Astralis’ win streak over Team Liquid finally comes to an end as the North American squad opened up their 2019 on a good note with a hard-fought win at the IBP Masters 2019 tournament in Los Angeles.
Playing in front of their homecrowd, the newly-minted Team Liquid looked poised to vanquish their past demons. Heading into the Grand Finals, they boasted a 4-1 record, with their only blemish coming in an overtime loss in Mirage during the semifinals against the scrappy Fnatic team. However, as good as they may have looked, Astralis looked even better. Save for Ghost Gaming, who managed to take 14 rounds against Astralis when they were eliminated in Map 2 of the semifinals, no team was able to take more than 10 rounds against Astralis. In fact, twice in the tournament, they had absolutely dismantled their opposition, holding opposing teams to less than 3 round wins.
None of that mattered to Team Liquid, however, as they quickly proved that they were no longer the Team Liquid of 2018 as they were finally able to take down Astralis.
With the win, Team Liquid will take home the trophy and half of the $200,000 prize pool. But, perhaps more importantly, they’ll go home knowing that they’re no longer part of what once was an incredibly lopsided rivalry.
IBP Masters 2019 Recap
Filled with up-and-coming teams and headlined by the all-mighty Astralis, every one of the eight teams proved that they belonged. Save perhaps for compLexity Gaming, who could only muster up 3 round wins against Astralis in the opening matches of the tournament, all teams presented their individual cases why they are in for a good year.
In the end, though, only a number of teams stood out. Among those were Fnatic, who continue to prove that they are on an upwards trajectory following a string of disappointment performances in the second half of 2018. Meanwhile, Cloud9 also showed some promise, albeit they also proved that they had a long way to go after committing a lot of mistakes that cost them a playoff spot in their series against Fnatic.
Perhaps the most disappointing of all the teams were FaZe Clan, who obviously looked like they had a lot more kinks to work on.
Many expected FaZe Clan to have the kind of firepower to take down Astralis. Instead, however, they spent the better part of the tournament looking like a work in progress.
Outside of Team Liquid winning the tournamet over Astralis ,perhaps the biggest surprise of the IBP Masters IV was Ghost Gaming, who edged out FaZe Clan twice in a close series and actually gave Astralis a good scare. In fact, they came very close to being a match point away from taking a map off of the best CS:GO team in the world.
Look to Ghost Gaming to use this performance here as validation that they are on the right track going forward.
Team Liquid Get Over the Astralis-Sized Hump
The first map, Inferno, ended with a 16-4 map score and finished as quickly as it started. Astralis put on a clinic throughout the game. Lukas ‘gla1ve‘ Rossander continued to cement his spot as the best fragging IGL in the world as he led his team with a 1.91 rating. Even when various members of Team Liquid stepped up to try and make it a close game, they just couldn’t package their individual play together enough to match up against Astralis’ coordinated assault.
Team Liquid looked a lot better on Dust2, successfully staving off Astralis’ comeback bid to win the map 16-11. Jake ‘Stewie2K‘ Yip, in particular, was stellar for his new squad. His play on both sides, especially as a site-anchor on the T-side, proved pivotal in Team Liquid extending the series as he topped the charts with a 1.55 rating and an ADR of 111.2.
As the series headed to Overpass, Astralis took an early 7-0 lead on the CT side as Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen and Andreas ‘Xyp9x‘ Højsleth wreaked havoc all over the map. However, Team Liquid were able to avert disaster by making a run and ultimately coming into the half with a 6-9 score. They were able to sustain the momentum as they switched sides, ripping off 6 straight rounds and played more confidently against their long-time rivals.
With Astralis reeling, Russel ‘Twistzz‘ Van Dulken came up with an ACE to get Team Liquid the series point as Keith ‘NAF‘ Markovic sealed the deal and the series 2-1.
At long last, Team Liquid finally were able to take a series off of Astralis. That it came in front of their home crowd only made the win at the IBP Masters 2019 all the more sweeter.
While this isn’t proof of how well stewie2k fits on the roster just yet, it is a good start. stewie2k’s confidence and aggression were, at times, the only things that kept Team Liquid alive at various moments of the game. Although he wasn’t the lone stand-out performer of the team, he was, without a doubt, one of their best players.
Going forward, stewie2k will look to use his performance at the IBP Masters 2019 as a baseline on how well he should expect himself to perform as Team Liquid will look to prove their roster against the best that CS:GO has to offer at the upcoming Katowice Major.
As for Astralis, this doesn’t really mean much in the grand scheme of things. At least, not yet anyway. They’re still the best CS:GO team in the world. What this does mean, however, is that Team Liquid is no longer the team they so often beat last season, and if this continues, we could be looking at the potential start of another year-long, albeit more closely matched rivalry between these two teams.
What do you think of Team Liquid’s win at IBP Masters 2019? Do you think this is the start of a heated rivalry between these two teams? Or will this be the dawn of a new era for Team Liquid? Be sure to let us knwo your thoughts in the comments down below.