Alliance, NIP, FPX, and Team Heretics qualify for VCT Europe Masters
Challengers 2 of Valorant Champions Tour Europe is over with the first four spots in the Masters event in March taken. Alliance, Ninjas in Pyjamas (NIP), FunPlus Phoenix (FPX), and Team Heretics are the four very first teams to make it through. The remaining teams will still have a chance to make it into Masters through the very last Challengers 3 event on March 6-7.
Alliance took on Wave Esports after besting DfuseTeam in the play-in with a clean 2-0. Wave Esports was the last team to beat as Robertas “Carcass” Mikuckis side was waiting after upsetting Fnatic at Challengers 1. Alliance went on to best Wave on their own map pick, Icebox, following a great all-around team effort and showing how to utilize Viper as shown by Carcass‘ former teammate from Counter-Strike days, Tautvydas “hype” Paldavicius. This was followed up by a quadruple overtime on Haven, map pick of Wave. There, we saw a masterclass Jett by Carcass following a relatively quiet game on Icebox, getting 29 kills in the process, pushing his side to finally clinch the overtime at 17:15 and sweeping Wave at 2-0 in maps. Alliance were the first team ever to qualify for Masters of Valorant Champions Tour Europe.
Ninjas in Pyjamas already knocked out G2 Esports out of Challengers 1 playoffs, forcing Oscar “mixwell” Cañellas Colocho’s side to qualify for Challengers 2 from the play-in stage. While G2 did exactly that, NIP were ready and waiting at Challengers 2 playoffs, looking to replicate their stellar performance. They did more than that, they showed that the refreshed lineup with Kevin “akukhoS” Droolans (Ex6TenZ) at the steer is a force to be afraid of in Europe. NIP proceeded to steal G2’s map pick, Ascent, with a phenomenal showing on attack, effectively taking the first map with a 13:9 score. NIP then went on to take Haven as their own. Despite G2’s best efforts from mixwell and co., NIP’s prodigy Yaroslav “Jady” Nikolaev on Sova was an absolute menace, thrusting his side to a 13:10 victory and once more proving that NIP is a formidable force in Valorant’s pro scene. NIP cleanly swept G2 with a 2-0 score in maps.
Day brought us more of the same top tier Valorant action. The first matchup served us Kirill “ANGE1” Karasiow’s FPX against Jake “Boaster” Howlett’s Fnatic on a silver platter. The matchup went the distance as Fnatic were looking to bounce back after the unexpected upset by Wave Esports in Challengers 1. Having made it all the way back, Fnatic effectively showed their masterclass Bind, utilizing menacing post-plant tactics displayed by Boaster on Brimstone and combined with James “Mistic” Orfila on Viper. FPX failed to get even one point up on the board on defense, leading to a 13:6 blowout on Bind. Split followed, and that was not pleasant to watch as FPX quickly bounced back on their own map pick, showing a 10:2 attack side followed by a 3:1 defense side as Dmitriy “dimasick” Matvienko was starting to light up on Cypher. All tied up, the decider was Haven, and here we saw the Dimasick show his true form. The menacing Cypher went on a rampage at 28 kills, effectively pushing his side to a 13:7 victory. Five rounds on defense that were all site retakes and defuses showed the world how to retake sites, making FPX come out on top.
Team Heretics saw an extremely premature exit from Challengers 1 after losing a best-of-one to ENTROPIQ. Motivated to climb all the way back in Challengers 2, they reached the playoffs and were pitted against the fresh OG roster (former Monkey business). After a solid run through the qualifying bracket, Heretics carried over the mojo into this matchup against OG. Featuring a duo of Christian “lowel” Garcia Antoran and sixth-man of the roster, Ruben “RUBINO” Villarroel, their map pick, Ascent, went comfortably their way after a strong showing on both sides of the battlefield at 13:6. OG had to turn it around on Bind, their own map pick. Heretics mounted pressure on early on defense, getting in fantastic defuses and winning key clutch situations. Benjamin “uNKOE” Chevasson on Omen tried his bust to revitalize his side, but Heretics would not budge. Heretics saw Žygimantas “nukkye” Chmieliauskas take control of the battlefield on Raze, picking up the OP mixed in with rifles, leading to a 10:2 half. OG woke up for the first three rounds on defense, but eventually ran out of steam as Heretics took Bind 13-7, denying the decider map. OG lacked in firepower flair, often brought on by Dragan “elllement” Milanović.
The following teams have gone on to Challengers 3 and will have a last chance at qualification to VCT Masters:
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Naim "EnKay" Rosinski
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