In the first Semifinal of ESL One New York 2019, Team Liquid and Astralis face off boasted extremely high stakes. Team Liquid spent the summer completing the first Intel Grand Slam in CS:GO history, but came to a screeching halt in the Quarterfinals of the 2019 Starladder Berlin Major when Astralis swept it out of the tournament. Astralis went on to win the Berlin Major, reclaiming its throne as the best CS:GO team in the world.
Team Liquid came into the series as the 1st seed from Group A, qualifying for the Semifinals with a 2-0 win over EUnited at the beginning of Day1 and following it up with a 2-1 victory over G2 Esports later in the day.
Astralis would qualify for the Group B Winners match by starting off its tournament with a 2-0 victory over OpTic Gaming, but a surging Evil Geniuses boasting the former NRG Esports roster 2-0'd Astralis.
OpTic Gaming would get a second chance at Astralis in the Group B Decider Match, but Astralis maintained its composure and crumbled the Greenwall in a 2-0 victory and sent its Danish brethren home. Astralis qualified for the Semifinals as the 2nd seed from Group B, and were set to match up against Team Liquid while G2 Esports would face-off against Evil Geniuses.
Not only would the first Semifinals match of the day decide who would face the winner of Evil Geniuses vs. G2 Esports in the Finals for the chance at the majority of a $200,000 prize pool, but it could also potentially decide which team could be considered the current best Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team in the world.
At the end of the Group Stage during the post-game segment on the Analyst Desk, Duncan "Thooorin" Shields chose Team Liquid to win the Semifinals, and the tournament. Mathieu "Maniac" Quiquerez split the desk in half, with the younger analyst choosing to side with Astralis as the favorite to win ESL One NY. Now that the series has concluded, let's take a look back on the incredible series that was Team Liquid vs. Astralis in the Semifinals of ESL One New York 2019.
The series started off on Vertigo, and despite the map considered to be favored for Astralis in the matchup, Team Liquid was able to get a good early lead, ending the first half ahead at 9:6. Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski dominated the first half against Astralis, pulling more than his own weight for TL as the North American squad seized control of Vertigo.
The 15th round featured a dramatic finale courtesy of Jacky "Stewie2K" Yip. With an AWP in his hands, Stewie2K took matters into his own hands and finished Astralis off at the conclusion of the half on his own with an impressive 3k.
Whatever Astralis Head Coach Danny "zonic" Sørensen said to his players at the half must have been oscar-worthy. The Danish squad came back out and never dropped another round, winning ten straight in the second half to secure the win on Vertigo 16:9. Astralis' victory was highlighted by Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander's incredible performance on the first map. The In-Game Leader's kill count was higher than the next Astralis fragger by nearly a quarter.
Team Liquid countered with Dust2 as the second map, and was expected to bounce back on one of its strongest picks. However, Astralis continued the stonewall against Team Liquid, extended its 10-round winning streak from Vertigo to 14 rounds. Despite only being down 4-0, Team Liquid hadn't won a round in nearly an hour. Fortunately, EliGe was about to make up for lost time.
Team Liquid began storming back against Astralis. Seemingly invigorated by EliGe's clutch rally, the rest of Team Liquid rose to the occasion behind its point of strength. Timely mid-range AWPing from Stewie2K and a standout performance from Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken highlighted the display of horsepower on Dust2, capped off by an incredible clutch from Nicholas "nitr0" Cannella. Starting down 0-4, Team Liquid won 15 straight rounds on Dust2.
Astralis didn't make it easy for TL to close, however, and had no plans of going quietly. Astralis won five straight rounds before Team Liquid was finally able to leave its mark on Dust2 with a 16-9 win. The final showdown was set to take place on Overpass. It was a fitting location for the series finale, as the first two games featured largely one-sided victories from each respective side, and the map 3 pick was something both teams liked to compete on.
Astralis is known for its cohesive team play on Overpass, but nitr0 has been known to take over the map for TL on more than one occasion. nitr0 delivered for TL, and the North American squad jumped out to a 5-1 lead, but Astralis settled down as the first half progressed, narrowly edging out TL by going into halftime ahead 8-7.
Astralis put Team Liquid in the meat grinder to start out the second half, clean sweeping the North Americans in the pistol round. That's all the Danes needed to grasp full control of map 3, and with nitr0 cooling off in the second half, things looked hopeless for TL down 13-7. Throughout the first 20 rounds of Overpass, Stewie2K was very quiet, but when TL needed him most, he came alive:
Team Liquid refused to go quietly into the night, fighting Astralis blow for blow. Team Liquid narorowed the lead down, staying within 2 points of Astralis at 13-11, then 15-13, but in the end, it was the Danish side that prevailed. Astralis won 16-13 to secure the series 2-0, and will face the winner of Evil Geniuses vs. G2 Esports in the Grand Finals.
Astralis' series against Team Liquid was one hell of an appetizer to Sunday's main course. Regardless of the second Semifinal's result, Astralis' triumph over Team Liquid will be a tough act to follow. For TL, its ESL One NY journey ends in the Semifinals, and just like earlier this month in Berlin, at the hands of Astralis.
Will Astralis be able to continue the narrative pattern established by its victory over Team Liquid and win the Grand Finals of ESL One New York 2019? It depends on what G2 Esports or Evil Geniuses has to say about it, but at this time, that has yet to be decided.