NiP looked improved from their past roster – Saif “Sayf” Jibraeel and Egor “chiwawa” Stepanyuk have proven to be very valuable additions. However, the result was ultimately the same as G2 took a clean 2-0 win. Oscar Cañellas “mixwell” Colocho consistently got the better of Niels “luckeRRR” Jasiek, and ultimately, G2’s teamwork, aim, and confidence won the day. They may have needed some help to get there, but they qualified for First Strike nonetheless.
Team Liquid continued their evolution as a team from the last time we saw them play, pulling out interesting new agent picks. The big shock was seeing Adil “ScreaM” Benrlitom, a player who previously stuck to the power fragger Reyna, on the Jett role. He looked comfortable playing the agent, top fragging for Liquid on both maps as they beat Prodigy 2-0. It was Travis “L1NK” Mendoza with Liquid’s best play of the day, though, a gorgeous 1v3 on the first map Ascent.
FunPlus Phoenix faced off against Opportunists in the third qualification match. Each match went quite similarly – Opportunists jumped out to an early lead, FPX rattled off round after round to pull even and eventually far ahead, then they exchanged rounds until FPX eventually took the win. Logan “LogaN” Corti was a standout for Opportunists on the day, being an integral part in many of their early wins, but it wasn’t enough to get past the powerhouse FPX roster.
While Haven was mostly standard, we got a big surprise in FPX’s composition for Bind. Kirill “ANGE1” Karasiow played Viper, an agent really only seen by select teams on Split thus far, and Andrey “Shao” Kiprsky swapped off his usual Sova to an aggressive fragger in Phoenix. The unorthodox composition really worked for FPX – ANGE1 was able to showcase Viper’s use on a different map than we usually see it, though it can certainly be argued that a different pick would have provided more, and Phoenix gave Shao much more agency to show off his fragging power.
For the final match of this first round, SUMN FC played the upstart Lithuanian roster eXiLe eSports. Possibly the most exciting match of the four, Haven went back and forth through clutches and retakes before SUMN FC closed it out 13-9. While eXiLe got off to a good start on their defense on Split, SUMN FC clawed their way back in. It certainly helps when you’re making plays like this one from Domagoj “doma” Fancev:
Ultimately, SUMN FC would finish the game out with a very good defensive side, only allowing eXiLe to get three rounds as they won 13-10. eXiLe have quickly risen up the European ranks as of late, but they’ll have to take another shot as SUMN qualified.
European First Strike qualifiers will continue in the exact same fashion this week as last. Two open qualifiers will be held, each qualifying 16 teams to the play-ins for a total of 32. In the play-in stage on Friday, each team will have to win two best-of-1s to qualify themselves for the next playoff stage to determine Europe’s final four First Strike participants. Throughout the week, players will be streaming their points-of-view, and the playoffs will be broadcasted on twitch.tv/VALORANT_ESPORTS_EU. Be sure to follow all the action with THESPIKE.GG!