IEM Sydney 2019 has ended with a nail-biting grand final match between Fnatic and Team Liquid, who finally broken their international competition “curse” and lifted the trophy.

IEM Sydney, which marked the 1st event of IEM Season XIV took place in Sydney, at Bankstown Sports Club and Qudos Bank Arena from April 30th till May 5th. The event featured 16 CS: GO teams from all around the globe, fighting their way through the group stage and playoffs in hopes to get their hands on the lion’s share of $250,000 prize pool.

The 16 teams were split into 2 groups of 8, where they played in a double-elimination BO1 format in the first round and BO3 in all the following matches up until finals, which were played in a BO5 format. With the finalists and the winner already known, let’s check the road to the finals of Team Liquid and Fnatic.

Team Liquid Coming in as a Favorite

Team Liquid entered the tournament as one of the favorites and did not hesitate to prove to the world why they are considered to be one of the best CS: GO teams out there. They defeated B.O.O.T-dream[S]cape 16:9 in the first round, followed by two dominant wins against two strong teams; BIG (2:0) in the 2nd and Ninjas in Pyjamas (2:0) in the 3rd round, which got them a pass to the playoffs.

Our other finalist, Fnatic had a bit tougher road to the finals, as they lost against MIBR in the 2nd round of group stages. Luckily for them, the format of the tournament gave them another chance to appear in the playoffs via lower bracket group stage. And it was a chance Fnatic took with open arms and used it to its full potential. Fnatic went on to defeat Chiefs (2:1) and Grayhound (2:1), which gave them a ticket to the playoffs.

A Look at the Playoffs Stage

Looking at playoffs stage, Fnatic once again struggled, however still managed to overcome NiP in quarterfinals (2:1) and NRG in semi-finals (1:2). Team Liquid on the other side continued with dominant performances and defeated MIBR with relative ease 2:0, thus getting themselves in the Grand Finals… Again.

While it was clear that Team Liquid were in a better form than Fnatic, this still was not enough to calm down their fans, who were once again wondering “Can Liquid do it?”. After several disappointing finals in big events, Liquid fans generally agreed that their favorite team is cursed. Whether the team really is cursed or not is up to debate, however, one thing is for sure. Team Liquid lost 10 finals since ESL One Cologne 2016, some of which in a real gut-wrenching fashion.

Fast forward to the finals, Team Liquid lost the first map (Cache) 10:16, however, managed to bounce back in the 2nd (Overpass) with a close result 16:14. The 3rd map once again finished in Liquid’s favor who completely dominated their European opponents (16:8) and got themselves into a 2:1 lead.

At this point it looked like Liquid will finally break the curse, however, in their own fashion, Liquid dropped the 4th map (Dust II) 6:16, thus giving Fnatic a fighting chance to win it all. While it was only one map, the result was worrying, especially after their history of wasting advantages in finals. With the score tied at 2:2, the grand finals were to be decided on the 5th and last map, with a fitting name for a map that would decide the nail-biting series; The Inferno.

Final Map of the Finals

The final map of the finals managed to bring out the best from Team Liquid, who put a lot of pressure on Fnatic, who soon found themselves 10:2 down. Fast forward to the 2nd half of the game, the Swedes were 14:4 down, which was when they finally woke up and retaliated.

Fnatic put together a streak of 5 consecutive round wins, which was a traumatic experience for Team Liquid, who received flashbacks from ESL One New York when they lost to mousesports. Nonetheless, Liquid managed to calm down and finish what they started, with 2 successive rounds to finish off the finals 16:9.

After 3 years of failures, disappointments and sadness, Team Liquid finally managed to break the curse and got their hands on the trophy that actually matters. Will Team Liquid manage to extend their impressive performances into the next tournament is yet to be seen, however, we won’t need to wait long to get an answer to that, with cs_summit 4 only weeks away.