In the end, it was business as usual for Astralis, who sent Liquid to the lower bracket in Bahrain to make it six victories in a row against the North Americans - five of which in series. After a close match at the ESL Pro League Season 10 Finals, just a week ago, Nick "nitr0" Cannella's troops were unable to make the most of their Inferno pick this time around, failing to take a map off the Danes for only the second time this year in series.
With Nicolai "device" Reedtz once again a far cry from his usual self, worryingly continuing his poor form from Odense, it was Peter "dupreeh" Rasmussen who stepped up for Astralis, helping the team to move into high gear on both maps after slow starts. On Friday, the Danes will face NiP, a team they lost to in their most recent match, at BLAST Pro Series Copenhagen, but have otherwise always defeated convincingly this year.
Liquid looked determined to end their winless streak on Nuke against the Danes as they enjoyed a bright start to the opening map of the series, racing to a 6-2 lead after preventing their opponents from stringing rounds together, even bouncing back from a successul force buy from Lukas "gla1ve" Rossander's troops in the second round.
A trio of kills by Emil "Magisk" Reif in a lower execution breathed new life into Astralis, who by then had already figured out Liquid's defense and entered a spell of dominance, often pressuring the North Americans by controlling the vent area. The Danes went on to take the lead but it was Liquid who ended the half on top after winning the final two rounds.
Astralis hit back with a flawless pistol round and went on to take the lead, but it would not last as Liquid immediately found the equaliser on the back of a quad-kill from Keith "NAF" Markovic. device - who had endured a rough T half - finally woke up and pulled off an ace to restore the lead for his team. But the hero of the map was dupreeh: after a recovery attempt from Liquid, the 26-year-old picked up three kills with an AK47 picked up from the floor to win an eco round and swing the tide back in the favour of his team, who controlled the map en route to a 16-12 victory.
Liquid got off to another strong start on Inferno and pinned the Dannes against the ropes after winning five of the initial six rounds of the game. But the rest of the half was all about Astralis, who put up a resolute defensive performance, especially on the A site, where dupreeh and Magisk reigned supreme to go into the break with a combined 35 frags.
Now playing on the Terrorist side, Astralis won the pistol round to further add to their lead, but they could not follow it up as Liquid hit back on a force-buy. That was the start of a dominant period from the North American team, who kept the Terrorists at bay and eventually took the lead after a botched flank attempt from gla1ve.
It looked like Liquid had the game under control, but Astralis were able to take the upper hand after another moment of brilliance from dupreeh, who wreaked havoc on the B site with four Desert Eagle headshots. The Danes prised the Liquid defense apart ruthlessly for the remainder of the half and kept the North Americans' economy in check to win five rounds in a row and wrap up the series.