Every game during the third week of matches in the Americas took place between two teams tied in the standings. That made this week the first to begin determining the haves and the have-nots of the region.
With six teams tied at 1-1 in the standings, wins against the other teams in the same boat become crucial for playoff qualification. Both C9 and 100T came into this match looking for a defining win against the middle of the pack competition.
C9's Lotus pick paid off immediately. Despite starting on the defense of the most attacker-sided map in the game, they denied the spike plant in five of the first seven rounds and pulled off retakes in three of the last five rounds to secure a dominant 8-4 lead.
In 100T's previous Lotus games, they only won four out of 20 rounds on the defense, and although they did better this time around, C9 still easily took the map 13-7. Zellsis as well as both newcomers, runi and jakee, finished with ratings above 1.30 in a dominant C9 victory.
Ascent didn't start much better for 100T. They lost eight of the first nine rounds before managing to salvage an 8-4 attacking half deficit. Unlike Lotus, which would have required a comeback on one of the most unfavorable sides of any map in Valorant, 100T just had to mount a comeback on the defense of the most defender-sided map in the game.
Propelled by aces from both Asuna and stellar, the second half comeback was very much alive. 100T were extremely coordinated on their retakes, and C9 managed only four rounds with three of those rounds requiring clutches. With momentum on their side, 100T looked poised to force a third map, but C9 quickly dismantled them in overtime to take the series.It doesn't get much flashier than this.
Opening kills were a major issue for 100T across the series. In particular, Cryocells went 4-12 in opening duels, and the superstar offseason acquisition continued to put up subpar numbers by his standards.
The second match of the day turned out to be a barnburner. Despite MIBR coming into the match as significant underdogs, they brought the fight to an NRG lineup that struggled to find the individual moments to pair with their excellent tactical play.
NRG picked into a Brazilian favorite, Icebox, and immediately suffered the consequences of that decision by losing the pistol, second round, and anti-bonus. Clutches in the next two rounds helped right the ship, and the first half ended in a 6-6 draw. Despite a pistol win off the back of another s0m clutch, NRG were unable to hold off the MIBR flood as the Brazilians' first test of the Harbor composition on Icebox ran away with the 13-10 victory.NRG had no shortage of clutches.
MIBR took the match to Pearl next, but NRG scored four straight clutches on their attack to run out to the early lead. MIBR struggled to retake onto the B site like most teams do, and NRG found success when pushing towards that side of the map. The North Americans took an 8-4 lead into the half.
After NRG won the pistol and follow up round, the map looked like it would be easily secured, but MIBR weren't done fighting. They stormed back with eight wins in the final ten rounds of the half to force overtime. In overtime, NRG had multiple opportunities to close the map after winning their attacks, but MIBR evened the scoreline twice more. Finally, after a lengthy tech pause, MIBR's momentum faded, and NRG won 16-14.
MIBR had battled extremely closely to both LOUD and KRÜ in their previous matches, but Split was the one map where they got slaughtered. That being said, the only time this iteration of the NRG roster played Split, they also got decimated by LOUD. Both teams changed up the roles for several players compared to what they ran previously on the map.
NRG looked like they had a handle on the defensive side of the map. Despite 18 kills from frz, nobody else on MIBR managed a single opening kill or more than half of his kill total in the first half. NRG looked dominant as they took another 8-4 halftime lead.
MIBR again flipped the script after halftime. They converted the first four rounds into a tied 8-8 score, but NRG stabilized their economy and surged back into the 11-8 lead. A heroic clutch from Victor secured NRG map and match point while breaking MIBR's economy, but MIBR won their force buy and forced another game into overtime.
This time it was MIBR's turn to apply pressure in overtime. Three attacking wins pushed NRG to up their game on the attack, but finally, MIBR converted the 16-14 victory. NRG notched an astounding 16 clutches over the series, but kills during the mid-round went overwhelmingly in MIBR's favor. With that series win, bzkA broke the coach head-to-head series tie against Chet that defined 2022. He now leads the all time battle 4-3.
Both Leviatán and Sentinels started league play with important wins but regressed in week two. A win would ensure continued contention for a top seed into the playoffs while a loss would condemn them to an uphill battle moving forward.
Sentinels picked Split, a map they had lost 11 consecutive times heading into this series. Unlike their games the past few weeks, Sentinels won the pistol and found opening kills in each of the first four rounds to take the early 4-0 lead. LEV battled back for five rounds in the half, then exploded to take an 11-7 lead. Sentinels managed to cut down on their mistakes to force overtime, but LEV took away the 14-12 victory with ease from there.Ace clutch for the veteran IGL.
Historically Ascent was LEV's best map, but they did just suffer a recent loss to FURIA. Once again Sentinels got an early lead, but once again LEV salvaged five rounds in the half. Despite losing the pistol, the LATAM superteam looked like they were going to repeat their second half dominance after five rounds in a row gave them the 11-10 lead, but Sentinels locked in early enough to take the map 13-11.
Pearl was over almost before it began. The lack of Harbor in Sentinels' agent selection left them with few opportunities to get the extremely powerful open spike plant on B. Forced to plant safe or push the much more difficult A site, Sentinels were unable to repel LEV's signature coordinated retakes. A 10-2 half led to a 13-4 final score in LEV's favor without much fuss.
For the first time in regional play this season, kiNgg was relatively quiet for LEV, but the team effort from LEV outpaced zekken's top rated attempts to carry the day for a discoordinated Sentinels. Sacy in particular struggled on Viper in both the first and third maps of the series. With a coaching change immediately following the game, Sentinels were clearly not satisfied with their progression over the last couple of weeks.
The last match of the day had no overtimes like the previous three, but the first two maps did go the distance in regulation. As the final two winless teams, EG and KRÜ were desperate to avoid the 0-3 start that would make reaching the playoffs a daunting mountain to climb.
KRÜ burst out of the gate with fury, and they took a 9-3 lead on Pearl. The ability for the Harbor composition to get set up in dominant post-plant positions on the B site helped KRÜ take that lead off the back of spike plants in every single round.
That strategy proved to be a double edged sword as EG took advantage of Harbor on their own attack. In dominant fashion, EG mounted the comeback to take the map 13-11. The defenders only managed to win before the spike plant once in 24 rounds.Wingman thought it was a matchfixer for a moment there.
EG turned that momentum into an 8-4 Ascent defense. Superstar keznit was held kill-less until the final round of the half for KRÜ while open-tryouts-find Demon1 outdueled him at every turn. Unfortunately for EG, the most defender-sided map in the game turned against them. keznit rattled off 17 kills in the second half, and KRÜ came back for the 13-11 victory to force a third map.
Despite winning both pistols on Fracture, KRÜ got swamped 13-7. EG looked comfortable throughout, and all of their players stepped up individually. With that win, KRÜ were relegated to the basement of the Americas while EG kept their roster-shuffling playoff hopes alive.
LOUD and FURIA entered the final match of the week as the only two teams that managed to reach a 2-0 record. For the first time in well over a year it was looking like LOUD had legitimate competition from their home country.
The battle of unbeaten Brazilians began in brutal fashion as LOUD took an early 5-1 lead on Split. Star duelist dgzin continued to run an outdated Chamber on the map, and he struggled mightily on the defensive side of Split. LOUD easily cleared his teleport with utility and used their double duelist composition to burst onto sites.
Despite dominant aggression from aspas, FURIA started to recover in the late-round scenarios, and IGL Mazin clutched retakes in the final three rounds of the half to tie the map at 6-6.IGLs are clutching this week.
FURIA won the pistol, but LOUD's defense quickly shut down the map 13-9. FURIA struggled to take any space as LOUD shut down mwzera's Raze aggression. The teenage cauanzin was the star of the second half with a monstrous 2.10 rating and a 1v2 clutch in the final round to seal the deal.
Icebox was picked by FURIA, but it didn't work out for them. LOUD kept up the momentum and streaked out to an 8-1 lead that wasn't as close as the scoreline suggested. After watching his team floundering, dgzin chose to bring out some unleashed aggression that got him back-to-back 4Ks to help FURIA salvage four rounds in the half. That glimmer of hope faded in an instant as LOUD plowed through FURIA in the second half to take the map 13-4.
Across the series, aspas put up a ridiculous 1.23 kills per round which more than doubled the average rate of FURIA's players. Additionally, he was a flawless 11-0 in opening duels to oppress FURIA's aggressive playstyle.
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