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Fnatic and Team Team Liquid both left their respective groups at the EMEA Challengers Playoffs on April 29 to qualify for the semifinals. The two European teams are now one series win away from Masters 2 qualification. Team Liquid swept FunPlus Phoenix 2-0 to qualify and knock the Stage 2 Challengers 1 champions into the losers bracket. Fnatic did the same in their group, topping Guild Esports 2-0 to make the next stage. Team Liquid and Fnatic will face off on opposite sides of the final bracket for a chance at Masters 2 qualification.

Team Liquid topple FunPlus Phoenix

FPX are considered one of the best teams in the region and are ranked number one on the vlr.gg rankings. In the two teams’ four previous clashes, FPX always walked away the victors. But, Team Liquid leveled up their play since they last faced the European giants in Stage 1 of the VALORANT Champions tour. They picked up Counter Strike youngster Elias “Jamppi” Olkkonen and changed around their agent compositions as the meta has evolved.

On the first map, Haven, Team Liquid came in with a new composition. Jamppi, who played Jett in all of his previous matches, was on the Sentinel Killjoy for the first time in his career. He finished with a respectable 15/9 K/D, and a positive entry score line. The slower playstyle seemed to fit the Swede well, and he held his area of the map well on defense. The real carry’s on the map were Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom and James “Kryptix” Affleck. ScreaM topped the leaderboard in kills, headshot percentage and Average Combat Score, while Kryptix had a pivotal clutch and decent stats as well.

They took the map 13-7 and kept that momentum in the second map, Bind. With Jamppi back on Jett, and Kryptix’s continuous use of Viper, they outplayed FPX. Traditionally one of FPX’s best maps, Team Liquid held strong on defense to come out of the first half up 8-5. They then closed out the series in quick fashion on attack, winning 13-5.

Fnatic are one step closer to Masters 2

Fnatic took a tight series against Guild Esports, as both games went the distance. On the first map, Ascent, both teams went back-and-forth on defense. Fnatic came out first, taking the first half 9-3 thanks to a four round win streak off a pistol win. Guild responded in kind with a five round streak off of a pistol, but Fnatic took the economy advantage back soon after. With upgraded weapons, and Domagoj “doma” Fancev on a surprise Omen pick, Fnatic closed the map 13-10.

On the second map, Bind, Guild pushed Fnatic to the brink, forcing overtime in the final round of regulation. Thanks to Yacine “Yacine” Laghmari’s Raze entry play, Guild pushed Fnatic to 28 rounds. But, the Jake “Boaster” Howlett-led squad prevailed in the end as their in-game leader topped the team’s leaderboard with 240 ACS and 23 kills. Six players in the server notched over 20 kills in the 15-13 Fnatic win.

Fnatic will go up against either FPX or Gambit Esports while Team Liquid will face the winner of the Guild and Oxygen Esports matchup. Both decider games will be played April 30 as the semifinal matches start May 1. Only two teams from the semifinals field will qualify for Masters 2 in Iceland.