In the last match of the first day of VALORANT Champions, North America’s Cloud9 Blue faced off against Europe’s Fnatic, and it was the match NA and EU fans were waiting for. Over 100,000 viewers on Riot Games’ VALORANT Twitch channel alone watched to see who would win the first battle between NA and EU in this tournament.
They’re both considered among the best teams at Champions, but Fnatic came into the tournament ranked lower than C9 in many rankings, including Nerd Street’s. However, after C9’s loss to Fnatic, that perception may have been wrong.
“To be honest, we kind of underrated them because when we played a scrim against the team we didn't really see that. Like, the team is really good compared to NA that we’ve seen so far. So we just kind of underestimated them, I guess,” Son “xeta” Seon-ho said.
Being confident is one thing, but mini warned that underestimating any team going into a tournament is a huge mistake.
“If teams think like that, I don't think they're very smart,” he said. “I think there's analysts out there doing that stuff, and it's like, it doesn't matter because they obviously don't have to play us. They just get to watch and be like, ‘Oh, I was wrong, who cares?’ But people playing us obviously shouldn't be disrespecting us because then they just are going to not perform as well as what they should do.”
Photo credit: Riot Games
The first map saw the two teams duke it out on Icebox. The first two rounds went to C9, but Fnatic won most of the next few rounds to go up 7-5 at the half.
C9 seemed to start to turn things around after the half, but they couldn’t close out the win, and Fnatic won 13-11. Nikita “Derke” Sirmitev had a great map on Icebox with an ACS of 336 and a K/D of 30/14.
Split is when things started to take a turn for the worse for Fnatic. This time, Fnatic took the first two rounds, but still ended the half 7-5. Things were really starting to look good for them after the half though, and they quickly got the score to 11-8. All looked hopeless for Cloud9, but they rallied and ended up taking the next seven rounds to win Split.
Xeta may have been the reason behind the rally.
“I think I said to our teammates with the voice comms like ‘guys, we just keep focus on our game’ and then ‘I don't want to lose this. When I play Breach I really want to win this map,’ so I think I think it worked,” xeta told Nerd Street in a postmatch interview.
Another interesting fact about Split is that Domagoj "Doma" Fancev played KAY/O. This is an agent that hasn’t appeared much in the professional scene, but Fnatic head coach Jacob “mini” Harris said that KAY/O is good and to expect to see more of the agent throughout the tournament.
“KAY/O was always going to be the plan,” mini said. “I think KAY/O is very underrated by people outside of the event. I mean, like people playing at this event know KAY/O is good. But it seems like the analysts outside of the practice meta don't know it's as good as what it is. So I think we'll see a lot of KAY/O this event.”
For the third map, fans finally got a look at Fracture in a major VCT tournament.
This map also saw the ultimate betrayal in the bromance between Anthony “vanity” Malaspina and Jake “Boaster” Howlett. In the seventh round of Map 3, Boaster snuck up on vanity and stabbed him in the back.
C9 looked overmatched on Fracture, and by the half, things looked very grim for C9 when it ended 8-4 in favor of Fnatic.
Both teams did say that they practiced Fracture and that they were aware that the vetoes could cause the maps to fall the way they did, but they didn’t predict that they would end up on Fracture.
“We knew the vetoes could have gone very many different ways. And this was one of the outcomes we didn't really expect happening,” mini said “Playing Fracture was something that we thought could happen today. You know, we weren't surprised.”
After the half, Fnatic pushed the score to 12-6 before C9 got into a groove to take the next six rounds, sending the game into overtime.
Fnatic made quick work of C9 in OT, winning 14-12 to move on to the winner’s match for their group. In traditional Fnatic form, the crew got together to celebrate. They made a pot with their arms, flames with their fingers, and Boaster pulled out a note that read “When does TSM play?”
C9 will play next in the Group D elimination match against FULL SENSE where they will have to win to stay in the tournament. Fnatic will take on Vision Strikers in the Group D winner’s match.
Lead photo credit: Riot Games