Cover Image: ESL Counter-Strike
The Grand Finale of ESL One: Cologne 2019 took place today between Vitality and Team Liquid. As expected the current best team in the world made it all the way to the finals to face off against Vitality, another favourite to win the mega event.
The fight was fierce but slowly started to slip out of the hands of the Frenchmen as Liquid tightened its grip around the five-game series, starting slow and then methodically breaking down the opposition to stand victorious, not only as the champions of Cologne but also as the winners of the Intel Grand Slam-Season 2.
Liquid - Two trophies with one victory!
Liquid who was always one of the favourites to win the tournament was not the go-to pick as many were also hinting towards, Astralis and Vitality to edge them out. Mostly due to the team not being really dominant despite holding the rank one position and partly because of their world-famous chokes.
But once again liquid shut down all its haters, making its way through the group stage to directly qualify for the semifinals and then move on to the grand finals after defeating Na’Vi ‘2-0’.
It was a good start for the NA squad as they secured a really comfortable victory in their opening map on Overpass. After giving a tough time to Vitality in the first half, Liquid won seven rounds in a row in the second half playing CT-sided to take the map and go up in the series by one game.
Vitality took the fight to Liquid on Dust 2, a map which was Vitality’s pick but at the same time a map on which Liquid was themselves not to bad. A fierce showdown went into overtime where the French squad was able to find that the opening, taking the game ‘19-17’, in its favour to draw the series ‘1-1’.
The third game was a crucial moment in the series as winning this map could heavily shift the momentum of the series, favouring the winning team. Though it was Liquid’s pick, everyone had hopes from Vitality, as they had put up an outstanding performance on the same map in their semifinal match against Astralis.
But Liquid was no Astralis, as the NA squad once again rolled through the French ranks running away with the game. Though a last-minute effort was certainly put in by Vitality it was not enough to change the outcome of the game, as Liquid took the lead in the series.
The fourth match took place on Mirage, a map on which Liquid was not all that good but today the stakes were at an all-time high and this was enough motivation for the men in blue to bring out the best in them. Vitality had a mediocre T-sided performance when compared to how Liquid played theirs and this was all the difference required for Liquid to take the map and settle the series ‘3-1’.
With this, Liquid took revenge of their defeat in the finals of CS_Summit 4 as they won the title of being the champions of Cologne, lifting the trophy and claiming their first-ever ESL One Cologne victory. The closest that they had reached to attaining this trophy was a second-place finish back in 2016.
Along with this Liquid also claimed one million dollars to its name after winning the second season of the Intel Grand Slam. Compared to the first season which lasted over 500 days this time around the season was done in just 144 days and Liquid took just 63 days to take home the trophy this season.
They won four consecutive tournaments to claim the season which lasted only for a total of five events. It started with IEM Sydney 2019, went on to DreamHack Masters Dallas 2019, continued to ESL Pro League S9 - Finals and finally concluded in ESL One Cologne 2019.
What Liquid has done here is amazing, they have reached the world number one ranking, won the IGS Season 2 in the shortest time yet and won four premium events back-to-back. If this is not utter domination than what is?
With this done, Liquid just need to secure one last thing under its belt, a victory in a Major Counter-Strike event and what better tournament than the upcoming StarLadder Berlin Major 2019.