19th April 2021 – 9:11pm
The Challengers EU 2 of the VCT Phase 2, was won by Fnatic, in a match against Team Liquid. Both teams are now qualified for the next stage and join FunPlus Phoenix and Guild Esports. A look back at another week of competition.
This Challengers 2 was a bit of a revenge for the esports organisations. While the performances of G2 Esports, Fnatic and Team Liquid weren't good enough to participate in the last VCT tournaments, they proved to be more than up to the task, as the final teams show.
One man's luck is another man's misfortune, so the fact that these teams were in the top 8 means that there were mistakes on the way for the VCT regulars. G2 Esports qualified by beating Team Heretics, while Alliance was knocked out by Team Liquid. Acend and Ninjas in Pyjamas stayed in the race, but not for long.
The first quarter final was between Acend and Team Vitality. With Acend having won the Valorant Masters EU and Vitality having struggled to convince so far, the result was expected to be in favour of cNed and his teammates. And yet, the fight could not have been tighter. Both maps in this BO3 went to over-time, but with a slight advantage for the bees. The efforts of Kiles and cNed were not enough to contain Vitality, who impressed us for the first time.
The next match was between G2 Esports and Fnatic. The comeback of one of the organisations was bound to end here. Fnatic easily won their first point on Bind, thanks to their iron defense that allowed them to conclude the match on 6 rounds to 0 in defense. Fnatic's new recruit, Derke, proved his worth, just as he did on Ascent where the match was much closer. G2 has always enjoyed this map, unlike Fnatic, who is less comfortable with it. Fnatic still won the point, without having to go to over-time or a hypothetical 3rd map.
It was then the turn of BDS Esports to enter the race, against Ninjas in Pyjamas. The former Opportunists were keen to celebrate their acquisition by a new organisation! After a one-sided first map, they completely crushed Ninjas on Split and Bind. If Akuma was particularly efficient on Split and hoppY on Bind, it's still LogaN who marks the spirits thanks to his constancy. They eliminated the Ninjas in Pyjamas, while they seemed to be perking up again these last weeks.
Finally, the last quarter-final is perhaps the least surprising of all. Team Liquid faced CE Calling, a mix of German origin. The latter created a surprise by making it this far in the tournament, but they were absolutely no match for ScreaM and his teammates. CE Calling selected Bind as their first map and lost there with a score of 1-13. There was a burst once on Ascent, but not enough to challenge Team Liquid's dominance.
On the last four teams in the competition, there was one French structure and one team made up of French players! We hoped to see our beautiful country represented at the EMEA, but it was only a sweet dream.
Even though Vitality created a surprise by beating Acend, they are still not really at the level to knock out Fnatic. The cohesion and rigour of the latter was far too great to really worry them. Team Vitality has nevertheless proved that it has the necessary level to worry the best teams in Europe and that it will be necessary to count on them from now on.
The second semi-final was much more competitive. The ultra-aggressive style of BDS and Team Liquid caused a few sparks to fly throughout the 3 maps of the match. On Haven, the Phoenix of ScreaM seemed unstoppable. The Belgian player made a lot great actions that kept his team afloat for a while. Unfortunately, this was not enough to compensate for the numerous mistakes of Jamppi and Soulcas. BDS ended up winning the map by a hair of a margin.
As if to redeem himself from this first failed map, Jamppi took the reins on Bind. Taking advantage of both Jett's natural mobility and the map's teleporters, he kept surprising BDS with his moves and rotations. And even when he fell, he could count on the nerves of steel of L1nk who saved more than one unfavourable round for the team.
This scenario was repeated on Ascent, with Jamppi who was even more formidable on his angle holdings. At this point, BDS Esports seemed completely outmatched by their opponents. The pressure applied by Team Liquid made them lose all their means in Defense, where they won only 2 rounds. Despite a brief comeback at the side switch, Liquid only had to take over once to close the match and thus the match.
Fnatic and Team Liquid were already qualified the Challengers EMEA even before the grand final. However, the two teams had to face each other to determine the seeding and the €35,000 cash prize. Strange as it may seem, the two teams had only met once before. That was at the Red Bull Home Ground, when Fnatic were still playing as SUMN FC.
The styles opposed were clear. Team Liquid works around the aggressiveness of its duelists, while Fnatic prefers careful and strategic approaches. It was the latter vision of Valorant that won once again, just as they have won many other matches before this one. Even though ScreaM and Jamppi went wild on Icebox and Ascent, enough to win that first map, the house of cards collapsed as soon as they impaled themselves on Fnatic's defensive plan.
If the scores were close on the first two maps, they were not anymore on the last two. Fnatic lost none of its relentlessness on Bind, despite the arrival of two new recruits in its roster. But it was Split that finally ended Team Liquid's ambitions. As always, ScreaM abandons the role of duelist to play Sage. Deprived of his biggest action engine, the team not up to the task of challenging the established plans of Fnatic.
We now know the four teams that will represent Europe at the Challengers EMEA, the final stage of the European continent before the Masters in Iceland. FunPlus Phoenix, Guild Esports, Fnatic and Team Liquid will be back in action on Friday. For the others, they are free until the beginning of Phase 3. They have more than a month to correct their mistakes and train.