The Last Champions of the LANXESS are out as Movistar Riders continue their miracle run on German soil.
Movistar Riders continue their march through IEM Cologne, this time taking the scalp of Team Liquid. After a nail-biting series, the Spaniards came out on top, taking down the Latvian-bolstered NA squad. With their next opponent being the major winning FaZe Clan lineup, will they be able to meet the challenge?
For the riders, Sunpayus and Mopoz continued their performances, with Deathzz being the deciding factor on Vertigo. Over on the NA side, the firepower never truly manifested. Despite EliGE having a strong series, the matches felt like a struggle for Liquid. They regularly fell victim to half-buys and eco rounds, crippling their economy.
Map 1 - Ancient - Water-tight Defense from Movistar Riders
Liquid started off on the T side on their map pick, struggling to mount a proper offense. Movistar Riders started with a pistol-round victory, and that quickly led to a 6-1 lead. An unlikely 3v5 win gave nitr0's troops some hope, but once again the defense of Movistar came through as it has done throughout IEM Cologne.
Liquid struggled to put rounds together but cobbled together a 4 round half thanks to heroics from oSee and EliGE. The second half put Liquid further behind the pace as Movistar once again took the pistol round. A streak of 5 from the defenders got them closer, but Movistar pulled ahead and put up a stellar 16-9 victory on the scoreboard.
Map 2 - Inferno - Liquid steals the Map at the end
Liquid coming into this game hadn't played Inferno with this roster. So there were doubts surrounding their level on it. Could they be saving it as a punish, or was it a weakness? Movistar decided to find out, starting off with another won pistol round.
Once again Moviestar set about putting together an unstoppable T-side. Liquid was forced to fight for banana control with 3 players, which finally allowed them to pick up a few rounds of their own. But the Spaniards rode ahead taking a 10-55 lead at half-time.
The second half however saw a completely different face of Liquid. As the blue horse started buckling, the riders felt the pressure. The attackers took the score all the way up to 10-11 before a partial buy threatened to end it all. oSee came back with a 1v3 on the A site to destroy the momentum of Movistar before they could even get it started.
TeamLiquid finally cracked the code with fast-paced rounds being the key, thanks in large part to YEKINDAR's banana control. Liquid closed the game out 16-14, fighting all the way for a spot in the IEM Cologne Semis.
Map 3 - Vertigo - Final Frontier between Liquid and Movistar at IEM Cologne
Movistar Riders' ability in the pistol came through once more, giving them an early 3-0 lead. But Liquid carried forward their attack from Inferno, throwing in consistent fast rounds through mid to tie the score at 4-4. The ALEX and co. finally figured out the retakes, and carried that momentum to a solid lead, winning the half 10-5.
Yet another pistol round spelled doom for Liquid, but a heroic play from NAF kept Liquid in the game at 11-6. Capitalizing on the economic damage led Liquid to an 11-10 scoreline, but a masterful game from Deathzz led the team to glory, putting them up to 14-10.
NAF's attempt at saving Liquid got them up to 12, but Movistar's eco round stunner, put Team Liquid's economy in the gutter, forcing them to fight for their tournament lives with pistols. Movistar put them out of their misery, clinching a spot in the Semi-Finals against Faze.
Liquid - A solid top 6 run at IEM Cologne
For Liquid, the loss to Movistar might sting, but they have proven that with under two weeks of practice this team was able to contend with the best. With key victories over Cloud9 and Furia, they can be confident in their abilities going forward, if the talks of YEKINDAR being a permanent addition to the roster are believed.
Over on the Movistar side, their journey still has another step. Tomorrow they will take on the defending Major champions Faze, who are looking to regain their number 1 spot. When asked about his thoughts on the FaZe matchup, all Sunpayus had to say was, "I would say to FaZe, be careful". Will the miracle run finally come to an end? Or will tabseN's chosen team repeat the German's success from Cologne 2018?