No room for error: Liquid vs. Spirit
Earlier today, Liquid lost to the fiery Spirit, and in 2-0 fashion at that. After a loss to Rare Atom, this is the last thing that Liquid needed in EPL. What led Liquid to fall flat, and why were Spirit able to surpass our NA idols?
Rock in a turbulent sea
Throughout Liquid's many iterations in past years, one thing has defined a successful TL: A performing Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski. And on Nuke, he wasn't. With just six kills on the CT-side, the team's game plan couldn't be executed to full effect. This isn't to say he was the only problem on Liquid, far from it, but his absence from the server was definitely felt.
An unrepresentative scoreline
By this subtitle, you might think I mean that the game was closer than the scoreline suggests. I actually mean the opposite. There's a good argument to be made that Liquid should have won zero rounds on their T-side. A 1v3 from Keith "NAF" Markovic won the pistol round, and as soon as Spirit got a full buy, they rolled their way to fifteen rounds. That fifteen should have been sixteen, but a heroic 1v4 from Nick "nitr0" Cannella staved off the inevitable as Liquid went to win only one further round.
Liquid's T-side was absolutely unstoppable on T-side. From 0-2 to 10-2, they absolutely bulldozed their way through Spirit's CT-side again and again. As the casters noted, Spirit were stuck on the tumble setting in the washer. Full buy, to pistol force, to full buy, to pistol force again. Spirit were able to take the last three of the half, and that proved instrumental because of Liquid's...
It's hard to pin down a single reason that Liquid lost their CT-side. The first kills weren't particularly against them. nitr0's calling was dodgy at times, but it certainly wasn't the only reason that Liquid barely got a few rounds in. Spirit trade well and took advantage of the holes in Liquid's setups. Most importantly, Spirit's economy was robust the entire half. Even when Liquid finally won a round (due to a double AWP setup), Spirit remained composed, had a full buy the next round, and maneuvered around the double AWPs very effectively.
What comes next?
Liquid now have to win two games this weekend to clinch the final playoffs spot. The first game is either against Rare Atom, who they lost 2-0 to earlier this very tournament, or NAVI, who have always proved to be a worthy adversary for the North Americans. Either way, Liquid have exhausted the easy path to playoffs, and now have to bludgeon through the last-chance stage.