The Playoffs at IEM Sydney brought some epic matches and a great atmosphere at Qudos Bank Arena. After everything was set and done, Team Liquid came out as IEM Sydney champions after defeating Fnatic in a five map series in the Grand Final.
Epic All-Swedish Quarter-final
The most intense match of the whole event was a classic showdown between old rivals, Fnatic and Ninjas in Pyjamas. These two teams met each other countless number of times in their history. Their first duels were not played in CS:GO, but in Counter-Strike 1.6. Therefore, the hype about this match was huge. Indeed, the crowd didn’t leave Qudos Arena disappointed. This epic Swedish derby completely met expectations and maybe even exceeded them.
Nevertheless, it didn’t look like it was going to be an epic match after the first map. The teams kicked off on Fnatic’s pick, Cache. Thus, Fnatic dominated NiP in the first half on T side. F0rest and co. barely won three rounds throughout the whole first half. NiP managed to shrink the gap by clinching six out of seven opening rounds in the second half. But, Fnatic finally consolidated their economy and used it to win three remaining rounds to conclude their pick with convincing score 16-9.
Map with no end
After Fnatic won the 16th round on Cache, things moved to NiP‘s map pick, Overpass. Although the first map didn’t indicate that anything spectacular was going to happen, the second map was jaw-dropping. NiP quickly secured a 6-0 lead at the beginning. Two teams then split following two rounds. Afterward, Fnatic gained momentum and conceded just two out of the next 15 rounds. They were so close to smoothly clinching another map.
Interestingly, we saw many individual displays in the first half. However, the most important play in the first half was perhaps JW’s 1v3 clutch when he managed to perform a Ninja defuse on A site. All three players from NiP started spraying the smoke hoping they will deliver enough damage to JW. But, JW stayed alive for just as much as he needed to defuse the bomb.
Ninjas in Pyjamas then stepped up to win four rounds and break Fnatic’s economy. So, in the 28th round when the score was 14-13 in Fnatic’s favor, JW and his teammates had to try to earn the match points only with pistols. Despite low chances, they managed to take opening frags to make bomb plant possible. They planted the bomb and JW pulled out incredible last kill to secure two match points.
The highlights of the match were probably as long as the first half of the Cache. Finally, after Overpass entered third Overtime, NiP earned map points and f0rest won the last clutch on that map to take Overpass for his team.
More Overtimes to come
The map of decision (Dust 2) was so similar to the previous map. On the last map, neither team achieved a big lead in the first half. Fnatic won the first half with a minimal advantage on CT side. When teams switched sides, it seemed that NiP took control over the match. They set the score on 13-8 in their favor. Regardless, Fnatic stepped up and clinched seven rounds in a row to earn two match points, just like in the previous leg.
In the 29th round, NiP had 4v2 situation, but Fnatic equalized chances with two quick kills. So, GeT_RiGhT had to hold A site against two players on his own. It was a tough situation for him, but he pulled out jump kill to deny bomb plant, and then took down the remaining NiP player to keep NiP alive. The crowd went mad, and the atmosphere in the venue made it look like it was a soccer or box match.
NiP eventually took the game to Overtime, but Xist had some incredible plays including two 1v2 clutches. Although they had an advantage, Ninjas in Pyjamas failed to end the game in their favor, so the map of decision finished after second Overtime with a score 22-20.
In the other Quarter-final, MiBR knocked out mousesports after beating them on Mirage (22-19) and Overpass (16-10).
The first Semi-final featured a duel between Team Liquid and MiBR. The second and the seventh best teams in the world crossed their rifles on Mirage and Nuke as the game didn’t move to an eventual third map.
Team Liquid had an easy job on Mirage. Firstly, they won the first half on CT side 9-6. EliGE helped his team in the first half with an Ace in the 7th round and triple kill in the following round. EliGE played so well on T side, too. He won a 1v2 clutch and had 4k to earn map points. Consequently, Team Liquid quickly earned those map points after winning six out of seven opening rounds in the second half. MiBR saved three map points, but the IEM Sydney champions eventually secured the first map.
In the other Semi-final, Fnatic eliminated NRG after three map series. Firstly, the Swedes relatively easily defeated NRG on Fnatic’s best map, Inferno (16-11). JW performed pretty well taking 24 frags and 6 assists. But, NRG bounced back on Train. After winning the first half on T side, NRG had an easy job to put the game to bed on CT side as they allowed Fnatic to clinch just one round.
The game was decided on Mirage, where only Ethan had a positive score on NRG’s side. All other players from NA team had more deaths than frags. Hence, Fnatic won that map with ending result 16-10 to book a meeting with Team Liquid in the Grand Final of IEM Sydney.
The Grand Final
Although we watched all five maps in the Grand Final, none of these maps was especially tight with the exception of the second one. During the map selection, Fnatic removed Nuke, and IEM Sydney champions banned Train. The first map of the Grand Final was Cache.
Fnatic quickly came to the 9-0 lead at the beginning, but Team Liquid won 7 out of 8 following rounds. The momentum then went on Fnatic’s side who earned eight map points. IEM Sydney champions prolonged a match a little bit by saving three map points, but Fnatic set the score on 16-10 to start off the Grand Final with one map up.
Things then moved to Liquid’s favorite map lately, Overpass. Although Team Liquid was in driver seat during the most of the game, Fnatic woke up in the second half and eventually took a 13-12 lead. Regardless, nitr0 and co. stayed calm and concluded the match in their favor after 30 rounds.
Afterward, the eventual IEM Sydney champions were in control of the game throughout the whole third leg, so they won Mirage with convincing 16-8 result. Nevertheless, Fnatic bounced back on Dust 2 in the same manner and allowed the American team to win six rounds on the fourth map. As a result, the Grand Final moved to the map of decision, Inferno. Hence, Fnatic had a slight advantage before the game started. However, Liquid proved that statistics don’t necessarily mean anything.
Team Liquid beat Fnatic on their best map to clinch the second title this year
Things didn’t look so good for Fnatic from the very beginning. The Swedes were failing to establish their economy and the game, so Team Liquid was in driver seat throughout the whole first half. Fnatic managed to somehow clinch four rounds, and their chances for a comeback were so low. Fnatic’s almost non-existent odds to come back to the match got erased by Team Liquid’s good opening on T side.
IEM Sydney champions clinched the initial three rounds in the second half. Fnatic was waiting for guns to enter the game, but when that happened it was already too late. Truly, the American team planted the bomb four times and Fnatic successfully defused it every single time. The Swedes set the score on 14-9 hoping they can make a miracle. Nevertheless, it didn’t happen and Team Liquid successfully put the game to bed by winning two needed rounds for the second trophy this year.
Team Liquid became the IEM Sydney champions, and they earned $100,000. On the other side, Fnatic took $42,000 home. This is the second title in four finals for Team Liquid this year and the second lost final in a row for Fnatic’s side.
— Intel®ExtremeMasters (@IEM) May 5, 2019