All it took was one tournament in a new environment for the North Americans to finally break their Big Event duck. After multiple semi-final finishes and just one final appearance to account for, the team finally have a Big Event title under their belt, and it would be almost impossible to imagine a better way to sign off such a perfect campaign than by taking down an Astralis side eager to build on their Major success and knock Liquid off the throne.
With Liquid no longer around, Evil Geniuses had the crowd at the Barclays Center fully behind them, and they returned the support with a master-class performance that will certainly feed their ambitions to become a regular title contender. They outplayed and outsmarted Astralis for the vast majority of the series – only letting Train slip away as nerves got to them – to remind everyone of their potential and brush off suggestions that the second tournament season of 2019 will be a two-horse race between the Danes and Liquid.
Evil Geniuses made an early statement of intent as they took control from the offset on Inferno, Astralis‘ map pick, forcing Lukas “gla1ve” Rossander to call his first timeout just five rounds into the game. After catching their breath, Astralis finally managed to break that streak, but the North Americans quickly got back on track and went on another dream run to end a near-flawless CT side display with a commanding 13-2 lead.
More misery was to come for Astralis as they were picked up in the second half pistol. After finding themselves down 2-15, the Danes still attempted a response, but the North Americans would close it out in style in the next round to secure the lead in the series, leaving the Major champions shellshocked at having been on the receiving end of a beatdown.
Astralis bounced back with a clean pistol round on Dust2 before Evil Geniuses replied on a very weak buy as Tarik “tarik” Celik wreaked havoc with a p250 in hand. The North Americans used that momentum to build an early lead, but it would not last as the Danes refused to let the game drift away. The final stages of the half were highly contested, thought things could have taken a different turn had Emil “Magisk” Reif not been in such rich form. The 21-year-old was a nuisance for EG throughout the half on the B site, racking up 16 frags and averaging 130 damage as Astralis took a narrow 8-7 lead into the break.
A successful A split in the second half pistol kicked Astralis further into the lead and marked the beginning of a solid streak from the Danish side. But as soon as Evil Geniuses‘ players began to hit their shots, the Terrorists fell off the pace. gla1ve‘s charges looked shaken as the North Americans started to narrow the gap and made some uncharacteristic mistakes, such as letting the clock run out twice. With the momentum firmly in their favour, EG kept Astralis‘ players at bay and locked down the map in convincing fashion after winning nine rounds in a row.
The North Americans carried their momentum into Train and raced to a 7-2 lead on the CT side after preventing their opponents from stringing rounds together or building up an economy. Astralis then picked up the pace and gradually took the upper hand, bringing the deficit to a solitary round after a dominant run in the closing stages of the half.
Evil Geniuses further added to their lead after taking the second half pistol, but then Peter “dupreeh” Rasmussen came to Astralis‘ rescue with the Desert Eagle. That round breathed new life into the Danish team and welded them together, but the former NRG squad would soon regain control of proceedings. They reached championship point at 15-11 but could not deliver the final blow, allowing Astralis to force overtime after a series of nail-biting rounds.
The first overtime could not determine a winner as both teams won two rounds on the CT side, with Evil Geniuses coming back from two map points down. But then a lackluster defensive display on their part in the second overtime proved costly and allowed Astralis to run rampant and finally get a map on the board in this series.
Evil Geniuses looked unfazed by the setback on Train and got off to a flying start on Nuke as they strolled to an 8-1 lead on the Terrorist side. The game was starting to get away from Astralis, but the Danes tightened up their defense and won the remaining rounds of the half to keep their comeback hopes alive.
But this time around there would be no stopping Evil Geniuses. The North Americans kept a water-tight defense and won the opening six rounds of the half to get within touching distance of victory. A triple-kill from Magisk put Astralis on the board, but the Danes’ hopes were then crushed as Ethan “Ethan” Arnold clutched a 1v2 situation before tarik secured the map for his team with a crucial trio of kills.
ESL One New York final standings: