The dust has now settled on the latest instalment of Dreamhack Masters. 16 of the best Counter Strike teams in the world descended onto Dallas, Texas and did battle for a share of $250,000 in prize money and the chance to be crowned Dreamhack Masters champion.
Liquid Looking Dominant
Heading into the tournament one of the championship contenders, North American powerhouse Team Liquid showed their prowess in the early stages of the tournament, taking down Lucid Dreams 16-7 and sweeping North aside with a 2-0 series victory.
Their upper bracket final match against FaZe Clan was a hard-fought contest. After a double overtime, the North Americans rounded out Dust2 with a 22-19 win but the red militia were far from defeated. FaZe quickly raced to a 12-1 lead on Inferno before the second-best team in the world looked to defy the odds in the second half. FaZe managed to level the series with a 16-12 win on Nuke to force a deciding game on Inferno but it was Liquid, who were able to take the deciding map 16-11, to set up an encounter with Brazillian team Furia, who had beaten NRG and Fnatic, on their way to the semi-finals.
Their semi-final encounter with the Brazilians of Furia would be a more straightforward contest. The Brazilians gave Liquid a good run for their money on Nuke, but thanks to a stellar performance from Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski, Liquid closed out Nuke 16-13. With the momentum fully in their favour, Liquid dominated from the outset, taking the map 16-4 and a 2-0 series sweep.
ENCE Not Far Behind
Joining Team Liquid in the grand finals would be Finnish side Ence; they defeated Isurus, G2 and Furia on their way to the semi-finals.
The Finns would do battle with a resurging FaZe Clan for the second spot in the finals. Despite a strong start from FaZe on Dust2, Ence reduced the deficit thanks to two retakes of the A-site to force overtime. Ence completed the comeback and won 19-16.
Like Dust2, it was the FaZe that started on the front foot, leading the Finns 10-5 at halftime. Ence once again responded well, managing to close the gap and level the game at 12-12 before taking the lead with a solid retake of the A-site. The Finnish side took two more round wins to close out the map 16-13 and the series 2-0, setting up a showdown with Liquid in the finals.
Grand Final: Liquid Victorious
The stage was set. Could Liquid finally take home a trophy after playing second fiddle for so long? Or could Ence cause the upset on American soil?
Mirage would be first in the series. Liquid headed into the second half with a slender 8-7 lead before beginning to pull away . Jake “Stewie2K” Yip found some serious form with the AWP, which eventually led to the North Americans taking Mirage 16-8.
The next map would be Liquids’ pick - Overpass. After the opening rounds, it was still all to play for and by the end of the half, the teams were inseparable; the Finns held an 8-7 lead. Ence began to extend their advantage thanks to some solid attacking rounds, but Stewie was once again the thorn in their side as Liquid began to close the gap.
Jere “Sergej” Salo managed to keep the gap to just three with a sneaky 1v2 clutch , however Liquid still answered back to tie up Overpass at 14 rounds each. The North Americans had reach map and series point before the opposition came roaring back to force overtime. A slow Liquid rotation saw the Finnish side move to map point before finally closing out the game 19-17; forcing a third and final map on Inferno.
Liquid came out of the gates running, reeling off five quick rounds before Ence could answer back. A lightning fast round from Liquid, in the ninth, saw them move to a convincing 8-1 lead. The Finns managed to get their second round on the board but still trailed by ten to the hometown favourites.
Ence began to answer back in the second half thanks to an incredible 1v4 clutch from Sami “xSeveN” Laasanen. Liquid were still ahead but Ence were closing the gap quickly. After a valiant effort from the Finns, Liquid managed to close out Inferno with a 16-13 win to take the series 2-1.
After coming short in numerous finals, Liquid finally get their championship in front of a capacity home crowd. Ence proved once again that they are more than capable of contending with the best and will have another opportunity for championship glory as the 2019 Counter Strike season continues.