Team Liquid is heading home from Katowice after a major upset.
The North American squad fell in the quarterfinals of the Champions Stage playoffs of the 2019 Katowice Major. Playing against Finnish underdogs ENCE, Liquid was handed a shocking 2-0 series loss to end their tournament run.
From the beginning, it was clear that something was off with the fan favorite team. Despite a solid start on Mirage, Liquid wound up on its back foot after key plays by Jani "Aerial" Jussila and Aleksi "allu" Jalli allowed ENCE to take the lead. Though Liquid managed to stay in the hunt with strong individual efforts from Keith "NAF" Markovic and Nicholas "nitr0" Cannella, it was never able to rally as a team to stop ENCE, leading to a tough 16-11 loss.
That seemed to fluster Liquid in the early goings of the second game on Inferno as ENCE stormed to a 5-2 lead. A timeout snapped the team out of its trance and advanced Liquid all the way to match point. Though victory was at hand for Liquid, ENCE rallied and forced overtime by closing out regulation with seven straight rounds.
Once there, Allu took it upon himself to close the series. After notching a solid 23 kills in regulation, the new father went off in overtime by totaling 13 kills in just five rounds. That locked up a spot in the semifinals with a 19-16 win.
It’s a sad turn for Team Liquid. Though the North American team was a popular pick to win the major and seemed ready to live up to that billing by skating through the Legends Stage 3-0, it looked out of sorts in this series while ENCE looked like a legitimate threat.
Whether it was an off day for the team or something deeper, Liquid won’t get a chance to rebound as it goes home with a fifth-place finish.
ENCE has a tall order ahead of it in the next round as it faces Natus Vincere in the semifinals.