Image: Ubisoft/Kirill Bashkirov
Team Liquid were LATAM's first champions and LATAM's first two time champions. The Pro League and Minor titles aren't a Major however, and while NiP, FaZe, and oNe each reaped the benefits of LATAM's recent dominance, Liquid have been left on the sidelines.
Losing the SI 2021 and DreamHack Montreal 2019 grand-finals, the Charlotte Major semi-final, and the both the SI 2019 and 2018 quarter-finals have all added to a feeling that Liquid's time must be near. Now, the signing of Lagonis, a player who has won a Major before, will go great lengths in bolstering fan's hopes.
On the other hand, FaZe have already done that. A year ago in Sweden itself, they lifted the trophy and when they returned to Europe for the Berlin Major, they made it to the grand-final.
They've had a fairly bad group stage by their standards, though, and after day two, Dire Wolves posed a real threat to their Major prospects. But FaZe still managed to pull through and are here, in a meeting they've gotten very used to throughout the years.
Liquid have a great track record in recent head to heads… but they haven't had strong results. During Stage 3, three maps ended in 15-round contests, while the other three were blowouts.
While Liquid have since got more used to Lagonis as their leader, the game will likely still be decided on a knife’s edge.
As with the Wolves vs BDS game, it's a case of recent form versus past performance. Liquid dominated the groups and have the head-to-head, while FaZe have the winning history with this identical roster.
Firstly, FaZe Clan have a ridiculous win record on Kafe, having only lost once and won 17 times since SI 2021. This was the map they closed out their Sweden Major title on and it's here where they took down Wolves Esports in the group stage.
This is a massive bonus for FaZe in BO3s, as opponents only have one ban before FaZe get to pick a map.
In the past BO3s, Liquid have won 2-0 on Bank and Theme Park, 2-1 on Villa, Chalet, and Border, Theme Park which Liquid won. Meanwhile, in BO1s, Liquid have won on Villa, while FaZe have won on Theme Park.
Both teams have thus clashed on six out of the nine maps in the competitive pool. The only ones not to come up were Clubhouse, which is almost always Liquid's first ban, Skyscraper, which FaZe remove second in BO3s while Liquid banned it in BO1s, and Oregon, which is usually a FaZe ban.
As such, it could be any three of the six, or even the three oft-banned maps, picked later today.
Looking at their group stage results, Liquid's biggest obstacle towards a Major title surprisingly seems to be Nesk's performance.
While he is playing on an aggressive role and operator, Nokk, he is currently the worst player by SiegeGG Rating on the team below Lagonis and has the second-fewest amount of kills. This is a far cry from the Nesk we're used to, but is in a large part due to a team-wide change.
Liquid's entry duo is now AsK and Nesk, rather than Paluh and nesk. This has led to AsK having a plus six opening differential, while nesk is at minus five. Across the team, this evens out to a plus one -- middle of the pack.
We know nesk can tear through teams on his own, so this could be an issue with the team not making most use of him. The changes have allowed Paluh to regain his peak performance, though, so it's definitely been a worthwhile change, but activating nesk could be what's needed to take this title.
At this Major, FaZe have the worst attack win rate of all playoff teams. While they do somewhat make up for it with one of the best defences, this is still a major weakness.
This is largely due to the fact that FaZe's "best" overall fragger is also their Thermite main, as Soulz1 led the kill differential while earning just three fewer kills than Astro on Zofia. Most of this is his defensive performance, however. On the attack, Soulz1 is the second lowest Rated, ahead of just Astro himself.
As such, Soulz1 has been unable to do either of his jobs on the attack, as he's dying before getting kills himself or managing to plant the defuser. This has caused both Astro and soulz1 to only have three defuser plants each, compared to nine for Lagonis.
Effectively FaZe are missing an MVP-worthy performance from the Sweden Major MVP, showing how key he was during that campaign.
It's effectively impossible to call before we see the map bans, but Liquid fans will be most confident given their form in the Major. However, this is a Brazilian derby that is the biggest match in that region and could see all international form fly out the window.
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