The first two days of the VCT China 2024 Stage 1 Playoffs saw Nova Esports Nova Esports China Rank #16 PangH Song Wenhao (宋文浩) o0o0o Ye Xiaodong (叶晓东) OBONE Chen Yijie (陈怡洁) SWERL Ali Kobraee CB Wang Qingchuan (王庆川) GuanG Guang Honglin (光洪霖) and All Gamers All Gamers China Rank #10 bunt Jiang He (姜河) monk Wang Haoyu (王浩宇) deLb Delbert Tanoto Spitfires Xin Mingyan (辛明阳) sword9 Li Wei (李卫) eliminated from Shanghai contention while FunPlus Phoenix FunPlus Phoenix China Rank #2 Autumn Kale Dunne Life Qu Donghao (瞿东豪) AAAAY Zhang Yang (张杨) BerLIN Zhang Bolin (張柏霖) Lysoar Liang Youhao (梁优好) and EDward Gaming EDward Gaming China Rank #1 ZmjjKK Zheng Yongkang (郑永康) nobody Wang Senxu (王森旭) Muggle Tang Shijun (唐时俊) CHICHOO Wan Shunji (万顺治) Smoggy Zhang Zhao (张钊) Haodong Guo Haodong (郭浩东) confirmed their spots at the event. The remaining matches will determine seeding as well as the final qualified team.

Trace Esports defeat All Gamers 2-0

Trace Esports Trace Esports China Rank #3 LuoK1ng Zhang Zhan Peng (张展鹏) Kai Lu Zhinan (卢智楠) cxyy Cui Xinyu (崔新宇) FengF Song Xuefeng (宋学锋) YOU Yip Man Ho heybay Ho Shun Hei and All Gamers faced off for the first time since Trace beat them in 2023. All Gamers have completely revamped their roster since then, while Trace has only replaced a single player. Trace Esports were seeded higher in group Omega, while All Gamers were behind them in terms of round differential.

The series started on Sunset, chosen by Trace Esports. Both teams ran a mirrored composition. Starting on defense, Trace got off to a good start after taking the pistol and anti-eco round. All Gamers were able to win their buy round but the momentum shifted firmly to Trace as the team converted four rounds in a row. AG only won three more rounds in the half, which concluded 8-4 in Trace's favor. Trace were quite successful in their retakes, winning five out of eight of them.

While All Gamers put up a fight, almost catching up to Trace at 10-9, Trace would ultimately take the map. The star for the map were their support players, with Kai, their Cypher top fragging.

trace esports image Trace Esports took down All Gamers 2-0.

All Gamers chose Breeze, where they ran a double controller comp with a Viper and Harbor alongside a Yoru as their sole duelist. Trace on the other hand had just a solitary Viper, with a Jett and Yoru. Starting on attack, this double-duelist comp once again found a strong pistol and anti-eco win. This time, they also converted a bonus win and coasted off the momentum to end the half 9-3.

While AG tried to come back into the series by winning the next four out of five rounds, bringing the score to 10-7, Trace won the next three rounds in a row to take the map 13-7 and the series 2-0, knocking All Gamers out of the playoffs.

Kai was the MVP of the series, switching between Cypher and Jett and averaging 285 ACS. He also had a kill differential of +21, the highest on the server by far. After their win, Trace Esports were to play FunPlus Phoenix next in the upper finals.

Dragon Rangers eliminate Nova Esports

Both teams had never faced off before and had been part of Group Alpha. Dragon Ranger Gaming Dragon Ranger Gaming China Rank #4 nizhaoTZH Tang Zehao (唐哲昊) vo0kashu Ilya Ushakov Shion7 Zhang Haozhe (张昊泽) Nicc Shao Yi-qun (邵逸群) TvirusLuke Chen Cheng-ching were higher seeded with a win record of 3-3, while Nova Esports sat at 2-4. Nova Esports chose the first map of play to be Bind, opting for a triple initiator composition, while DRG ran the more conventional Brim-Viper-Skye core seen on the map.

The map started with Nova winning the pistol and the following round. DRG won their full buy and the following. The map continued in a see-saw fashion. DRG found their pace in the last three rounds in the half, winning them with good retakes and ending the half 6-6.

After switching to attack, DRG would ride on their prior momentum to win four in a row and only lose two more rounds, taking the map 13-8. The hero for DRG on this map was vo0kashu on Cypher, who net 30 kills and an ACS of 402.

DRG vo0kashu did not miss.

Map 2 was DRG's pick, Ascent, where they started well with a pistol win and anti-eco on attack. Nova countered by winning their buy then followed up with another three rounds until DRG were able to pull their attack together. DRG won five out of the next six rounds to conclude the half 7-5 in their favor. Nova Esports tied things up after a pistol win, their third in the series, but DRG kicked things into high gear by winning the next six rounds and the map 13-7.

The series MVP was vo0kashu on Cypher, with a kill differential of +24 and an ACS of 351. While four out of five players on DRG went positive in terms of KD, none of Nova could manage the same. With their 2-0 win, DRG made it to the upper semifinals to face EDG, while Nova were eliminated.

FunPlus Phoenix confirms Masters Shanghai berth after defeating Trace Esports

FunPlus Phoenix took on Trace Esports in the upper semifinal. While FPX had directly made it to the playoffs semifinals thanks to them being the top seed in group Omega, Trace had to beat All Gamers to make it. Both teams faced off for the first time since Kickoff, where FPX had found the win.

Map one, chosen by Trace, saw the teams head to Bind. Both teams had similar comps differing in their choice of initiators–while FPX opted for Kayo, Trace preferred Skye. Trace Esports had a strong start, winning the pistol. FPX converted their full buy and the following round but Trace would go on to win six out of the next eight rounds and ended the half 10-2. However, FPX bounced back with four rounds in a row, and they continued their domination. FPX took the map 13-10, thanks to Life's consistent entries and multifrags coupled with AAAAY's support in terms of both utility and trades.

The second map was Lotus, FPX's pick. They started strong, with a 7-2 lead on the defensive side. Autumn on the Viper was a key to their strong defensive start, with both his toxic screens and consistent kills helping ensure FPX were able to hold and retake sites consistently. However, Trace would recover to win the last three rounds, ending the half 7-5. Trace won the second pistol, but FPX stole away the anti-eco and then won two rounds, bringing the score to 9-6. FPX expanded on their lead further to win the map 13-8.

Even in a 3v5, FPX didn't slow down.

Both teams performed well across the scoreboard in terms of kills, although four out of five FPX players went positive while only one of Trace could manage the same. With this win, FPX have qualified for Masters Shanghai, while Trace will face DRG in the lower semifinal. FPX will go up against EDG in the upper final.

EDward Gaming take down Dragon Rangers to qualify for Shanghai

The second qualification game for Masters Shanghai saw Dragon Rangers Gaming face EDward Gaming. EDG, like FPX, had directly qualified for this playoff game since they topped group Alpha, while DRG had defeated Nova Esports to make it to the upper semifinal.

Dragon Gaming chose the first map, which was Ascent. Despite it being their opponent's pick, EDG tore through them on the attack, winning five rounds straight. DRG were able to convert two more rounds, but it was a mere pause in EDG's domination as the half ended 9-3. After the side swap, EDG won four rounds in a row to take the map 13-3. ZmjjKK was the MVP, with a massive 407 ACS and 24 kills. He was able to consistently find entries for the team in the first half and was a key factor in why they excelled on the attack.

Map two was EDG's pick, Split, where DRG got off to a better start. They won six out of the first eight rounds on defense but after a round where EDG saved their guns, EDG were able to find three rounds in a row. The half ended 7-5 in favor of DRG. After the side swap, DRG looked like they had things in control after winning the pistol and anti-eco, getting the score to 9-5. This would be the last round that DRG would win in the series. EDG won the next eight rounds in a row to win the map 13-9 and the series 2-0.

KangKang is a force of nature.

ZmjjKK was the undoubted MVP of the series with an ACS of 331 and a kill differential of +16. With this win, EDG have qualified for Masters Shanghai, while DRG will face Trace in the lower semifinal.

EDG and FPX return to the international stage

EDward Gaming and FPX both qualified for Masters Madrid, but neither team made the playoffs, although EDG found a win against PRX during the group stage.

EDG and FPX will now fight for a spot in the grand finals in the upper final. The lower bracket game between Trace and DRG will decide who the third Chinese team to qualify for Shanghai is. The seeding is yet to be decided.