Last night witnessed Team Liquid and Cloud9 in a grand final best-of-3 series, the outcome of which would determine the team to duke it out with representatives of CIS, Europe and China in the Wildcard qualifiers for two spots at the $500,000 LAN finals of EPICENTER 2017, hosted in Saint Petersburg, Russia at the Yubileyniy Sports Palace on Oct. 23-29.
Team Liquid were subsequently able to overcome their opponents in 2:0 fashion, booking the Americas slot of the Wildcard qualifier for the tournament. In case you missed the North American series below is a concise recap of events:
Team Liquid vs. Cloud9 - 2:0
de_Train - 16:14 (6:9, 10:5)
The teams kicked the series off on de_Train, a map that saw a pretty even struggle between the two North American representatives. Cloud9 got off to a decent start, grabbing the initial pistol followed by two, however experienced immediate retaliation from Liquid as the team reset the CT's straight after the gun round, allowing for a 3:3 equaliser. This back and forth motion continued throughout the initial half, with Cloud9 ultimately able to land the upper hand at 9:6.
Once Liquid had switched over to the defence, things became noticeably more lop-sided. The pistol was accrued by the fluid team, followed up immediately by a four round blitz, dashing from a deficit to a two round surplus at 11:9. Cloud9 successfully equalised at 11:11, only to witness their opponents reset their economy in the next three rounds, extending their score to just two away from taking the map. Despite the round gap Cloud9 persevered once more, knocking out three rounds of their own to bring the score to a nail-biting 14:14. Unfortunately for Cloud9 they were unable to continue the momentum through to the end, conceding two rounds despite equal footing equipment-wise.
de_Inferno - 16:6 (9:6, 7:0)
Liquid's domination transcended the previous map, as a consecutive pistol round fell in their favour. Follow up in the form of three successful rounds was seen, landing a 4:0 opener for the team. Reminiscent of the latter half of Train, Cloud9 were able to bite back with round victories of their own, taking down four consecutive rounds to produce a 4:4 equaliser. Liquid were not about to make the mistake of giving the opponents room to breathe, instead cycling Cloud9 in and out of inferior buy rounds for the remainder of the half. This led to a 9:6 finish for Liquid, one that still felt very salvageable for Cloud9.
The only adjective to describe Team Liquid's T side is monstrous. An absolutely explosive B site take in the pistol round meant an early advantage for Liquid, something Cloud9 would definitely want to prevent given the deficit. Unfortunately for the CTs no such thing happened, as a force buy in the second round, followed by a full eco in the third yielded no miracles. At this point Liquid had doubled C9's score line at 12:6, so action had to be taken by the latter as the gun round was nigh. Ever so close were Cloud9 to breaking their opponents win streak, however a strong play from Joshua "jdm64" Marzano in a 1v2 post-plant saw Liquid add a digit.
At 13:6 Liquid had all the tools needed to close out the series. Cloud9 were working with a shattered economy following a gun round loss, effectively ensuring the need for only two gun rounds to be won. Aforementioned gun rounds were indeed won by Liquid in the follower, serving Cloud9's dreams of attending EPICENTER 2017 a watery grave.