Despite the heroics of Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom, Team Liquid fell to Team Heretics in the first quarterfinal of the First Strike Europe Regional Final. An incredibly tense affair, the teamwork and coordination of Heretics ultimately won the day. They now advance to the semifinals on Friday, where they’ll play the winner of G2 Esports vs. OrglessV. Team Liquid have been eliminated.
The match started out on Team Liquid’s pick of Split, and immediately we saw Heretics turning back the clock, with Dustyn “nieSoW” Durnas picking up the Reyna. Christian “loWel” Garcia Antoran was on his signature Sage, and on the other side, ScreaM kept with the Jett he’s been playing as of late. While Heretics, on the defense, won the pistol and follow-up, a messy third round with a 3k cleanup by ScreaM kept the score close. He then found a tremendous Jett ultimate and site entry in the fourth, before his lightning-quick opening helped Liquid grab their third. After Heretics were forced on an eco, though, they picked up several rifle rounds of their own, with great ability usage forcing Liquid to run down the clock. Another trade of rounds and a great hold by Auni “AvovA” Chahade left the half at 7-5 Heretics.
With the sides swapped and Heretics now on attack, they again won the pistol round, with niesoW showcasing the power of Reyna in that situation as he scored a 2v1 clutch. After winning the eco, Heretics also won the first rifle round, putting themselves on double digits. With their backs against the wall, Liquid couldn’t buy all the guns they wanted, and Heretics capitalized. While Liquid did their best to get a few rounds back, it was too far to go and wasn’t to be. Heretics took the map 13-7.
Moving on to Ascent, compositions were mostly standard, with Sova, Omen, and Killjoy on both sides, lowel on Sage, and ScreaM on Jett vs. nukkye’s Raze. Liquid started their defense by winning their first pistol round of the series, and continued with good momentum, winning the eco and first two rifle rounds before Heretics could get anything. Some very nice rifle play by Heretics and oversteps by Liquid began to even up the game, but Liquid managed to close it out in a 7-5 lead at the half.
In a crazy few rounds to kick off the second half, Liquid won the pistol with a 4k by ScreaM, nearly lost the follow-up against virtually no buy from Heretics, and did lose the third with niesoW clutching a 1v1 against James “Kryptix” Affleck. They made a critical mistake in the fourth round by not picking up the spike on time, and suddenly all the momentum was on Heretics’ side. While they won two in a row, Liquid brought it back around and did even better, consistently out-positioning Heretics on the A site. Ascent was Liquid’s, 13-10. The teams had each won each other’s map pick, and Bind would be the decider.
For agent picks on Bind, we saw the continuation of a recent trend, with both teams swapping Omen for Brimstone. Things started off quite standard, with the defenders Heretics winning the pistol and follow-up before Liquid grabbed the third. Then it was ScreaM, yet again, who then came up huge for Liquid, pulling off 8 kills in two rounds. lowel scored himself an ace in the round after, though, finishing a crazy opening with the score at 3-3.
Heretics showed off great positioning and decision-making to grab five more rounds, and four straight, against only one more for Team Liquid. The half ended 8-4, with Heretics in the driver’s seat.
With Heretics winning yet another pistol round, their fourth of the day, to make the score 10-4, Liquid went for an unsuccessful force buy, but managed to win their subsequent eco round. They kept momentum, and their hopes of winning the match, alive by taking four rounds in a row, but a crazy Round 18, with a 3k to open from ScreaM but lowel following it up with 4, ultimately went the way of Heretics. ScreaM and Team Liquid weren’t finished yet, though, and completely shut Heretics down. They evened it out all the way to 12-12, and we headed to overtime.
As always, it was down to the wire. Each team won an attacking half, but then Heretics won a defense. With their backs against the wall, Team Liquid couldn’t quite pull it out. Team Heretics won the map 15-13, and the series 2-1.
First Strike Europe Regional Final