12th April 2021 – 11:53pm
The Phase 2 of the Valorant Champions Tour 2021 is already well underway. In just a few weeks, Challengers 1 is already over and Challengers 2 is well underway. Let's take a look at the result of the European VCT following the first qualifier, as well as an update on the meta.
The line-ups of the Phase 2 Challengers 1 were very similar to those of the first Masters. This is not necessarily surprising, since only two short weeks separated the two tournaments. Nevertheless, it's a sign of the stability of the European scene. The positions of each of the teams are well defined, whether they are supported by large structures or not.
We then note that Heretics, Ninjas in Pyjamas, FunPlus Phoenix, Guild Esports and Alliance are still there. The same goes for Acend and for Dfuseteam, which have become Opportunists again following the closure of the organisation. The only novelty was the arrival of Team Vitality in the big league, instead of Ballista.
But the presence of these eight teams in the final tree involves new failures from G2 Esports, Fnatic and Team Liquid. Their absence is somewhat noticeable, every worrying. G2 Esports is trying a new organisation to remedy the situation and the absence of Zeek, while Fnatic has decided to say goodbye to Tsack and Moe to welcome Derke et Magnum. Team Liquid continues to trust the new line-up launched in February.
The final phase of Challengers 1 offered interesting matches only, starting with the match between Ninja in Pyjamas and Acend. The latter were the favourites for the opening match, having won the Valorant Masters EU. But despite good performances on the first map, the team was outclassed on the next two. CREA found a new muse in Astra. Valorant's last agent was decisive for the Ninjas in Pyjamas on Haven, thanks to her Cosmic Divide. Acend fell in the first game of the tournament, and that was only the first surprise of the event.
Also in the quarter-finals, the Opportunists defeated Team Heretics. The Frenchies were impressive throughout the Valorant Masters EU and it was reassuring to see that, although they had lost their organisation, the players had not lost their talent. The Heretics, on the other hand, looked much more hesitant. It's hard to blame them for this little blunder, given the overall consistency of the team for over six months now, but the Masters EU finalists have also fallen.
The match Guild against Alliance was more expeditious than the previous ones. Alliance never managed to really worry Bonkar and his teammates. It was as much a missed opportunity for Alliance as it was a great display by Guild, who has been in great shape lately. The team never gave up and played as aggressively as ever, and corrected most of their mistakes and approximations that often cost them the win.
Finally, the first match of Vitality against FunPlus Phoenix was not very good. There's no doubt that the arrival of Jesmund and of LowKii, who was sharper and more accurate than ever, was beneficial for the bees, as both players were the best performers in the match. FunPlus Phoenix's domination was however undeniable on the day. The team also embraced the arrival of Astra, with the Agent being played by both Ange1 and ShadoW. They won Split by a score of 13-9 and Haven by a terrible 13-1. We imagine that Vitality was hoping for much better.
After such a rich first act, we expected nothing less for the rest. In this respect, the semi-final opposing Ninjas in Pyjamas to Guild Esports didn't disappoint us. You would think the two teams would know each other very well by now, but you can always count on Yacine to spice up the action. The two-time winner of the most aggressive player award of the Mandatory Cup chained genius moves and incredible actions. The way he won a 1v3 on Split will not soon be forgotten. Ninjas didn't lose, but they weren't good enough to stop Yacine, the only Guild Esports' player with a positive KDA at the end of the BO3. Over the 3 maps, he scored 60 eliminations for 42 deaths and (only) 6 assists. A real monster.
The second semi-final started off in a rather surprising way. The Opportunists got the better of Haven and won the first few rounds on Split. But the Phoenix gradually reignited the flame, using their slow strategy of control and territory gain. In the end, the Opportunists struggled but Zyppan, Shao and Dimasick crushed them to qualify for the final.
The final was then opposing Guild Esports to FunPlus Phoenix. Whatever happened, it was a great victory for both organisations, as getting this far meant that hey had already qualified for the Valorant Challengers EMEAIt was also the promise of finally seeing one of these organisations win a tournament on the official circuit, after more than a year of having to settle for second place, be it against G2 Esports, Team Heretics or others. All other teams will have to start from scratch in the Phase 2 of the Challengers EU 2.
Leo and Zyppan were the orchestra masters on Ascent, the first map of the BO. Their combat Sage show that the Agent is far from being obsolete, contrary to what one might think looking at other regions of the world. The control applied by the walls and the Sage orbs highlighted the strategic dimension of Valorant, as did the Astra of ShadoW who dominated the proceedings. The first map was the most hotly contested of the final, and was won by FunPlus Phoenix on a 13-9.
On Icebox, Ange1 gave up his Reyna to Zyppan, who gave us a real demonstration. With a 3.3 KD, the Swedish player simply crushed his opponents. It's unusual to see FunPlus Phoenix play more aggressively than their opponents, and we certainly didn't expect that to be the case against Guild Esports. Yet, Guild was forced to retreat more than once in front of Zyppan's killing spree. The Phoenix won the map on a 13-5.
It's hard to say if it was this bloodlust than galvanised FunPlus Phoenix on Split or if Guild was too destabilised by the previous map. In any case, the superiority of Zyppan was once again implacable. This time on Raze, he made short work of his counterpart Yacine. This last map was even more rushed than the previous one and Guild never managed to keep up the pace set by Zyppan and Shadow. FunPlus Phoenix then won the third and last map of the tournament, on a 13-4.
This is the first time the teams wins recognition, FunPlus Phoenix having been consistently on the podium without winning a single title.
The day when only Sage, Jett and Omen were seen in Europe are long gone. The clear favourite of the tournament was undoubtedly Raze. Selected 71.1% of the time, on 27 maps, she is by far the favourite duelist in Europe. The fact that Guild and FunPlus Phoenix made it to the final is no coincidence.
Above all, it's clear that European teams are already making good use of Astra and her unique abilities. Usually, new Valorant Agents take a long time to appear in tournaments. This is not the case this time, as the new star of the competition was selected 57.9% of the time, making her the third most popular Agent, just behind Sova.
For the others, there are few surprises. Skye, Viper and Reyna are still at the bottom of the ranking. But the bottom spot goes to Yoru, who was completely absent from the tournament... unless he's stuck in his Dimensional Drift. Let's hope the recent changes made to the Agent in patch 2.06 are enough to pique the interest of the pros.