StarLadder i-League StarSeries Season 3 - Astralis and CLG in last quarter-final
The Danish juggernaut faced the surprise package from the U.S. to see who would take the last spot in the semi-finals.
de_cache - 16:11 (6:9, 10:2)
The final match of the day saw Astralis take on Counter Logic Gaming (CLG), with the Danes 1/6 favourites to take the best of three. The youngsters from the States began their trial by fire playing CT side on de_cache, and Cutler opened up with a nice kill on Dev1ce before his team closed out the win with a defuse. Gla1ve called a rush in response in the second round, which made Dupreeh the last man standing before CLG made it 2-0, and the American momentum could not be stopped even when a mistake buy from Astralis forced a pause in the action, as the score went to 3-0.
The Danes seemed off the pace, with a misplay from Kjaerbye gifting the fourth to CLG, and he was last man alive as the fifth went the same way. A plant for Astralis was slight economical comfort, but losing the sixth saw them call a timeout as they attempted to focus up and play to their potential. It seemed to work, as the score went to 6-1 and the favourites finally managed a round win, but even in victory there was frustration with Rickeh picking up two great kills to dent the Danish economy further.
Round eight went to Astralis, with nine also going their way, albeit with three kills for Koosta after the bomb had been planted that kept the Danes in famine. They kept up the pressure to win round after round though, and when CLG finally got back to winning ways at 6-5 their relief was palpable, having been under the pump for so long. They took their lead to three before Astralis called for another break at 8-5 to CLG, and the teams shared the final two rounds to end the half 9-6.
Sadly for CLG, whatever was said in the break worked for the world champions, who quickly raced into a 11-9 lead, forcing the timeout from the Americans. When the thirteenth went to Astralis for the loss of only Gla1ve, it seemed like CLG’s spirit was broken, and the retake game from the Danes was too strong. Some good work from Koosta and Rickeh gave CLG their first T side round win to make it 13-10, which became 13-11 as Astralis overreached a bit in the 24th.
Aggression from Dupreeh in the next round left Rickeh with a 1 v 2 he almost clutched, but Dev1ce displayed his legendary nerves of steel to win a one and put his side two rounds from taking the game. At 14-11 more good work from the AWPer gave Astralis map point, and despite a bomb plant to boost their finances CLG couldn’t hold back the tide, losing game one 16-11.
de_inferno - 13:16 (8:7; 5:9)
Astralis went into game two on CT side, with the map pick of Inferno expected to favour then heavily. A Glock rush gave CLG the pistol round, and the second also went their way. Some UMP kills from Ethan in the third saw them in decent shape and with a lead once more. Xyp9x got four kills in the fourth round to deflate the buoyant CLG lineup and maybe act as a reminder of the fact they’d got a lead in game one too, and the same Dane got a disgusting kill through the smoke in round five to fully get his team rolling and make it a 2-3 game.
The teams traded the next two, before Ethan had a 1 v 3 he had no chance in go south to make it four apiece. With a 75% win rate on the map in the last three months Astralis must have felt like they had enough to win, and took the lead with a clever Molotov in the ninth that gave CLG no chance of planting. They didn’t roll over though, levelling it at 5-5, and took the next as well to show there was life in the black and blue dog yet, before Koosta had a moment in the twelfth and clutched the round out vs a Danish charge.
Dupreeh’s continued aggression put his team in an awkward position again, and gave CLG a three round lead at 8-5, mirroring the position they achieved in game one. Almost as though they remembered what happened on Cache, Astralis woke up and dominated the next, looking every inch the tournament favourites, and Xy9px was able to finish off the first half by winning a one that meant his team went in 7-8 behind.
The second half was all about trying to get to de_train for CLG, and some crispy clean shots from Rickeh gave them a great start with another pistol round in their favour. The expected Danish push did not materialise, and more good play from Koosta including a four kill haul in the eighteenth saw CLG go 11-7 up, but Gla1ve responded with four of his own to make it 11-8, although Rickeh was able to save an AWP.
The twentieth went to the favourites too to make it 9-11, with both teams having men up when the bomb went off, and it was beginning to feel like Astralis had tired of the game and just wanted to get back to their hotel. Rickeh jumping into Gla1ve’s sights at the start of the next was far from ideal for CLG, but Finesse came up with a gorgeous double spray to take back the numerical advantage and help his team recover the round for a 12-9 lead.
Gla1ve called an A push to change the pace and make it 12-10 to CLG, and Cutler couldn’t clutch a 1 v 3 at the end of the twenty-third which saw Astralis get a round win after some good information gathering early, before it went to 12 apiece. At this stage it was make or break for CLG, who put the AWP in the hands of Rickeh only to see the Aussie go down first, and even some triple heroics from the consistently excellent-Koosta couldn’t rescue it for the American team.
With the Danes leading for the first time in a while, one final push was required from CLG to make it into a three-game series, but their economy was tight and options limited as a result. CLG saved into the next to mitigate that, and Dupreeh promptly opened up with a double to punish the decision, and even a collateral for Finesse couldn’t stop it from going 14-12.
The penultimate round was not a sure thing with the economy shaky for both sides, and with the red hot Ethan, top of the server at the time, was able to match Cutler’s two kills and help his team make it 14-13. Dev1ce decided that was enough though, killing three from CLG as well as his captain to make it map point, and Ethan was last man standing in the last as Astralis closed out the win, 16-13.
Credit goes to CLG, and particularly star-man Rickeh, the first Australian ever to make the playoffs in a major event, for their fantastic run through the tournament. In the end though, it was the result most of the experts predicted, and sets up a mouth-watering clash for the Danes with Na’Vi in the semi finals. The Ukrainian outfit played some incredible CS to overcome a resurgent fnatic, and Astralis will need to bring their best if they want to make another final.