Astralis were crowned as the IEM Chicago 2018 champions after defeating Team Liquid 3-0 in the Grand Finals of the penultimate Intel Grand Slam Season 1 event of 2018.
Slightly subpar showings in recent times have paved the way for talks that Astralis were finally starting to show signs of weakness. Case in point, Astralis had their first third-place finish in months at ESL One Copenhagen 2018. However, after a dominant sweep of Team Liquid, it’s safe to say that Astralis were simply taking their time regaining their best form after going on an extended break a few weeks back.
While the win does indeed help silence a lot of Astralis’ critics, their performance throughout the tournament serves as proof that they are not invincible. After dropping 0-2 to FaZe Clan during the group stages, Astralis had a relatively close series against mousesports in the quarterfinals before barely hanging on to take the win against Fnatic in the semifinals of the tournament.
But, then again, it also serves as proof as to why Astralis are the best CS:GO team in the world right now. Even when their players were not ranked among the tournament’s best performers heading into the Grand Finals, each member of the team elevated their play when it counted the most.
With the win, Astralis will go home $100,000 richer. But, perhaps more importantly, the Danes now only need to win 1 more participating tournament to bag the Intel Grand Slam Season 1 award.
How Astralis Became IEM Chicago 2018 Champions
As dominant as Astralis may have looked once the series ended, it didn’t start out that way on Mirage. In fact, Team Liquid held a respectable 9-6 lead before the teams switched sides. The North Americans even managed to extend that lead to 12-6. However, despite Keith ‘NAF‘ Markovic playing like an absolute madman, getting a 1v2 diffuse win on the CT side and a successful 1v2 plant defense on the T side and ending the map with a 1.43 rating, Astralis were simply too good as a team as they walked away with a 16-14 win.
The second map, Nuke, wasn’t even close. Although team captain, Nicholas ‘nitro‘ Cannella, tried his best to keep Team Liquid afloat, his efforts alone just wasn’t enough as Astralis continued to dominate on their map choice to extend their winstreak on Nuke to 24 straight wins.
On the edge of losing to Astralis in the Grand Finals of a LAN for the fourth time this year, Team Liquid needed an all-around performance from the entire team to extend the series. But, alas, no one stepped up. Instead, it was Astralis who continued their strong play on Inferno to beat Team Liquid and win the tournament.
Despite the loss, Team Liquid can still walk away with their heads up high, knowing that it’s Astralis, a team widely considered as one of the best CS:GO teams in the history of the game, who beat them.
If nothing else, Team Liquid can use the results of this tournament as validation that their roster still has room to improve as the year comes to a close.
So much for Astralis surrendering their throne. Apparently, the Danes have no intention of doing so. After all, they didn’t just become the IEM Chicago 2018 champions. They also won a tournament with the highest-ranked CS:GO teams in the world, which included the likes of Team Liquid, Natus Vincere, FaZe Clan, as well as MIBR.
That they did so quite convincingly in the end and with Nicolai ‘dev1ce‘ Reedtz fragging opponents with an AUG only serves to make them an even more dangerous team than they already were.
Did you expect Astralis to walk away as the IEM Chicago 2018 champions? What do you think were the biggest takeaways from the tournament? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments down below.