VCT Stage 1 Masters: Fnatic is Out; DRX Secures Playoffs
The Reykjavík group stage action continues as the four remaining teams make their preparations for the final Decider Match. Yesterday, DRX defeated Ninjas in Pyjamas in a convincing fashion, securing the second slot in the Playoffs, right after Team Liquid.
On the same day, Fnatic faced ZETA DIVISION, in a match that was expected to be an easy win for Fnatic. However, the opposite happened and the Japanese squad completely stomped Boaster and the rest of the team, sending them back home.
KRÜ’s attempts to survive OpTic were unsuccessful and they suffered a 2 – 0 loss at their hands, becoming the second team to get eliminated from the tournament.
We believe nobody expected Fnatic to arrive in Reykjavík, suffer two consecutive 2 – 0 defeats, pack their bags and head back home. But this is exactly what happened in this esports tournament and the question is why?
When Fnatic lost their first match against NiP, Ninjas seemed strong as they perfectly countered Fnatic’s strategy. After all of this, we’re no longer sure whether NiP was too strong or whether Fnatic was just that weak.
The reality is that Fnatic has been dealt a bad hand. Derke didn’t get to play a single match as he was stuck in a hotel in Reykjavík under quarantine. The Finnish Valorant player, Joona “H1ber” Parviainen, had to step in as a last-minute replacement. And on top of that, Fnatic were forced to sign Fearoth on loan from Alliance after Andrey “BraveAF” Gorchakov was suspended. Just too many things happened in a short span of time that it was almost impossible for Fnatic to react properly, and it’s honestly a miracle they held it together as well as they did so far.
They’re the first EMEA team to get eliminated, and this early, too. That leaves us with Team Liquid and G2 Esports, who both find themselves in the Playoffs. However, if both teams win their Quarterfinal matches, they’ll have to face each other. This drastically lowers the odds of an EMEA team landing into the Grand Final, but at the same time, it opens a lot of space for other regions to climb up there.
The Decider Matches
NiP suffered a loss against DRX, who proved to be as good as we expected them to be. After all, this is the former Vision Strikers team who reigned supreme in Korea for an entire Valorant Champions Tour season. And while DRX moves into the Playoffs to face Paper Rex, NiP is left to fight ZETA DIVISION, who have proven to be a worthy adversary.
Both teams defeated Fnatic in their weakened state, and both find themselves on equal footing here. We’ll go with an even fifty-fifty here and say that both teams have a realistic shot at winning. This means the Valorant odds will also be relatively close, giving Valorant punters the best bang for their buck.
Over in Group B we have the match between XERXIA and OpTic Gaming, a rematch that many have been expecting. XERXIA were initially victorious in the Opening Match against OpTic, taking a 2 – 0 win. After failing to overpower Team Liquid, they were forced into the Decider Match where OpTic also landed after eliminating KRÜ Esports.
It’s not wise to completely dismiss OpTic here as they were one of the favourites coming into this tournament. But even so, we still have to give the advantage to XERXIA given how well they did against OpTic earlier. If XERXIA play their cards right, they could outplay OpTic once again and move into the Playoffs, where they would face The Guard. That would be an interesting matchup, and one we’re certainly hoping to see.