It’s time for the final countdown as the, well, final of one of the most stacked CS:GO tournaments in recent memory come to a close. It will be the great Danes of Astralis against the sterling stars of Team Liquid with half a million dollars on the line – two contrasting styles, two contrasting paths through the tournament.
Let’s not beat around the bush: a massive, star-shaped shadow is looming over the horizon as Astralis are threatening to finally go on a Fnatic-like tear that they’ve been on the precipice on for a fairly long time. Their recent results, the performances at this tournament and the general level of skill on display is worthy of every single superlative in the book. Five grand finals in three months, no maps dropped yet in this tournament and a 14-3 map record over Liquid since March 1st as part of a 100% series winrate against them in the same period. Have I mentioned that they’ve already recorded a convincing 2-0 over them earlier in this very event and that TL are playing without their coach? This – and the many other nuggets you’re doubtless familiar with – makes it quite pointless to make this piece into the same kind of either-or affair that we’ve created for the semis against mousesports. How about trying to find anything that would portend a win for nitr0’s men instead?
For starters, it’s a best-of-three instead of a best-of-five. Generally, the latter format is sometimes frowned upon as a feast-or-famine thing, either leading to memorable epics or absolute thrashings. Such a long series inevitably exposes any holes in your map pool – and in many cases in games between evenly matched sides, it’s essentially just an extended best-of-three with two really one-sided maps added on top of it all –, which would be a fairly big issue against an Astralis side that has an incredibly deep toolkit to rely upon on essentially every single one of them. Liquid were never even close to pulling it off in the finals of ESL Pro League Season 7, losing 3-1, and if there’s an upset to be had here, only having to win two maps is key.
There are also a lot of positives to take away from the Liquid squad’s impressive win over Na’Vi in the semis. The pan-American squad has managed to keep up in a back-and-forth game on the first map, as they’ve pulled away from 5-5 to 10-5 on the T side only to drop eight out of ten rounds as the defenders before they’ve found their footing again, showing a ton of resilience in the crucial final stages of Dust2 as the team managed to win four close rounds in a row to pick up the win on their map pick. Not only that, but they’ve also held strong against Na’Vi’s initial burst on Overpass, a map they’ve had excellent results on as of late, even if it may have taken them a massive error on the CIS team’s part in the second half to truly take control of the proceedings. It’s been a very long time since anyone managed to 2-0 s1mple and co., and it is a very worthy feat and a great sign that Liquid can beat teams that are not made in Brazil as well.
NAF and Twistzz are also flying high so far in the event, and they will also form a crucial part of any kind of a miracle run by the team. Since their strats will not match Astralis’ in the near future, it’s even more important that their players are flying on all cylinders. NAF has gone positive in every singl event in the team apart from Cologne, and he’s already on +54 kills so far, second only behind device in HLTV’s ratings, according to which the two teams are fairly closely matched based on their recent performances: they are measured as the first- and fourth-highest in the global pecking order, respectively.
Well, that’s all we could scrounge together really – if it doesn’t seem very convincing, you might just want to lodge a bet on a 2-0 Astralis win. Crushing people in swift and efficient fashion has really been the only thing they’ve done so far throughout the event after all. Of course, Team Liquid may turn the tide nonetheless, but keep in mind that it would be one of the bigger surprises of 2018 to date.
Any losses on your first bet on TI9 (no combo/parlay allowed) will be automatically refunded (up to $25).