Team Liquid wasn’t supposed to win the CS_Summit 2. They just weren’t!
The North American squad was supposed to be struggling to find its footing after a tough winter. It was supposed to be trying to sort out its new roster. It was supposed to have a slew of outside concerns that doomed the group to an early exit.
But somehow, some way, the North American staple managed to work its way through the tournament, overcome the ELEAGUE Major champions, Cloud9, and take home a big LAN win.
It wasn’t necessarily an easy run, of course.
Already starting at a 1-0 disadvantage as the lower bracket entry, Liquid looked ready to squander an early lead on the first map, Train, as it kicked things off with six straight wins but wound up falling behind a resurgent C9. They settled in during the second half, however, forced things to overtime and eventually took control to functionally turn the series into a best-of-three.
For a time, it seemed like reality had set in on Map 2, Mirage. C9 opened like a buzzsaw in the first six rounds and seemed ready to “big brother” Liquid. A few key plays allowed Liquid to regain its footing, though, and the momentum swung hard in its favor from there. From the seventh round on, C9 struggled to do anything against its surging NA rivals and eventually ceded the map, and the series lead, to Liquid with a 16-8 score.
Though it fumbled the first two maps, anyone that watched the ELEAGUE Major knows that Cloud9 isn’t an easy out. With its back to the wall, the world champions came out swinging on Map 3, Cache, by breaking off 13 wins in the first half. Liquid would surge in the second half and nearly tie things up but ultimately, the massive lead accrued by C9 was just too much to overcome, moving things to the deciding map, Overpass.
While the first three matches were defined by huge momentum swings, the final showdown was back-and-forth, with each team trading a few wins at a time. As the finish line came in sight, however, Liquid upped its pace, made the necessary plays and sealed up the 3-2 series win with a 16-10 victory.
A Stone Cold Stunner!
Labeling this win at CS_Summit 2 a “big win for Team Liquid” would be an amazing understatement, frankly. As discussed earlier, Liquid were supposed to be bit players in this event.
Since taking the top prize at the Americas Minor in November, Liquid has consistently struggled in LAN tournaments. The squad limped into the ELEAGUE Major after three consecutive last-place finishes in LANs--the Intel Extreme Masters XII Oakland, ESL Pro League Season 6 and Esports Championship Series Season 4, in particular--and ultimately walked out of Boston with a disappointing 14th-place finish (which was still much better than their other outings that winter).
Those struggles called for a shakeup, and that came to a head last week with the benching of Josh "jdm64" Marzano in favor of the team’s newest acquisition, former Renegades player Keith "NAF" Markovic.
The new lineup was, for the most part, solid on paper but expectations were still low. Many pegged Liquid for an early exit from the Summit House and most picked the team to lose to its first opponent, Ninjas in Pyjamas. And even if Liquid could get through the Swedes? Well, there was still no way that it could get through the actual tournament favorites in Cloud9 and SK Gaming.
Instead, at CS_Summit 2, Liquid proved that it is capable of beating any team in the world.
Granted, this doesn’t instantly transform Liquid into a heavyweight contender and it shouldn't make it the favorite for upcoming events like the NA ESL Pro League or Intel Extreme Masters XII.
Make no mistake, though. Team Liquid is no longer a team that can be slept on.
The Summit Translates Well to Counter-Strike
Dota 2 fans are quite familiar with the Summit. The tournament has become a staple of the community in recent years and stands out from the pack on its unique blend of high-level esports action and wacky sketches involving the casters and players in attendance. While it hasn’t always featured the best teams or the largest prize pools, the event is bona fide appointment viewing.
In 2017, the Summit took its charms from the realm of Dota 2 to Counter-Strike. While the inaugural event was solid in its own right, CS_Summit 2 should cement the show’s place on the crowded CS:GO calendar.
While the Counter-Strike community isn’t as ripe for parody as its Dota 2 cousins, the heads of the Household still managed to provide a lot of fun segments between matches. With TV shows being the event’s running theme, teams were made to parody the casts of popular programs, and had fun doing so. And when they weren’t actively courting cease and desist letters? The players and talking heads were just having good ol’ fashioned fun, asking Europeans to sample Hostess snack cakes or playing catch with their computer monitor (you can check out the full catalog of videos on the Beyond the Summit YouTube channel).
On the final day of the tournament, the third CS_Summit was announced for later this year, October 11 to 13. Clear your calendars, folks!