Champions Istanbul started a couple of days ago and an amazing story is already written: Leviatán crushed Group A to be the first team qualified for playoffs. Defeating Team Liquid and Paper Rex without dropping a map, Leviatán appeared as a team totally different from Masters Copenhagen.
Team Liquid and ZETA DIVISION are among the teams that we wanted to watch in Istanbul, and now they are facing the risk of elimination. FPX, KRÜ, XSET, Fnatic, DRX and FURIA didn’t even start playing, and we have so much going on right now in Istanbul. It’s definitely going to be an unforgettable tournament.
Champions Istanbul started with Group A - although we knew there would be deadly competition between these teams, we didn’t think Group A would turn out to be the real death group. EDward Gaming looked solid in their first international game and although they lost against Paper Rex, it was expected. However, Leviatán crushing Team Liquid so hard was not what we had in mind.
Yes, Leviatán is not the worst team in the world, but Team Liquid looked amazing in EMEA Last Chance Qualifier and it shouldn’t have been so easy to take such a team out. Leviatán won both maps 13-10 in style and moved on to the winners’ match of the group, facing Masters Copenhagen finalists Paper Rex.
Once again, Paper Rex was the favourite for obvious reasons: they are a great team with plenty of firepower thanks to players like Jinggg. Leviatán once again surprised me and many fans by starting with a 13-8 victory on Haven. Closing the series on Bind, Leviatán made it to the playoffs and I was shocked: a 4-0 Leviatán qualification was not in plans.
Now, EDward Gaming will face Team Liquid in the elimination match of the group. China’s first international representative managed to impress us, but Liquid is a clear favourite. Following that, the winner of that series will have to take on Paper Rex. Although they might take a map away, I doubt PRX would let anyone pass and steal their playoffs slot.
September 4, Sunday
EDward Gaming vs Team Liquid - 17:00 CEST
September 7, Wednesday
Paper Rex vs EDG/TL - 16:00 CEST
In Group B, ZETA DIVISION started by disappointing their believers for the second time this year. Asian VALORANT lovers were expecting another dark horse performance from ZETA DIVISION, but a 2-0 loss to LOUD probably ruins the chance of that. Still, it was a big win for LOUD, and they're very close to qualifying for the playoffs in Istanbul.
Moving on to OpTic Gaming, they have done what was expected of them, although not so smoothly. OpTic lost the first map, Breeze, against BOOM Esports, a team that should’ve been crushed by OpTic. However, NA’s best VALORANT team took their revenge in the following maps with 13-5 and 13-3, yay taking the MVP. OpTic looks scary for both the winners’ match and the playoffs.
LOUD will have to challenge OpTic to advance to the playoffs as the number one seed of the group, and it seems like mission impossible. However, looking at current performances, LOUD looks better than both ZETA DIVISION and BOOM Esports. They have a high chance of taking second place. It’s hard to determine a winner between ZETA and BOOM, but I will have to say that I am not afraid to give the Japanese a second chance.
September 2, Friday
OpTic Gaming (2.00) vs LOUD (1.72) - 19:00 CEST
September 4, Sunday
BOOM Esports (2.25) vs ZETA DIVISION (1.58) - 19:00 CEST
September 7, Wednesday
BOOM/ZETA winner vs OPTC/LOUD loser - 19:00 CEST
Schedule of the group stage
Only the Group C and D opening matches remain now. Check out the schedule:
In the opening matches, DRX and Fnatic face weaker opponents as the group favourites. We have commented on their chances before: I don’t see a world where 100 Thieves and FURIA Esports make it on top of DRX or Fnatic.
Seeing the upsets in the earlier groups, Leviatán’s story and ZETA DIVISION’s disappointing result, increases the chances of the underdogs here. While DRX and Fnatic should easily move on to the playoffs, don’t be surprised if they don’t and don’t hesitate to give a chance to the underdogs when making your decisions.
Looking at Group C, you see three teams that could make it to the playoffs, FunPlus Phoenix, KRÜ Esports and XSET. While FPX is a real favourite that could win the whole tournament, we have to talk about the rest of them. FunPlus Phoenix will probably defeat KRÜ Esports, but the group might not be so predictable after that.
Considering their past achievements, KRÜ Esports is the perfect candidate to pull an upset here and make it past XSET. Both XSET and XERXIA had disappointing results in Copenhagen, hyping KRÜ up. While XSET should move on to the winners’ match by defeating XERXIA, we don’t know for sure if these teams improved after Masters Copenhagen. For Group C, I advise you to wait for the first matches and consider the strengths of these teams yourself, it’s too risky to make a move.
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