The second to last game of Champions 2022 was a match for the ages. In a five map classic, OpTic narrowly fended off the reverse sweep attempt from DRX to set up a rematch with LOUD in the grand finals.
Twice the Green Wall faced down DRX this year, and twice viridian triumphed over blue. In the playoffs of both Masters 1: Reykjavik and Masters 2: Copenhagen OpTic scored nail-biting three-map victories over DRX.
This time however, momentum favored the Koreans. Once known as elite group stage contenders who crumbled under pressure, DRX fought for comebacks and clutch victories to push themselves deeper into this tournament than any antecedently. They came into the match riding high off a victory over defending champions FPX.
OpTic themselves were no slouches. Champions marked the third time in three VCT events this year that they secured a top three placement, cementing themselves as the most consistent team of 2022. Both teams battled for a chance at a rematch with LOUD, the only team to defeat either of them in the tournament. If that wasn't enough, a spot in the grand finals of the most prestigious event in Valorant's history was on the line.
As they have done the entire tournament, DRX banned Pearl. OpTic chose to get rid of Icebox despite it being DRX's only map with a losing record this year.
DRX chose to mix things up on Bind. They moved BuZz and Rb, typically their Chamber and Raze respectively, onto Raze and Astra respectively. BuZz had only played Raze once since he joined DRX in the middle of 2021, and Rb had never played Astra in a competitive match.
Bind started with a pistol clutch from Rb that helped DRX to the 2-0 lead. Victor's classic double Blast Pack play to take early control in Lamps helped OpTic take A control over and over again. Unlike LOUD, who beat OpTic by prioritizing B window control, DRX favored holding B long. However, that control rarely yielded an early pick, and OpTic were constantly outmaneuvering them around the map. They read DRX's site setups and out-rotated them for the 7-2 lead.
It took heroic site anchoring to salvage the half for DRX. Despite losing players early, a MaKo 1v2 clutch and several crossfires onto OpTic players dropping out of B window gave DRX five in the half.
OpTic tried an innovative pistol strategy where three players teleported early, but DRX just hit the opposite site and won the pistol round easily. DRX tied the game on the anti-eco 7-7.
A 4K by MaKo in a post-plant on A secured DRX the momentum, but OpTic won a critical eco to reverse it and take the 9-8 lead. After a quiet start to the map, yay activated in round 18 with a 4K to salvage a round in which DRX were winning all the gunfights.
Multikill after multikill pulled OpTic to map point, capped off by a masterful plant denial from FNS. OpTic took the map 13-8.IGLs can frag too.
It was the Victor show for OpTic. He landed 20 kills and numerous plays that secured his team the critical map control to win the round. Both Rb and BuZz went negative on their new roles.
Breeze, DRX's map pick, was up next. OpTic struggled on the map in 2021, including a 0-3 record in this tournament, but they dominated DRX the one time they played the map previously.
The map started with a 4K from crashies on the pistol. OpTic crushed the anti-eco and the bonus to run out to a 4-0 lead without having to fully buy once. Nine kills were found by crashies before MaKo or stax found one.That's how you start a map.
OpTic opted for a double Operator setup, and it found several kills, but DRX managed to string together several successful site executes for easy post-plant conversions. Despite losing three straight rounds, OpTic still had plenty of money to rebuy until they finally won another for the 5-3 scoreline.
Another 4K from crashies led to back-to-back flawless rounds. OpTic pulled out multiple aggressive pushes out into A lobby that limited DRX to a quarter of the map to operate. The Americans pulled away for an 8-4 halftime lead.
DRX tried their hand at aggressive defensive pushes in the second pistol, but it was instantly deleted from the server by clean headshots. OpTic once again won the anti-eco and bonus to run away to map point. One final defuse was all DRX got as OpTic took the map 13-5.One man is always good for the soundbite.
Every member of OpTic went positive with yay and crashies both notching 19 kills in just 18 rounds. Only BuZz managed to reach double digit kills or triple digit ADR for DRX as they got massacred.
"We had a solid plan of what DRX would do today," said OpTic's coach Chet.
Three quality maps remained for DRX, but they were all quality maps for OpTic as well. The reverse sweep would require a monumental shift since it has never happened in an international Bo5 before.
DRX wasted no time making a statement on Fracture. They got the spike planted on A within seconds, and Rb staved off the retake almost single-handedly with a Frenzy. OpTic still had plenty of tricks up their sleeves. They threw an eco crunch onto Sand that immediately turned the tides in their favor.
The first full buy from DRX was shut down until MaKo won a 1v3 clutch to tie the map at 2-2. BuZz nearly pulled off similar heroics in the next round before yay won a 1v1 clutch with three hitpoints. The clutch battle continued with stax winning a 1v1 against FNS. Seven kills in two rounds from MaKo helped DRX tie the map again 4-4.
Hard executes onto B overwhelmed OpTic as DRX took the 7-4 lead, but a shift to the A side of the map for DRX fell apart, and they exited the half up 7-5.
A 1v3 clutch from FNS on OpTic's attacking pistol gave OpTic the momentum to tie the game 7-7, but MaKo ripped the lead back with a monstrous 4K. DRX stormed to a 12-7 lead.This man could not be stopped.
OpTic continuously struggled to find any opening to take control of a round. A 1v2 clutch from Marved salvaged one final broken round, but DRX held firm to take the map 13-8.
MaKo's 27 kills dominated the server, especially Victor and Marved who went a combined 0-15 against him.
DRX weren't going down without a fight. Photo credit: Lance Skundrich/Riot Games
Ascent saw a mix up of agent compositions for OpTic. They moved yay from Chamber to Jett which allowed FNS to move from Fade to Killjoy. With their recent struggles on the map, OpTic were hoping for some old magic from their old composition. After 58 straight maps of Chamber, yay finally moved away from his comfort pick.
Despite an opening kill from yay, DRX won their attacking pistol. Back-to-back 3Ks from BuZz opened up the attacking half, and a 4K on the bonus round from stax helped them out to a 4-0 lead.
It took five rounds before a DRX player failed to secure a multikill of at least three kills. OpTic came out of a timeout with a fury to get a round on the board. However, DRX immediately got back to their usual ways with a Zest 3K to take the 5-1 lead.
Heroics from yay were not enough to stop DRX from rolling to a 9-3 halftime advantage. BuZz opened up rounds on Jett, and his teammates held down post-plants with oppressive efficiency.
Another pistol round 3K from BuZz put OpTic on the back foot, but yay once again bailed them out with a Sheriff 3K on the eco. DRX won their first full buy to take the 11-5 lead, and they pulled away to take the map 13-6.BuZz ran over everyone on Ascent.
It was the BuZz show on Ascent. He tallied 26 kills, four 3Ks, and seven first bloods in a dominant showing. An alright showing from yay was nowhere near enough to overcome BuZz or the balanced effort from DRX's supportive members.
The reverse sweep was just one win away, but DRX would have to defeat OpTic on Haven, a map that had looked shaky for the Koreans at Champions. They got stomped by LOUD and were forced to mount a massive comeback against FPX. OpTic themselves had to mount a big comeback the only time they played the map this tournament against XSET. To add to the chaos, Victor brought back his Phoenix.
FNS won a 1v2 in the pistol round to get OpTic the early momentum. A 3K from yay helped convert yet another bonus round. Facing phantoms of their struggles on Breeze, DRX took a timeout to figure out how to stem the bleeding. They came back with a critical eco to salvage the momentum. Rb hit an immaculate spraydown in the following round to keep DRX rolling.That's a spray.
DRX took the lead 4-3, but OpTic's early triumphs kept their economy fueled throughout their losing streak. The Green Wall refused to relent under the pressure and began to claw back the half. Excellent site anchoring from Marved and FNS continuously stymied DRX.
A fake hit onto A bamboozled DRX in the pistol round, but they pulled out a wild retake onto the C site to take the round. Unfortunately for them, OpTic immediately responded with a Marved 4K 1v2 clutch. They fended off the eco to reach double digits up 10-5.
With tournament hopes on the line, Zest held his nerve for a crucial trigger discipline play. He notched a 4K in the round which helped DRX pull back a 10-7 scoreline.Don't walk past Zest in a corner.
A wild round 18 saw OpTic flank the A site without clearing BuZz in sewers, but BuZz missed his shot, and OpTic won their eco.
The final rounds of regulation were some of the most exciting rounds of Valorant's history. DRX found back-to-back 1v1 clutches to hold back consecutive 1v3 attempts by FNS and Victor. They pulled within one round, 11-10, but OpTic kept charging ahead to reach map point 12-10.
That 1v3 attempt by Victor, a round in which he got a 4K with just a stinger, lit a fire under him as he laid down several multikills in the final rounds.
"I was like, wait, how the hell did I just do this? So I was really feeling it after that round," Victor said about his thoughts in the moment.
At long last, OpTic put the final nail in DRX's coffin. With crushing pace, they stormed to a flawless final round to take the map 13-10.
"It shows how resilient we are," said FNS about OpTic holding firm against the DRX comeback.
Victor came alive in the final rounds to push his kill total to 20. Across the series, yay was a consistent force of nature with 91 kills to 60 deaths, a differential fueled by El Diablo going positive in every map of the series. It wasn't just yay either. Crashies, Victor, and Marved had far more impactful moments than in their loss to LOUD, and FNS totaled more kills in four out of the five maps played than he did in the entire match against LOUD.
DRX put up a valiant attempt, but OpTic were just barely too much to overcome. For the second time in three events, OpTic will face LOUD in an all-green grand final.
The grand finals of Champions takes place on Sunday, Sept. 18. OpTic will look to become the first two-time VCT trophy holders while LOUD seek to make their name as the first champions from outside of North America or Europe.