Astralis have cemented their reputation as the best CS:GO team in the world at present following another outstanding performance this past weekend at the Intel Extreme Masters Chicago 2018 tournament.
They came through a very strong field of 16 teams to claim the $100,000 top prize, defeating Team Liquid in comprehensive fashion 3-0 in the final (16-14, 16-7, 16-4). Let’s recap.
Rather than a round-robin event, the Group Stage at the IEM Chicago 2018 was a double-elimination format. Each group hosted eight teams. The two finalists from the Upper Bracket, plus the winner of the Lower Bracket qualified for the Playoffs later in the week.
Group A went to the form book initially, with Astralis and FaZe Clan making it through to the Upper Bracket Round 3 playoff game. Astralis beat MVP PK 16-8 in their opener before a 2-0 victory (16-5, 16-4) over North in Round 2.
FaZe Clan had a much tougher time of it. They squeaked past Team LDLC.com 16-14 in their opener before they were pushed all the way by MiBR in a 2-1 victory (16-14, 14-16. 16-11).
In the Round 3 game, FaZe Clan found their form to defeat Astralis 2-0 (16-7, 19-15). That secured the seeded spot in the semifinals, with Astralis now forced to enter the playoffs at the quarterfinal stage.
In the Lower Bracket, Team LDLC.com came through after MiBR were eliminated by NRG Esports in Round 2. Team LDLC beat them 2-1 in the Lower Bracket Round 3 match to clinch the final qualification spot.
There were few shocks in Group B. Fnatic came through the group as the top seed. They defeated BIG 16-9 in their opener, before a 2-0 win over eUnited (16-13, 16-11) followed by a battling 2-1 win over Team Liquid in the Group B Round 3 (16-12, 12-16, 16-7).
Team Liquid had defeated Luminosity Gaming and mousesports to get that far, coming from a 1-0 deficit in their Round 2 match against mousesports to claim a 2-1 victory.
The consolation for mousesports would be that they would come through the Lower Bracket section of Group B defeating BIG and then Luminosity Gaming, both by commanding 2-0 scorelines to claim the third qualifying spot from the group.
The two quarterfinals pitted the second seed from Group A against the third from Group B and vice versa. In the opening game, Team Liquid battled hard to defeat Team LDLC.com by a 2-1 scoreline. It was more straightforward for Astralis. They overcame mousesports by a 2-0 scoreline.
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In the first semifinal, there was a surprise. Top seed FaZe Clan were defeated 2-1 by Team Liquid in an enthralling semifinal. The winners once again came from being 1-0 down to claim a 2-1 win. Astralis and Fnatic then played the game of the tournament. Astralis clinched a 2-1 win in overtime on the third map by a 19-17 scoreline.
In the end, the final between Team Liquid and Astralis proved to be something of an anti-climax with the Danish side running out the easy winners. With an opening-map victory behind them, Astralis went from strength to strength and did not lose a single session in the remainder of the contest. Team Liquid’s confidence deserted them, and their strategy unraveled.
Intel Grand Slam
That win for Astralis means they have now won three of the last eight Intel Grand Slam events. They landed their first at DreamHack Masters Marseille in April. Then, a month later, they won the ESL Pro League Season 7 Finals in Dallas.
This win in Chicago means they now have two chances to try and land the fourth and crucial win in the Intel Grand Slam series. A win would trigger a $1,000,000 bonus.
Their first chance to claim the prize will come on home soil at the ESL Pro League Season 8 Finals. These are in Odense, Denmark, from Dec. 4-9. Given that they will enjoy substantial backing from a home crowd, few would bet against Astralis once again coming out on top to earn that massive bonus prize.
However, if they cannot wrap up the bonus in Denmark in December, they will have one final opportunity: beginning Feb. 14 at the Intel Extreme Masters Season XIII tournament in Katowice, Poland.
As one of the eight Current Legends from the FACEIT Major London 2018, Astralis have already confirmed their place in the event. They’ll play alongside Natus Vincere, MiBR, Team Liquid, complexity Gaming, BIG, HellRaisers, and FaZe Clan.
Six Returning Challengers have also been confirmed for the event following their performances in London. That’s Ninjas in Pyjamas, Fnatic, G2 Esports, Vega Squadron, Cloud9, and TyLoo. Ten additional qualifiers from the globe will join too.
It is also worth remembering that should Astralis reach the final in either the Denmark or Poland tournament, then their opponent would also be playing for a $300,000 spoilers bonus.
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