Tokyo 2023 Masters: Summary of the group phase

The group stage of the Tokyo 2023 Masters was marked by Edward Gaming's historic qualification for the play-offs. In order for this Chinese team to progress to the next stage of the competition, others had to bow out, notably FUT Esports and Natus Vincere, representing the EMEA region. The other way round, the American teams proved to be very effective. Here's a summary of the four days of matches.

EDward Gaming qualifies for the playoffs

The big surprise at the start of the Masters was, of course, the qualification of the Chinese team EDward Gaming. The team enormous progress for this team, which was quickly eliminated from last year's Valorant Champions and more recently from LOCK In Sao Paulo.

EDG's incredible adventure did not get off to the best of starts, however, as they lost their opening match to T1. And yet, CHICHOO, Haodong, nobody, Smoggy and ZmjjKK have shown they've got what it takes and that they could do good things. And it didn't take them long to prove their talent!

For their second match, the Chinese were up against some of the best players in the EMEA region, former FunPlus Phoenix players, now playing for Natus Vincere. The experience of their opponents didn't faze them, far from it: they won the match without conceding a single card. Despite the 2-0 scoreline, there was nothing rushed about the match. In fact, it was the longest match of the group stage, with each map requiring extra time (17-15 to Pearl and 14-12 to Bind).

In a post-match interview, the star player ZmjjKKaka KangKang, was very clear about EDward Gaming's intentions: this win was just the first. He even warned T1 that"they would see them again at home the next day".They did too. And that's exactly what they did! More than capable, they came through Korea's third-best team with easewinning Fracture 13-4, then Haven 13-6.

EDG players write a new chapter in Valorant. For the first time in the history of the FPS, a Chinese team is winning matches in a tournament of this scale.. Now, if EDward Gaming is to win its first international title, it will have to maintain its level of play and redouble its efforts. The play-offs definitely won't be that easy, with the three League winners and the Lock In winner waiting in the wings. The Chinese will face Jamppi and his comrades from Team Liquid on Friday at 5am.

At the end of 2022, Riot Games obtained the Chinese government's agreement to distribute Valorant in China, so it should be available in 2023. As a result, EDG's current results are very interesting for the studio. Their success could well motivate other players to leave CrossFire behindChina's leading shooter, to Valorant. This bodes well for the future, especially as the studio is in the process of developing the Chinese esports scene. If more people try their hand at FPS, we could see new talent emerge All of which should give this new Asian league/circuit some weight.

FUT Esports and Natus Vincere have fallen

This group phase was definitely a surprise. As well as Edward Gaming's unexpected qualification, we saw the successive eliminations of two EMEA teamsNatus Vincere in Group A and FUT Esports in Group B.

While it comes as no surprise that the Turkish team fell to DRX - who, let's not forget, are a highly experienced team and used to top-level competition - the fact that the Turkish team was also beaten by DRX is a major surprise. it's far more astonishing to see Shuygetsu and his cronies losing out to the ChineseThey are one of the top ten teams in the EMEA region.

What's more, this defeat is costing them dearly, as they miss out on an opportunity to qualify for the most important tournament of the year. FUT Esports held an extra round in this competition, so it's definitely her the region's third representative at Valorant Championsalongside Team Liquid and Fantic. To reach this final competition, Natus Vincere has no room for error and will have to prove himself at the Last Chance Qualifier EMEA in July.

Poster of the Natus Vincere team for the Tokyo Masters

From now on, the honour of the EMEA region rests on the shoulders of the players from Fnatic and Team Liquidthe last European survivors in the Tokyo Masters. In the first match of the playoffs, Fnatic will take on NRG Esports, while Team Liquid will face the Chinese challengers; two encounters that already promise to be electric.

American teams through to group stage

It's a fact, the representatives of the Americas league, NRG Esports and Evil GeniusesThese teams shone in the group phase. NRG Esports, currently the second-best team in North America, secured the first slot in the play-offs by beating NaVi before sending T1 into the play-offs. In Group B, Evil Geniuses, another very good NA team, beat FUT Esports and then DRX to take the third slot.

The sequence of events led to FiNESSEcaptain of NRG Esports, to look at the overall level of teams in other regions:

I think that in the other regions, the teams at the top of the ranking are extremely strong compared to others. The teams in the Americas region are much closer to each other in terms of skills and tactics. I could name three other teams in our region who could easily have got ahead of us.

FiNESSE, captain of NRG Esports

Despite what he said, the slot acquired by his team was not so easy to obtain... In the first match, Natus Vincere didn't let her feet be trodden and even won a card. Against T1, NRG was once again taken by surprise and conceded the first card. What's more, she had to fight right to the end to win 13-11 on the third and final map of the match.

A contrario, Evil Geniuses can boast of having qualified for the play-offs without any real difficulty.. Boostio, Ethan, jawgemo, C0M and Demon1 defeated FUT Esport 2-0 (13-5 on Split and 14-12 on Lotus) before crushing the Koreans from DRX 2-0 (13-5 on Fracture and 13-9 on Ascent).

The long-awaited coronation for DRX?

With the Tokyo Masters, DRX players take part in their seventh inter-regional LAN. As we pointed out at the Lock In Sao Paulo event, this team has yet to win a major international title. But it's not for lack of effort...

Whether at the various Masters tournaments they have taken part in, or at the two previous editions of the Valorant Champions, the Koreans from DRX have always qualified for the play-offs. And again, stax, Rb, BuZz, MaKo, Zest and Foxy9 have achieved this goal. They now have another chance to prove themselves and finally win an international title.

At the end of the day, our ultimate goal is the trophy.

Zest - Player for DRX

However, to have any hope of reaching the Grand Final, Zest and his team-mates will have to perform better. Although they made it out of the group phase, it was not without its problems... and they came very close to exiting the tournament because of a few mistakes.

For DRX, the play-offs are off to a flying start, as they take on Paper Rex, the team they lost to in the Pacific League final. To follow the match, go to the Twitch channel Valorant Franceon Saturday 17 June at 5am.