The ESL One Cologne 2019 Grand Finals saw Team Liquid compete against Vitality. After winning the ESL Pro League LAN Finals against G2, Team Liquid would have to go up against yet another French team in Vitality. This is a relatively new team, one which has improved its rankings and performance rapidly over the past few months. Comprising of one of the most promising youngsters in the CS: GO Scene, Zywoo, Vitality’s future does look very promising.
The Grand finals was a Best of Five series. However, the storylines from this match would cement themselves in the history of Counter-Strike. Coming into the Grand finals, Team Liquid had already won three Intel Grand Slam events. Winning a fourth at ESL One Cologne would grant them the title of Season 2 winners. They would take home additional prize money of $1 million.
At the same time, a victor for Vitality would start a new age in CS: GO. The French scene has been absent for nearly two years now, and VItality’s victory over Liquid would send alarm bells ringing. They would also win prize money of $100,000 as they would stop the Intel Grand Slam
Result: Team Liquid win 16-6
The first map pick was Overpass by Team Liquid. It is one of their go-to maps, however, it is also the map which Vitality secured their victory over Astralis in the semifinals. Fortunately for VItality, they started out on the CT side, the dominant side on Overpass.
Vitality won the pistol round and it looked extremely dominant. However, the bane of the Vitality squad is anti-ecos. This in stark contrast to the EnVyUs of 2015, who were known for their eco round victories. Vitality lost two of the next few rounds to pistols and inferior weaponry.
The tussle of rounds between the two teams saw Team Liquid consistently win rounds using pistols. By the twelfth round, Team Liquid had won three eco rounds where they had a significant disadvantage in weaponry. Twistzz got four kills in the twelfth round to secure Team Liquid’s seventh round in the game.
Despite the setbacks, Vitality had a decent CT half. They managed six rounds on their CT side. It is not an ideal score, however, it is a score that Vitality should be happy with. However, after the first half, when Vitality switched to the Terrorist side, they had nothing going for them. The French team was unable to secure a single round on their Terrorist side, seemingly losing confidence as the game neared its end.
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Result: Team Vitality win 19:17
Overpass was Team Liquid’s map choice, but as we moved to Dust 2, the expectations off the French team were high. Vitality had already defeated Astralis on Dust 2 and in a very convincing fashion. However, Team Liquid is a different team, one that has displayed excellent skill level and can also match Vitality’s aggression on the map.
The sheer skill ceiling in the server guaranteed a very exciting map. Vitality won the pistol round yet again, and quite like Overpass the two teams battled it out for a very even 8-7 halftime score. The entire map went back and forth with Twistzz and Zywoo leading the charts for either team. Both the players were exceptional in their performance as they ensured they were able to finish off the kills in the round. However, there were many instances of individual skill from players such as RpK, Alex as well as Stewie2k.
The map went into Overtime as the two teams continued to battle for any edge they could find. Zywoo led the charge in Overtime and was able to close out the map with a very impressive 1v3. The crowd’s volume might have just tipped him off in the final kill of the game. Regardless, Vitality was on the cusp of taking the map and he would have probably got the kill either way.
Result: Team Liquid win 16-10
Team Liquid picked Inferno as their third map, a strong pick for the North American squad. Vitality was unable to penetrate the CT defense by Team Liquid. Liquid always had a great read and applied pressure at the right places on the map. The battle for Banana saw the Team Liquid emerge victorious in each round.
Twistzz had a great performance often able to take out multiple opponents due to his excellent first-shot accuracy. Zywoo tried his best and had multiple clutches on Inferno. Even that was not enough as Team Liquid managed to secure a convincing 11-4 lead. Vitality did manage to win the second pistol round ( they had already won the first), however, even this was not enough as the team was unable to win many gun rounds.
The second half felt very ominous as Team Liquid had secured a very big lead. They were able to close out the map, even as Vitality looked menacingly close to completing a humongous comeback.
Result: Team Liquid win 16-8
The fourth map pick of Mirage was Vitality’s trump card. It is a map that they are significantly comfortable on, however, one cannot simply count out Team Liquid. At this point, Team Liquid was just one map away from the Championship trophy at ESL One Cologne. In addition, it would also secure the second Intel Grand Slam trophy securing an additional $100,000 for themselves.
The North American squad looked very strong with the pistol and the next two rounds. It was a great start for the team and they seemed to continue their form from Inferno. However, Vitality found a weakness in the Team Liquid defense. Alex was consistently able to penetrate the B Bomb-site and secure deep positioning. He would often get multiple frags after getting a very deep positioning in the bomb-site. After a brief time-out, Team Liquid was able to get a good read on Vitality’s gameplay.
They positioned an additional player near the bench and it proved effective. Despite having a 7-3 lead over Team Liquid, Vitality was not able to win the first half. The first half ended with Team Liquid securing the final five rounds and getting a lead at 8-7. NAF and Nitr0 led the charge for Team Liquid, even as Stewie2k seemed to be missing a lot of shots on Mirage.
Team Liquid secured the second pistol round as well, the first time they did so in the Grand finals. It helped them secure a sizeable lead in the map; one helped immensely by a 1v1 clutch by NAF against Zywoo.
Vitality has the second best player in the world. Zywoo has proven he can play at a very high level against the best teams in the world. He was single-handedly topping the charts in the Grand finals on every map. His ability to hit almost all of his shots is a gift, talent and hard work rolled into one.
Damn man what a journey it’s been under @TeamLiquid I cannot believe this. I love all my teammates to death and I’m so proud of all of them. Thanks everyone ❤️
GGwp Vitality 👊👊
— Nick Cannella (@nitr0) 7 juillet 2019
Sixty-Three Days for one million dollars! 🏆🏆🏆🏆 pic.twitter.com/a6PziCVFl4
— Team Liquid (@TeamLiquid) 7 juillet 2019
Vitality was unable to win the ESL One Cologne 2019 Grand finals. They would have loved to secure the trophy at the Cathedral of Counter-Strike. However, despite their loss, they should be really happy with their performance.
Team Liquid, on the other hand, secured the Grand finals, partly due to the excellent performance throughout the team. They have had a very unfortunate 2018, but as we look at 2019, they are undoubtedly the best team in the world. Team Liquid lived in the shadows of Astralis in 2018, however, 2019 seems to be their year. Four consecutive Intel Grand Slam victories is a feat that no team can ever overcome in the future. Team Liquid looked very dominant in the Grand Finals. However, the storyline in the past few events has been North America vs France, a battle we would like to see unfold as we head closer to the Berlin Major.