Welcome back, Team Liquid.
After an up-and-down opening day from teammates Jens "Snute" Aasgaard and Dario "TLO" Wünsch, both Europeans had a breakthrough on Saturday to reach the Grand Finals of Red Bull Training Grounds along with Lim "NesTea" Jae Duk and Chris "HuK" Loranger. Snute will face Nestea and TLO will face Nestea on Sunday for the chance to take the first prize of $3,200 and the bragging rights of being the Training Grounds Orlando champion.
“I was glad I can make it into the Top 4,” said TLO. “I would have been sad had I not made it because I expected to go at least this far.”
It was far from a guarantee. After an easy 3-0 win against SeleCT on Day 1, TLO stumbled against Dennis "Succeed" Schmuck. But the German Zerg player saved his best for last against NesTea in an intense Zerg versus Zerg battle—overcoming an opening win by the Korean to take the last two games. The crowded chanted “TLO! TLO!” as Wünsch pumped his fists in victory.
As for NesTea, one observer in the Green Room at Full Sail University reported what the Zerg player said after the match on Twitter. NesTea told Red Bull eSports that he was “lucky” to advance to the finals.
“I’m happy to advance. I hope to get a lot of sleep tonight so I can do better tomorrow,” he said.
There was a point midway through Saturday’s matches where it appeared as if HuK might finish the group stage undefeated. The Canadian Protoss player impressively swept Ryan “State” Visbeck 3-0 and then took the first game in the last match of the day against Snute – who badly needed the win to survive. Widely considered the favorite going into Red Bull Training Grounds, Snute fell to State 2-1 in his first match, leaving him in a big deficit on the eve of day two of the Group Stage. But the Norwegian got his mojo back and swept Chris “Illusion” Lee and took two out of three from the previously undefeated HuK to squeak into the final four. Snute said his success was a matter of settling down from Friday’s matches.
“I had a little bit of fun last night, went out and had some drinks so I could relax,” he said. “So today I played relaxed. I expected HuK to take at least one game from me, but I was able to win two, so that was great.”
Snute and TLO both said they’d rather not play each other in the finals if they managed to advance because they knew each other’s games so well.
“I don’t know if (TLO) is better than HuK but he knows my game too well because we’ve practiced so much together. It would obviously be a great match, but it’d feel like a teamkill,” said Snute.
The rest of the field are out of the finals, but they managed quite a show. Especially impressive was the performance of Succeed, who took two out of three games against Ryoo "SeleCT" Kyung Hyun. The ROOT Gaming rookie barely missed the top 4 cut because of a tiebreaker with NesTea.
“He’s really making a name for himself,” caster MrBitters said of Succeed during the broadcast.
SeleCT almost had a moment of glory of his own after an epic 50 minute back and forth battle during Game 1 of his match with NesTea. After NesTea finally took down the fellow Korean, caster Sean "Day" Plott commented that “I almost feel like we should close out the tournament now after that.”
But alas, Red Bull Training Grounds continues on Sunday with what should prove to be an exciting semis. HuK will take on TLO while NesTea faces Snute.
Watch the livestream of Day 3 HERE.
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