- The teams duked it out on the full three maps in Group A’s lower bracket
- Liquid won the first map, but Spirit quickly bounced back on the second one
- Liquid narrowly won a 16-11 on the final map, securing their progression in the event
IEM Katowice 2023’s playoffs are just around the corner and it seems Liquid has a realistic chance of participating in them after defeating Spirit 2-1.
Liquid Defeats Spirit
Liquid’s North American squad is just one best-of-three match away from reaching the playoffs of the Polish event after risking it on Nuke against Spirit. With their victory against the Russian squad, Liquid will have one last chance to challenge for a quarter-final spot against FaZe on Tuesday.
Liquid was sent to Group A’s lower bracket after being defeated by NaVi on the second day of the group stage. Meanwhile, Spirit’s defeat at the hands of Liquid means that the Russian squad is eliminated from IEM Katowice. While still Spirit is out of the tournament, the team scored several good matches in the group phase, including victories over Grayhound, Sprout, and BIG.
Here’s How the Game Went
The first map, Nuke, was a real gamble for Liquid, as the team had played it only twice since December 2021, losing on both occasions. Despite that, the North American team quickly gained a 10-5 lead thanks to the actions of Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski and Keith “NAF” Markovic, who had a 1.21 and 1.20 CT rating respectively.
After the break, Spirit won the pistol round, but Liquid quickly responded with a force buy, which crushed the CT economy. After that, the North Americans won six consecutive rounds, getting dangerously close to the match point. However, this woke up Spirit, who also responded with six consecutive rounds. Liquid then made a final push to deny the Russian squad the victory and took Nuke with a score of 16-12.
But this was just the first map and Spirit was not ready to give in. The team opened the second map, Overpass, with a swift pistol round victory, which allowed them to claim an early 3-0 lead. With a few fast offensive rounds against the B site, Liquid bounced back. The North Americans continued on that wave of momentum, winning eight out of nine rounds, but that's all they would get in the first half. However, their Russian opponents recovered in the later stages, with Igor “w0nderful” Zhdanov 1vs2 clutching a 7-8 half for his team.
The marksman continued his streak in the second half, posting a 1.72 rating. Spirit relied a lot on their player, but also on a lot of the defensive mistakes Liquid made, such as their collapse on the A site in round 28. This resulted in a close 16-13 victory for Spirit, which equalized the total score.
Anubis was the last map played, one that liquid struggled on against NaVi earlier in the tournament. Spirit knew that and despite losing the first pistol round, the Russian team quickly bounced back thanks to the actions of Boris “magixx” Vorobiev. He, alongside w0nderful and Robert “Patsi” Isyanov helped the team get a 9-6 first half.
Now, with everything to play for, Liquid found themselves in a dangerous situation, being at a deficit at the beginning of the second half of the last map. But the North Americans’ fortune changed when the sides switched as they won the second pistol round and nine of the following eleven rounds. This eventually ended the match in a heartbreaking defeat for Spirit and a 16-11 victory for Liquid, who also claimed the match and now continue forward in the tournament.