Written By AashirAhmed - 2022-04-12
With the conclusion of the third day of VCT 2022 - Stage 1 - Masters Reykjavík, DRX VS has secured a spot for the Playoff stages, meanwhile Ninjas in Pyjamas will be given a second chance at the spot tomorrow in the matchup against ZETA DIVISION, which outlasted Fnatic in Group A’s Elimination matchup at the end of the day. Finally, XERXIA will be having a rematch against OpTic Gaming, but with higher stakes and no second chances. Without further ado, let’s dissect the matchups and the events that transpired today in Reykjavik.
|Ninjas in Pyjamas||Agents||Rating||ACS||K/D||K||D||A||ADR|
Ninjas in Pyjamas’s victory against Fnatic in yesterday’s matchup left most fans shocked and in awe. Although the latter was without two notable members of their core roster, Andrew "braveaf" Gorchakov and Nikita "Derke" Sirmitev, the Brazilians outclassed them time and time again to claim the series in a 2-0 fashion. However, this victory did not seem to faze the spectacular DRX VS, which were coming into the matchup after perhaps one of the most brutal finishes in the history of Valorant LAN events with 13-2 and 13-3 map scores against ZETA DIVISION.
Even though proceedings commenced on Icebox, NiP’s map pick, DRX VS made their presence eminent from the get-go by taking the first couple of rounds with no hassle. DRX’s strong start had caught NiP off-guard, but they tried everything in their power to attempt a comeback. Nonetheless, each attempt was rendered futile, and they were able to take no more than 2 rounds by halftime when the scoreboard read 10-2 with DRX in the lead.
In the second half of the map, teams switched roles and DRX went on defense. NiP had demonstrated their potential on Attack in yesterday’s matchup, and while they had a limited window of opportunity, the game wasn’t yet over until Kim "stax" Gu-taek led the team to close out the map on rounds 16 and 17. There’s no doubt that Stax played a crucial role for DRX VS in the entire series, but his efforts produced a considerably better outcome on Icebox where he finished with a 1.54 Rating and a 264 ACS.
Both teams continued the battle on Breeze, which was DRX’s map pick. Instead of frowning upon the disadvantage they faced, NiP was eager to take command of the momentum early and direct the matchup as they wanted it. However, their success was minimal with a couple of rounds to start the map and the remaining three spaced out over the half including a well-deserved thrifty in round 11 courtesy of MiTH.
A 7-5 lead by halftime wasn’t extremely concerning for NiP as they were quick to tie it immediately after leaving the gate for the second half. With both teams on an equal footing, the matchup could’ve progressed in NiP’s favor, but DRX wasn’t looking to delay their qualification for the Playoff stages any further as they embarked on a five-round streak making it almost impossible for the opposing team for a comeback. To close out the series, Goo "Rb" Sang-Min delivered the final nail in the coffin with a 3K in round 21.
After both teams lost their first match in the group stages, OpTic against XERXIA and KRÜ Esports against Team Liquid, they were relegated to the elimination matchup, where one of the teams will bear the misfortune of having their tournament run come to a close. This high-stakes match commenced on Bind and it was the LATAM team that got the head-start after an almost perfect pistol round. The early 2 round deficit that OpTic had didn’t pose any significant problems for the team as they were not only able to mitigate the situation immediately but also put up several rounds of their own by going on a seven-round streak. To prevent OpTic’s momentum from further worsening their situation, KRÜ Esports was able to sneak an additional two rounds by halftime.
With OpTic in the lead, KRÜ Esports wasn’t in an optimal situation but their performance at VCT 2021 - VALORANT Champions 2021 had taught fans around the world to never count them out. As the KRÜ roster revised its strategies over the break, OpTic planned to continue its dominance. Since the outcome would have to inevitably side with one team, OpTic proved itself to be more deserving after taking the remaining five rounds to close out the map while limiting KRÜ to only a single round. It's difficult to overstate the importance of Jaccob "yay" Whitaker’s contribution to the team’s victory on Bind, especially after he finished with a 2.07 Rating, 388 ACS, and 2.55 K/D – the trifecta of applaudable stats.
As both teams transitioned to Ascent, KRÜ decided to pick up the pace and trend the map’s momentum in their favor from the start to give them more leeway for error down the line when OpTic is known to get more comfortable historically. A glance at the results reveals that it wasn’t as one-sided as KRÜ would’ve hoped as they could only manage a 7-5 lead by halftime. The timeout by OpTic after round 5 seemed to have helped the team make sure they are on the same page with the plays they want to run, as the score in the following rounds swayed in their favor.
Being in the lead meant that KRÜ was closer to forcing the decider than OpTic was to closing out the map. They needed to focus their efforts on maintaining consistency and limiting OpTic from gaining command of the momentum. However, this isn’t how the matchup progressed as Jimmy "Marved" Nguyen usage of Omen’s abilities was able to support OpTic’s unparalleled to close out the map.
One round after the another fell to OpTic, and KRÜ saw their chances slipping away gradually. Unfortunately, they couldn’t piece any adequate strategies to attempt a comeback and were forced to surrender Ascent 13-10. KRÜ Esports, which finished 3rd-4th at the Champions event, couldn’t live up to its fame and are one of the first teams to depart Iceland after being eliminated.
Fnatic hasn’t proven to be as threatening a team as they could be without the suspended Andrew "braveaf" Gorchakov and star man Nikita "Derke" Sirmitev. Their initial matchup at the event ended in a shocking defeat against Ninjas in Pyjamas. On the other hand, ZETA DIVISION had one of the poorest performances displayed at the event so far with 13-2 and 13-3 losses on two maps. While neither team had a pleasant experience at the tournament thus far, Fnatic were the favorites to win this matchup.
Zeta had the opportunity to commence the matchup on their map pick, Fracture. Before coming into this matchup, Fnatic had played on the map only 4 times in their competitive history and have won it every time. Zeta didn't let this statistic bother them as they opened the map on a high note with back-to-back rounds. Fnatic then decided to take a couple of rounds to their name and prevent Zeta’s momentum from spiraling out of control. To their dismay, however, the very situation they feared presented itself in full fashion as Zeta Division took six consecutive rounds to increase the lead 9-3 by halftime.
Trailing with a six-point deficit meant that the second half had higher stakes for Fnatic, and they desperately needed a comeback to gain an advantage early on in the matchup. Nonetheless, the best they could manage was four additional rounds to increase their team’s score to 7 while ZETA closed out the map with 13 rounds with key contributions from Shota "SugarZ3ro" Watanabe playing Astra, an unorthodox choice following the 4.04 patch.
Fnatic now had the advantage of battling the opposition on Icebox, their map pick. After an unfortunate loss on the pistol round, Fnatic almost took six back-to-back rounds. Before Fnatic could celebrate their achievement and keep the momentum going, Zeta decided to rival it with a four-round streak of their own to tie up the score at halftime. Fnatic’s fans were on the edges of their seats because a poor second-half performance would virtually eliminate the team from the entire tournament.
As the teams left the gate on the second, these fans heaved a sigh of relief as Fnatic seemed to finally be getting their groove on. By round 15, the score read 9-6 and four more rounds would’ve been enough to force the decider and renew their chances. The Japanese team had other plans and took seven rounds to close out the series while limiting Fnatic to only two rounds.
With this win, Fnatic have been eliminated from the tournament without Nikita "Derke" Sirmitev even having the opportunity to participate in a matchup due to COVID-19 quarantine restrictions. Meanwhile, the participants for the decider matches of each group have been decided and action will continue on Day 4 of Masters Reykjavik at the following times:
Group A Decider Match: Ninjas in Pyjamas vs ZETA DIVISION at 08:00 PM CET
Group B Decider Match: OpTic Gaming vs XERXIA at 5:00 PM CET
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