Astralis have taken the ESL Pro League finals, proving once again that they are the best team in the CS:GO universe when it comes to team plays and impressively effective tactics. They were on a high after their victory at DreamHack Masters, and the fact that they lost the IEM title match 0-3 against FaZe Clan seems to have brought a sense of will and discipline to the team.
However, this ESL Pro League finale between Astralis and Team Liquid wasn’t at all one sided. Team Liquid put up a good fight, and the score difference in each map was more or less minimal. The exception was the first map, Dust 2, in which Astralis decimated Team Liquid. Oddly enough, both these teams started out in Group B, and Astralis put Liquid down in the initial rounds to directly enter the semifinals. Astralis therefore defeated Liquid both in the Group B upper bracket finals, and in the actual finals of the ESL Pro League.
The ESL Pro League Finals – The picks and bans
In a best of five, the teams have only one chance at a ban, and so they tend to choose the map they are least competent at. However, that wasn’t the case here in the ESL Pro League, with both teams choosing to ban the map their opponents were best at. Team Liquid banned Overpass, and Astralis banned Train.
Team Liquid then picked Dust 2, while Astralis chose Nuke
This was actually a set of picks that massively favoured Astralis, as they have proved in recent plays that they Excel in Dust 2, and they have always done well on Nuke. Team Liquid then chose Mirage, while Astralis took Inferno, leaving Cache as the decider. As things turned out, though, things never went that far.
Astralis put Liquid down hard in Dust 2
Liquid lost disastrously in Dust 2, with Astralis winning the map by fifteen rounds. As a matter of fact, Astralis lost just one round in the entire map, and the credit for most of it goes to dev1ce. He took twenty two kills in the course of this map, twelve of them being with the AWP. He did the most overall damage, took the most first kills and ended the match with with a kill death ratio of 2.26, which was a good deal above the maximum bar of 2.0. Astralis didn’t even have to use their entire team to put Liquid down in Dust 2.
Dupreeh moved Astralis into the lead by winning the first pistol round
He single-handedly took down three opponents in that round. The team backed him up with some brilliant tactical plays in the following rounds. Liquid one just one round as terrorists, on a map that is supposed to favour terrorists. On Dust 2, winning even four or five rounds as counter terrorists is considered rather a good effort. Astralis once again won the pistol round in the second half, and this time it was dev1ce who took a triple kill with his pistol. They took the next round as well, and closed the first map of the ESL Pro League finals in just twenty seven minutes.
Astralis went on to almost lose Nuke
Oddly enough, after their amazing start in Dust 2, Astralis went on to almost lose Nuke. They started out as terrorists in Nuke, and not only lost the first pistol round, but ensure that Team Liquid earned a little extra by planting the C4 too early, and failing to defend it. Team Liquid used this to their advantage in the next rounds. Astralis fought back, and did win the third round, but Team Liquid moved into the lead after that, and won three rounds in succession.
Things were looking bad for Astralis at the ESL Pro League finals, but gla1ve came to their rescue, and won round seven for the team in a 1v2 situation. Thing turned things around for Astralis, and they won every round after that, bar one, till the end of the first half. At that point Astralis had nine points, and Team Liquid had six.
Liquid takes the pistol round in the second half
Team Liquid won the pistol round once again, and went on to win every round up to round twenty. They almost went down in round nineteen, but nitr0 saved his team by dominating a 1v3 situation, even putting down opponents with full health with well placed headshots, and without taking much damage himself. The tide had turned, and Team Liquid, with eleven points, were just five points away from a win.
Nevertheless, Astralis hit back, playing defensively, and using that to counter Liquid’s aggressive playing style. That caught Liquid off guard, and Astralis won their first round in the second half. They not only dominated the next round, but also defused the bomb.
A close fought finish
Team Liquid did hit back in round twenty four, but they failed to counter dupreeh, and lost three of their men to him, as well as the round. Astralis now needed three more rounds to win.
NAF halted Astralis by taking a triple kill, and saving two of his teammates whose hitpoints were in the single digits. Team Liquid now put forth some very aggressive plays, and took two more rounds for their team. However, repetitive tactics are something that tend to fail against Astralis, who are really the tactical masters of present day CS:GO, and they effortlessly put Liquid down. Glaive won a round for the team by taking triple kill in defence, while Magisk prevented the match from going into overtime by taking down three opponents in the last round, taking the map for his team.
Team Liquid then managed to take Mirage
This was really the last chance for Team Liquid to take the ESL Pro League finals. We saw in the last map that Team Liquid do have potential to win against Astralis, and they proved it in this one. The first half ended in Mirage with Team Liquid winning seven rounds and Astralis winning eight. The first pistol round was a tough one to play for Team Liquid’s NAF, because he was left in a 1v2 situation, but he still went on to win the round for the team.
Astralis made a comeback in round two
They also won round three by defusing the C4. Team Liquid then detonated the C4 in the next round and eliminated the Astralis squad in the next two rounds as well. Team Liquid won two more rounds, but were finally shut down by Astralis in round nine. Dev1ce again showed off some amazing sniping skills, and took down three opponents in defense. Astralis then began to hit back, and even Xyp9x took a triple kill in the next round, taking it for the team. In round thirteen, dev1ce won a round with his AWP in a 1v3 situation. Finally, twistzz ended the first half by winning the last round for Team Liquid by taking a quad kill.
Team Liquid takes the map
Astralis were off to an amazing start as terrorists, and won the first pistol round by detonating the C4. The credit goes to Xyp9x for defending the C4 in a 1v3 sitaution. Astralis didn’t stop here, but they won the first five rounds in the second half, and managed to detonate the C4 four times. Team Liquid took over in round twenty one, and did not lose a single round until round twenty seven. Astralis then won the next round, and now both the team scores were equal at fourteen points, and both needed to win the remaining two rounds to win the map – or the event, in Astralis’ case. Team Liquid put out some incredible plays, with NAF winning those crucial rounds for his team, keeping them from being eliminated from the ESL Pro League finals. Liquid were back in the game.
Team Liquid go down in Inferno
This was one of the most closely fought of all the maps, and a diametric opposite to Dust 2. Interestingly enough, Team Liquid dominated Astralis in the first half as counter terrorists.
Team Liquid won the first pistol round and dominated the match up to round six, giving just one round to Astralis. Astralis then responded by winning three rounds in between, but Team Liquid quickly took command of the map again. Nevertheless, Astralis still managed to win a total of five rounds thanks to a quad kill by Xyp9x, and dupreeh’s triple kill.
Team Liquid got off to a good start by winning the second pistol round
This time it was EliGE who won the round by taking down four opponents. Astralis went for a force buy in the next round and equipped themselves with CZ75A’s, and won the round. The match turned, and Astralis utterly dominated the second half, giving Team Liquid no chance at a comeback. Team Liquid did their very best to hit back, and even came close, but they were repeatedly shut down by Magisk, dev1ce and gla1ve. Team Liquid still managed to score a round in between, but no more. Astralis were on the high path to victory, and would not be stopped, and they went on to win the map and the event, taking the $250,000 prize. With this, Astralis are one step closer to winning the million dollar Intel Grand Slam.
Dupreeh won the MVP. Dupreeh was always listed among the best players, but never won an MVP before. He won MVP for both the ESL Pro League finals and the entire event itself.