Written By AashirAhmed - 2022-04-13
Heading into the 4th day of VCT 2022 - Stage 1 - Masters Reykjavík, eager fans will witness the conclusion of Group Stages, as well as the elimination of two teams from the event.
After OpTic defeated KRÜ Esports in yesterday’s matchup, it became eminent that the decider of Group B would be a rematch between XERXIA and OpTic Gaming. The Thai roster forced a 2-0 upset win against the favourites, and one of the best teams in NA region. Following the victory against OpTic on opening day, they were matched against Team Liquid, which went the distance so much so that Team Liquid only managed the win after triple Overtimes on the decider.
In both matchups XERXIA competed in, Thanachart "Surf" Rungarphajaratsakul and Nutchapon "sScary" Matarat have demonstrated the extent of their abilities with multiple high-impact frags across the series. Going back into this rematch, OpTic have to be wary of Surf since he was a source of constant annoyance for OpTic with his aggressive entry duels.
OpTic’s win against KRÜ Esports reinforced the impact Jaccob "yay" Whitaker’s performance alone can make on the matchup. He had a combined 1.54 Rating, 314 ACS and 1.68 KD. With that being said, the role of other teammates cannot be discounted, and as OpTic Victor stated in a tweet, the ceiling for OpTic is higher than they have achieved so far at the event:
Coming into this tournament as one of the only two NA representatives, the hopes for this team were extremely high and being eliminated from the event will be a disappointment for the roster to say the least. It is worth mentioning that, this will be the 3rd head-to-head between the teams and XERXIA (previously X10 Crit) have won two out of the three encounters against OpTic Gaming (previously Envy). While this history trends in favour of XERXIA, the NA giants are not to be underestimated in any capacity.
NIP faced Fnatic in their opening match which, due to the absence of Andrew "braveaf" Gorchakov and Nikita "Derke" Sirmitev, were forced to perform with two stand-ins. This heavily affected Fnatic's game, as a lack of chemistry was evident at several points throughout the matchup. The Brazilian team eventually defeated the European giants with a final score of 2-0 and advanced up the winner's ladder pitting them in a matchup against the sole Korean representatives at the event, DRX VS.
The matchup did not progress as NiP would’ve wanted as Kim "stax" Gu-taek led the team to a 2-0 victory with 13-4 and 13-8 scores on Icebox and Breeze respectively. Even Alexandre "xand" Zizi and Benjamin "bnj" Rabinovich, who had displayed a fascinating performance against Fnatic, couldn’t keep up with DRX’s strategies and are now forced to face off against the Japanese ZETA DIVISION to secure the Playoff spot at the event.
The matchup wouldn’t be a walk in the park for the team, especially considering the performance put up by ZETA DIVISION in today’s matchup. Coming into yesterday’s matchup, there weren’t many fans in the community with hopes for ZETA’s win after their matchup against DRX where they had one the poorest performances displayed so far at the event with 13-2 and 13-3 losses on two maps.
Nonetheless, they managed to redeem themselves in yesterday’s matchup against Fnatic. ZETA was able to upset the EMEA team by executing a perfect sweep, closing out Fracture with 13-7 and 13-11 on Icebox. With this win. 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. Shota "SugarZ3ro" Watanabe’s contributions became crucial to the outcome produced as he walked out of the matchup as the MVP with 1.57 Rating, 277 ACS, and 93.2% KAST.
Going into today’s matchup, there are no obvious favourites and rightly so since both team’s only victories at the tournament have been against a handicapped Fnatic team. It is worth mentioning that the replacements performed almost at the best they could given the circumstances and the extremely short time they had to practice with the team and get ready to play on the stage against some of the best talent around the world.
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