Even in bottom form, Liquid are clear favorites in this one

What to expect from ATK v. Liquid

The two NA representatives go head to head.

Yesterday was tough for NA fans, to say the least. Liquid kicked the day off with a rock-bottom performance against Rare Atom, a team that should never be beating Liquid in this setting. Following the depressing result, ATK failed to act on the potential upset, falling 1-2 to ENCE to force both teams into the lower bracket. With both teams off to a poor start, something has to give in order to see one succeed.

Stick with what you know

Both ATK and Liquid were fortunate enough to play into favorable maps in their series thanks to the picks and bans. On paper, these would be favorable situations but yesterday was a different story. Despite the disappointing results for both teams on both maps, they cannot shy away from their strengths. Regardless of yesterday’s scores, in their current forms, their foundational strengths are all they can depend on.

  • Although a win has escaped ATK on Ancient, they’ve established comfort in picking it with this lineup.

  • Liquid’s only experience with Ancient this year comes by way of two OG selections at BLAST events. Their lack of comfort compliments ATK’s willingness to play it.

  • Looking at Liquid, challenging ATK on their familiar field of Inferno is sure means to lean on a comfort map despite the sour 2023 record

  • For Liquid, it is a sound prospect to play a map that allows for forcing fights fast to quickly make the mechanical gap evident and build off it.

Back to business or DEFCON 1?

When you strip away stats, analytics, and other considerations that can sway a series, the two teams carry a distinctly different level of talent in their starting lineup. This assessment is not meant as a direct slight to ATK, but Liquid does boast three event MVPs and former HLTV top 20 selections compared to a strong ATK core that is still searching for an identity with a full five. It is hard to envision an ATK win without some semantics or another awful Liquid performance involved. For Liquid, this series will either be back to business for DEFCON 1.

  • Nine MVPs and ten HLTV top 20s across Liquid’s lineup while ATK is looking for their first in both

  • With ATK being the third-lowest HLTV-ranked team at the event, this matchup carries a similar upset mystique of the Rare Atom series when factoring in rankings and talent

  • Before getting caught up in the tactics and emotions of the competition, Liquid’s players need to stick to their strengths

Likely vetos

The picks and bans on paper look to favor Liquid in a matchup that already leans in their court. ATK’s certain banning of Nuke plays favorably to Liquid’s dislike of that and Vertigo, both of which are their primary bans over the last five matchups. Knowing these two teams, assuming Liquid picks Overpass and ATK bans Nuke is fair game. As the map continues to whittle down, it only plays further in Liquid’s court.

  • ATK ban Nuke as it is their perma

  • Liquid ban Vertigo, knocking out both maps they’ve banned first on the year

  • ATK pick Ancient

  • Liquid pick Overpass, as they’ve done almost every time this year

  • All signs point to Inferno as the decider unless Liquid themselves opt against going into the fire one more time after the loss to Rare Atom. Going back to their strengths, Inferno seems like an easier hurdle to jump than Mirage as a decider versus ATK, especially since Anubis isn’t likely to make it through ATK’s second ban

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