VCT EMEA Challengers Preview: Clash of Regions at Stage 3

VCT EMEA Challengers Preview: Clash of Regions at Stage 3

Naim "EnKay" Rosinski

8/12/2021, 12:14:07 PM

The last stage of VCT in the EMEA region is finally here. With Europe, CIS, and Turkey fighting for one of four spots at Masters Berlin next month, the stakes are as high as they get. Eight teams will face off on the first day of battles featuring all matches boasting teams from the three different regions.

EMEA Challengers Playoffs kicks off August 8 and runs until August 22. The event boasts and Upper and Lower bracket so get ready for all-out VALORANT goodness for the coming week.

Here are the first four pairs of matchups with our predictions.

Natus Vincere (NA Vi) vs Team Liquid

One of two of the first matchups sees a CIS vs EU affair. Team Liquid looked solid at the European VCT Playoffs, especially when Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom dropped KAY/O in favor of Jett leading to a win against Fnatic. With high octane players on the roster including ScreaM, Elias “Jamppi” Olkkonen or Travis “L1NK” Mendoza, Team Liquid is one of the favorites of this event. Especially given their previous entry into Masters Reykjavik.

On the other side we have Natus Vincere, a team fully formed barely a month ago, on July 16, after the org signed the “No Pressure” roster. In fact, the org-less roster was picked up swiftly by Na Vi following their qualification for this event. The team boasting Vladyslav “arch” Svistov and Denis “dinkzj” Tkachev upset forZe in the VCT CIS Main Event – Lower Final to get themselves this far. It’s fair to say they have done a hell of a job.

Prediction: Team Liquid 2:0 Natus Vincere

Team Liquid have established themselves as one of the finest teams in the region. It is simply a hard sell to bet against them, especially against a team that has still a lot to prove to be considered a force in the EMEA region. Unless the underdogs have a crisp plan on how to handle the firepower of Liquid, this should be a clean 2:0 for ScreaM and co.

FunPlus Phoenix vs Fire Flux Esports

The battle of the Fs sees an EU side take on a Turkish team. FPX longs for a ground-breaking victory as their achievements boast a list of 3rd-6th place finishes when it mattered most at VCT. Those matchups are usually tight and it could be said that Kirill “ANGE1” Karasiow’s side was simply unlucky in key moments. Surely, this is the place to turn things around.

Fire Flux will stand on their way. The team was formed on May 30 of this year and has impressed with their achievements. Despite a 4th place exit at VCT Turkey Challengers 1, the Turkish side bounced back in Challengers 2 to win the event. Despite the impressive run, will that be enough to repent the experienced FPX side?

Prediction: FunPlus Phoenix 2:0 Fire Flux Esports

Despite Fire Flux’ cinderella run in Turkey, their opponents are likely to be on another level. No matter how much firepower FFE bring to the match, FPX have simply amassed much more experience in VALORANT, including playing against other regions. Nevertheless, we like to be surprised. Fire Flux will need to reach deep to make this a close matchup.

Guild Esports vs forZe

Guild looked formidable in the run for the EMEA Playoffs. Their entry came from Challengers 1, despite finishing in third place after a loss to the reformed G2 roster. Yacine “Yacine” Laghmari’s side has always floated around the top 10 European teams, especially at VCT events. They have yet to make a ground-breaking step towards the creme de la creme of EU VALORANT and this EMEA event is the place to do it.

On the other side stand forZe, bringing us another CIS vs EU clash. One of the best known CIS VALORANT teams saw an upset to Na Vi in the qualifiers but bounced back to slot into this EMEA event. This may have been a minor hiccup as forZe’s achievements speak for themselves in the CIS region with mulitple 1st place finishes.

Prediction: Guild Esports 1:2 forZe

We think this will be a mighty tight matchup. The CIS grit, however, will churn out the win in the end in our eyes. Both teams took hits during their qualifying journey for Stage 3 EMEA. This matchup will most likely come down to who has better nerves of steel.

Oxygen Esports vs Giants Gaming

The Turkish Oxygen Esports side impressed with their performance at VCT EMEA Stage 2, where they upset Guild to get into the semifinals. There, they were bested by Liquid. Nevertheless, their run was admirable and showed that they have what it takes to qualify for an international LAN event. However, the team has gone through some changes from then. Most notably, Erim “Mavera” Sasal has left the roster. Still, Oxygen qualified for this event from Challengers 1, despite being defeated by SuperMassive Blaze in the final. The team still has the edge to make it far into this event.

Giants Gaming are the biggest surprise of the EU VCT Stage 3 qualifier. Playing with two stand-ins, David “davidp” Prins and Štěpán “Ambi” Beránek, Giants rocked the Upper Bracket of the Playoffs to meet Liquid in the final. There, their streak was finally broken after Liquid finally found ways of dealing with the effective roster. Over the course of a couple of weeks, Giants went from being often overlooked, to a scarily creative team to face.

Prediction: Oxygen Esports 2:1 Giants Gaming

Despite Giants’ phenomenal run, similarly to FPX, Oxygen Esports have amassed more experience as a team. Giants looked unbeatable until Liquid finally found a way to deal with davidp‘s lurks and simply outplayed the team. We think Oxygen have been studying Giants closely-enough to know how to deal with them as well. Still, we see this matchup go the distance and it may turn into the tightest match out of all opening matchups.

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Naim "EnKay" Rosinski

An avid competitive FPS lover that started off with covering the Counter-Strike scene and now is bewitched by VALORANT. Covered IEM Katowice 2019 Major and Masters Berlin 2021 in-person and is now conducting interviews on the regular at the VALORANT Champions Tour online press room. If I'm not covering VALORANT news then I'm trying to stay alive in Diamond/Immortal lobbies with Omen. Twitter: @NaimRosinski Email: naim.rosinski@gmail.com