And then there were two. The possibility of an all-American grand finals at ESL One New York was on the table, especially after Team Liquid won a nail-biter against SK Gaming on Saturday. FaZe Clan was having none of that, however, and smashed Cloud9 to punch its ticket to the grand finals at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
It all comes together for Team Liquid
While Team Liquid has been mired with numerous close calls and disappointing chokes for quite some time, it managed to put that behind them here against the vaunted SK Gaming in the semifinals.
Behind a raucous crowd, these two teams put on quite the show from start to end. The series was largely decided by one player from each team: On SK Gaming's side, it was Marcelo "coldzera" David. On Liquid's side, it was Joshua "jdm64" Marzano. SK and Liquid battled back and forth in a marathon Game 1 on Inferno that went into double overtime. By the end of the 22-18 Liquid win, both aforementioned players tallied a whopping 42 kills each. SK tried to overcome a slow start with dominant plays from coldzera and Gabrial "FalleN" Toledo, but Liquid was too strong in the later rounds of the second OT and secured the win.
SK bounced back to put together a 16-5 trouncing in Game 2 on Overpass, which sent both teams into a final game on Cobblestone. Once again, Liquid and SK went on runs at certain points in the game, and, much like Game 1, it came down to the wire. SK was resilient until the very end, but Liquid showed its overall progression as a team by once again picking up a win in a close game.
Observers could point to Games 1 and 3 as ones that Liquid would have lost in the past, but those days appear to be behind the team for now. It was a big win that is one step in the right direction of putting North American CS:GO back on the map.
FaZe Clan dominates Cloud9
While Liquid overcame the odds and took down SK, Cloud9 didn't have such fortune against FaZe Clan in the semifinals.
FaZe Clan came out the gate hot and tried to get newcomers Ladislav "GuardiaN" Kovacs and Olof "olofmeister" Kajbjer involved. Rather than lag behind the pack, these two led the way in the opening game on Mirage. The two combined for a 44/24 KD (kills/deaths) to leave Cloud9 floundering in the 16-4 win. The second game on Overpass was even more lopsided than the first. GuardiaN kept the team on his back as this time FaZe waltzed to a 16-3 win.
This series was essentially one beatdown played on repeat. Both teams have added two players to the roster in the last few weeks, but only one seems to have shed the growing pains. FaZe Clan shook off some early rust to hit its stride here at this tournament, while Cloud9 continued to struggle mentally. It feels as though Cloud9 just can't seem to band together under the leadership of Tarik "tarik" Celik when the going gets tough. Still, this tournament wasn't the end-all, be-all for this roster.
Team Liquid will face FaZe Clan on Sunday for the ESL New York crown. Will Liquid finally make it over the hump for its first tournament win in almost two years? Or will FaZe Clan shake off the demons that have plagued it all year long with a statement victory? We'll find out tomorrow afternoon once the action kicks off at 2 p.m. ET.