FNC and FPX face easy Playoffs path at VCT EMEA S2 Challengers Finals

We are one week away from finalizing the European portion of the Valorant Champions Tour and crowning the two teams heading to VCT Masters Reykjavik. Teams Fnatic and Fun Plux Phoenix are the main favorites as both are two matches away from earning their spots.

Here’s our breakdown of how Week 1 at the VCT EMEA S2 Challengers Finals went down. We also overview how things are shaping up for this week and make our predictions for the first two decider matches of the week.

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VCT EMEA S2 Challengers Finals Breakdown

The 2021 VCT EMEA Stage 2 Challenger Finals consists of the various top teams from qualifying events in Europe, CIS and Turkey. The top two teams in this event will earn a direct qualification to the VCT Stage 2 Masters in Reykjavík. While the European teams are generally regarded as stronger, the Turkey and CIS regions were awarded four slots to match Europe’s 4 at the event. The strength disparity quickly showed, as TR teams are barely competitive in this event.

The first week saw 5 out of 6 matches end up in clean 2:0 sweeps, with only Liquid and BBL Esports playing a three game series. Icebox and Haven seem to be the preferred maps, while Bind saw almost no play thus far.

Starting off the competition, all three TR teams lost their opening matches, and were facing elimination matchups soon after. By the end of the week, TR champion Futbolist were eliminated from the competition by their own home region rival Oxygen Esports. Both teams were previously beaten handily by Guild Esports and Fnatic in the openers.

The last seed in BBL Esports didn’t fare too good either. They lost their opener against Team Liquid, and the elimination match versus CIS representative Gambit, marking the second team to exit the event.

This week kicks off with two matches that will decide the first playoffs participants in EMEA. FPX vs Liquid and Fnatic vs Guild Esports is finally going to deliver on the expectation to see both EU Challengers 1 and 2 winners face-off against each other. The winners advance into Playoffs, while the losers face off against Gambit and Oxygen Esports in decider matches for the second seeds. There is a good chance all four European teams advance to the Playoffs, and two to the Masters in Reykjavik, hopefully prompting Riot Games to chance the format. If the 8 team format remains the same, EU teams need at least two more slots while the “wildcard” regions are given one each. As it currently stands the format doesn’t seem highly competitive.

Lets kick off some predictions for the two duels happening this upcoming weekend.

FunPlus Phoenix vs Team Liquid

FunPlus Phoenix stand as one of the competition’s favorites having previously secured first place at VCT 2021 EU Stage 2 Challengers 1 event. FPX have consistently had strong performances, making them a safe and solid Valorant betting pick. The team has lost 2 in their last 15 matches, and are currently on a 6 match winning streak. Last time they met Team Liquid was back in February in a close match that ended up in Overtime on both maps.

Team Liquid’s run is not as impressive as they have consistently dropped matches to European “powerhouses”. Some would argue TL only made into the finals due to G2 being eliminated to FNC early on in Challengers 2. Coming into this matchup, FPX are the absolute favorites, but do not be surprised if all maps go the distance.

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Fnatic vs Guild Esports

Fnatic originally signed the highly promising SUMN FC roster. However, under the Fnatic name, the roster has had a very volatile run in 2021. This is most evident by the roster repeatedly finishing in the bottom half of various VCT Challenger events, even failing to qualify in some occasions. They shocked everyone after sweeping G2, Vitality and Liquid to claim first in the VCT Europe Challengers 2 Stage 2.

Guild Esports similarly to Team Liquid, has consistently under-performed against top tier European teams. Yet, when it mattered most they pull through and find it in them to win out on important matches. Since they are not facing elimination here, we can expect a normal Guild to appear.

Head to head both teams have no individual performers that can swing the series one way or the other. With team and strat execution as the main factor, we will give this to a clean 2:0 sweep for Fnatic. Overall FNC have performed way better as a unit and found rounds where nobody else has.

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