Team Liquid qualify for Masters 1 playoffs with win over XERXIA
Elias "Jamppi" Olkkonen, celebrating on stage in Iceland. Team Liquid Masters 1
Elias "Jamppi" Olkkonen, celebrating on stage in Iceland. | Provided by Team Liquid.

Team Liquid qualify for Masters 1 playoffs with win over XERXIA

A close series between two underdogs ends day two of Masters 1

In a nail-biter, Team Liquid beat XERXIA Esports 2-1 on Monday to qualify for the VALORANT Champions Tour Masters 1 Reykjavík playoffs. It was a close series win, with the final map going to a long overtime. Now, Team Liquid have a guaranteed top eight position in the tournament.

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Both teams had something to prove

Starting the match, both teams had their own storylines in trying to qualify for the playoff section of Masters 1. For Team Liquid, after only qualifying due to FunPlus Phoenix’s travel issues, they made a statement win against KRÜ Esports. If they could qualify for the playoffs, they would prove to fans that they deserve to be here.

On the other side, XERXIA Esports are in a similar scenario. They qualified for their spot normally, but APAC region teams have yet to have any big success at international tournaments. The best XERXIA had was a win against Team Envy in Champions 2021, a big upset in the tournament. Now, international fans are keeping an eye on XERXIA to see if that was a fluke or a sign of what was to come.

But, so far, XERXIA are holding their own against whoever they face so far at Masters 1. With the departure of star duelist Patiphan “Patiphan” Chaiwong, the replacement pickup of Thanachart “Surf” Rungapajaratkul is fitting like a glove. The team looks very similar to how they were at Champions in 2021, with aggressive pushes on both attack and defense. It showed in their win against OpTic to make it to this match, and in the first map, hitting halftime even at 6-6. Yet, the experience and creativity of Team Liquid proved to be too much, as they lost their first map 7-13.

XERXIA make it close

Trying to prove to fans that their mediocre form in the EMEA Challengers 1 isn’t who they are, Team Liquid had the challenge of Icebox in front of them. XERXIA surprised fans and analysts alike when they chose this map in their first match against OpTic. XERXIA had a losing record on the map heading into Masters 1, but looked strong in their win against OpTic. Now, it was a matter of replicating that against Team Liquid, which is exactly what XERXIA did on the second day of Masters. But, Team Liquid fought right back to tie it at the half. Even with the rounds going fairly between the two teams, XERXIA warmed up as the map went on to finish it 13-11.

But, the third map was even more evenly matched than the last. In particular, using clever angles with a double Operator setup led to a lot of value for Team Liquid. XERXIA continued to scrap out round wins in response. When Surf just updashes and tries to get a sniper kill mid-air, you know the whimsy is with the team. After trying the map 11-11, overtime arrived. And it kept going, to 15-15, until Team Liquid won two rounds in a row. A 17-15 map win, a 2-1 series win and a spot in the playoffs.

For Team Liquid, now they wait and see who they will face in the playoffs. As for XERXIA, they are not eliminated yet but need to win their next group stage game to get in.

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Michael Czar
Polish-Canadian game enthusiast. I've been entrenched in gaming for as long as I can remember, with my first game being Pokemon Yellow and my most played games being Borderlands 2 and Overwatch. I have a degree in Film Studies, but writing about esports just makes my job all the better.