After a tough first map, DRX bounced back to defeat Cloud9 2-1 and eliminate them from the VALORANT Champions Tour 2023 LOCK//IN Brazil tournament. Despite a great showing on Pearl, both Haven and Icebox had great first halves from DRX that Cloud9 couldn’t overcome.
This marks a big win for DRX at LOCK//IN, beating one of their toughest opponents in Cloud9 Jaccob “yay” Whiteaker after losing to him frequently in 2022.
.@DRX_VS secures the series win vs C9 in the ALPHA bracket! #VCTLOCKIN #DRXWIN pic.twitter.com/vnarwd4gCX
— VALORANT Champions Tour (@ValorantEsports) February 18, 2023
Pearl was tough but expected from DRX
When the maps for the series were revealed, we got a potential banger in Pearl. Both teams looked very strong on the map heading into this matchup, with Cloud9 beating Paper Rex on it while DRX beat BBL Esports. However, heading into the series, DRX knew that Cloud9 would go with Pearl, and they expected a tough time, especially with what Anthony “vanity” Malaspina brought.
“Vanity was holding down B very well,” Pyeon “termi” Seon-ho said. “Planting spike wasn’t an issue, but afterwards it was tough. We expected that Pearl was going to be hard to win on but we had confidence in Haven and Icebox.”
Pearl ended up becoming a map to forget for DRX, as Cloud9 stomped them 13-3. Many players on Cloud9 stepped up, from Erick “Xeppaa” Bach to Jordan “Zellsis” Montemurro.
Cloud9 experiment on Haven doesn’t go right
However, when Haven came up next, Cloud9 decided to go with a bit of a risk. Running a bit of an unexpected composition, with Phoenix and Chamber, the team made some crucial errors.
“We got into a rhythm and messed up some of the easier parts of our Haven comp,” Matthew “mCe” Elmore said. “It was meant to surprise our enemies. We didn’t play it right; not the way it was supposed to be played.”
Cloud9 went down 9-3 on Haven, eventually losing the map 13-7. Out of all the players on DRX that came back to form, it was their initiator playing on his signature hero. Of course, we’re talking about Kim “stax” Gu-taek and his Breach, top fragging on Haven and bringing the series back to an even scoreline.
DRX headline an Icebox win with Harbor pick, eliminate Cloud9 from LOCK//IN
When Icebox came around as the deciding map, nobody was sure what to expect from either team. So, when agent select came on and DRX put stax on Harbor, it confused but intrigued many fans watching from home.
As it turned out, Harbor’s utility is amazing for well-coordinated hits on either site for Icebox, especially alongside another smokes agent like Viper. The way that stax could help take control of the site and hold it was key to the one-sided map and series win. DRX knew it was a bit of a high-risk, high-reward play that could define future matches.
“We thought the classic Sage pick would be good for Icebox to start, but we wanted to come up with something to get an edge over other teams,” Kim “stax” Gu-taek said. “If things continue to work out well, we think Harbor will be a good pick for Icebox and really lead the pack in terms of the meta.”
With this win, DRX are in the top eight of the VCT 2023 LOCK//IN tournament, with Cloud 9 gone. Now, DRX will face the winner of Evil Geniuses and Talon Esports next.
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.