After holding a 14-11 lead on Anubis in the deciding game, Liquid was eliminated to the losers’ bracket in Malta.
After beating Liquid in their first match of Group D in the ESL Pro League Season 18, Virtus.pro started out with a victory. Inferno (16-11) was the first blood for the Russian-dominated lineup, which then stumbled in overtime against Mirage (19-17) and needed the entire 30-round match against Anubis (16-14) to seal the deal.
Now, Virtus.pro will play G2 on Thursday in Malta for a chance to secure a postseason berth in the Group D upper bracket semi-finals. However, in the Last Chance Stage, Liquid will face off against Lynn Vision in a last ditch effort to avoid elimination.
With the defeat, Liquid’s turbulent opening day at Pro League came to an end. Damian “daps” Steele was supposed to coach in place of Robert “Patsi” Isyanov. Despite Liquid’s prior confirmation that the Russian rifler would miss the team’s opening fixture against Virtus.pro due to visa issues, Patsi’s passport was returned from the US consulate with enough time for the 20-year-old to play after all.
The Russian-dominated team of Virtus.pro, who have reportedly put in over 140 hours of practice time over the previous two weeks in preparation for the competition, got off to a great start on their pick of Inferno, racing to a 12-3 lead at the end of their CT-side.
Liquid did wake up a little bit when it was their turn to defend, with Josh “oSee” Ohm in particular contributing several critical rounds to help cut the deficit. The international roster faced a tough battle due to the play of Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gainskis (0.49) and Keith “NAF” Markovic (0.71), and Virtus.pro quickly closed out their map pick, 16-11, sending the series to Mirage.
Liquid got their T-side off to a great start by stringing together five rounds to start their pick. Despite the promising beginning, Liquid struggled throughout the rest of the attacking phase, winning only one round and falling behind by three (6-9) heading into the side swap.
After the intermission break, the YEKINDAR-led lineup rediscovered their footing and, like Inferno, went on to win the map with three rounds to spare, 15-12, thanks to a strong A-site defense. Although Virtus.pro battled back to force overtime, Liquid held on to win 19-17 and advance to the Anubis finals.
Again, it was Liquid who got off to the better start in that situation. Patsi, leading his team to a 9-6 T-side half victory, added 14 kills to his total against his compatriots, bringing Liquid closer to clinching the series victory.
The international team took their second-half momentum into the locker room, where an outstanding quad-kill hold on the A bombsite from oSee created even more space between the two sides. Unfortunately, Liquid’s three-round lead at the break and oSee’s stellar performance weren’t enough to help them win Anubis, as Virtus.pro came back from behind 11-14 to win 16-14 and eliminate their opponents from the playoffs.
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