Written By AashirAhmed - 2021-12-12
We are only a few hours from seeing the first Valorant World Champions being crowned. You can already feel the excitement and hype in the air. The Valorant Champions Tour that started in February of this year is finally coming to an end. Throughout the year, the series has produced intense tournaments in several regions around the world.
The drama and matchup at VCT 2021 - VALORANT Champions 2021 have helped the event live up to its name, especially with teams like KRU esports eliminating the likes of Sentinels and Fnatic and giving an extremely tough time to Gambit, winners of VCT 2021 - Stage 3 - Masters Berlin - Playoffs in the Semi-Finals yesterday. Each team making the tournament has managed to demonstrate that they belong on the world stage and that they deserve a great amount of respect. The Semi-Finals witnessed the elimination of Team Liquid and KRU esports at the hands of Acend and Gambit respectively.
As evident from Gambit’s campaign at the event thus far, it seems that the Russian roster had encountered difficulties maintaining a consistent performance throughout the maps despite having relatively easier opponents at least until the Semifinals. The same team that has only a single 2-1 victory in its entire run at VCT 2021 - Stage 3 - Masters Berlin - Playoffs has had only 2-1 wins in the event with the win against Team Vikings and KRU esports being solely reliant on their comeback on the last map. Having such close calls with losses is enough to prove that there are aspects of the team’s gameplay that require considerable improvement. Their matchup against KRU elapsed the greatest amount of time so far in the tournament. Gambit’s pick on Breeze went their way with little resistance from the only LATAM team, and Gambit seemed to have the momentum early on. However, like many of their preceding matchups, they couldn’t continue their performance onto the following map, Ascent, and had to surrender Ascent to KRU with a 7:13 score. If the winners of Berlin wanted a chance at the Champions Title, they needed the last map to go their way.
Nevertheless, KRU seemed reluctant to give up after their impressive run in the tournament as they had 8 rounds to Gambit’s 4 at the end of the first half. When KRU seemed to continue taking rounds even after the first half ended, Gambit knew it was about time to channel their inner beast, the same one they had unleashed against Team Vikings. So after taking five back-to-back rounds, the scoreboard now read 10:9 with KRU leading. KRU wanted to close the game so Gambit couldn’t come back, but each of their efforts was rendered futile and Gambit forced overtime – the most intense once so far in the entire tournament. After taking alternate rounds in overtime, Gambit finally managed to put an end to proceedings and closed Bind with a score of 18-16, earning them a spot in the Grand Finals.
Gambit will be facing a fellow EMEA team, one that has had faced drastic improvement since their first match in the event against the Brazilian squad Vivo Keyd, which spurred a lot of controversy within the community and a replay of the last map to determine the winner, where Acend barely managed to prevail. Since then, however, Acend has managed to execute perfect sweeps against Envy and Team Secret, both of which are reputed and well-known teams in their respective region. In today’s matchup against Team Liquid, it was expected that Acend might face difficulty keeping their ground due to the dominant form of Team Liquid in recent tournaments including a victory over EMEA in the Red Bull Home Ground #2 - Main Event. Nonetheless, Acend shocked the entire world with their performance today. Bind and Split witness total domination from the team, who left no room for Team Liquid to retaliate and gain control over the match. Team Liquid had the lead over Acend only in the 6th round of Bind when the scoreline was 3:2. It was truly a one-sided match showcasing what Acend was truly capable of.
The Grand Finals matchup will likely not disappoint given the performances we’ve witnessed from both sides in the tournament. Although Gambit has had slightly underwhelming performances compared to their run at Masters Berlin, being able to make the Grand Finals in the biggest tournament of the year is an achievement itself and is enough proof of the team’s performance. Acend, on the other hand, is looking extremely strong and their recent boost in confidence, especially after their performance against Team Liquid should serve as a warning for Gambit.
Since both teams are from the EMEA region, they’ve had the opportunity to face each other thrice in tournaments. Two of these interactions were in the same tournament: VCT 2021 - Stage 3 - EMEA - Challengers Playoffs where Acend managed to defeat Gambit in the Upper Bracket Semi-Final 2-1; however, Gambit managed to recover in the lower brackets and turned the tables on Acend at Lower Bracket Final with a 3-1 victory going on to win the tournament and the ensuing Masters Berlin as well. Nonetheless, the third time, a head-to-head between these teams took place was during the Red Bull Home Ground #2 - Main Event where Acend defeated Gambit 2-0 with a 15:13 on Split and 13:0 on Bind. Oftentimes head-to-head battles help assess the strengths and weakness of teams when pitted against the other team in the past, but according to Ayaz "nAts" Akhmetshin’s answer when he was asked:
You now face Acend in the Grand Finals, how confident are you to play them considering your only recent loss came against Acend at Redbull Home Ground?
Ayaz "nAts" Akhmetshin: Nobody cares about the Red Bull tournament when tomorrow is the final of the Champions. I don’t think anyone from our team will think about the last match in the finals.
Players to Watch: Aleksander "zeek" Zygmunt has been leading the statistics for Acend, being the third highest-rated player in the tournament with a 1.26 rating, 238 ACS, and 79% KAST. Timofey "Chronicle" Khromov has topped the charts for Gambit Esports in the event holding a 1.21 rating, 244 ACS, and 76% KAST.
Gambit Esports have had great performances on Breeze and Split so far and will look to pick them up. Acend has enjoyed playing Bind and Ascent this event, and one of the two will likely be picked in the veto. Considering Gambit’s bad history with Icebox in its first two matches, Acend might look to exploit it since they had success on it against Team Secret earlier in the event.
Acend Vladyslav "kiles" Shvets - Cypher, Viper, Killjoy Patryk "starxo" Kopczynski - Skye, Astra, Sage Santeri "BONECOLD" Sassi - Sova, Brimstone, Omen Mehmet Yağız "cNed" İpek - Jett, Sage Aleksander "zeek" Zygmunt - KAY/O, Reyna, Raze
Gambit Esports Ayaz "nAts" Akhmetshin - Cypher, Killjoy, Viper Nikita "d3ffo" Sudakov - Jett, Raze Timofey "Chronicle" Khromov - Sova, Brimstone, Killjoy Bogdan "sheydos" Naumov - Skye, Reyna, Breach Igor "Redgar" Vlasov - Astra, Breach, Sova
You can watch the grand final of Acend vs Gambit Esports live on the official VALORANT Twitch Stream.
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