14th September 2020 – 2:22pm
This weekend was held the BLAST Twitch Valorant Invitational. This tournament, the last of the Ignition Series, didn't necessarily have the most interesting format, but it did give us a crazy final between G2 Esports and FunPlus Phoenix.
As usual, G2 Esports won the tournament, but... things weren't that easy for them.
The playoffs showed how much to fear from the current state of the Valorant scene. You could have shown the tournament bracket to any fan of the the Ignition Series, and they would have guessed the results for you. Unfortunately, the level of the big European teams seems to crystallise. Much like a power scale in a manga, you know in advance who can beat whom. We therefore have G2 Esports on top of the world, followed by FunPlus Phoenix, then Team Liquid and finally Ninjas in Pyjamas.
This power imbalance has been obvious for several weeks now, but it's more worrying than ever. During the BLAST, the stronger teams performed and stomped and we never believed for a second that an upset was possible. The different teams consolidate their positions against the others.
This is the problem when a tournament invites only official teams, without opening up to organisation less teams. The fresh European blood has, however, already proven that it's capable of upsetting the balance in place and putting everyone's place at stake. Team Bonk, for example, has already created the surprise more than once. It was the only team to qualify twice for the Ignition Series finals. Its absence as a disruptive element is therefore damaging.
Yet, despite a conventional scenario, the BLAST ended on an unexpected twist. While FunPlus Phoenix was blown up by G2 in the winners' final (3-13, 3-13), the team came back stronger than ever in the Final.
FunPlus Phoenix hit had from the start, by beating G2 Esports on their favourite map. Ascent has been the home of the Spanish team for several months now. It's always the map they choose first and they usually stomp on it. Until now, facing G2 in a BO was knowing that we would already be one point behind, because of Ascent.
But G2 Esports has finally found its master on this ground. We had already seen the team weaken against these same Phoenix at theAllied Esports. It was then a special match, which ended in a personal drama for Davidp. It was therefore difficult to know if the conditions allowed to judge the level of FunPlus Phoenix on Ascent. But this time, they've proven it, they master the map better than G2 Esports.
While he usually is the cornerstone of his team, Ardiis struggled to do anything on this first match. FunPlus Phoenix players were able to overtake G2 Esports players who didn't seem to be in their game yet. With this victory, FunPlus Phoenix equalised in score in this BO5, catching up with the lead get by G2 Esports as they won the winner's final.
We then started to believe it was the moment. That FunPlus Phoenix was going to be able to break G2 Esports' perfect Ignition Series record. But the second map came to crush this idea for a while. As upset of having failed on their home map, G2 Esports fought like lions on Bind. They scored 12 points in a row in Defense.
At side's change, FunPlus Phoenix was no longer allowed any mistake. While one would have expected to see them abandon the map, " GG go next", they still struggled like hell and managed to take 4 points before G2 economy came to end the fight in the 17th round. However, let's recognise the fighting spirit of FunPlus Phoenix's players, who prove that they never consider giving in to an opponent.
The third match took place on Haven. This was the second map chosen by G2 Esports, and yet, the Phoenix were exceptionally strong there. Ange1, ShadoW and Shao Ange1, ShadoW and Shao showedgreat coordination. The drone of Shao on Sova entered from one side of BPs, forcing G2 players to try to take it down, while Ange1 and ShadoW came in from the opposite side and took out their distracted opponents.
On his side, Davidp didn't seem at ease on his Breach. Indeed, Sage's nerfs on the 1.07 patch obviously forced the Belgian player to change pick. Breach is played very differently from Sage and requires precise anticipation of the opponents' position. Hopefully, mastery will come with time.
At the end of the fights on Haven, FunPlus Phoenix (13-6) came back in score in this BO. Everything was going to be played out on Split.
The two teams were wound up and offered us an extraordinary show. The exchanges were very close throughout the game, and it was believed at one point that FunPlus Phoenix could emerge victorious. At the three-quarters of the match, they had taken a slight lead and led 10-7. But that was without counting on Mixwell and Patitek's survival instincts.
Mixwell on his Jett and Patitek on his Omen weren't the most consistent players on Split, but they shone when needed. As Phoenix seemed to be inexorably close to victory, the two G2 Esports players made unthinkable clutches, one at a time and after the other, even being 1v3. This is how you see the experience of G2 Esports, able to react under pressure, as we felt the Phoenix knees tremble at the stake.
Finally, G2 Esports came back to score and won, ending the Final on a 13-11.
G2 Esports has therefore won every Ignition Series tournament. Not a single title escaped them. It's a feat worthy of praise. We can only congratulate Mixwell and his players for being able to find each other and being so strong and consistent. There is clearly a team to knock down in Europe, and it's G2 Esports.
But the competition is coming! FunPlus Phoenix has proven once more that they were challengers to be reckoned on. With time and experience, there's not doubt that will be up to it.
For now, the Ignition Series are over. We don't know when the next official competitions will take place, where we will be able to witness such beautiful matches again. In any case, this leaves a little time for the teams to prepare and correct what needs to be.