OpTic Gaming might have come into VALORANT Champions Tour Masters Copenhagen as North America’s second seed. They might have dropped their opening match in the group stage. They might have been nearly eliminated in their best-of-three against LOUD. But as of Wednesday, all that’s in the past.
There wasn’t an iota of vulnerability, hesitance or self-doubt in the reigning Masters winners’ gameplay as they stormed their way past KRÜ Esports and secured a playoff spot in Denmark. OpTic’s goal of repeating their Masters Reykjavík success by going back-to-back is very much alive.
“Honestly, every game is hard,” OpTic’s Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker said. “We’re just going to approach each map the same and do our best.”
KRÜ get swept
KRÜ were Latin America’s second seed at Masters. They’re also the team that’s been to every international VCT LAN. That pedigree didn’t help, though, against an angry OpTic.
OpTic’s Jimmy “Marved” Nguyen was the undisputed MVP of the match. There aren’t many controller players who can find the same level of impact that Marved finds. His defensive performance with Astra on Split was nothing short of a masterclass.
“I was feeling it that match,” Marved said. “I liked the angles I was holding. Whatever angle I was holding, I was confident I would get the kill. I was playing a little more aggressive because I was feeling it.”
Marved’s Omen gameplay on Haven was just disrespectful as he held W until he was behind KRÜ as often as he was in front of them. That included some less-than-advisable Omen teleports, but things worked out for the day’s star player.
“I was just trying to style on them,” he said.
Of course, there were some important extenuating factors for KRÜ during the match. Their star duelist, Angelo “keznit” Mori, has been sick for some time. After the match, he headed to the hospital to get checked out.
“I just want to ask everyone for tranquility and be calm,” KRÜ head coach Leandro “Leazo” Liset said. “He had a pain that made it impossible for him to play his best. … We don’t think it’s a major problem.”
Even though it’s the end of the road for KRÜ, they still have an opportunity to qualify for Champions through Last Chance Qualifiers or if Leviatán performs poorly in Copenhagen. The players believe they haven’t performed to their highest level yet and that they have more to give.
“I believe the team is growing stronger and stronger every time,” Leazo said. “Every one of them knows their true potential.”
OpTic vs. XSET rematch at Masters Copenhagen
With the playoff bracket already set, OpTic will face XSET in the first round. It’s a matchup that fans of North America’s VCT have seen often enough. Most recently, the two teams clashed in the grand finals of Challengers where XSET overpowered an admittedly COVID-wracked OpTic.
“I think the entire thing is terrible,” OpTic’s in-game leader, Pujan “FNS” Mehta, said. “The fact that teams are getting placed into playoffs through online play … I just don’t think that’s good.”
The way the bracket has resolved, it won’t be the only Challengers grand finals rematch. Fnatic will play against FunPlus Phoenix in a rematch from Europe, Middle East and Africa. The players on all sides aren’t thrilled about the prospect of another bout with regional rivals when there’s so many strong international teams to be played.
“It sucks that we’re having to play a North American team,” FNS said. “This is the third time we’re playing a North American team in the third round, so there’s definitely something wrong with that.”
no worries i didn't wanna play international competition anyways
— XSET Zekken (@zekkenVAL) July 13, 2022
It’s hard not to think of OpTic as favorites heading into the match. They may be the second seeds, but they’re still OpTic.
More than their regional opponent, though, the team OpTic are most concerned about facing is DRX.
“The team that will probably be our rivals is DRX,” OpTic coach Chet “Chet” Singh said. “This time around they showed that they don’t have to follow a rigid game plan anymore. And they actually play to adapt more than they did previously in the last Masters.”
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.