Written By AashirAhmed - 2022-07-23
After one year and six months of VCT competitions, VCT 2022 - Stage 2 - Masters Copenhagen became the first Masters event to allow audience inside the venue for an in-person experience of the intense battles between the best teams around the world. Fortunately for the attendees, the outcome of both matches relied on the decider which resulted in the entertainment value multiplying by several folds. If you were unable to tune into yesterday’s matchups. Here’s a detailed recap of each match.
Considering that this Series was the Upper Bracket Finals, both teams were coming off a dominant start to the Playoff Stages with OpTic Gaming being forced to relegate their NA counterparts XSET and then the Korean giants DRX VS. Meanwhile the APAC Challengers were able to walk past two EMEA teams Guild Esports and Fnatic without breaking a sweat. OpTic earned the Masters title last time around in Reykjavik and were keen on repeating the same narrative this time around. With a strong intent to win the event, they initiated proceedings on Haven hoping to get an early advantage on their map pick.
They were successful in securing two rounds early on, and were moments away from building a formidable streak when Paper Rex’s aggression increased and the tables began turning in their favour. The difference in each team’s confidence became eminent and one round after another fell to the Paper Rex enabling a surprising 9-3 end to the first half. Leading the efforts on Offense were Jason "f0rsakeN" Susanto and Khalish "d4v41" Rusyaidee finishing the half with 28 kills on a combined death count of 12. OpTic was in the least optimal situation they could’ve hoped for, but their ability to thrive under pressure and their vast tournament history still kept the hopes alive for a possible comeback. Despite leaving the gate with this mentality, their Offense couldn’t keep up and Paper Rex closed out on a 13-3 final score.
Both teams then moved to Bind where OpTic was more than eager to seek vengeance for their sub-par performance earlier. Upon leaving the gates, the roster restrained themselves to their usual Defensive positions and executed their plan flawlessly to enable an early seven-round streak. Paper Rex knew better than to let themselves be vulnerable as they barely managed to sneak three rounds by halftime. A 9-3 scoreline has often seen surprising comebacks, and it seemed like Paper Rex could do so again as they had reduced the lead to 9-12 by the 21st round. To the dismay of their fans, however, Jaccob "yay" Whitaker held out allowing their roster to compete on the Decider for another shot at winning the Series.
Fracture was selected as the map to decide the fate of these teams, and Paper Rex were smart enough to capitalize on the opportunity early on. After taking the first couple of rounds, they faced unexpected ferocity from OpTic’s offense dealing with which cost them three rounds. In the long run, however, that cost became negligible as the score line kept gravitating in Paper Rex’s favor each passing round courtesy of Benedict "Benkai" Tan and coincidentally for the third time in this series the half ended with a 9-3 score. OpTic witnessed an early Grand Finals qualification slip from their very hands, but they couldn’t do much to prevent the outcome from changing as Paper Rex ended the map on 13-5.
Having a rematch in a tournament as prestigious as the Masters is an onlooker’s dream come true as fans from the winning team remain keen on talking down to the opposition, while the latter desperately hope for revenge. With a dramatic storyline already set in place, Split was the first to host both teams, an unexpected outcome for FPX’s map pick considering their recent matchup history. FPX used the easy pistol round take two subsequent rounds allowing them to instill panic in the FNC roster earlier on and post an 8-4 lead by halftime.
However, having played on several occasions against FPX was enough for Fnatic to turn the once they were playing Offense. They were able to start the second half on a high note with three consecutive rounds, and just when their path to an early close-out was looking clear FPX increased the deficit to a further three rounds. Fnatic came to realize the predicament they were in and tried to change the outcome by stringing more than a handful of rounds together. This attempt was crucial to their relative success as they were not only able to force Overtime but also gain a 1-0 lead. A loss on Ascent became the perfect prelude to fuel FPX’s desire for vengeance.
As teams let the gate, FPX’s roster banded together and executed a considerably efficient Defensive half to score seven of the twelve rounds. Nonetheless, the situation only worsened from there as FPX increased the five-point lead to nine points in the subsequent four rounds. Fnatic briefly retaliated with a couple of rounds before realizing that it was futile and surrendering the map to FPX.
Teams then moved to Fracture, which was selected as the decider. FPX was keen on sealing their revenge arc and they demonstrated their intent to do so from the get-go by embarking on a six-round streak followed by three intermittent rounds to end the half on 9-3 score. Even when sides changed, their Offense managed to maintain the consistency in their performance and close out the series finalizing their ticket to the Lower Bracket finals.
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