It had nearly been a year to the day that the two teams had faced off against each other in the server, but the rivalry between Astralis and Team Liquid was resumed at DreamHack Masters Fall and, as you would expect from two of the Esports world’s most heaviest hitters, the drama was delivered tenfold.
The two best Counter-Strike: Global Offensive sides in the world over the course of 2019, with Team Liquid winning the Intel Grand Slam in a record 68 days and Astralis romping to Major Championship wins at Katowice and Berlin, the rivalry reached a head at the StarLadder Major where the Danes 2-0’d Liquid and essentially triggered the spiral the org have endured since.
A fixture that would have made a mouth-watering semi or grand final, the two teams met in the opening match in group B’s lower bracket after two surprising losses, knowing that whoever lost here would be eliminated from the tournament. Here’s what happened when CS royalty clashed at DreamHack Masters.
The thing that always separated Astralis and Team Liquid over the course of 2019 was the map pools. Astralis have always been dominant on Inferno, Nuke and Overpass, which meant in every pick there was at least one map going that the Danes were going to pick up over the course of a series. This has continued on into 2020, and is so effective in making their opponents pick into maps that they themselves don’t play too often, just in an attempt to stop Astralis playing on their favourite maps.
That is what happened here with Liquid picking into Vertigo, one of the most rogue picks on CS:GO and a map that Astralis have a win percentage of 62% on. Liquid are certainly no mugs on the map either however, and did manage to race out to a 10-5 lead at the half following their start on the T side. Twistzz and Grim once again produced the best CS on the server, further cementing their positions as arguably the best aimers in the North American scene by closing out the map with 24 kills each and a 1.19 and 1.15 rating respectively.
Astralis roared back, as they frequently do, in impeccable fashion on their T side however. The Danes won the first seven rounds in the second half to turn their deficit into a lead, and never looked like they were going to surrender their advantage, even if Liquid were able to rally themselves together towards the end of the map.
Device and Magisk are undoubtedly the stars of Astralis and once again popped off with over 20 kills each and the best ratings on the server, however it was the return to form for Xyp9x in those tight clutch scenarios that snuck the crucial rounds the Danes’ way was what really proved to be the underrated factor in Astralis making it a 16-14 in their favour.
With Inferno and Overpass, two of Astralis’ top three maps by win percentage, there’s no overstating just how badly Team Liquid needed to win on Vertigo. With a 80% win percentage behind them on Inferno, Astralis were rightly ranked as heavy favourites in the CS:GO odds for the match on Unikrn.com, and lay down their dominance with wins in six of the first seven rounds.
Device once again flexed himself as Astralis’ go-to guy on the map as he managed to bag himself 29 kills and just 11 deaths over the course of the map, positively contributing to 87% of the rounds and ending things with a 1.90 rating, the best of any player on any map in the series.
Inferno was really where the shortcomings in the Liquid really came to the fold however, with Stewie2k consistently leaving himself on the B Bombsite with rookie Grim time after time, even though he was amongst the lowest fraggers on either side and constantly being hit by the Astralis train. NAF and Twistzz once again showed their talent at times, however these were moments that came about from open duels and were reliant on strong aiming and quick reactions, rather than the strategic and sensible plays that Astralis utilised so well.
16-7 the final score on Inferno.