A day of unexpected results saw Team Heretics Team Heretics Europe Rank #4 MiniBoo Dominykas Lukaševičius Wo0t Mert Alkan RieNs Enes Ecirli benjyfishy Benjy David Fish Boo Ričardas Lukaševičius and Karmine Corp Karmine Corp Europe Rank #17 MAGNUM Martin Penkov tomaszy Tomás Machado N4RRATE Marshall Massey marteen Martin Pátek sh1n Ryad Ensaad flatten Natus Vincere Natus Vincere Europe Rank #7 ANGE1 Kyrylo Karasov Shao Andrey Kiprsky Zyppan Pontus Eek SUYGETSU Dmitry Ilyushin ardiis Ardis Svarenieks and FNATIC FNATIC Europe Rank #1 Leo Leo Jannesson Derke Nikita Sirmitev Boaster Jake Howlett Chronicle Timofey Khromov Alfajer Emir Ali Beder , two of EMEA's historically best teams. Both matches ended 2-0, eliminating the favorites from EMEA Kickoff and granting the victors an opportunity to win 3 Championship points in the grand final.

These results mean EMEA will send nine players without previous international experience to Masters Madrid. Only MAGNUM has gone to a Masters or Champions event.

Team Heretics surprise NAVI with 2-0 win

Team Heretics have defeated NAVI 2-0, marking the first time they have qualified to an international VCT event. The org had really only found success in 2020 and 2021, when they won First Strike Europe and reached the Masters 1 EMEA grand final. Their stand-in, paTiTek , will continue to play throughout Madrid.

The loss means NAVI will miss an event for the first time since Masters Reykjavík in 2022. They qualified but were unable to attend the LAN due to multiple visa issues and the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Their accolades include winning Masters Copenhagen and top four finishes at Champions 2022 and LOCK//IN.

The series opened on Sunset. A quick plant on B let Heretics win the pistol round, followed by an anti-eco win. A series of crucial kills from ardiis helped put them up 4-2, and they would win two more rounds. Eventually, their opponent's timeout adaptations came in, letting them win another two rounds and ending the half 8-4 in NAVI's favor.

Neon, and lack thereof, made the difference early in the second half. Team Heretics was able to use their aggressive potential to make early pushes into the attacking team. NAVI, on the other hand, struggled to enter sites and finish off rounds. This helped Heretics bring the map to overtime.

NAVI struggled to find an advantage on their attack

The two teams remained comfortable on defense, winning two rounds each. Timeouts were used from both parties in an effort to break the side, which only came until round 28. Team Heretics won the attack, and a correct B site stack helped them finish the win.

Heretics continued their aggression heading into Breeze. Despite the map being their opponent's pick, NAVI was confident after 13-6 and 13-7 wins. MiniBoo had momentum on his side, however, and completely took over the series. Across the first seven rounds, MiniBoo had 17 eliminations and only died once. NAVI was able to win a pair of consolation rounds, but Heretics continued to dominate their attack.

Panic appeared to set in for NAVI, who only managed to win two more rounds. Only five rounds were played in the second half, and eventually Team Heretics concluded the match.

Heretics' setup helps win the round

The best performing player was their duelist, MiniBoo. He ended the series with a 49-29 KD and a 1.49 rating. The team has shown great understanding on how to play into his aggression, setting him up for eight triple kills across the series. Also of note was RieNs , close behind in rating with a 1.38.

In the post-match interview, paTiTek commented on his return to the top of EMEA. “It's just hard work,” he said. “Hard work and being professional got me here.” He also addressed the community's pre-season expectations. “You put us in D-Tier? I think we're S-Tier, yeah?” paTiTek said.

Karmine Corp crush FNATIC's hopes with 2-0 win

The second series of the day featured Karmine Corp, who boasted a 3-11 record across all of VCT 2023, against FNATIC, the best EMEA team of 2023 and first team to win two international events.

Prior to playoffs, Karmine Corp had played the maximum number of matches possible: three in the group stage and three in the play-in stage. FNATIC, meanwhile, only played one match to make playoffs, a victory against Team Vitality.

Outside of DRX, who acquired Vision Strikers in early 2022, FNATIC held the longest streak for international appearances by any org in Valorant. The loss caps it off at a total of seven, and is only the second time the team has missed an international event.

FNATIC picked Lotus to kick off their match. Starting on offense, they gained the advantage early on multiple rounds, but their opponents were ready to retaliate. Karmine Corp focused on a retake heavy setup, prioritizing coordination and delays over map control or site anchoring. This granted them eight rounds on their defense, a lead that they kept until the end of the map.

The six round deficit is the worst FNATIC has had on any half of Lotus since its introduction, only matched on two occasions, and never exceeded by any team.

tomaszy saves the round

They recovered on the second half, but the lead was too much to overcome. tomaszy was the highlight of their attack. He ended the half with a 1.84 rating and 306 ACS, and won a couple of rounds on his own. He found two separate quad kills, capping off those rounds with a clutch.

“They played the same Lotus as before,” coach ENGH said after the match. “They were scared of tomaszy,” marteen added.

Mirroring the first series of the day, Karmine Corp carried their momentum onto their map, Split. After winning the pistol, tomaszy got another 4K on round 2. Once again, Karmine Corp took the lead, thanks in part to their double duelist, double controller comp. N4RRATE 's Raze found four first kills and 12 total eliminations in the half.

The Yoru set play catches Alfajer

The French org was clearly well-drilled. Engh's ideas paired well with the players at his disposal, and they were able to catch FNATIC off guard on multiple occasions. Their reads and set plays allowed marteen to run circles around FNATIC, as he ended the defense with four first-kills of his own an a 2.31 rating. Derke and Chronicle did their best to fight back, the latter winning a 1v2 on round 15.

FNATIC looked lost by the end of the match, and were ultimately only able to win three rounds on their attack, ending the map 13-8. With this win Karmine Corp join LOUD and Team Liquid as one of the few teams able to take a victory against FNATIC.

When asked about playing against Derke, marteen was unfazed. “I'm just better,” he said. “I barely felt any pressure.”