Team Liquid has quickly established themselves as the top North American team in the latter half of 2017. One of the accomplishments that has solidified TL as NA’s top dogs is defeating SK gaming in back to back best of 3s.
One of the reasons for Liquid’s new found success is the way they adjust when their first plan of attack gets shut down. Let’s take a look at Round 19 from Liquid’s game vs SK on Cobble from ESL ONE New York, a round that really highlights how Liquid is able to quickly adjust to plan B when plan A falls apart.
The round starts off with a basic fake. Nitro, Elige, and Twistzz all push towards mid looking to get a pick near A Site. In the meantime, Stanislaw and jdm take the bomb and hold down Castle. The idea is for these 3 Liquid players to get a pick either at long A or mid. Once they’ve taken out an SK player, the three Liquid players will double back towards B and take the site. Hopefully with this pick SK will over compensate for the loss and rotate off of B and onto A to fill the gap.
Everything goes according to plan with Twistzz hitting an amazing headshot onto fer, which pulls FalleN back from Long A, and Coldzera off of Drop Down into the A Site.
Liquid has successfully manipulated SK defenses, allowing them to start pushing B. But this is when things go wrong. While Liquid is moving up B Platform, felps takes out Nitr0 and Twistzz with a lucky spray through smoke.
With 2 players down, 35 seconds on the clock, and SK now aware of their plan, Liquid has to quickly come up with a plan B. They could just say “screw it” and try and overwhelm the B site, but given the positioning on the SK players, that would be suicide. Another option is to cut their losses, pull back into castle and save their guns. Instead, Liquid instantly decides to send Elige and jdm back through long A with the bomb, while stanislaw takes dropdown control, cutting off the rotate from B.
The new plan works perfectly. Elige wins the duel with coldzera opening up A site. Stanislaw manages to get into connector, isolating the 3 SK players on B Site. With 1 second to spare, JDM gets the bomb down, but Taco takes out elige in the process. After the bomb is planted, stanislaw takes out Taco on balcony bringing it to an even 2 on 2. Notice how Stanislaw and JDM set up a crossfire on connector. FalleN knows stanislaw is in balcony since he killed Taco from that location. He has to keep his attention there in case stanislaw gets aggressive. While FalleN is distracted, jdm creeps towards stables and gets an easy pick. With Connector clear, stanislaw is able to move towards door and cover mid, allowing jdm to focus on Long A. From here, stanislaw gets an easy kill on felps taking the round.
In this one round Liquid showed the full gamut of their talents. They had a clear plan which they executed almost perfectly, only faltering when felps got two fluky picks through smoke. Even then, Liquid proved their mettle by displaying the quick thinking and decisiveness necessary to win the round and earn the title of NA's best team.