and TL fell 2-1 and were eliminated by the eventual champions. Still, it wasn’t a bad showing from a newly minted roster and the future looks bright if they can continue to take maps and even beat the best teams in the world.