World’s No. 1 team Astralis are through to the grand final of IEM Chicago, after prevailing over Fnatic 2-1 in a heart-stopper of a series. This marks the Danes third grand final this fall and their ninth total in 2018.
It was business as usual for the reigning Major champions when the series began as Astralis took a 12-3 T side on Dust II. Fnatic made it dangerously close for their opponents, however, despiteAndreas “Xyp9x” Højsleth phenomenal clutching. While Astralis did take the map 16-14, the game was a testament to just how unfazed Fnatic were against the world’s best team.
Full of confidence and firepower, Fnatic equalized on Mirage. The map went round for round during the first half, ending 8-7, but the Swedes closed it at 16-12 eventually and a third map was on the way.
Inferno came as the closing battlefield and by the end of Fnatic’s T half, the series had made a 180-degree flip. The Swedes entered the second half of the map leading 11-4, with Astralis in a very uncomfortable position.
But this series was meant to be epic. With backs against the wall and match point for Fnatic, Astralis made an improbable comeback and Inferno entered overtime.
— ESL Counter-Strike (@ESLCS) November 10, 2018
Richard “Xizt” Landström almost became the hero for Fnatic, clutching a key round during OT on top of his stellar series-wide performance, but it was not enough. Xyp9x continued to be the MVP for Astralis and some great positioning in the 36th round were key to the Danes’ hard-fought victory. Although coming closer than any team recently to beating Astralis, Fnatic had to go home.
If Astralis win IEM Chicago tomorrow, they will be within one championship of also claiming the Intel Grand Slam. The Danes will get a good chance to take the $1 million prize pool, playing in front of their home crowd in Odense at the ESL Season 8 Finals in December.
Before that happens, Astralis will have to beat the winner of FaZe Clan and Team Liquid, which are playing in the second semifinal of IEM Chicago.