Back in business: Liquid vs Rare Atom
Entering round four of ESL Pro League group play, fans and spectators alike could not pinpoint what version of Liquid would enter the server, as we have seen swinging levels of form throughout group play from Liquid. This game carried more implications than just elimination, as this was also a revenge game for Liquid from the opening round. On the second attempt against Rare Atom, Liquid was in its most complete form and it showed.
Flipping the script
Regardless of the reason, Liquid looked very unprepared in their first matchup against Rare Atom, and frankly, for a lot of the matches in groups. With their backs against the wall, Liquid looked like a different version of themselves, seemingly correcting everything that went wrong in their first matchup. Specifically, as a team that feeds off impact plays and each player’s form, all five appendages getting their numbers is a great catalyst for the mechanically sound, and sometimes dependent, Liquid lineup,
One too many tricks
Rare Atom was able to surprise Liquid on Inferno to start their opening round upset off a 6-9 first-half win before eventually closing it 16-11. In the second series, however, Rare Atom opted against picking Inferno despite their recent success and it is the lineup’s best map. With a perfect 6-0 record over the last month, one would think to stick with your guns in another upset setting. Instead, Rare Atom went for Nuke, another top map for them and another bottom map for Liquid. Although it's impossible to gauge how Inferno would have gone this time, a 7-16 stomping left more to be desired on their pick of Nuke.
The sleeping giant has awakened
Liquid largely lives and dies on a three-headed beast of an arsenal powered by the abilities of their known star trio. The performances of Jonathan “EliGE” Jablonowski, Keith “NAF” Markovic, Mareks “YEKINDAR” Gaļinskis are key contingencies for whether Liquid succeeds in a series or event. With all three of them playing well, especially NAF and YEKINDAR ending over 100 ADR through 44 rounds, their form was far too much for Rare Atom to overcome as the less complete team.
Liquid is slated to face the winner of Astralis and Spirit later this afternoon. The prospects of a revenge game versus Spirit is especially juicy from a narrative sense, but would also be a litmus test for Liquid’s newfound form following the Rare Atom revenge game. As for Astralis, the matchup would certainly be an easier path for them rather than Spirit despite their well-documented struggles against Astralis’ historic core. However, Liquid’s rocky form leaves room for concern moving forward, regardless of which opponent they face.