End of group stages - Recap VCT 2022 Week 7
After six weeks of competition, the group stage of the first EMEA Challengers of the year has come to an end. Six teams have just qualified for the playoffs, and there have been a few surprises. We take a look at the results in this week's VCT recap.
The teams qualified for the playoffs
The twelve teams that had managed to qualify for the main event were divided into two groups of six. After several weeks of competition, only three from each group qualified for the rest of the event.
The domination of M3C
M3 Champions VS Natus Vincere
During this sixth and final week of the group stage, M3 Champions played no less than three matches and won them all. As a reminder, M3C are the players of Gambit Esports, who are currently playing as an independent roster due to the situation in Ukraine.
In all three games they did not concede a single map and finished 2-0 on each occasion. Their first match was against Natus Vincere and the game started on Ascent. While M3C conceded the first round, they went on a seven game winning streak. nAts and d3ffo, on Astra and Jett respectively, were able to set the pace in the first phase of play and gave the team a considerable lead at half time, with the score at 9-3. In the second phase of play, the scenario was not reversed. Out of six rounds played, M3C won four of them and sealed the match 13-5.
The second card was Breeze , and this time NAVI gave the M3C a much tougher time. They won the first two rounds but then conceded the next seven. NAVI were particularly effective in defence, with the great performances of Duno and 7ssk7. Unfortunately, although they led 8-4 at half-time, they then collapsed once they went on the attack and could do nothing to outwit their opponents. Thus, in the second phase of play, they were unable to get past M3C's strong defences and only won one round out of ten. The match ended with a score of 13-9 in favour of the former Gambit Esports players. Once again, despite a great performance from the whole M3C team, it was mainly nAts and d3ffo who stood out.
M3 Champions VS BIG
For the second game of the week, M3C faced BIG. Overall, the pattern was the same as the previous game and the Russian players gave their opponents no chance. On Split, the first map, the hostilities lasted only 32 minutes! BIG won the first round, then M3C won the next eleven. A great run of victories that brought the score to 11-1 at half time. Although BIG then managed to win three rounds in defence, it was not enough. Led by Chronicle and sheydos, the Russians were well above the opposition and sealed the score 13-4.
Breeze was the scene of the second clash between the two rosters. Again, the M3C were very dominant in the first phase of play, with d3ffo and Chronicle being monstrous on Jett and Chamber. When the teams switched sides, the score was 9-3 in favour of the Russians. Once they switched to defence, the German players managed to shine a bit more and imposed their game over five rounds. Despite this, they were unable to make up for the big lead of their opponents and eventually lost 13-8 in favour of the M3C.
M3 Champions VS LDN UTD
This third and final match against LDN UTD was just as quick as the previous ones for the Russian team. The second map ended with a score of 13-1 and lasted only 28 minutes.
Hostilities began on Ascent and once again it was the M3C who were excellent in the first phase of play, confirming their ease of play on defence. They won the first five rounds and, although they conceded three, the score was 9-3 in their favour at half-time. In the second phase of play, they let LDN UTD win the first two rounds, then decided it was time to end the first map and stepped up the pace. Ascent ended 13-5.
Breeze, the second map, was played in 28 minutes. All the M3C players were ultra dominant and gave BIG absolutely no chance. The latter only won one round when they were on defence, and none on attack. The map ended 13-1 and very quickly in favour of the Russian players. They ended their week with three good wins and earned their place in the playoffs. As for the Lithuanian organization, they finished this group phase in 0-5 and finished last of their group. They will therefore not participate in the rest of the event.
FunPlus Phoenix VS Natus Vincere
Natus Vincere also played more than one match this week and their second match was against the other dominant team in the group: FunPlus Phoenix.
The match started on Ascent and although FPX won the first two rounds, NAVI then quickly took the lead. They were very convincing in attack and went into half-time leading 8-4. In the second phase of the game, the Russian team found it a little harder to win, as FPX decided not to let themselves be outplayed. But they still managed to win five out of twelve rounds, which was enough to win the card by a score of 13-11. We can note the great job of 7ssk7 on his Jett.
The second map was Breeze, selected by FPX. This choice worked well for them as they won 10-2 in the first phase of play, with a very strong performance by ardiis on Jett. On Attack, NAVI were a little more aggressive and won three rounds, but FPX showed that they deserved their first place in the ranking and finally won by a score of 13-6.
For the third and final card, Icebox which was chosen. This time the game was much closer than the previous ones and the teams alternated wins, until finally getting a nice tie at half time, 6-6. The Jett of 7ssk7 was once again particularly effective in this defensive phase, and the Belarusian player redoubled his efforts once he went on the attack. However, the FPX players had better coordination and teamwork. Although the second phase of the game was close, it was the Phoenix who finally won the match and the game with a score of 13-11. This means that they have qualified for the playoffs.
Fnatic unbeaten on this group stage
The only Group B match this week opposed Guild Esports to Fnatic. The latter were already top of their group with four wins, but confirmed their dominance by winning this last match and being the only team in the entire competition to have won all their matches.
It took three cards to separate the two teams, the first being Haven. In this one, Fnatic quickly took the lead, winning five of the first six rounds. However, Guild Esports went on an incredible 12-game winning streak! At half time the score was 7-5, and by the end of the game it was 13-5 . Despite a great performance from Derke, it wasn't enough to stop Guild's two players: Leo and Sayf.
On Bind , things were reversed, although the first phase of play was tighter than on the previous map. Both teams showed what they could do and won successive rounds. Nevertheless, at the end of the first phase of play, it was Fnatic who was leading very slightly 7-5. However, this lead increased after half-time. Led by Derke and braveaf, Fnatic literally took off and won all six rounds in the second phase, sealing the map 13-5.
This scenario was repeated on Split, the last map of the game. Before half-time, Fnatic was leading 7-5, despite some very good play from the Guild Esports players. But once they got into defence, the aggressiveness of their opponents got the better of them once again. All the Fnatic players were exemplary and won the second phase of the game 6-0 and the map 13-5.
Despite this defeat, Guild Esports will be part of the playoffs. An opportunity to take revenge on Fnatic?
The ranking at the end of this last week of the group stage
The top three teams in each ranking therefore qualify for the playoffs. The Fnatic are the undefeated team, the only team without a loss. They have totally dominated their group and deserve this first place. This is also the case for the M3 Champions who, despite some setbacks due to the current situation in Ukraine, have managed to climb to the top of the ranking. We also salute the great performance of FunPlus Phoenix who will be part of the next adventure, as well as G2 Esports, Team Liquid and Guild Esports.
To everyone's surprise, Acend, the reigning world champions, finished in fifth place in Group B. They will therefore not participate in the playoffs for this first Challengers of the year and we hope to see them in better shape for the second part of the season. Also among the bottom two are BIG and SuperMassive Blaze, both of whom did not win a single match during the entire group stage. Natus Vincere, LDN UTD and BBL Esports will also be absent from the playoffs.
The playoffs will begin on 22nd March and will open with a match between M3 Champions and Guild Esports. To follow it, go to Valorant Twitch channel at 4pm.