FURIA Take Down Team Liquid (Again!)
Ever since the world of Esports was moved to an online format following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Counter-Strike has been moved to EU, NA, Oceania and Asia regionalised events and tournaments. North America has been dominated by a handful of the top sides of the region, but the rivalry between Brazilian org FURIA and the US/Canadian Team Liquid has proven to be one of the most hyped going.
Team Liquid dominated CS:GO across 2019, sweeping the Intel Grand Slam in just 68 days and sitting atop the HLTV world rankings longer than any other side during the year, but they’ve found 2020 hard work so far. Five year veteran Nitro was let go, Stewie2k took over the in-game leader role and Moses became the new coach of the roster, but the slump has continued as the online era has continued.
FURIA, for their part, have continued to produce some of the most daredevil-esque Counter-Strike in the world, despite the disruptions caused by the pandemic. Save for a couple of events won by Evil Geniuses, the Brazilians have dominated the North American scene and demonstrated a particular proficiency against Liquid, winning 9 of the last 10 match ups they had played together.
Both teams moved to Europe to compete in the BLAST Fall Showdown, with Liquid playing from their new Alienware facility in the Netherlands. Much was made of Liquid’s chances against FURIA in the Showdown this time around, especially when they took the first map in their series against the Brazilians on Overpass.
However, from then on in the series, it was the same sort of story for the two NA heavy hitters. Team Liquid were the favourites in the CS:GO betting odds for the series, needing to win just one more map from two attempts, with their win percentages on Inferno and Mirage giving them plenty of reasons to be optimistic about their chances.
But it was clear the Brazilians were saving their best stuff for these last two maps, running rampant on Inferno with some devastating utility usage and a plethora of daring rotations. Fast plays up Banana was the preferred route, but Team Liquid will surely be kicking themselves for baiting into it time and time and time again. There’s obviously nothing wrong with being brave enough to take on these duels, but against a side like FURIA (who specialise in this style of play style), you do require a little bit more maturity to your strategies and the ability to demonstrate some more clever, more patient placements and rotations to triumph.
It’s clear that Stewie2k’s influence is starting to take hold on the side, but the question marks about whether or not he’s really the right fit for an in-game leader position will surely remain following this performance here. In CS:GO you have tactical masters such as ALEX or Karrigan who make up for their poor fragging performances on the server with some stellar calling, and you have leaders such as Niko who lead from the front with the best scores on the board. Stewie2k is certainly a talisman, one of the finest players in NA, but it’s clear that his calling hasn’t found the right rhythm yet, and the added responsibility of leading the team is seriously starting to affect his own personal performances.
Stewie2k’s performance improved significantly on the third map on Mirage, playing the anchor role on the B Bombsite and holding out admirably as FURIA hit the site time after time.
One thing Stewie2k should be given credit for during his time at the helm however is his handling of Grim, the young gun brought in to replace Nitro. Grim has established himself as the highest fragger in the entire Liquid roster, and his pairing right under Stewie on the B Bombsite is a huge reason as to why he’s been able to blossom so much.
Nevertheless, there are still more questions than answers to Team Liquid’s dilemmas in the servers. Another loss to FURIA goes to show just how this side isn’t growing in the direction it needs to get back to the top of the game, and watching the Brazilians from the sidelines in the Finals will really hammer their failings here home.