Spirit secured their second victory at ESL Pro League Season 17 thanks to a 2-0 sweep of Liquid in Group D’s lower bracket, as the Russians swept the struggling North American squad and advanced to the lower final. The Russians have recovered from their previous loss to FORZE and are now only one best-of-three match away from securing their playoff spot.
Liquid prevailed over Leonid “chopper” Vishnyakov and his teammates in a best-of-three series at the International Electronic Sports Meeting (IEM) Katowice held a month ago in Poland. However, this time around, the North Americans are one step closer to elimination, and in order to proceed to the knockout stage, they need to win two successive BO3s in rapid succession.
Liquid took the early lead in the series with a pistol-round victory over Nuke. Their success, however, was short-lived, as the Spirit bomb plant enabled them to purchase rifles the next round and strike back. The Russians cruised through the rest of their offensive half, giving Chopper’s men a comfortable lead at halftime. Spirit’s in-game leader led the charge with a 14-11 K-D and a 1.36 rating, propelling his team to a 10-5 T-side result.
— D4G (@DATA4GAMERS) March 17, 2023
The North Americans closed the gap after winning the second pistol round, but Igor “w0nderful” Zhdanov stopped them with four frags down the secret area. The Ukrainian marksman effortlessly took over the CT side, seemingly finding frags at will while protecting Spirit’s bombsites. Nick “nitro” Cannella gave Liquid a late-half lifeline by winning an incredible 1v4 on the upper site, but his heroics were insufficient to keep his team in the game. Spirit won the map with a 16-10 score, while w0nderful had a 2.32 CT rating.
Spirit appeared to carry their form into Liquid’s pick of Mirage and claimed their first pistol round of the series, but the North Americans responded quickly with a dominant attack on the A site. nitr0 and company continued to take advantage of Spirit’s weakness on the site throughout the first half, winning 10 rounds in a row to take a 10-2 lead. Keith “NAF” Markovic stole the show for Liquid’s T side, while Robert “Patsi” Isyanov and chopper helped the Russians salvage a 5-10 halftime lead.
— Patsi (@PatsiCSGO) March 17, 2023
The Russian team went back on offense, gradually clawing their way back into the game after falling behind 6-12. After a quiet first half, w0nderful began to fire on all cylinders, assisting Spirit in clawing their way back into the game alongside chopper. To make matters worse for Liquid, nitr0 and NAF struggled to find their footing on the CT side, contributing to their seven-round losing streak as Spirit won the sweep 16-13.
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