Fnatic yet to be beaten, fan-favorites KOI and Karmine Corp disappoint - VCT EMEA Regular Season review
From the absolute dominance of Fnatic and Natus Vincere, to the disappointment of KOI and Karmine Corp, the inaugural VCT EMEA season was a joy to behold. While the majority of teams is still in contention for Masters Tokyo, the four bottom teams are starting their month-long preparation for Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) to achieve their distant last hope of reaching Champions. In this article, each team’s performance during the regular season will be looked at, including a little preview of what’s to come.
Unbeaten in group stages since 2021, Fnatic look unstoppable once more. The whole team seems perfect and, bar the near loss against LOUD at LOCK//IN, hasn’t slipped up once. The same can be said for their run in the regular season of VCT EMEA this split. They only dropped one map, which was when they were still playing with their sub, Maks "kamyk" Rychlewski, who also put in some stellar performances that were on par with the 5 superstars on the starting roster. The firepower on Fnatic, together with the brains of Jake "Boaster" Howlett and coach Jacob "mini" Harris brings forward the question whether they’ll even be beaten at all this year.
Best performance: Fnatic – Team Liquid (Week 3)
Best player: Nikita "Derke" Sirmitev - THESPIKE Rating of 1.31
Even though they seem inferior to Fnatic, don’t count them out. Natus Vincere seems to always peak at the perfect moments, beating out Fnatic when it mattered last year. The two games they lost during the regular season can both be seen as NAVI testing things out, with their last game versus Fnatic barely having any added value. The performances of Pontus "Zyppan" Eek and Mehmet Yağız "cNed" İpek throughout the season should also alleviate any doubt or stress from their fans, with the latter slotting in seamlessly in the tight structure Kirill "ANGE1" Karasiow and Erik "d00mbr0s" Sandgren put together over the past years. And if last year is anything to go by, NAVI might look extremely dangerous come Masters Tokyo.
Best performance: Natus Vincere – BBL Esports (Week 2)
Best player: Pontus "Zyppan" Eek - THESPIKE Rating of 1.19
There should be more in the tank for Team Liquid, especially with Saif "Sayf" Jibraeel playing the way he has been. The duo of Ayaz "nAts" Akhmetshin and Elias "Jamppi" Olkkonen is also putting in performances that are on par with the best players in the league. However, when it comes to results, Team Liquid is not yet up there with the likes of Fnatic and Natus Vincere. It should only be a matter of time as the team has massively improved since their abysmal loss to Team Secret at LOCK//IN. Making Masters Tokyo should be the expectation, it might, however, come too early to go for the top spot.
Best performance: Team Liquid – Giants (Week 5)
Best player: Saif "Sayf" Jibraeel - THESPIKE Rating of 1.30
With the middle of the pack in EMEA being seemingly large, Giants get a golden opportunity to hijack a spot for Masters Tokyo. After the regular season, they seem like the only team that can confidently be called fourth-best. The teams behind them, such as FUT Esports and Team Vitality have shown extreme variance over the course of the season, while Giants, apart from a small slip-up against Team Heretics, have been relatively steady. The fact that the revelation of the season in Kirill "Cloud" Nehozhin is on this team, together with the consistency of Žygimantas "nukkye" Chmieliauskas and Aaro "hoody" Peltokangas, makes it a tough team to overcome, especially since they haven’t reached their peak yet.
Best performance: Giants – FUT Esports (Week 4)
Best player: Kirill "Cloud" Nehozhin - THESPIKE Rating of 1.16
At long last, a Turkish team that can follow in the footsteps of SuperMassive Blaze, who famously made Masters Berlin in 2021. FUT Esports have been improving over the past year and since they won last year’s version of Ascension (the VRL Finals), some might have seen this coming. Their IGL Furkan "MrFaliN" Yegen is a genuine prodigy on a role that is quite sparsely mastered in Turkey, he can hang with the best when it comes to fragging and calling. Combined with consistency of Konuralp "qw1" Şahin and the heroics of Ata "AtaKaptan" Tan, they have a real shot of going far. However, they did end a little slower than how they started, with them winning only two of their last 5 games, which means they need to recoup to actually have a chance at qualifying for Masters Tokyo and mimicking the first real Turkish superteam.
Best performance: FUT Esports – Team Vitality (Week 2)
Best player: Konuralp "qw1" Şahin - THESPIKE Rating of 1.16
The Golden Hornets put in some great performances at the start of the season, with some people rating them third best, behind only Fnatic and Natus Vincere. However, times have massively changed since then. They have looked like a completely different team, losing 4 matches in a row and being on the brink of missing playoffs. Team Vitality is also one of the only teams with no real standouts, with all of their players being rated between 0.94 and 1.00. They must be real grateful for FUT Esports having no mercy with their Turkish brothers in BBL Esports. Now it’s up to team Vitality to, once more, show that they have what it takes to go toe-to-toe with the best teams in EMEA.
Best performance: Team Vitality – Team Liquid (Week 1)
Best player: Karel "Twisten" Ašenbrener - THESPIKE Rating of 1.00
Their opening week loss to Karmine Corp didn’t seem surprising at the time, but looking at the following weeks of both teams, it can be said that BBL Esports lost their playoffs hopes in that game. Their performances throughout the season weren’t remarkable, but them winning the close matches against KOI and Team Heretics shows that the team has potential. However, they do have a long way to go before being on par with their Turkish counterpart in FUT Esports, as they showed in their last matchup. For now, BBL Esports can take pride in being the only team to take a map off Fnatic across the regular season and start preparing for the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ).
Best performance: BBL Esports – Team Vitality (Week 4)
Best player: Doğukan "QutionerX" Dural - THESPIKE Rating of 1.16
Team Heretics’ season has been full of ups and downs. From their dominant victory of Karmine Corp and getting dismantled by Fnatic, to their prolonged roster chaos. In the last three matches, Team Heretics played without their initial IGL Aleksander "zeek" Zygmunt and replaced him with the assistant coach Brandon "weber" Weber. To everyone’s surprise, they managed to 2-0 Giants right away and put in some good performances against KOI and Team Vitality. With more time, this team could spring a surprise at LCQ, especially if Cista "keloqz" Wassim can replicate his one insane half through the rest of each series.
Best performance: Team Heretics – Giants Gaming (Week 6)
Best player: Aleksander "zeek" Zygmunt - THESPIKE Rating of 0.92
The disappointment of the season. After starting the year with a good performance against one of world’s best in NRG at LOCK//IN and an impressive upset win over Natus Vincere, hopes were high for the Spanish org. Owner Ibai was ecstatically jumping around together with his caster co-streamers. 6 weeks later, during the match against their French rivals Karmine Corp, from anger, he threw his headset across the room. This about sums up the season for KOI, with their peak being in Week 1 and everything dropping off a cliff afterwards. A consolatory win over a hampered Team Heretics in Week 8 won’t be seen as much of an achievement. Ibai expects better, coach André "BARBARR" Möller expects better, everyone expects better. The team will need to improve drastically at LCQ to be allowed to stick together as a 5 into next season, with currently only Nikita "trexx" Cherednichenko and Bogdan "Sheydos" Naumov having performed up to the expected standards. It is, after all, the top VALORANT league.
Best performance: KOI – Natus Vincere (Week 1)
Best player: Nikita "trexx" Cherednichenko - THESPIKE Rating of 1.12
Who would’ve thought that a team with the “headshot machine” and his brother would end up in very last place. Karmine Corp are deemed the laughing stock of the season, but they’re not much worse than some other EMEA teams, especially if you consider them beating both BBL Esports and KOI, albeit with a dedicated IGL in charge for the latter. Ahmed "ZE1SH" El Sheikh seems to have got the team back on track after their abysmal run in the opening half of the season. However, the team is still far from where they aspire to be and a successful run at LCQ would be seen as a miracle. It’s especially important for the team to learn from their woes of this year and start building a structure for the years to come, as to never be the laughing stock again.
Best performance: Karmine Corp – BBL Esports (Week 1)
Best player: Nabil "Nivera" Benrlitom - THESPIKE Rating of 0.98
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