As Team Liquid vs NiP round out the Group A action at the ECS Season 8 Finals in Texas, here's what you need to know, including live stream information, latest betting odds and predictions
Astralis sent Team Liquid over to Group A, while Fnatic passed their Swedish brethren over to Group A to face the former world number one in the team selected group sorting.
Team Liquid vs NiP is due to start at 4:30pm GMT / 5:30pm CET / 11:30am ET / 8:30am PT on Thursday, November 28th, 2019.
The road to Arlington
Team Liquid likely took quite a bit longer to qualify for the LAN finals than they would have liked. In Series 1 they defeated eUnited 2-1, then were upset 2-0 by Sharks Esports. They didn't play in Series 2 or 3, opting to wait until Series 4, where they qualified directly for the LAN finals by beating ex-Team Singularity 2-0, INTZ 2-0, and then ATK 2-1 in a reverse sweep after losing their map pick in overtime on Dust II.
The Ninjas in Pyjamas took a much more straightforward path to Texas, opting not to bother with Series 1 or 2, then winning Series 3 to secure their place. They beat Team Heretics and BIG 2-1 in the opening rounds. Eventually, they ended the cinderella run of m1x in the grand final, though they needed all three maps to do it. Series 3 was a heck of an underdog story and a strong result for the previously unsigned m1x squad, (that likely helped them secure a deal with Team Secret), but NiP reminded them that they still have some ways to go.
Who to watch
My X-factor for Team Liquid is Keith "NAF" Markovic. Poor showings at BLAST Copenhagen and DH Masters Malmo will have all of Liquid hungry for a big result. It's easy to look to Jonathan "EliGE" Jablonowski or Russel "Twistzz" Van Dulken as keys, which they are, but when NAF is playing well, there's nowhere to hide from Team Liquid.
Nicolas "Plopski" Gonzalez Zamora is still getting acclimated to the pro scene, he has moments of brilliance for sure, but is still adjusting. I expect Patrik "f0rest" Lindberg to continue to be as rock solid as he has been for years.
But for me, if NiP wants to book a winners' match spot, then Fredrik "REZ" Sterner needs to be at his best. His form hasn't been dumpster fire awful lately, but it's been far from stellar as well. I'm personally hoping that this is a breakout event for him, he's so fun to watch when he's popping off.
Team Liquid vs NiP predictions
In my opinion this is the most evenly matched first round matchup. A few months ago this would've been a runaway for Liquid, but they've dipped off a bit and NiP have been surging upward. NiP did beat Liquid 16-11 on Mirage in Copenhagen. Genuinely looking forward to a high skill slugfest, perhaps even with some overtime!
Scoreline predictions for each map are below. The outcome of the banning phase is so crucial in BO1s, and this match is no different. Team Liquid needs to tread carefully here and make sure that they're ready for anything that could sneak through. They likely want some revenge for BLAST, and they certainly don't want to start the BO3s on the loser's side of the bracket.
Nuke: 16-14 NiP
Dust II: 16-11 Team Liquid
Inferno: 16-13 Team Liquid
Vertigo: NiP Permaban
Mirage: 19-17 Team Liquid
Train: Liquid Permaban
Overpass: 16-13 NiP
Don't forget, you can find the full ECS Season 8 Finals schedule updated throughout the tournament.
Picture: StarLadder / Flickr