ZETA DIVISION and Paper Rex continued their marauding runs through the Lower Bracket with wins over DRX VS and G2 Esports. They are now set to face off against each other in the Lower Bracket round 3 on Friday, while the Koreans and Europeans are out of the tournament.
VCT 2022 - Stage 1 - Masters Reykjavík
Lower Bracket Round 2 of 4, Best of 3 - April 18, 2022 - 5:00PM
ZETA DIVISION made things a lot more interesting in the Lower Bracket as they eliminated a high-flying DRX VS side 2-1. After two extremely close maps that went either way, the Japanese put up a monster performance on Split to send the Koreans home and move on to the 3rd round of the Lower Bracket.
ZETA were brave enough to pick Icebox again today after DRX VS dismantled them with a 13-2 scoreline on the first day of the group stage. The Japanese side looked supremely confident on their defense despite losing the first two rounds, heavily contesting spike plants with utility and aggressing into areas to retake space. It took the NULL/cmd from Kim "stax" Gu-taek for DRX to finally get into a solid post plant position and close out the round, but that was the only one they won out of five, as ZETA rose to a 5-3 lead. From there on, Kim "Zest" Gi-seok and co. salvaged just one round thanks to a quick mid to B call from the in-game leader, but otherwise the Japanese were in total control with an 8-4 advantage at the half.
Laz at Masters Reykjavik 2022. Credit: Riot Games
The South Koreans had a major resurgence on their defense, winning six in a row to leapfrog their opponents to a 10-8 score. Having not gotten a single round their attack, ZETA called a timeout that changed their fortunes, as Kouji "Laz" Ushida cracked open the A site and his teammates closed out a narrow round which gave Japanese fans some hope. Things got real nervy when DRX fired back with a flawless round win to take themselves to 11-10, but Laz with his 7 first bloods and 25 kills was the playmaker for his team yet again, lurking and constantly disrupting the defense. The Koreans tried to catch their opponents off guard in the last round with an aggressive play on A but it backfired, and ZETA DIVISION were able to get their map in the bag 13-11. DRX’s home ground of Ascent started much like Icebox: the Koreans won the first two and the Japanese answered back with three of their own. But this time around DRX did not let things get out of hand and were the driving force themselves instead. They put on a clinic of an attack, maintaining the solid default they are known for as they kept their opponents guessing around the map. A thrifty was all ZETA got, and even though Goo "Rb" Sang-Min was not winning as many fights as he would have liked, his teammates BuZz and MaKo combined for 47 kills on the map to see them lead 7-5 at halftime.
Laz and co. had a really promising start to their attack, picking up four of the first five rounds to overtake DRX VS. The Koreans needed inspiration and Rb was just that, pushing all the way to top mid and making quick work of the rotating players and bringing his team back into the map. From there on it was smooth sailing, Zest being able to read Laz’s gameplan like a book and dropping just a single round on the way to map point. BuZz and Rb set up a devastating bait and switch in mid on round 23 to shut down the attack and wrap up the second map 13-10.
Both teams clearly had their vulnerabilities coming into the decider of Split but nobody would have expected the slaughter that was about to unfold. ZETA took a 2-0 lead early on, but held minimal weaponry against DRX’s rifles in the third round. With everything pointing to a win for the Koreans, they walked into an A stack and fell one by one to Yuma "Dep" Hisamoto’s Frenzy as ZETA stole a soul crushing round. The Japanese took a vice grip since then, winning round after round, regardless of whether they found themselves in man disadvantages. Two rounds were all DRX got as Tenta "ten" Asai reigned supreme on the map, finding space and boasting a 1.61 rating and seven multikills en route to a 10-2 half.
Laz came up huge for his team on the pistol round, clutching out a 1v3 situation to extend their lead to nine rounds. DRX did reduce that deficit a little with a thrifty win, but it was too little too late, as ZETA marched forward with two A site hits to close out the map 13-4 and series 2-1.
ZETA DIVISION celebrating their win over DRX VS. Credit: Riot Games
VCT 2022 - Stage 1 - Masters Reykjavík
Lower Bracket Round 2 of 4, Best of 3 - April 18, 2022 - 9:00PM
Yet another win for the APAC region saw Paper Rex get an impressive 2-0 win over European giants G2 Esports. The Singaporean squad made a huge comeback on Split and made it look easy on Bind to send the last bit of European representation home and move on in the Lower Bracket.
This match started off where the previous one left off, on Paper Rex’s pick of Split. It was a map of two halves, the first of which was dominated by the defense of G2 Esports. The Europeans started off with pistol and anti-eco round wins, and then a big play by Žygimantas "nukkye" Chmieliauskas in A heaven allowed them to claim the bonus. The Singaporeans got themselves on the board finally in the fifth round, but they didn’t have any more in the tank as G2 were barely even letting them get the spike planted. Aaro "hoody" Peltokangas continued his great form at Iceland into this match, putting up a 1.24 rating as his team were dominant going into halftime with a 9-3 lead.
The second half saw the tables turn and a complete destruction of G2 Esports was to follow. Benedict "Benkai" Tan heroically won his team the pistol round by stopping the spike plant in the nick of time, and the squad used that momentum to string four in a row. G2’s attack seemed helpless against the relentless characteristic aggression of Jason "f0rsakeN" Susanto and Wang "Jinggg" Jing Jie, who, like in their previous match against The Guard, kept unsettling the opponents’ default and constantly found opening picks. Auni "AvovA" Chahade’s post-plant clutch was the only round they could salvage, as Paper Rex won 10 out of 11 rounds to complete a fantastic comeback and take Split 13-10.
f0rsakeN at Masters Reykjavik 2022. Credit: Riot Games
G2 Esports had to forget the disaster in the last map and get ready to perform on Bind now, a map that has been solid for them historically. They got off to a poor start, however, after Paper Rex grabbed the first two rounds with aggressive post-plant setups. The Europeans put themselves on the board right after, but it was a costly round and Paper Rex shot right back, using their economical and utility advantage to win out a slow round. G2 were noticeably unable to deal with the antics of f0rsakeN’s Yoru, constantly being a pain in A Showers and hard to predict, as he ended the map with a ridiculous 29 kills and a 2.02 rating. The defense were able to grab a few rounds towards the end of the half, but Paper Rex were largely in control with an 8-4 score at the break.
G2 Esports responded with two important rounds at the start of their attack, but they still had a mountain to climb ahead of them. Their first obstacle was the A site defense of Paper Rex and they couldn’t break it down, and then they tried the B site but ran into the ever-elusive f0rsaken, who ran them down. Nukkye and co. found a consolation round at 7-11, but Paper Rex cleaned up shortly after and their leader Benkai was poetically the one to get the final kill and wrap up the series 2-0.