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From Emre Ali “Alfajer” Beder’s first appearance the Instanbul stage to the oldest rivalry in the book spanning multiple games and genres, Day 2 of VALORANT Championship Tour 2022: Champions was full of interesting stories to be told by fans who were there to behold the beauty of esports in its purest form.
At the end of the day, fans walked out of the venue with every emotion on their faces; shock, sadness, a bit of anger, and happiness. We spoke with the fans about their comments on the newest front of this region war, their guesses for the games of Day 2, the entrance of the man of the event and more.
“I’m very excited, the atmosphere is amazing, I wasn’t here yesterday so I expect a fiery atmosphere in the venue, I think it’ll be nice.”
Great battle of the West
The matchups for the second day were nothing short of an all out challenge between the biggest regions of VALORANT esports: Europe, Middle East, and Africa in one corner, North America in the other. The crowd in Istanbul were pretty biased toward EMEA teams, especially Fnatic and understandably so — having Alfajer in their roster does the organization considerable favors when it comes to playing in Istanbul.
“I would say, gameplay wise, EMEA is better than North America and they show it in their games. I hope both EMEA teams win their games today.”
It wasn’t only Fnatic that was favored by fans in the venue though — Team Liquid also had the majority of fans cheer for them, both in their game against OpTic and outside in between those games. Players popular in Turkey such as Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom and Elias “Jamppi” Olkkonen were the center of attention and praise by the fans whenever they made a flashy play.
“I expect EMEA to win both matches. Their players, especially ScreaM on Liquid, Jamppi, Nivera — they are very experienced and good players, I think they will make a difference today. On Fnatic; Alfajer, Boaster, Derke… I think they’ll give a map away but win the series.”
On the other hand, OpTic and XSET did not receive that many cheers except from a small and dedicated group. Especially XSET; going up against crowd favorites Fnatic, they played with barely any external support from the fans.
Riot received a lot of flak for releasing details about the live venue so late, but it's because they tried to get Volkswagen Arena but instead all they could get was Millî Kütüphane, the National Library of Turkey. 🤐
— XSET (@XSET) September 10, 2022
Who will emerge victorious?
“If you look at the gameplay, Team Liquid are more advantaged against OpTic, I think Team Liquid will win. I’m not sure if it would be clean but I think they will be superior.”
Many fans in the studio predicted that Team Liquid would wipe OpTic off the map, especially after their dominant win on the first map. With a 9-1 start, Liquid looked like they had the momentum to mix things up in Champions.
“I’m an OpTic fan… I wasn’t expecting OpTic to win after the first map, I was sure that TL would win because OpTic played very badly [in] the first game. But I was sure OpTic would win after their gameplay in the second game.”
Going into the second game, if matches were won by the number of fans cheering for a team, Liquid would have lifted the Champions trophy right then and there. But on the stage, OpTic managed to close the half 7-5 and win the game 13-8, surprising everyone inside the audience. Now they were the ones with the momentum.
The first half of the third game also went their way, in a more oppressing manner this time round. 10-2. In the second half, Team Liquid won 6 rounds, hyping the fans up for a possible comeback victory, but to their and their fans’ dismay, OpTic knocked them to the lower bracket.
“I was confident in Team Liquid but after that, OpTic kinda clutched.”
If the comments of fans about the first game seemed biased, their comments for the second game will blow you away. Virtually everyone in the arena was supporting the EMEA team; unsurprising, since they are the home region.. The general consensus going into the game was “Fnatic for sure, we’re hardcore Fnatic fans. 2-0, cleanly” but Fnatic lost on Pearl against XSET, continuing the series 0-1.
“I’m rooting for Fnatic to win. They’ve been doing so well, they’ve almost clutched their first round. But I bet they can do better for the next one because this was XSET’s chosen map. I think they might win the next map.”
They weren’t out of the fight yet but Fnatic had to overpower XSET’s momentum with the help of their fan support. The crowd was ecstatic for a first half finish with 7-5 for Fnatic, but unfortunately for them and for the players on stage, XSET brought it back and closed the series 2-0, letting the silence of the audience speak for itself.
“I wasn’t expecting a result like this. I thought Fnatic would win.”
The most hype moment of Champions Day 2 was unquestionably the moment when Alfajer walked on to the stage for the first time in front of the crowd. I don’t know if you can picture an avalanche of sound but you would have felt it when everyone was screaming his name.
“As the Turkish player here, everyone is very excited, we’re also very excited. I hope Fnatic wins and makes us proud.”
As one of the most successful Turkish players, Alfajer has been an interesting player to keep an eye on, both by local and international fans. Already playing for a top team in one of the top regions for VALORANT at just 19, his career has hit levels many professional players won’t hit in their lifetimes. Now, with the support of virtually everyone, he’s got his eyes on the biggest prize: the Champions trophy.
“We’re waiting for it, that’s part of the reason why we came here today. We’ll see. I hope it’ll be a good game.”
The beauty of esports lies in its power to replace your world and its worries, anger or fears, even for the shortest of moments. I want to make this power available to all who reach for it.