Karmine Corp beats KOI and ends its run of bad luck at VCT EMEA
Since its promotion from VCL to VCT, the Valorant team of the Karmine Corp was in real trouble. However, yesterday the team won the match against KOI; an important victory in more ways than one for the French structure.
Karmine Corp launched on Valorant in mid-2022 by joining the VCL (called VRL: France at the time) for Split 2. If the team had started on the right foot and was clearly dominating the French scene, it started to show weaknesses at the end of the regular season to finally finish 3rd ex-aequo with Mandatory in the final bracket, behind MAD Lions and Vitality.
When it came to selecting the franchise teams that will participate in the European VCT for 2023, Riot Games naturally looked to the best teams in each national league. However, if Vitality was selected without any problems, Riot had to face the departure of MAD Lions for the United States. It is therefore on the Karmine Corp that Riot has set its sights on, impressed by the fervour of the fans who were able to fill Bercy in a few days.
This selection led to the obligation for KCorp to review its roster in order to reach the European level, while imposing a major constraint: to keep a majority French-speaking team for the global cohesion and not to alienate the fans. This is how XMS and the brothers ScreaM and Nivera, three iconic CS:GO figures who converted to Valorant at the highest level have joined the structure. Blue Wall fans were more galvanised than ever by the recruitment of three well-known figures, but unfortunately they were to be disappointed.
In the VCT LOCK//IN, the KCorp was able to keep the illusion alive. They won their first match against the iconic FunPlus Phoenix, but the latter had just parted with all its European players to set up a brand new and rather inexperienced Chinese team. This victory brought the KCorp to face LOUD Gaming, the reigning world champions, directly. No one expected them to win this match and the team suffered a defeat quite conventional. Still, we had not yet seen what the Karmine Corp was really worth on a European level.
The VCT EMEA was finally underway, and with it the apparent difficulties of KCorp. In its first match against BBL Esports, the French structure has engaged from the outset in the longest map of this season so far. The game lasted almost 1 hour and 45 minutes, and was finally won by a score of 19-17 after a long overtime. The scenario was almost repeated on the next map, where the game finally ended on a score of 13-11 in favour of KCorp. It was a hard-fought victory.
That's when the bad streak really started. A series that may seem short at first, with only 4 defeats, but bitter defeats that are all the more damaging for a new team. Karmine Corp didn't just lose to their opponents, they got crushed. Adding up all the rounds in the BO3 against Heretics, Liquid and Vitality, the KCorp only won 22 rounds, which is 3.6 rounds won per map on average. An extremely low score and indicative of the very weaknesses of the team.
Because behind the score, there are real problems at play. The very composition of its team, never using duelists, is very questionable. But above all, Karmine Corp makes mistakes, often gross ones, especially at this level of the competition. Whether they are due to pressure or to the lack of experience of its in-game leader, the fact is that the Karmine is getting humiliated in the eyes of Europe. Because if the Blue Wall enjoys an extraordinary popularity in France, the rest of the world is rather indifferent to it and does not let itself be impressed. The commentators, both pro and amateur, do not hesitate to openly mock the players' decisions and the KCorp matches are expected to be a real outlet.
It was now clear that something was wrong with the Karmine Corp and changes were needed. The first of these is the departure of NewZera from the team. While the exact reasons for this are not yet known, both the player and the structure assure us that it was a decision taken by NewZera itself. Because league rules prevent the team from recruiting a new player, it is forced to replace him with ZE1SH, its assistant coach.
The second and perhaps most important change, although less visible, is the change of leader. Not only does ZE1SH have to replace NewZera, he also has to take on the role of decision maker for the team.
When the Karmine was invited to join the VCT EMEA, the team was built around ScreaM as ingame leader. This player, with his monstrous skill and undeniable talent, had little experience in this position. This role forces information and decision making, which significantly impacts the ability to focus on combat. Making ZE1SH the leader, ScreaM can now focus on his strengths.
But not all of Karmine Corp's problems were solved. Beyond the obvious goodwill to correct the situation, there are still scars from such a painful departure. For competitors like ScreaM and Nivera, seeing a teammate give up and leave is something that is difficult to digest. The Belgian player appealed to the support of all fans and promised that he would not give up.
The next match was against NaVi. The Karmine Corp once again lost the match, but this defeat was different. Karmine was still trying to get back on track and find its feet, while NaVi is one of the best teams in Europe, if not the world. However, KC held their own and won against Ascent with a score of 11-13. The defeat was more severe against Lotus, 7-13, without managing to win a single round in defence. But the intent and energy was there. The blue flame was starting to burn brightly.
KC vs KOI: the match you shouldn't lose
The most important match of the VCT EMEA for the Karmine Corp. was coming up. A match that went far beyond the sphere of Valorant and that the team had no right to lose: the match against its eternal rivals from KOI.
KOI is the Spanish structure co-founded by the streamer Ibai who maintains a very strong animosity towards Kamet0 and therefore the Karmine Corp. The confrontations between the two personalities regularly punctuate the internet and Twitch sphere. We can quote the famous Pixel War from Reddit, or the Eleven All-Stars which saw French and Spanish influencers compete in a real football match.
The fact is that these regular clashes between France and Spain are usually to the advantage of the Tricolores, which is not exactly to the taste of Ibai and the Hispanic community. In such a war, each new confrontation is the only one that counts. The last one to win wipes their slate clean and earns the right to claim superiority over the other.
With Karmine Corp struggling on Valorant, KOI, who were barely above them in the overall rankings, were hoping to finally turn things around and get the upper hand on their rivals. The stakes in this match were therefore even higher for honour than for progression in the tournament. So much so that the Spaniards spared no expense in promoting the match...
But they will be disappointed.
After an extremely close match, Karmine Corp finally managed to win and put an end to its dark run. On Lotus, it actually wins 11 of its 12 rounds of Attack. They lost to Ascent in a hard-fought match, but validated their victory over Haven by playing all their defence on successful retakes. If all is not yet perfect in the team's play, the improvements are clearly visible. The players no longer let situations get out of hand because of their immobility and lack of decisions. The strategic shortcomings are compensated by the raw talent of the players.
This victory allows France to once again defeat Spain, but it is also and above all very important for its players. It must of course be good for morale, but it is also a sign that all is not yet lost. In absolute terms, it's better if the tough defeats come early in the season, so that we can understand what's going wrong and correct it immediately.
ScreaM said it over and over again on the VCT EMEA stage after the win: this is just the beginning. The team remains committed to its primary goal of making it to the playoffs and reaching the Tokyo Masters.
One can only hope for the Karmine Corp that all their troubles are behind them. But the road ahead is still long and hard, especially as they still have to face some of the best teams in the region. The team will meet FUT Esports on 4th May, but also and above all Fnatic, LOCK//IN winners and EMEA favourites on 11th May.