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The price of Bitcoin has stalled again around its current levels as an explosion in downside volatility broke critical support. The cryptocurrency is trapped between major players waiting and positioning for the next move; which side will prevail in this battle?

As of this writing, Bitcoin trades at $26,000 with sideways movement in the last 24 hours. In the previous seven days, the cryptocurrency recorded a 12% correction which has severely impacted other assets in the sector, notably XRP and Binance Coin (BNB), which recorded losses north of 15% in the same period.

Retail Traders Likely To Push Bitcoin Price Lower?

In a report from Bitfinex Alpha, an analyst points out the influence of the derivatives sector on the spot Bitcoin price. Last week, BTC’s volatility was compressed, declining into historical lows, but a negative delta (high selling pressure) persisted, moving the price lower.

At the time, Bitcoin dropped enough to trigger a liquidation cascade, which was potentially worsened by a prominent trader being forced out of their position on a crypto exchange, the report speculated. The chart below shows that Open Interest in the derivatives sector followed BTC’s price action.

This market dynamics left Bitcoin in its current state. Analysts from Material Indicators called it a “game of chicken” between prominent players waiting to see if enough liquidity will be added to support the current levels or if the selling pressure will return.

The analysts indicated that the BTC price orderbook is the thinnest in 6 months while adding the following:

(…) we are seeing small amounts of bid liquidity ladder up from $20k closer to the active trading zone, but no liquidity of any size (new or moved) has been stacked into the range defending price from a Lower Low. Needless to say, printing a LL in this TF has macro implications. Printing 2 LLs would push #BTC down to sub $20k levels.

Material Indicators showed that when the price of Bitcoin broke below critical support, most of the selling was done by relatively small traders. However, whales likely used small selling orders to reduce slippage and push prices down to current levels.

A similar scenario seems likely if the BTC price slowly bleeds into critical support triggering another liquidation cascade. In the meantime, the number one cryptocurrency seems bound to carry on its game of Chicken between large players.

Cover image from Unsplash, chart from Tradingview

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