The rivalry between Vitality and Liquid has gotten spicy real fast as both sides rose the rankings and hoovered up wins in incredible fashion over the course of 2019. If the Frenchmen can’t upset the North American side, they would take an unbelievable Intel Grand Slam title by winning four events in a row, with only five having taken place since the end of Season 1. Another way to look at the brutal nature of their accomplishments is to consider how many more chances they have to clinch the million dollars even if they were to lose today: they have six more events to work with in the circuit before their win at Sydney expires in this competition.
Despite the BLAST kerfuffle’s impact on the calendar and the North American’s last-minute decision to attend Cologne, they are one of the four top ten sides to have attended all events in the Intel Grand Slam circuit this year alongside FaZe Clan, NRG and Fnatic. They’ve already hoovered up their first three wins – arguably against somewhat diminished fields in Sydney and Dallas –, conquering all top sides in the Pro League finals and are now on the cusp of winning a million dollars by doing the same again in Cologne.
It has to be mentioned that the numbers are actually on Vitality’s side for this particular matchup: the Frenchmen are 4-0 up in maps and already snatched a win from ELiGE and co. at the cs_summit 4 finals. However, Liquid has six more chances to clinch the Grand Slam beyond today’s final. Best of all, they are already confirmed for the first two events.
IEM Chicago is the next on the calendar in less than two weeks’ time (June 18-21), the event which will make Liquid the only top side to have attended every Intel Grand Slam Season 2 tournament. Unlike last year, the event was relegated to an eight-team affair with two GSL groups, much like the Belo Horizonte one in 2018. ENCE and Vitality will be there to potentially spoil Liquid’s party, and if the Frenchmen can play spoiler in Cologne, it would be another spicy storyline in Chicago as well. The field is rounded out by G2, MiBR, Renegades, team Envy and forZe, sides which can’t really hold the candle to the first three sides mentioned here.
If Liquid still hadn’t managed to close matters out by then, ESL One New York at the end of September would be their next chance to do so. It’s yet another eight-team affair with Astralis and ENCE already confirmed in attendance alongside them. eUnited will also be present after winning the North American qualifier. With three more invite slots and the European qualifier still to be determined, it’s quite likely that Vitality will be around once again to play spoiler if necessary.
They have four further events to potentially work with, though they’re so far off in the distance that the invites were not yet handed out. In certain cases, we don’t even know the precise date or the specific format either. For instance, no invited teams are confirmed just yet for DreamHack Masters Malmö 2019 apart from OpTic due to their win in the Open circuit, slated for the beginning of October. All we know of IEM Beijing at the time of writing is that it will take place sometime in November and will also only have an eight-team field. In December, the ESL One Pro League Season 10 Finals would be the next opportunity. IEM Katowice (also known as the Season XIV World Championship) likely take place in February 2020 judging by the last three years, but nothing specific has been announced just yet.
Based on all this, it seems close to impossible that the North American side would miss out on their own Grand Slam title, equaling yet another of Astralis’ impeccable accomplishments. This is basically an eternity to work with in Counter-Strike terms – which, of course, carries with it the possibility that Liquid could fall off entirely during this time period. On the other hand, they have two very good chances to strike in the near future, if they somehow did manage to throw this opportunity away in the end, it would definitely be the greatest choke of all time.