These two teams last met in the Copa Elite Six grand-final after finishing the BR6 League in first and second place. Next weekend, they are also set to play in the BR6 2022 Finals grand-final to determine the 2022 Brazilian champions.
Furthermore, Liquid reached the semi-finals at the Charlotte Major, while w7m reached the semi-finals in Berlin. Now, both teams have replaced their in-game-leaders with proven title-winners. While Liquid’s history may stretch back longer, both teams have a remarkably similar recent history that will diverge at this event, as only one of them will reach their first global grand-final with this core roster.
Jumping back a few steps, while w7m and Liquid did finish in the top two of the BR6 and CES tournaments, both had w7m in first place.
W7m have beaten Liquid four times in a row over the last two stages, which includes two best-of-three map meetings. The CES grand-final, in particular, ended in a clean 2-0 result, while both their BR6 results ended with Liquid securing a combined six rounds total -- not even enough for a single game win.
Notably, this includes a 7-2 win in Stage 2, before Julio, the Six Invitational winning IGL, joined the team.
Looking at just the Six Jönköping Major, w7m are looking like the most dominant team we have seen at an event since peak-G2 Esports. Not only did they become the first team to ever have a flawless 6-0-0-0 record during a group stage, but they did it in the “group of death” that included fellow semi-finalists Team BDS -- a team they beat in regulation time twice.
Across their seven games played this tournament, they have also played and won across six maps, showing the depth of their map pool.
During the group stage the tournament’s standout player was Kheyze, who came close to beating kill records multiple times. He earnt a 78-44 K-D and 19-8 entry kill record, leading the tournament by both metrics. He also had the third highest KOST percentage, the highest of any pure fragger. These are unbelievable numbers, especially considering the calibre of their group stage opponents.
But, during the quarter-finals, Kheyze notably ended as the team’s worst player by SiegeGG Rating and had a negative three kill differential -- yet w7m gored Black Dragons anyway. This is less odd when considering he was ‘only’ the third-best player on his team by SiegeGG Rating during both Stage 3 of the BR6 and the Berlin Major, only finding an unbelievable top gear during the most recent Copa Elite Six.
He is having a dream event but it’s yet to be seen whether this level of performance is a permanent reality for Kheyze, or if a jolt from Liquid will wake him back up.
Liquid’s answer to Kheyze is Paluh, a name that needs little introduction. He was the only player to beat him in terms of SiegeGG Rating in Stage 3’s CES, as well as their most recent BR6 meeting. Throughout this tournament, he’s also had the best kill differential, owing to Kheyze’s weak quarter-final performance.
Two stages ago, we were saying very similar things about Paluh at the Charlotte Major, as Paluh ended with the second highest SiegeGG Rating and kill differential, as well as the highest entry differential. Yet, Liquid failed to win there, as their semi-final saw DarkZero eliminate them despite Paluh’s 1.36 SiegeGG Rating.
Liquid know this is a team game and that’s why their big change this stage saw a new IGL introduced -- and one that could be one day viewed as the best in the business. Lagonis has been called one of LATAM’s greatest players even before he turned 18 years-old. He has been working towards his dream of leading Liquid to a title ever since ziGuera -- Liquid’s Pro League winning IGL -- spotted his potential in a Ranked game just a month after he turned 18 and beat FaZe in his debut professional game.
Fulfilling the promise I made you over a year ago to @canalzigueira
We were playing one of those Rankeds afternoons. I still remember that this request was made at Base Hereford.
Here’s that Hello right from the Six Invitational.
At this point, Lagonis has handpicked two separate rosters and led them both to the playoffs in the space of a year. Now, even though he is working with an already-established team, he has led Liquid to the same stage with a dominant group stage performance of their own.
A win over w7m looks to be a difficult challenge, especially with nesk having largely struggled to hit his stride so far as the team’s worst player by SiegeGG Rating. On the other hand, an optimist would see this as Liquid having topped their group and having taken FaZe Clan down 2-0 even without him at his best.
If Paluh, nesk, and AsK can all perform to the levels they’ve shown in the past, they may be able to topple w7m and end an 18-game winning streak.
The w7m winning streak that began just a week after Julio made his w7m debut means that the team’s map pool is effectively perfect.
W7m have not lost on seven of the nine maps in the pool -- Bank, Border, Chalet, Club House, Skyscraper, Villa, and Theme Park -- this stage. They had banned Theme Park banned 42 times this year with zero plays, which forced Black Dragons into picking it yesterday, only for w7m to win 7-2.
The only maps w7m have lost are Kafe and Oregon, but they still have positive records on the two maps. They lost Kafe 7-8 to FURIA in the BR6 Finals and 6-8 against FaZe in Stage 3. They also beat Liquid here 7-4 during Stage 3.
As for Oregon, they lost that against MIBR, 3-7 (their last match loss in 19 games), Black Dragons 4-7, and Liquid, 6-8.
This means they have effectively one bad map in a pool of nine, but Liquid still needed overtime to beat them there. This is an intimidating situation to go up against.
Liquid’s own map pool is fairly competent by most team’s standards as they particularly excel on Oregon, Villa, and Theme Park. In comparison to w7m’s, though, it’s hard to find a route to victory as it is almost certain w7m will have no interest in allowing Liquid a chance at Oregon.
To win a BO3, Liquid likely need to force Villa and Theme Park picks… then win on both. Given w7m’s win streak, their map records, Kheyze individual performance, and Julio’s own IGL-ing skills, it’s hard to imagine that Liquid will get any other opportunities.
It may certainly feel weird to think of a Liquid win as an upset, but, for the first time in years, they are clearly the underdogs.
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