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VCT 2022 - LATAM - Stage 1 - Challengers Playoffs Recap

Written By    AashirAhmed  -  share on

When the LATAM Playoffs concluded and KRÜ Esports secured the spot at VCT 2022 - Stage 1 - Masters Reykjavík, it seemed like no one was surprised by the outcome and rightly so since the team has been dominating the region for as long as anyone can remember remaining undisputed from May 2021 until the recent VCT 2022 - LATAM South - Stage 1 - Challengers. However, their success wasn’t limited to only regional tournaments as they became one of the only three teams to qualify for all three international competitions in 2021, including VCT 2021 - VALORANT Champions 2021 where they shocked the world with their spectacular performance and a 3rd-4th place finish amongst the 16 best teams to play the game.

Given their consistent performances, their off-season was relatively uneventful except the departure of Fergus "ferg" Stephenson, who had been the head coach for the team throughout VCT 2021. Furthermore, Héctor "Wait" Paucay was signed as a substitute and Alan "ddx" Salvati as an Analyst. Their performance in the previous VCT season had given them a direct invite to VCT 2022 - LATAM South - Stage 1 - Challengers bypassing the Qualifiers stage. The six qualified teams at the event engaged in battles over four consecutive weekends. One team after another fell victim to KRÜ’s dominance enabling their 5-0 finish at the conclusion of Group Stages and seeding them in the Upper Bracket final against Leviatán Esports, the new home to their former coach.

KRU Esports celebrating on stage after their victory in the Quarterfinals Stage at VALORANT Champions. Credit: Riot Games
KRU Esports celebrating on stage after their victory in the Quarterfinals Stage at VALORANT Champions. Credit: Riot Games

Despite having defeated them 2-0 in the Group Stages, Leviatán Esports put on an unexpected performance catching KRÜ Esports off-guard and closing the match after back-to-back map wins with 13-2 and 13-10 scores respectively. The structure of the tournament awarded KRÜ Esports with another opportunity to come back and take the second available spot for VCT 2022 - LATAM - Stage 1 - Challengers Playoffs by facing off against 9z Team. This matchup proved to be a stroll in the park for the Champions participants as they limited their opponents to less than 5 rounds on both maps.

In the first matchup of VCT 2022 - LATAM - Stage 1 - Challengers Playoffs, KRÜ Esports were pitted against the winners of VCT 2022 - LATAM North - Stage 1 - Challengers. E-Xolos LAZER’s performance in this matchup became the reason for the KRÜ’s second defeat in regional tournaments in almost a year of competition. Nonetheless, the presence of Lower Brackets once again rescued KRÜ Esports’ chances of making Masters Iceland. They now faced Fusion, which faced relegation after the loss to Leviatán Esports. This matchup was an entirely one-sided affair from the get-go. Fusion couldn’t even slow down KRÜ’s momentum, let alone pose a challenge to them. The matchup ended 2-0 to KRÜ after 13-4 and 13-1 wins on Haven and Bind respectively. This victory propelled them to the second round of Lower Brackets, which became a rematch against E-Xolos LAZER and a potential opportunity for KRÜ to give them a taste of their own medicine.

As the teams left gate for the matchup, this opportunity manifested as reality and before anyone could digest the unfolding events, the matchup was over with a 2-0 score to KRÜ Esports qualifying them for the Grand Finals and getting them a step closer to the Masters spot. As you might’ve already guessed, their oppoenents in the Grand Finals were Leviatán Esports and given the recent history between these teams, neither were the absolute favourites; therefore, increasing the hype and anticipation surrounding the matchup.

This Bo5 matchup began on Breeze, which, after an intense battle, proceeded to Overtime twice with Roberto "Mazino" Rivas coming in clutch to secure the win. Unfortunately, the following two maps, Haven and Ascent, weren’t as lucky for KRÜ as they fell 13-9 and 14-12 to Leviatán Esports. Being down 2-1 in the matchup seemed to have awakened the inner beast in KRÜ Esports’ as they turned the game around with back-to-back map wins with a significant score difference on both of them. This win secured their ticket to VCT 2022 - Stage 1 - Masters Reykjavík, while giving Leviatán Esports another opportunity in a matchup against Ninjas in Pyjamas at VCT 2022 - Stage 1 - Challengers - South America Playoff.

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