Failure to launch: Liquid vs Rare Atom
Liquid kicked off their ESL Pro League Season 17 group play in a rather embarrassing fashion against a team that otherwise should have been levels below the #3 HLTV-ranked lineup. Things looked bad from the start and only snowballed from there, as Liquid was stunned against Rare Atom to put themselves in a hole early.
No shoulder to lean on
Liquid’s status as a top team in the world comes with a slate of talented players in the lineup. Regardless of form, Liquid has been able to rely on the notion that at least one of the many star talents would come alive in dire moments to help create some outlet for success. Against Rare Atom, none of their star players were able to answer the call, with Mareks 'YEKINDAR' Gaļinskis as the only player to end a single map with a positive K/D. Before digging into the deeper fabrics of the game, lacking the ability to frag across the entire lineup is a sure way to lose a series.
A tale of four halves
When looking back at the two-map series, the first half of Inferno is a completely different game than the other three halves. Although it already was becoming an uncomfortable map with Liquid losing the first half 6-9, Mareks 'YEKINDAR' Gaļinskis and Josh 'oSee' Ohm had been offering something on the CT-side, giving hope to the idea they could hold on long enough for the rest of the team to enter the server. But as the previous point stated, the backup did not come, YEKINDAR and oSee could not hold on, and the team would be overwhelmed by their underdog opposition.
Over before it started
After the upset loss on Inferno, Liquid’s pick of Overpass was up. Any question of Liquid making a series of it was shot down after starting at an 0-8 deficit on the T-side. A major catalyst for Liquid’s inability to make a map of it was the team’s lack of success on first contact. Liquid ended their map pick with less than half the entry frags as Rare Atom, a metric Liquid should otherwise be expected to succeed at when assessing the specific players on the roster. This served as the main ingredient in Liquid’s recipe for the 3-16 disaster.
The game against Rare Atom is about as bad as it could have gone, with Liquid losing 0-2 to the second-lowest-ranked team in the event while winning less than 16 rounds altogether. The big but to this situation is that their lower-bracket matchup is against an also struggling ATK lineup. They did take ENCE to map three in their series earlier today, but unless both teams play to the exact form they played at today, Liquid’s talent edge should be enough to take the series. That being said, that was equally as evident in today’s series. Time will tell what version of Liquid is delivered tomorrow.