Following a flurry of highly contested VALORANT matches, four European teams have punched their tickets to the first VCT EU Masters event. Alliance, Ninjas in Pyjamas, FunPlus Phoenix, and Team Heretics await four more European teams to join them.
For Alliance, their emergence within VALORANT has gone as smoothly as could be imagined. In just their second event together, the first being the first Challengers open qualifier, they dropped the always dangerous Team Liquid en route to a spot at Masters. Their series against Wave was closer than the 2-0 series score indicates, as they needed four overtimes in map two (Haven) to close out the surprising teams to emerge from Challengers One.
After re-tooling their roster to end 2020, Ninjas in Pyjamas have started the new year strong. In back-to-back Challengers series now, they have handed defeat to the widely-regarded best team in Europe, G2 Esports. Their Challengers Two was even more of a statement, in which they defeated G2 in just two maps compared to three previously. NiP’s Emir “rhyme” Muminovic was an entry machine, with 11 opening kills across Ascent and Haven.
The only series of the Challengers Two main event to go to three maps was between FunPlus Phoenix and Fnatic, and it was a fantastic one. Both teams took care of their own map picks, with Fnatic claiming Bind and FPX dominating Split. This forced a showdown on Haven, where Dmitriy “dimasick” Matvienko had himself a game on Cypher. His 28 kills stood out above the rest of the server, and he used his utility to control the map how he saw fit.
Team Heretics returned with an absolute fury, playing spoiler to the former Monkey Business roster’s debut with their new organization OG. Heretics’ Raze player Žygimantas “nukkye” Chmieliauskas shut OG down, dropping 50 kills across two maps. Heretics were so dominant that OG were only able to string together three straight rounds once in the entire series. The champions of First Strike are back.
The good news for the four teams that lost is they won’t have to go back into the open qualifier. Wave Esports, G2, Fnatic, and OG will all have ensured spots at the Challengers Three main event. There are still a handful of dangerous teams in the open qualifier, including Liquid, Guild Esports, and Team Vitality. The main event for EU Challengers Three runs from March 6 to 7, meaning the open qualifiers will take place in the days before.