After months of anticipation, we don’t even have to wait for ESL One Cologne. The prayers have been answered, and the most exciting matchup you could have wished for is taking place at ESL Season 9 Finals in Montpellier, between the greatest team Europe has ever produced and the best NA has ever had to offer. Yes, it's Team Liquid vs Astralis and it's in the … lower bracket, or quarter-finals.
Strange as it may seem to people who started watching CSGO last year, or Dota 2 fans, the world’s best teams do not win all the time, and both of these sides have already let themselves down a bit at this event. Team Liquid followed their loss to Team Spirit at the Cologne qualifier with a stupid defeat at the hands of a resurgent North, while Astralis managed to drop a best-of-three series to an NRG team that has already decided to split after this event.
Catch the action: Team Liquid vs Astralis live stream and latest betting odds
The loss to North is one thing, but the Astralis defeat by NRG might be more worrying, and throw their favourite status in this matchup into doubt. Over three maps they were unable to beat a team that has cut their in-game leader and was practising with a different player this week, where previously the Bo3 and Bo5 was the Danish team’s strong suit, as they could flex, learn and adapt on the fly.
Liquid vs Astralis live betting
Team Liquid vs Astralis is due to start at 6.50pm BST on Friday. The full ESL Pro League Season 9 Finals schedule and bracket is in this article.
At 1.66, the Danes are favourites, with Team Liquid rated 2.10 prior to the start of the action, but as we said that will be mainly predicated on their head-to-head, which is approaching ancient history at this stage. Their last matches outside of the Blast Pro Circus (which went Liquid’s way in April) were a 2-1 Bo3 win for Liquid at iBuyPower in January, and then the ESL Season 8 finals, where Astralis won the series 3-1 over the NA team, ironically in one of their last big performances outside of the Major.
Related: Why betting on Team Liquid is a risky business
You should expect this to be spicy though, and maybe have a knife or two in map one (4.33 on Luckbox) as the likes of Stewie and maybe Twistzz look to make this a dominant performance to really stamp down on the Danish neck. With Astralis rated second in the world still, this game has the potential to influence things in the coming weeks and months, including ESL One Cologne and the Major, so expect to see the pressure ramp up as the rounds unfold.
Whoever wins plays on Saturday, while the loser goes home, meaning this is the only time we’ll see them meet at this event at least. Expect fireworks from these two, who have a lot to prove here, in a game that means more even than the hundreds of thousands of dollars they could win at the event. This is a battle for a psychological edge that could last until Berlin, and not a game you want to miss.
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Pictures: Copyright Helena Kristiansson / ESL