On 2nd December 2018, Liquid secured their second piece of silverware at SuperNova CS:GO Malta 2018. Being wide favourites for the event, they cruised through the tournament and won it convincingly. Many would argue that since Malta was not a premier tournament, the victory is almost worthless. This view is incorrect; there are many positives that Liquid can take from the event.
A Resounding Grand Finals Performance
In the final, Liquid faced domestic rivals NRG, whom they had triumphed over in the group stage. The veto was identical to the match in the group stage, which Liquid won 2-1 after coming back from a loss on Overpass.
The series started on that very map, and Liquid stomped NRG. Four rounds were all that NRG could manage, as Liquid opened on the T-side and scored an amazing twelve rounds. This carried them into the second half where they dropped just one round on their way to victory. It was the first time that Liquid had ever beaten NRG on Overpass at LAN, ever.
The second map was Inferno, one of Liquid’s traditionally stronger maps but also one favoured by NRG. The map started in favour of Damian “daps” Steele’s team, as they took a resounding 11-4 halftime lead against Liquid’s famed Inferno CT-side. That did not dismay Liquid, who did the unthinkable and came back to win 16-14 after a nail-biting half.
The display shown by Liquid in the final was astonishing. Destroying NRG on Overpass is one thing, but then following it up with a comeback is another. With Liquid prone to falling under pressure, a show of mental strength is exciting.
Prior to Malta, Liquid had been looking lacklustre. They crashed out of ECS S6 Finals, and of the key factors of that defeat was the lack of individual prowess. Russel “Twistzz” Van Dulken, the team’s best player, finished with a 0.74 HLTV rating due to being plagued with health issues. Particularly, Liquid’s rock Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski achieved a 0.99 HLTV rating. This was his worst LAN event since IEM Katowice, but he turned it around in Malta.
In the tournament, EliGE had just one sub-1.00 HLTV-rated map, against NRG in the group stage. Famous for using the SG 553, EliGE tore his way to a 1.24 rating at the event. Aptly, the Polish-American’s best form came in the playoffs. Against BIG in the semi-finals, EliGE achieved an absurd HLTV rating of 1.43, and when it came to the finals, he trumped this with 1.46.
Placed in Good Stead
Having watched the entire final, the biggest and most reassuring thing was the way Liquid played. They can play passively and step off, which is usually their downfall in grand finals, but against NRG they played with confidence. They crushed any attempt NRG made at getting back into the game on Overpass, and their mental fortitude triumphed at last on Inferno.
A confident Liquid, with EliGE firing on all cylinders and solid mental fortitude, could definitely take the trophy in Odense this week.