Fnatic and KOI win the first day of the VCT EMEA 2023

A few weeks ago, LOCK//IN Sao Paulo officially launched the competitive season at the highest level of Valorant. From now on, the franchised teams will compete in their respective leagues. After the VCT Pacific, it was the turn of the VCT EMEA to start. On this first day of competition, Natus Vincere was tackling KOI, while the winners of the LOCK//IN, Fnatic, confronted Giants Gaming. NaVi, formerly FunPlus Phoenix, started as favourites, but ended up losing 2-0. The KOI team proved to be formidable, even pushing their opponents to the limit. Fnatic, on the other hand, won 2-0 without too much difficulty.

KOI were monstrous

The spectators in Hall 17 of Messe Berlin last night had the opportunity to witness an incredible opening match. On one side we found the former FunPlus Phoenix roster, now Natus Vincere, one of the best in the region. On the other side, the KOI players were prepared. While NaVi made it to the semi-finals at LOCK//IN Sao Paulo, KOI started the 2023 season with more difficulty, as they were eliminated in the first round by NRG. On paper, NaVi was the winner.

KOI wins on Ascent against Natus Vincere
Image from VLR.GG

With two wins on Ascent in the first LAN of the year, Natus Vincere chose to start the match on this map. A choice that seemed to pay off after the first two rounds. However, nothing was decided yet, and KOI was determined to improve its reputation. The Spaniards quickly got back on track and even took the lead thanks to several multi-kills from sheydos. At the end of the first half, he had 18 eliminations and only 5 deaths. Only ANGE1 4K in the eleventh round managed to undermine the opposing Momentum, at least for a while.

After the change, KOI take two more points and come dangerously close to victory. A new 4K, from cned this time, the team got some breathing space and took advantage of the win to win two more. However, their opponents of the evening did not let themselves be walked over any longer and ended up scoring the missing 3 points. After just over an hour of play, KOI won 13 to 7. Once again, we salute the efficiency of sheydos, who finishes the map with a rating of 1.88, an ASC of 322 and no less than 27 eliminations for 9 deaths.

KOI shows determination on Lotus and wins her match against Natus Vincere.
Image from VLR.GG

When the ten players appeared on Lotus, second map of the evening, no one could have predicted the show to come. If we had to sum up this game in three words, we would easily give "remontada", "intensity" and "over time". Because yes, it was a match of extreme intensity. On the first map, NaVi failed to finish at the crucial moments and let the point slip away. Eager to make a good impression in this opening match, the team picked up the pace and totally dominated the beginning of the game on this new map. Even the efficiency of trexx in round 9 was not enough to concede the point. In the end, NaVi led 9-3 at the switch.

Lotus is a complex map, so it's no coincidence that NaVi managed to get such a big lead. Moreover, they did not keep this lead for long. In turn, KOI took advantage of a passage in Defence to win one victory after another, notably thanks to Sheydos and starxo. After 24 rounds of play, everything had to be done again: the two teams were perfectly even. During over time, they exchanged wins and losses, without being able to win. The tension became more and more palpable as the rounds went by. In a 4-2 situation in round 36, NaVi could have won the map and restarted the match. But this was without counting on the precision and intelligence of Wolfen and Starxo. The latter made a superb clutch, giving their team an extra point. KOI took advantage of this turnaround to win the next round and the one after that. After a total of 38 rounds, KOI won again with a score of 20 to 18.

Fnatic dominates

After this epic match, which has already become part of the VCT EMEA 2023 annals, Fnatic and Giants Gaming took to the stage. Fnatic, the LOCK//IN Champions, started the Challengers with the objective of confirming their dominance. And that's what they did, despite the absence of Alfajer, replaced by kamyk for the occasion.

Fnatic dominates Giants Gaming on Icebox.
Image from VLR.GG

Their choice to pick Icebox proved to be a wise choice. Except for two rounds, during which the Giants found success, Fnatic largely dominated the first game and accumulated 10 wins at the changeover. Once on the attack, it didn't take long before they put in the missing points, winning 13 to 3.

The match between Fnatic and Giants was close on Split.
Image from VLR.GG

With a loss like this, Giants Gaming could have lost confidence, but at this level of competition, the players show a mental toughness. Dominated on the previous map, the Giants put a stop to the opposition's Momentum once on Split, winning the first four rounds. We can even note Cloud's fine performance in the first round, taking down four opponents on his own. This was answered by Fnatic with four successive wins. The final period ended with an exchange of wins and losses, including a superb clutch from Boaster.

With the two teams tied, it was not a foregone conclusion at this stage of the game. Fnatic came dangerously close to victory by taking the pistol-round, before winning the next four rounds. However, it took another seven rounds for the game to be over. After a great comeback by Giants Gaming, Fnatic scored the missing point and finally won 13-11.

The regular season continues, and new matches are scheduled for Tuesday 28th March. Team Heretics will take on FUT Esports from 6pm, followed by Team Liquid and Team Vitality. If you want to follow the matches, go to the Twitch channel of the French League.