Liquid continued their impressive rise since adding Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis to the roster by confirming a minimum top-four finish in ESL Pro League, besting MOUZ 16-10 on Inferno and 16-11 on Ancient.
MOUZ suffered in part due to poor games from Ádám “torzsi” Torzsás and Jon “JDC” de Castro, whilst the stars on Liquid were firing on all cylinders. Nonetheless MOUZ were competitive enough to get to double digits on both maps, and the European squad may feel with some better individual performances they could have at least taken a map.
As for Liquid, they had potent T sides to thank for getting much of the work done in this series, with the entry work from YEKINDAR excellent as usual. The spacing from his teammates was just as good, allowing them to trade advantageously when the Latvian did go down. They will need to continue their good form if they are to progress further in the competition, with the winner of Cloud9 vs FaZe awaiting in the semi-finals.
oSee recovered from his shaky group stage form to impress against MOUZ
The series opened on Liquid‘s pick of Inferno, with the North American squad starting on the T side. A pistol victory for Nick “nitr0” Cannella and co. was answered by a MOUZ force-buy, but Liquid won a force of their own to take comfortable control of the half. If YEKINDAR wasn’t walking into a site and grabbing entries alone then Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski and Keith “NAF” Markovic were perfectly spaced to trade, and despite several attempts to adjust their defence MOUZ couldn’t get going; the half finished 11-4 in Liquid‘s favour.
The switching of sides also brought about a change in fortunes, as after winning the first two rounds Liquid virtually disappeared from the server, their form from the first half deserting them. MOUZ, largely off the back of important contributions from David “frozen” Čerňanský, displayed a potent offense of their own, often punishing Liquid‘s late-round retreats to turtle in the sites. A vital 3k from Josh “oSee” Ohm ended a streak of 6 rounds on the bounce from MOUZ, and he followed it up with a 4k to break the MOUZ economy. Liquid duly closed the first map 16-10.
MOUZ began their map pick of Ancient on the unfavoured T side, but got themselves off to the perfect start by winning the pistol and converting to a 3-0 lead. With guns up Liquid began to find traction, and although the rounds were still close-fought battles, they began to take control of the game. Key contributions were needed from oSee in several retake scenarios, and MOUZ did manage to bag a round win here and there, but the half ended 9-6 in Liquid‘s favour.
Another pistol win for MOUZ gave the impression we were in for a close map, but they fell immediately to a Liquid force-buy in chaotic circumstances, scuppering their economy and putting them firmly on the back foot. This took the NA side to a 12-7 lead, and they casually brushed aside MOUZ‘s full-buy to force another eco and a 14-7 score. MOUZ did manage to muster some resistance, but ultimately it was not enough as they fell to a 11-16 loss.