A tale of two matches in the Stage 1 Masters final four
REYKJAVIK, ICELAND - APRIL 8: (L-R) Bryan "pANcada" Luna, Erick "aspas" Santos and Felipe "Less" Basso of team LOUD pose for the VALORANT Masters Features Day on April 8, 2022 in Reykjavik, Iceland. (Photo by Lance Skundrich/Riot Games)

A tale of two matches in the Stage 1 Masters final four

Two teams must meet expectations while the others are happy to be there

The first international event of the VALORANT Champions Tour 2022, Stage 1 Masters, Reykjavík, is nearing its conclusion with only four teams remaining. One of ZETA DIVISION, Paper Rex, OpTic Gaming or LOUD will take home the season’s first Masters title, $200,000 and the prestige that comes with winning such a stacked event.,

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It’s a story of two sides among the remaining four teams at Masters. There aren’t any surprises in the upper bracket, as both LOUD and OpTic were pegged early on as two trophy contenders. In contrast, the lower bracket has been rife with upsets. Paper Rex were a serious dark horse and almost no one had Japan’s ZETA Division making it this far considering the region had previously never even qualified for international playoffs.

Before these four teams start knocking each other out of the tournament on Friday, here’s a look at the next slate of games.

Masters final four: OpTic vs. LOUD

OpTic yay Masters
Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker of OpTic Gaming poses onstage at the VALORANT Masters Bracket Stage. | Photo by Colin Young-Wolff for Riot Games.

At 1 p.m. ET on Friday, OpTic and LOUD will compete in the upper bracket final. Although both teams are still in the upper bracket, they had very different journeys up to this point.

Many saw LOUD as a serious favorite to take the whole tournament. Their star-studded roster achieved regional dominance in Brazil, a clear cut above domestic rivals Ninjas in Pyjamas. Matias “Saadhak” Delipetro and Gustavo “Sacy” Rossi brought their expertise and LAN experience from Team Vikings and the rest has been history.

With the playoff bye, LOUD have only played two matches at Masters, both against teams from Europe. The first match against Team Liquid was a back-and-forth affair. The second against G2 Esports was a more convincing victory. So far, LOUD look like the best team at the tournament.

In contrast, OpTic took a bumpier road. After losing to the The Guard in the North American Challengers 1 final, they received the region’s second seed. That meant going through the group stage, where an early loss to XERXIA put them on the verge of elimination early. Since then, they’ve found their footing with four straight match wins over KRÜ Esports, XERXIA, The Guard and DRX.

The match between OpTic and LOUD could very well be a grand finals preview, as the loser will have a chance to make their way back through the lower bracket. Fans should keep an eye on the Jett duel between two of the highest rated players at the event: LOUD’s Erick “aspas” Santos and OpTic’s Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker.

ZETA Division vs. Paper Rex

The second match between the Masters final four teams is a lower bracket Round 3 bout between ZETA Division and Paper Rex, which begins at 4:00 p.m. ET on Friday.

This match has everything fans could dream of, with two underdog teams scrapping it out with very different play styles and everything on the line.

Paper Rex might be the most exciting team in VALORANT at the moment. Their style of running directly at opponents shouldn’t work, but it has. They overwhelm the enemy with a mix of reckless abandon and carefully crafted set pieces.

Wang Jing “Jinggg” Jie and Jason “f0rsakeN” Susanto have developed into the single scariest fragging duo at the event. The worst — or best — thing about this team is they are clearly enjoying themselves as they dismantle top teams.

Paper Rex Benkai
Benedict “Benkai” Tan of Paper Rex poses onstage after a victory match at the VALORANT Masters Bracket Stage. | Photo by Colin Young-Wolff. Provided by Riot Games.

As a team, ZETA DIVISION have had the biggest glow up from the start of Masters to now. In their first match of the group stage, DRX demolished them. Since then, they’ve solidified into a team everyone left in the tournament should fear. With the exception of the more supportive styled Tomoaki “crow” Maruoka, every member of the team has massive fragging potential and the ability to take over a round without warning.

While both Paper Rex and ZETA have their work cut out for them if they want to reach the grand finals, their match will be a good indicator of whether either has the chops to beat LOUD or OpTic. And of course, the match is sure to be a slugfest. Fans can expect a lot of individual highlights from both sides.

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Coby Zucker
Coby Zucker is Upcomer's resident CS:GO writer. He's also played League of Legends at the collegiate level and is a frequent visitor in TFT Challenger Elo. He's a firm believer that Toronto should be the next big esports hub city.