Written By AashirAhmed - 2021-12-04
Apart from a few hiccups, VCT 2021 - VALORANT Champions 2021 has managed to surpass the expectations of the entire community. The intensity of each match played out, and the interesting storylines they produce have resulted in a viewing experience better than anyone could have asked for. Day 4 was no exception to this rule, especially since the outcome of today’s matches decided the first seed placements from the three groups.
This series did not fail to disappoint. Even though it might’ve seemed like a one-sided competition on paper considering Gambit’s latest achievement at VCT 2021 - Stage 3 - Masters Berlin - Playoffs, Team Vikings’ form was dominant on the last two maps and Gambit barely managed to take the victory. The map picks for this matchup were Split (Gambit), Blind (Team Vikings), Icebox (Decider). Team Vikings maintain a formidable defense for the first four rounds on Split, but that was just enough time for Gambit to understand their playstyle and devise a strategy to counter it effectively. Following Timofey "Chronicle" Khromov’s amazing resistance to the stun, Gambit secured six consecutive rounds and then went on to finish the half at a 7:5 score. Team Vikings desperately needed a strong start to the second half to attempt a comeback, but Gambit’s defense didn’t budge and except for the 15th round, it was a walk in the park for them ending split on 13:6.
Bind, being Team Vikings’ map pick, presented a renewed sense of hope and they used all the tricks up their sleeves to capitalize on this opportunity. With almost six back-to-back rounds and an ace to start the map, Team Vikings clearly had the upper hand, but Gambit insisted on finding a way to turn this map around and they were successful – only briefly though. An 8:4 score rounded up the first half, and the latter half wasn’t any better for Gambit to make a strong case, as Team Vikings closed the map with a 13:5 score.
The way this series was shaping up had already turned the heads of many. However, if the previous two maps weren’t enough to get adrenaline coursing through your veins, Icebox – at least its second half -- will surely complete the task. When the proceedings commenced on Icebox, Team Vikings overpowered their opposition by taking 9 rounds to Gambit’s 3 at the end of the first half courtesy of stunning plays from Gustavo "Sacy" Rossi. At this point, all hopes for the winners of Masters Berlin seemed to be lost and Team Vikings thought their path to the playoffs would be free of any obstacles. Nonetheless, Gambit believed they could still comeback and despite being 12-5 on round 17th, they managed to force overtime with seven consecutive wins rounds on defense. Team Vikings were taken by surprise and had no time to react, and even with the map going to overtime, they couldn’t stop Gambit from defusing their spike losing Icebox with a 14:12 score to Gambit.
Although Team Vikings couldn’t win, Gustavo "Sacy" Rossi was named the series MVP with a 1.46 rating, 266 ACS, and 177.2 ADR.
The series termed by many as the preview of the grand finals certainly lived up to its name. But before we dive into the specifics of the matchup, the maps played included Breeze (Team Liquid), Bind (Sentinels), Split (decider).
Breeze witnessed a strong defensive position from Sentinels, which was an improvement compared to their previous match against FURIA. At the half, the scoreboard read 8:4 to Sentinels as Team Liquid managed to secure a few rounds by elimination since all their plants were negated by Sentinels. In one of these rounds, Elias "Jamppi" Olkkonen flexed his Sova utility usage by securing three kills with hunter fury. While Sentinels did have the advantage going into the second half, Team Liquid was determined to turn the tables around and subject Sentinels to their defense strategy. After an intense second half, the map went into overtime. Fans of both teams were able to experience the intense drama they were hoping this series would produce. Overtime was dominated by Team Liquid, as they eliminated the NA roster in both rounds.
Sentinels were adamant to seek revenge and didn’t hold back on Bind for even a moment. It was Sentinels, rather Tyson "TenZ" Ngo’s supremacy throughout that forced Team Liquid to only take 2 rounds while Sentinels took the other 13 to close out Bind.
With another match to go the distance, the community was getting hyped up. The decider map would finalize the first seed in the group, and there was no better a rivalry in the competitive scene than there was between the EU and NA regions. Carrying the hopes of respective regions, each team started Split by alternating two rounds apiece till the 7th round from where the pattern got distorted. Nevertheless, at the half, both teams were tied with a 6:6 score. There was nervousness and excitement in the air, so much so that the audience could feel it even through their devices. As soon as the second half commenced, Sentinels wasted no time taking the first two rounds. Team Liquid secured the following couple of rounds, only to be restricted by this mind-blowing play in the 17th round.
With a 10-8 score, Sentinels seemed confident to have cleared the danger and planned to close the map as soon as they could. Team Liquid wasn’t done yet. They channeled their inner strengths and attempted a risky offensive strategy coupled with tactical utility usage. As Team Liquid started securing round after round, NA fans were at the edge of their seats hoping for a final comeback but Adil "ScreaM" Benrlitom, the series MVP with a 1.53 rating and a stunning 321 ACS, didn’t allow that to happen. With an impressive team performance, Team Liquid closed the map with a 13:10 score and was crowned the #1 seed of Group B.
Although Envy was scheduled to compete against Acend after the ruling yesterday, the VALORANT Champions Tour released a statement on Twitter reading: “Upon further deliberation, matches in Group A will be delayed to provide additional time to review the ruling against Vivo Keyd. Today’s matches will feature Team Vikings vs Gambit and Team Liquid vs Sentinels. The broadcast will begin 1 hour later than initially scheduled.”
VALORANT Champions was on the verge of being suspended after a spike of alleged positive COVID-19 results. But before today, COVID had already compromised Nabil "Nivera" Benrlitom of Team Liquid and Victor "Victor" Wong of Envy, with both players competing from isolation. Riot Games released a statement with an update on the COVID-19 scenario which mentions that all players are required to participate in daily fast antigen testing and bi-weekly PCR, tests as a precaution. Several players had a positive test result in rapid-fire testing causing the initial scare amongst players who expressed their concerns via several tweets.
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