Another Intel Extreme Masters event has come and passed this season. This past weekend 8 teams made their way to Chicago to compete for a share of $250,000. With six teams earning invites to the event and two making their way through a qualifier.
A double-elimination group stage format, a great way to get teams performing at their best right from the off. In Group A there was Team Liquid, MiBR, G2 and Team Envy. Meanwhile, over in Group A there was ENCE, Vitality, Heroic and Renegades.
From an overview, this event didn’t have quite as many of the top teams as possible. However, it was certainly nice to see new teams and faces, it’s a great way to mix it up and keep things fresh.
Team Liquid had an easy enough group stage, to say the least. They defeated Envy 2-0 losing a total of 7 rounds. This result was expected though, Liquid had just won the Intel Grand Slam and Envy managed to get to the event through the qualifier. There was a slight difference in skill level.
G2 and MiBR had a proper battle to get out of the group in second seed. Things started in their opening match up where G2 came out on top after 16-6 and 16-9 wins. They ended up meeting again in the Decided Match where MiBR got their revenge with a 2-1 victory. Keep in mind MiBR had to pull off a last map overtime win against Envy to make it there.
After their recent performances, this group looked like a real mix coming into the event. It was well and truly a case of anyone having the potential to make it out of the group. Heroic once again started strongly, picking up a 2-0 win against Vitality. At the previous event, they had defeated ENCE in their opening game, so they are slowly becoming a contender.
ENCE had a relatively relaxed series against Renegades to make it to the Winners Match. They weren’t going to be upset by Heroic for the second event in a row, although the series was very close. ENCE edged out the series with a 2-0 win but the maps finished 16-12 and 16-14.
Despite their success earlier in the tournament against Vitality, Heroic were unable to overcome them a second time to make it through to playoffs. Vitality got some vengeance with a 2-1 victory.
Four teams made it to playoffs, and many would have predicted this outcome prior to the event:
- Team Liquid
- Team Vitality
Liquid vs. Vitality – Semi-Final
This series Liquid turned up to make a statement. There is still talk in regard to whether or not they are going to become a dynasty roster. Unfortunately for Vitality, they were on the receiving end of Liquid’s dominance. Liquid took the series 2-0 after 16-11 and 16-9 wins. At this point, it was expected by the majority of viewers that Liquid would be lifting the IEM Chicago trophy.
ENCE vs. MiBR – Semi-Final
Seeing these two teams in another semi-final without a doubt made numerous fans beyond happy. MiBR have had horrible struggles in recent months and major roster changes are looming. They turned up to this event, looked like they were having fun and played much better.
On the other hand, ENCE flopped out in the previous event so it was nice to see the Finnish team back on their feet. The series went to the final map, but not quite down to the wire as none of the maps were reasonably close. None the less, ENCE won 2-1 to meet Liquid in the grand final.
Liquid vs. ENCE – Grand Final
Liquid vs. ENCE, a fantastic match up that we have got to enjoy several times in 2019. Surely we were in for a close, exciting series. Apparently not, Liquid wanted to end things quickly and truly stamp themselves in as the best team in the game.
Liquid won maps 1 and 2 with a combined round count of 32-5. I don’t think we’ve ever seen such a dominant victory in a grand final before. They dismantled and embarrassed ENCE. It took until the third map in the best of 5 series for ENCE to wake up. It was too late though, despite putting up a fight in a 16-14 loss, Liquid dominated the finals to win 3-0 and lift yet another trophy.