Acend, World Champions of Valorant
After a busy year of VCT, two European teams met for the final match of the season. The final was played on 12th December 2021, between Acend (EUW) and Gambit Esports (CIS). Two teams that know each other well, having met during the various Challengers and Masters of the year.
After a long and emotional final, Acend managed to get the better of their opponents. Acend players became the first Valorant World Champions.
A challenging journey
Acend is a young team that showed its worth early one. Formed in March 2021, it won the first European Valorant Masters, dethroning Team Heretics, who were the favourites for the tournament. It was at this point that the public was introduced to cNed and Bonecold, the two talents of the team. The rest of the year was a bit more complicated, with Acend failing to qualify for Masters 2 and losing to Gambit Esport in the Phase 3 Challengers and to 100Thieves in Masters 3. Gambit's solid win in Masters 3 made the Russians the favourites for the World Championship.
Their excellent performance allowed them to qualify thanks to the VCT points accumulated throughout the year. The tournament had started in a rather complicated way, with the team losing their match against Vivo Keyd, before a refereeing decision forced both teams to replay a final map, this time ending in an European victory. After that, they didn't make a single mistake, beating Team Envy, Team Secret and Team Liquid to reach the final.
An extremely close final
The final was extremely competitive between the two European teams. The victory could have gone either way on many occasions. Let's take a look at this match which concludes the first year of the Valorant Champions in style.
At the start of the first map, it looked like it would be a one-sided game for Acend. The team was leading Breeze 9 rounds to 1, Gambit making a series of bad decisions and getting outplayed in battle. But from the 11th round onwards, Gambit woke up and completely turned the game around, eventually winning the map 13-11.
This turn of events could have been the death of many team's morale, but Acend didn't give up. They won Ascent on a solid 13-7. Gambit had not yet had their final say and offered a real lesson in strategy on Fracture. By cleverly and aggressively getting around their opponents, they won their second map on a score of 13-3.
Icebox, the fourth map of the evening, was the most contested. On Acend side, cNed and Zeek were unleashed, but on Gambit's, Chronicles and sheydos were just as formidable. The score remained tight and Gambit was one round away from winning the final, but Acend managed to force over-time and win their second BO5 point.
So it was under pressure, after more than 3 hours of play, that the two teams met on Split to determine who will be the world champion. Acend took a serious lead in defense, winning 7 of the first 9 rounds. Gambit, however, was back on top, thanks in part to a series of takedowns by nAts, who didn't hesitate to jump into the fray to surprise his opponents, while playing Viper on defense. The rest of the Russian team held their positions perfectly and prevented Acend players from reaching the different sites. Eventually, starxo, cNed and Zeek succeeded in resolving the situation. Acend then won the last map on a score of 13-8.
This concludes the first Valorant Champions Tour. The competition will resume in February, with a new format for the 2022 VCT.