OpTic and XSET advance to the semi-finals, Liquid and Fnatic will struggle to keep their hopes alive in the lower bracket
The two NA teams, who were undefeated in the VCT 2022 - Champions Istanbul group stage managed to defeat their EMEA rivals in the playoffs. In Upper Bracket Quarterfinals OpTic Gaming and XSET showed their North American skills with defeating Team Liquid and Fnatic, respectively.
Team Liquid started the playoffs with a strong performance on Breeze against OpTic Gaming. They promptly defeated the top-seeded team from North America 9-3. Despite winning a few games after the break, OpTic was defeated 13-7 by Liquid on the Breeze map. Dom "soulcas" Sulcas was the featured act on Breeze as KAY/O. He finished the map with a 1.57 KD and a 39 headshot percentage.
OpTic made a crucial play on Bind to shut out Liquid after losing the first map. Before Liquid ultimately fought back with a few rounds of their own to cut the score in half at the half, OpTic had a 5-0 advantage early on in Bind. After a few clutch exchanges between yay and crashies, OpTic was able to win the map 13-8 and moved the match to the decider map Ascent. It would be hard to accept that statistic, though, given that OpTic had a 9-0 lead over Ascent at the start of the game. Liquid struggled to begin games and continued dropping the opening frames. Nabil "Nivera" Benrlitom was the only player on Liquid who managed to win the team a few rounds with back-to-back triple kills. Liquid fell back 10-2 against OpTic for a while. As Liquid gradually won back rounds after the attack, the crowd started to fire up again. Bu then, OpTic closed the last map, Ascent, with 13-8 and achieved a 2-1 victory in the series and advanced to the semi-finals.
In front of a raucous crowd, XSET competed against Fnatic, while Istanbul's esports scene supported Fnatic's Turkish superstar Emir "Alfajer" Ali Beder. But the aggressive Pearl defensive by XSET, which Fnatic struggled to counter, quickly quieted the crowd. Matthew "Cryocells" Panganiban was a tough opponent who maintained a tight eye on B and used the tried-and-true Chamber/Operator combo to stop Fnatic from executing its executes on B. In the first half, he had an incredible 17 kills compared to just four deaths, and XSET had a 9-3 advantage after the defense. A few strong XSET force buys were repelled by Fnatic as they began to rally on defense and make their way back into the map. Through a clutch 1v2 post-plant play on A, Cryo gave XSET their first additional round of the half, but Fnatic managed to maintain a close lead with some Nikita "Derke" Sirmitev's entrance kills and clutch retakes. Jordan "AYRIN" He and Cryo worked together to pinch the Fnatic recapture the following round, XSET played quickly up B long to get on site and hold off the retake to go up 11-8. In the following round, AYRIN again heeded the summons, saving XSET from a potentially disastrous 3v2 post-plant to win map one with 13-8.
On the second map Fracture, Fnatic reacted immediately and took the lead early on the offensive side. With the crowd bonus, Alfajer thrived, waking up on Neon after a sluggish map one and racking up a ton of entry kills and post-plant anchor kills. XSET rallied with some critical retakes before the end of the half despite trailing 5-1 at one point, cutting the Fnatic lead to 7-5.
XSET started to cut into Fnatic's lead once they switched to offensive. Zachary "zekken" Patrone's Neon quickly advanced well into the sites, and Cryo continued to produce massive Chamber plays, culminating in a 9-9 stalemate. Zekken eventually gained the lead after a flawless round thanks to their constant assault, but Fnatic tied the game at 11-11. In the final round, XSET pushed into B, and took the post-plant in order to win the map 13-11 and the series 2-0.
With both North American teams moving on to the upper bracket and all three EMEA teams being demoted to the lower bracket. In the winner's bracket, XSET and OpTic will compete against one another, while Fnatic will play Liquid tomorrow.