Backs against the wall, OpTic Gaming win rematch against LOUD Esports

by Sage Datuin

It was a muted celebration for OpTic Gaming, the reigning VCT Masters: Reykjavík champions following their close 2-1 series victory over Brazil’s LOUD Esports.

For most, many viewed a rematch between Masters: Reykjavík finalists OpTic Gaming and LOUD Esports as a match destined for a championship bout.

Instead, Tuesday’s match was a battle for their tournament lives.

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Both teams started VCT Masters: Copenhagen with losses after strong performances in their respective regions. Amid their opening match woes, Tuesday was a demonstration of what both teams are capable of.

After each took 13-8 map victories, OpTic and LOUD found themselves entering the third map on Split with pressure on their shoulders.

In the decider map, it was OpTic Gaming who found themselves on the precipice of Masters: Copenhagen elimination first. After a 7-5 first half for LOUD, the Brazilians continued to look strong in the second half where they were the aggressors with a 10-6 lead over the reigning Masters champions. OpTic would ultimately claw their way back to win 14-12 in overtime.

For OpTic Gaming head coach Chet “Chet” Singh, he credited LOUD Esports for their improvements from their previous match in Iceland.

“I think this time around, they had a different dimension,” Chet Singh said during the postgame press conference. “There's a couple of more fakes and their hits were just a lot stronger this time around [compared to Reykjavik]. They weren't relying too much on, you know, rehitting, their just straight-up hits were very good.”

Read more: After beating LOUD, KRÜ are looking to make a run at Masters: Copenhagen

Throughout the press conference, this was something that OpTic Gaming in-game leader Pujan “FNS” Mehta was in agreement with when the players were asked about their thoughts on the final map.

“I just think it was a hard map,” FNS said. “They started defense, we ended up winning the pistol and it was kind of back and forth … I think it was just a hard-fought game. That’s all.”

Ultimately, OpTic Gaming came back from this deficit to close out the Masters: Reykjavík rematch, leading to momentary relief.

Both teams emphasize need for a break after Copenhagen

In the postgame press conference, both LOUD and OpTic Gaming gave each other well-deserved praise and respect following the series, but the main thing that stood out the most were the answers that displayed just how rigorous the VALORANT schedule has been for both teams.

“I’m going to need a break after this event, let’s put it that way,” FNS blatantly stated during the press conference. “It’s definitely been tough, and I wouldn’t say it’s burnout, but when you’re competing against such strong teams so consistently and there’s always something on the line, it’s always something in terms of the schedule where we have to play.”

Photo credit: Riot Games

On top of the matches the viewers see, there is a lot more that goes into the preparation behind the scenes as well, which FNS further explained.

“If we’re not playing, we have to practice in order to get and stay ahead of the meta,” FNS said. “It’s not easy to consistently be able to do that, especially when you’re defending champs and you have to qualify.”

He went on to describe the constant challenges of adapting to new metas and creating a new game plan knowing teams are constantly watching how they play to overtake them.

“It’s very hard to keep our mentals the same when you don’t get an extended break,” FNS said concluding his thoughts on the topic.

The VALORANT Champions Tour was heavily condensed in 2022 compared to 2021. Although there are only two stages before VCT Champions, the timeline between tournaments has been densely packed, especially for top teams like OpTic Gaming and LOUD Esports, who will now take a break before prepping for Champions.

“First, we’re for sure resting a little bit that’s for sure,” Matias "Saadhak" Delipetro said laughing before continuing on with his answer. “Then, we’re going to try and bootcamp maybe here in Europe and try to be our best in Europe so that we can be at our best in Turkey. There’s not that much for preparation, but it’s more so that we have more time to do all of this. That’s going to make a big difference for us.”

LOUD Esports’ hopes at redemption at Masters: Copenhagen have come to an early stop as the Brazilian powerhouse will now look toward recapturing their international success at VCT Champions 2022.

As for OpTic Gaming, they will move forward into a match against KRÜ Esports on Wednesday in the Group A decider match to see which team moves forward into the Masters: Copenhagen playoffs. With less than a day to rest up, the plan is similar to how they treat every match, according to Chet.

“Whenever we prep later tonight or early tomorrow, we’re just going to try and adjust our strategy on the opponent that we’re playing that day,” Chet said in response to a question about adaptation in a short timeframe. “Then all we can do is hope that’s good enough to win the game.”

Lead photo credit: Riot Games

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