Article written by guest author Umesh "Kripz" Kripalani
The former best team in the world falls to the dark horses, the underdog French team and s1mple cannot fulfill his revenge against Liquid, in the semi-finals of ESL One Cologne. Astralis vs Vitality- Zywoo Show ReduxVitality picked Dust2 as predicted and blew the roof off the place. Punching holes right into the skulls of their enemies, Vitality overpowered and out-aimed their enemies to a whole new level. Zywoo was like a kid at the candy store, hogging every kill that he could see. They had a dominant start on the T side, overwhelming Astralis with brute force. They ended the first half with a great 11-4 lead, and sealed the deal soon enough with a 16-8 final score. Inferno made the entire tournament feel like a major, even when it wasn’t. The French team started on the T side of Inferno, failing to give Astralis the respect they deserve there. They rushed in, bravely taking fights. ALEX pushed through smokes and molotovs on several occasions to gift his team opening kills, which they capitalised on. Astralis, even after using their signature utility hold on Banana were not able to stop Vitality from beating them in one-on-one brawls. The first half ended 8-7 with the Danes in the lead.
They showed their prowess on the T side even moreso. Astralis reached match point at 15-10. RpK had some other plans as he pulled off a miraculous 1v3 clutch to keep Vitality alive, destroying the economy of Astralis. ALEX delivered the final blow as he sprayed down four on B to force the game into overtime.The overtime was one hell of a roller coaster ride. Both teams traded round for round, blow for blow. The only way to break this cycle was for one player to fly into a towering rage and mow down enemies. That is exactly what Device did with an AWP ace. The star awper picked up five kills with only four bullets. This gave the Danes the edge they needed. But Zywoo could not sit quiet after seeing that. He nabbed two entry kills the next round to get the French right back in the game and force the game into one more overtime. Astralis looked like an impenetrable fortress in the second overtime and finally sealed the map 22-19
Overpass started off as a regular map, with both teams trading blow for blow. The first half ended 8-7. In the second half, Vitality showed us a whole new way of playing the CT side. They made intrusive pushes down fountain and almost always managed to get a kill or two from there. They bailed out their teammates in trouble by pop-flashing and using smokes to cover their retreat. NBK and Apex playing around the bathrooms almost felt like they had a sixth sense. Those two managed to surprise and catch Astralis off-guard on several occasions, almost always resulting in a multikill. The best part is, Overpass was not a Zywoo show. ALEX, Apex, Rpk, NBK, each and every man on the French roster lifted their weight and knocked the tournament favourites Astralis out. Liquid vs Na`Vi - Maintaining throne potentialThe rematch of the year kicked off with the exact same map pool. Dust2 was up first, and the Americans started on the T side. It seemed like they were off to a great start when they managed to get a 7-2 lead. They were cleverly faking one site, and then going towards the other. Instead they hit both the sites at once and left Na`Vi wondering. Liquid had the audacity to sacrifice an AWP and send that sniper alone towards one site just to sell the fake while they hit the other. Na`Vi could not cope up with this. Somehow Na`Vi managed to accumulate enough money and bring out a double-AWP setup. That helped them stabilize things a little. Na`Vi bagged four more rounds and ended the half trailing 6-9.
Liquid made Na’Vi really uncomfortable when they came to the CT side. By pushing aggressively everywhere, Liquid made their opponents paranoid about getting backstabbed from T Spawn time and time again. At 14-11, just when Liquid was on an eco and Na`Vi thought they had a chance to get back into the game, Liquid pushed A-Short and Twistzz got some sick one-deag shots that demolished Na`Vi and got them the map point. The boys in blue secured map 1 with a 16-12 score.The men in yellow seemed like they had Overpass in the bag. They beat Liquid on it last time, and by the looks of the first half, it really felt like we would get to see map 3. Starting on the CT side, Boombl4 was able to win all the opening duels that Liquid threw his way. He was able to create space and choke Liquid out of crucial areas like B-short and connector repeatedly. Na`Vi lead the first half 9-6.
Na`Vi won the pistol round of the second half as well which allowed them to get the next two rounds in addition. Leading 12-6, it seemed like Mirage was inevitable. At that moment, Liquid got into the zone and started their decapitation spree. They fought Na`Vi like a demon possessed. Pop-flashing for each other, trade fragging, bait-and-switch setups - all of it was flawless. NAF and Elige stepped up in a massive way as they were not afraid to go aggressive into playgrounds and get an early pick or two. Liquid won each and every round thereafter. Nitr0 showboated a stunning quad kill hold to put the final nail in the coffin. Liquid won 16-12 without giving up a single round to Na`Vi after that.They will be facing Vitality tomorrow in the Grand Final. $300,000 is up for grabs. There is an added incentive for the Americans. If they win, they will be crowned the champions of the Intel Grand Slam Season 2 where they will walk home a million dollars richer. Extra money awaits Vitality if they deny Liquid the win.Check out our CSGO Hub for more ESL One Cologne coverage.Image Courtesy of ESL